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Saturday, March 31, 2018

More Searching for Narrative in Horrible Child Sex Rings

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It was not my intention to extend the discussion of Rotherham, Telford and the other cities into a second post. In fact, I try to avoid extending a subject over multiple entries because I think I’m lucky to get someone to read one of my posts and extending the subject to 7,000 or 10,000 words can only further reduce the number of people who will read the entire thing. But, I feel the need to address some interesting points raised in the comments of the previous post, additionally, I did have a few other thoughts on the subject which I cut because of space. Finally, I’m spending part of this week traveling and it’s less time-consuming to write about something I was already thinking about than to queue up a whole new subject. All of which is to say that the preponderance of excuses leads me to continue discussing last weeks subject, with perhaps some additional stuff thrown in.


To begin with I’d like to address Boonton’s objection from the comments that “1,000 children as young as 11 [being] drugged, beaten and raped over 40 years” is not that much.


Telford has a population of 170,000. 1000 children abused over 40 years amounts to 25 children a year. Is that a lot? Sadly not really. [This] indicates maybe as much as 16% of men and 25% of women experienced some type of underage sex abuse. Here if you're a UK Tabloid you can easily make a short memo on how to "make your own Child Sex Scandal". Dig and find a bunch of examples that were ignored and tie them all together by some common factor. Even if 25% is too high, [the] fact is there's nowhere that lacks child sex abuse that didn't get reported or prosecuted in a timely manner. We know from the 'Satanic Abuse panic' and 'recovered memories' fiasco's in the 80's and 90's that the media can both under and over report child sex abuse.


I’ll be honest that upon re-reading the comment I’m not sure what he means there at the end, if he agrees with me that the crimes in Rotherham, Telford etc. were under-reported, or if he’s actually moving to the other side of things and claiming that Rotherham, Telford etc. were over-reported. It feels like the latter, like he’s arguing this is just the normal level of child sex abuse strung into a sensational narrative by tabloids looking to increase page views. And this is something you have to consider in any discussion like this.


If 25% of women experience some kind of underage sexual abuse, then as he says 1000 over 40 years is a small fraction of the approximately 21,250 (170,000*0.5 females*0.25) you would expect. (Both numbers being a current snapshot of people who report being abused either in one fashion or the other.)


But as another commenter, Mark, points out:


25% experiencing unwanted sexual abuse is entirely dependent on how this is defined. I've been burned too often by these journal articles creating over broad definitions for shock value. If one in four girls is forcibly raped before graduating high school it seems to me we're on the verge of societal collapse. Either that, or we should be taking to the streets. Sorry, I just don't buy it. And if it's something less than that, it's not close enough to establish a baseline around. "25% of girls have their butt pinched by perv teenage boys, so I guess those multiple small towns where hundreds of girls were forced into sex slavery is put in context" just doesn't work. How many girls were sex slaves in these same small towns outside the crime rings? Are other small towns plagued with similar rates of sex trafficking, but these ones just had all the traffickers conveniently organized into the same criminal network? Are there similar rates in cities? The 25% number doesn't help answer these questions, and I understand it's an attempt to establish a baseline, but I think it is just distracting instead.


As is the case with so many things we have (at least) two competing sides. I find myself more on Mark’s side than Boonton’s (as you might imagine) particularly his point that if one in four girls is being forcibly raped (the article actually says “drugged, beaten and raped”) then we have a societal collapse level problem. But where does that leave us? Do I just dismiss Boonton’s numbers and move on, or is there a way we can try and get to the bottom of this. And here’s where I part with Mark, I don’t think it’s a distraction. Or to put it a different way I think it’s important to make sure that we’re not confusing anecdotes for data. As Boonton says later, if you dig enough you can find examples of just about anything. And I agree that It’s important not to lose sight of that.


