BitDepth 729 - May 04

Young boys caught in a sex scandal are excoriated on Facebook.
Publication of the innocent

This Facebook page has attracted some real venom on the schoolboys scandal.

In 1954, a psychiatrist published a book called Seduction of the Innocent, which accused comic books of destroying the morals of American youth.
The book, though eventually discredited, destroyed the potential of comics as an art form, leading to the neutering influence of the Comics Code, which declared comics that carried it safe for consumption.

Last week, a troubling story surfaced, gaining swift traction on the Internet, about two young schoolboys who were captured on video engaged in what might be generously described as sexual adventuring.
Asked to comment on it, I was sent some links to the source material to evaluate. The presenter was curious about the resilience of the video, which had been removed several times only to reappear.

One reference led to a Blogger page which, under an inflammatory URL, named the children and published the video.
Blaming the Internet for this is as silly as finding images of female sex organs in comic book illustrations of trees.
The speed and thoroughness with which this video travelled paralleled the pace of the earlier 'beauty queen' video, which was uploaded as a torrent file in less than two weeks, forever liberating it from any human or legal control.

Answering Cedriann Martin's questions, I pointed out that these visual memes, as scandalous as they are, travel fast but die quickly after the curious have their voyeuristic fill.
More troubling, I think, is the poor quality of thinking that these issues reveal in the various fora in which they surface and the reckless and cavalier enthusiasm that strangers, empowered by the anonymity of the Internet, engage in hate-filled diatribes.

The very thing that makes the Internet so valuable, the ease with which information is shared and the many inventive outlets that make it even easier to do so, essentially puts nuclear weapons in the hands of character assassins.
On a Facebook page dedicated to virulent advocacy of issue, postings include links to anti-homosexual music videos, led, at the time of this writing, by Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye, with helpful karaoke lyrics.

The page was 'liked,' Facebook's new way of linking supporters to a fan page, by more than 4,000 members of the social networking service.
To put this into context, I have to share a story out of my own youth. There was a young man who attended my secondary school who was aquiline of face and graceful of walk. Early one morning, students of all ages lined the hallways that overlooked the entrance to the school and as the boy emerged from his mother's car and walked to the stairs, dozens of young men began wolf whistling and catcalling. The boy turned around, walked back to the car and was never seen again.

The horrid comments, many of them from adults, that I see on some of the Facebook pages remind me of that dark moment, when a boy's life was ruined by the casual cruelty of schoolboys.
I don't know if it can be said that Trinidad and Tobago has matured significantly since then. Sexual discovery is still treated like a dark mystery and misinformation about sex, the most intimate and powerful of human expressions, is ill-placed in a world in which alternate sources, most of them commercially driven, abound at the other end of a mouse click.

The Internet, to be frank, is a very poor place to learn about sex. The most popular and widespread form of pornography to be found on the web is called gonzo, and it is sex stripped of context, rationale and tenderness.
Parents would be well advised to have The Talk with their young charges in tiers of revelation, beginning from their first use of computers and the Internet and continuing as their hormones drive their curiosity.

The Student Press was way out front of the traditional media in reporting on this issue.
Editor Kerry Peters' stories are
here and here.
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