Back in the day when stories and poems and other writings were sent by mail, and a rejection slip was the most common reply, it was all very interesting.
I received many rejections, some saying that they wished they could publish the essay (it was always essays which got this reply) but that it just didn’t suit their publication.
But by far the best rejection slip, and the only one I still have, is the following from Island magazine, way back in the late nineteen seventies.
I couldn’t help but write about sex, and especially the most strange aspects of sex. I guess they didn’t like it, but I was very serious, at the time, anyway. And yes, it was a little pornographic, but more int he mind than in what was written.
No adults, children, dogs, cats or other animals were harmed in the writing of the story. Only the paper when it was burnt. (Grin)
Years later, although I thought it was still a good story, I burnt it, along with masses of poetry and essays and stories that had not been published. It was a glorious burning, made even better by the fact that my visiting sister kept coming up the back and asking if I was ok.
This one is more than worth sharing, it makes me realise just how close we are to the point of no return.
But the old year, dead at last, gives way to a new day burning children at the beach, in deserts and high rise shade blistering suburban hope where wild life dies each year past.
Mourn the new year past, hanging like fruit with seed we plant in this newest of years.
Recently I had a long and detailed discussion with an academic psychologist about paedophilia, paedophiles, and adult-child sex. As a part of this conversation he questioned why I am researching this area, and commented that he has strong moral beliefs about it. At the time I didn’t question him about this; we moved on to Seto’s [4, 5] research, which he had not read, his work having been focused on adult-child sexual relationships as harmful, rape, and so on. This is the case for all psychologists with whom I have discussed this area, that is, there always is a negative moral evaluation of something which they cannot conceive as anything other than necessarily always already harmful.
Various researchers (e.g., [2, 7, 3, 8]) have discussed the morality of adult-child sex, and Kershnar [7, 3] has explicitly made the claim that adult-child sexual relations can be morally acceptable under specific situational and general moral conditions. The question for me, however, concerns the morality of studying of paedophilia and the manner in which many people react to the study. This question has assumed some importance to me recently as a result of some issues which have arisen due to my research.
The first time this arose as a problem was in relation to a person who seems no longer to be a friend. The particular woman has two sons with schizophrenia, and has written a book detailing her difficulties in the first few years after the diagnosis. After buying the book, I suggested that I review it on my blog, which she was quite happy about to begin with, but within a week she questioned me, and said she didn’t want it associated with paedophilia in any way at all, and that I shouldn’t put it here, on the blog which I actually make some attempt to keep up with. I was a little astounded, but said I would put it on my other blog. Later, I sent her a copy of my proposed review, for comment, but she didn’t reply; so I sent a text message asking her to reply, but she replied to neither. Researching paedophilia, apparently, is entirely too much for this woman. None the less, a limited review of her book can be read here.
The second instance arose at university, where someone read my work (I linked to it on a forum, in answer to my lecturer’s comment about his work in the area), then made a complaint of “general misconduct”. The letter I received in response to this complaint referred to the following:
30 (3) conduct that is contrary to acceptable standards of behaviour;
What was in question, when I referred to the suggested documents, was that I had behaved in a manner contrary to the law, or in a manner that was irresponsible, unethical, and blah blah.
I won’t go into details concerning my reply to this, if only because the responsible person declined to continue to investigate the complaint, partially due to my comments in emails concerning the entire academic process and the law. (This is me guessing, because I have no idea at all why the process did not proceed, but like everyone else, I would like to think that my comments had some effect.)
One thing which particularly interested me about this was that I was not to be told any details about the complaint, nor who had made said complaint. This, as I pointed out, denies natural justice, but it is, apparently, the manner in which universities conduct their affairs. I was given the opportunity to make a statement in my defence, but without relevant information about the complaint, no such statement is possible unless it is very general, addressing nothing much at all, or attempts to deal with every possible version of the complaint that can be imagined. I was promised full details towards the end, but I never did find out, because the investigation was cancelled. And so it should have been. But the point of this has to do with morals. It appears that researching, and linking to one’s work, is likely to be morally condemned, or just telling someone that this is the area of research being pursued, is enough to lose a friend (not a very good friend, apparently).
If we have attained such a high point of morality that researchers can be brought trouble and difficulty merely because of their area of research, and because they say things which the hoi polloi reject, then there seems little left to say. We can make our own complaints, perhaps, but no one really cares if politician’s lie, no one really cares if an academic is punished for his work, as Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman [1, 6] were. What contemporary western people seem to care about is maintaining their prejudices and fears above all else; they certainly do not care about truth or accuracy.
 Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, Robert Bauserman: “A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples”, Psychlogical Bulletin, pp. 22—53, 1998.
 Claudia Card: “What’s Wrong with Adult-Child Sex?”, Journal of Social Philosophy, pp. 170—177, 2002.
 Stephen Kershnar: Pedophilia and Adult-Child Sex. Lexington Books, 2015. URL https://www.ebook.de/de/product/24229299/stephen_kershnar_pedophilia_and_adult_child_sex.html.
 Michael C. Seto: “Is Pedophilia a Sexual Orientation?”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, pp. 231—236, 2012. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-011-9882-6.
 Michael C. Seto: The Puzzle of Male Chronophilias. Springer Nature, 2016. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0799-y. Published online: 22 August 2016.
 Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, Robert Bauserman: The Clash of Media, Politics, and Sexual Science: An examination of the controversy surrounding the Psychological Bulletin meta-analysis on the assumed properties of child sexual abuse. 1999. URL https://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/99118_rbt_defense_nov99.htm. Talk presented at the 1999 Joint Annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) November 6th, 1999 (St. Louis, Missouri). Presenter: Philip Tromovitch.
 Stephen Kershnar: “The Moral Status of Harmless Adult-Child Sex”, Public Affairs Quarterly, pp. 111-132, 2001. URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/40441288.
 Laurence Thomas: “Sexual Desire, Moral Choice, and Human Ends”, Journal of Social Philosophy, pp. 178—192, 2002.