Accordingly rather than being distracted by the 25%, let’s engage with it for a moment. Are the 1000 Telford victims or the 1400 Rotherham victims just the tail end of the sex abuse distribution, not some separate terrifying phenomenon? I guess the best place to look would be the official Rotherham report and see whether it has any information which will clarify things. Also I’m not going to belabor this point too much I suspect that even Boonton agrees that what happened in Rotherham, Telford, etc. was out of the ordinary the question is how out of the ordinary. So just some rapid fire observations of things that would appear to set what happened in these towns into a separate category from the figures Boonton mentions:


  • The Rotherham number of 1400 is a “conservative estimate” and covered only 1997-2013. (So less than 40 years.) [Page 1 of report]
  • There appears to be a large uptick in cases from 2008-2013. (This was not business as usual but specific trend.) [Page 29]
  • Grooming was a major element, and children as young as 8 were targeted. [Page 38]
  • They make specific reference to how easy the internet made it to target those 8 year olds, and mention elsewhere that the internet was causing a rise in the amount of exploitation. [Page 45]
  • The numbers Boonton mentioned gave a 25%/16%, or approximately 3 to 2, gender disparity in abuse. With Rotherham the ratio appears to have been more like 15 to 2. [Page 32]


Beyond all these differences I would recommend reading all of section five from the report, which details a representative sampling of the victims, and what happened to them. I know it’s all anecdotes, but if after doing that you’re not convinced that Rotherham represents something out of the ordinary, then I don’t know what else to say.


Moving on, another issue which attracted a fair amount of criticism both in the comments and with people I talked to was the idea that Rotherham, Telford, etc. took so long to investigate because the perpetrators were powerful people, thus it took a long time for the same reason that it took a long time for the crimes of Nassar and Sandusky and Weinstein to come to light. But people weren’t buying it, so let me approach it from another angle. First, recall that I brought up that point specifically as a rebuttal to someone who argued that all child sex abuse cases take forever to come to light. To which I retorted that all they had shown was that sex abuse cases involving powerful individuals take forever to come to light. And gave an example of a child sex abuse case which progressed with amazing rapidity, and argued it was because the suspects weren’t powerful. I then asked for any examples of child sex abuse which took forever to investigate, but didn’t involve people in positions of power. So far, no example has been forthcoming.


All that said, I will admit that the kind of power exercised by the perpetrators in Rotherham, Telford, etc. was of a different type and complexion than what we normally think of as power. But I continue to maintain that they do have a form of power. Not only do we have the example of perpetrators threatening to play the race card, and the claims of the researcher from 2001, from the last post, but as I was reading the official report I was reminded of some other ways in which their power was manifested:

In two of the cases we read, fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene. In a small number of cases (which have already received media attention) the victims were arrested for offences such as breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, with no action taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault against children.

Still, I’m guessing that those who weren’t convinced before aren’t convinced now, so let me put it another way. One of the reasons why, for example, Jerry Sandusky’s crimes took so long to come to light was that any attempt to investigate him would have been very messy. You were talking about an important part of a hallowed institution. Now I’m not saying the perpetrators in these crimes were a similar part of a hallowed institution, but I am saying that, as we saw in all the examples, social and political sensitivities made any attempt at a full investigation very messy. So, perhaps, even if you can’t agree that the social justice movement has made these minorities powerful, you can at least agree that it’s made any investigations very messy.


Still another subject that was brought up in the comments was assimilation. I am obviously fascinated by assimilation because I have argued repeatedly that the lack of it is the key thing making recent immigration different than immigration in the past. I made the point that given that the big surge in Pakistani immigration was in the 50s and 60s. They have had plenty of time to assimilate, and a big part of the problem is that they haven’t. Boonton countered by pointing out that we still had problems with the Italian mafia decades after the peak of Italian immigration, and made the argument that by that standard Pakistanis have not been especially slow. This is a fair point, but I think it overlooks what the Italians themselves were doing about the problems of Italian crime. Allow me to provide an example of what I mean.


Last year I read the book Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History, which was all about Joseph Petrosino who in 1908 formed an all Italian police squad to combat Italian organized crime (and was arresting notable Italian crime figures years before that). Looking at the charts the bulk of italian immigration was happening at exactly the same time as Petrosino was forming his squad. Where is the Pakistani Petrosino? Can anyone point me at something similar? Obviously this is once again just one data point, but if nothing else it speaks of a strong desire by some Italians to assimilate, to the point of organizing squads to arrest their countrymen, which I don’t find much evidence of among the more recent immigrants. Including British Pakistanis.
That’s enough revisiting of the last post, but it does lead right into a subject that got left out of the last post: culture. Where does it fit into things?


There are of course several possibilities. It could be that there is no material difference between the culture of the perpetrators of these crimes and the culture of the victims. That whatever crimes were committed would have been committed by British males if they hadn’t been committed by minority males. Already you can see where this is a subject that might get me in trouble, but of course if it does I think it just proves the point about political correctness and to a lesser extent buttresses my argument about power. That said how would this argument work?


You could certainly imagine a level of family disintegration which didn’t exist previously, and further imagine that because of this, the victims had greater latitude to get into trouble. They were under less supervision, and therefore presented easier targets for grooming. And that, however large you think this crisis is, this is what led to it. That taxi drivers (a primary component of the csa rings) would inevitably have come in contact with unsupervised, naive young girls and that if it had been working class English men who still made up the bulk of the taxi drivers, instead of minority males, then you would have had child sex abuse rings composed entirely of English men rather than Pakistanis and other minorities.


If you don’t buy this argument or if you think it’s insufficient then perhaps it’s social media. When I was growing up, there were two ways for a predator to contact a teenager, they could meet up with you outside of the house, or they could call you on the phone. With a significantly higher number of stay at home moms and intact marriages (see the first point) whether someone was home or not was a lot easier to determine. On top of that I would also venture to say that when children weren’t at home the parents were a lot more likely to know where they were.


This leaves the phone. I imagine this would come as a shock to many young people, but back then it was pretty obvious if someone was on the phone, particularly if they were on it for any length of time. (And even more particularly if you wanted to use it.) The vast majority of people only had a single line, and on top of that most of them only had phones in central locations. Which is not to say some kids didn’t have their own line in their own room, but it seems unlikely that the working class girls who were largely targeted would have been in this category.


But now, all that is changed. With social media you can be contacted and groomed and there’s a good chance your parents will never suspect.


I keep coming back to this paragraph from the official report, so perhaps I should just include it in its entirety:
Over time, methods of grooming have changed as mobile technology has advanced. Mobile phones, social networking sites and mobile apps have become common ways of identifying and targeting vulnerable children and young people and we heard concerns from local agencies in Rotherham that much younger children were being targeted in this way. A number of the recent case files we read demonstrated that by unguarded use of text and video messaging and social networking sites, children had unwittingly placed themselves in a position where they could be targeted, sometimes in a matter of days or hours, by sexual predators from all over the world. In a small number of cases, this led to direct physical contact, rape and sexual abuse with one or more perpetrators. The comment was made that grooming could move from online to personal contact very quickly indeed. One of the most worrying features is the ease with which young children aged from about 8-10 years can be targeted and exploited in this way without their families being aware of the dangers associated with internet use.


Of course, all of this is still culture, but so far we’ve mostly talked about the culture of the victims, and to a larger extent the changing culture brought on by the internet. And it’s possible that this is all there is to it. That all the people who talk about the Pakistani culture, or Muslim culture or Somali culture in connection with what happened are being unfair, or even bigoted.


This is possible, but it’s also possible that the culture of the perpetrators does matter, that the lack of assimilation contributed to the problem. That what we’re really looking at is a perfect storm of declining supervision, new and more effective vectors for perpetrators to find and groom victims, and a culture predisposed to commit these sorts of crimes. It is obviously this last statement which is the most controversial. And I can’t promise that I’m going to offer up some smoking gun of proof, but we do have the following evidence.


To begin with, as far as I can tell no ethnically english men were ever implicated or charged in connection with any of the grooming rings. If you can find one, I’d love to hear about it. (In fact as we saw above a couple of them were arrested when they tried to stop things in preference to arresting the actual perpetrators.) If it was just due to disintegrating families, lax supervision, or the ease of grooming brought on by social media, you would expect that you wouldn’t see such uniformity among the perpetrators. I understand that this is not sufficient, I said I had no smoking guns, but it shouldn’t be dismissed either.


Second, the perpetrators were from less-developed, non-western countries where norms of behavior are very different. You might even say the cultural norms among the perpetrators were less modern. To give an extreme example, in the distant past, rape and pillage and aggression towards women, and of course more broadly all behavior that would fall under the general heading of “objectification of women” was far more common. In the course of time cultures developed norms and standards and laws to minimize all these various forms of objectification, you might even say they developed antibodies. Eventually as the behavior was stamped out, the norms and standards started to atrophy and became curious traditions. An example might be having a constant chaperon, or the tradition of a father walking his daughter down the aisle as part of the wedding ceremony. Both of these are things that seem quaint and pointless now, but there was a time when they were a response to a certain form of aggressive male behavior, but now, to the extent they exist at all, they are shrunken relics from the distant past. Progress has gotten us to a point where we’ve been able to abandon all these things, but in the course of doing so western culture has lost a form of societal immunity it once possessed.


Into this mix, toss some men who might still be in a less culturally advanced state, where chaperoning and full body covering and women not being left alone with any man who isn’t her relative, are all still the norm. And it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that these men view all the women who aren’t doing these things as promiscuous, and the parents who allow it as uncaring and neglectful. To return to our metaphor, you may have released a disease to which western society is no longer immune. Now obviously none of this is very politically correct. And none of it is stuff that hasn’t made an appearance in dozens if not hundreds of right wing blogs. But it may be true and worth repeating despite all that. There was and is a problem in Rotherham, Telford, Rochdale, Derby, Oxford, Bristol, Banbury, Aylesbury, Halifax, Keighley, and probably other towns and cities we’re unaware of.  And if things are anywhere close to as bad as the reports make them out to be, then it’s important to understand everything that could be contributing, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.





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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ten Child Sex Abuse Rings in Search of a Narrative

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I’d like to start this post with a question. Does the word Telford mean anything to you? What if I told you it was the name of a place? If that still doesn’t ring any bells, what about Rotherham? If neither do, then I’m not surprised, though I might be a little bit concerned. If you do know about one or both of these places then you might understand my concern, but for those who might not have heard, I’ll start the post by explaining why two English towns with populations of around 150,000 (Telford) and around 110,000 (Rotherham) are in the news (or actually not as the case may be.)


The situation in Rotherham came to light first, in 2011. It started with an article in The Times which reported that for decades there had been an organized child sex abuse ring in Rotherham. At around the same time as the article an investigation was launched and in 2014, when the full details came to light they were staggering. Wikipedia has an excellent summary, so I’ll turn it over to them:


In August 2014 the Jay report concluded that an estimated 1,400 children, most of them white girls, had been sexually abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 by predominantly British-Pakistani men. British Asian girls suffered abuse that mirrored that of other victims, but there was a reluctance to report it due to the fear of shame and dishonour it would bring on their families. A "common thread" was that taxi drivers had been picking the children up for sex from care homes and schools. The abuse included gang rape, forcing children to watch rape, dousing them with petrol and threatening to set them on fire, threatening to rape their mothers and younger sisters, and trafficking them to other towns. There were pregnancies—one at age 12—terminations, miscarriages, babies raised by their mothers, and babies removed, causing further trauma.


The failure to address the abuse was attributed to a combination of factors revolving around race, class and gender—contemptuous and sexist attitudes toward the mostly working-class victims; fear that the perpetrators' ethnicity would trigger allegations of racism and damage community relations; the Labour council's reluctance to challenge a Labour-voting ethnic minority; lack of a child-centred focus; a desire to protect the town's reputation; and lack of training and resources.


I don’t know about you, but the numbers and the description of the crimes and the failures by the authorities are all, frankly, nauseating. Though perhaps even more nauseating is the knowledge that the first hints of it came to light in the early 90s, meaning that it went on potentially 20 or more years longer than it needed to. And worse still than all of that, would be if Rotherham wasn’t an isolated or unique example, if it was merely the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately there’s every reason to believe that this is the case. For example, just a little over a week ago The Daily Mail published an article claiming that the same thing was going on in Telford, and according to the initial report, the situation in Telford might be even worse.


While the opening spiel of an article like this is designed to be as sensational as possible, this one paints an especially horrifying picture:


'Girls must be saved from going through this hell': Call for public inquiry into Telford sex scandal as it emerges up to 1,000 children as young as 11 were drugged, beaten and raped over 40 years
  • Gang in Telford, Shropshire, has been sexually abusing teen girls since the 1980s
  • Allegations 'have been mishandled by authorities' with attackers left unpunished
  • Telford's Tory MP, Lucy Allan, has called for an urgent Rotherham-style inquiry
  • Lucy Lowe, 16, was murdered alongside her mother and sister after her abuser set fire to their house. She had given birth to his child at just 14.


In both towns you have organized gangs of men, grooming young girls for sex. While it’s too early in the Telford saga to say that it was exactly the same kind of thing as what happened in Rotherham, I think based on the early reporting, that’s certainly the way the wind is blowing. At this point you may be thinking that two towns does not an epidemic make, that maybe, hopefully these two isolated incidents are all there is, and that maybe when all the facts emerge Telford will end up being not all that similar to Rotherham. Unfortunately, Telford is not the second place it’s happened it’s just the latest place where a child sex abuse ring has been uncovered. Thus far, we have all of the following:




Show of hands on how many people have heard of any of these, to say nothing of all of them? I hadn’t, not until very recently.


I could spend the rest of the post covering the sad facts of each of these scandals, but I’m more interested in what we can say about things generally. And to start with I’d like to talk about the lack of attention paid to these crimes. Hopefully you have at least heard about Rotherham, even if you haven’t heard of Telford or any of the rest. If you have heard of one or more it was probably through a blog like this, or maybe you caught the short mention of Telford in the most recent edition of The Economist. In any event I doubt you heard about these crimes on any of the major news networks (maybe Fox?) And certainly, this epidemic of child sex abuse in England is not part of the what might be considered common cultural knowledge, which is to say someone is far more likely to know something relatively silly, like the fact that UMBC was the first number 16 seed to beat a number 1 seed (which is not to say that wasn’t exciting) or the fact that Khlo√© Kardashian is pregnant, than they are to know the details of Rotherham, to say nothing of Telford or any of the others. If you have heard about it I’d be interested in where, (feel free to post in the comments) and if you haven’t, well then I assume the lack of coverage is self-evident, but let’s take it a step further and look at the kind of coverage these stories have gotten.


The first question which presents itself: how do you objectively quantify whether something has received too little coverage or too much? And any criticisms on this point are welcome, but one easy way is to just look at the number of search results. Though we still need to establish some kind of baseline for how many search results should be expected. To fill this role, I think I’m going to use MH370, the flight that went missing out of southeast Asia as my baseline. This has the great advantage of being a search term which is unlikely to return any false results. Also it’s widely agreed that it received about the maximum amount of coverage possible. Thus, let’s proceed by rating the amount of attention a news story can receive on a scale of 1-10 with MH370 as a 10. With this idea in place let’s see how Rotherham, the best known of these scandals, does.


  • Total number of search results: “MH370” - 13,100,000 “Rotherham” 4,140,000  So just the name of the city with no further filtering is at a 3. If we add children to the search it drops to 955,000 or 0.7 on the scale. Already pretty low, and there’s certainly hits even in the last search that must refer to actual children in Rotherham and not the scandal. (Also I’m aware Google does funny customization on searches, so these may not be the numbers you get.)
  • Perhaps our results will be more useful if we just look at results in a specific newspaper, like the New York Times. The search “site:nytimes.com mh370” returns 800 results, and the search “site:nytimes.com rotherham” returns 238 results. Restricting it just by the name of the city is once again a 3 on the scale, if we try and restrict it to just stories about the scandal, then the highest number of hits is “site:nytimes.com rotherham children” (I tried child, grooming, scandal, abuse and rape) with 94 results, or ~1 on the scale. A little bit higher than before, but we still could be getting some extraneous results.
  • Still restricting ourselves to the New York Times we could turn to looking at the dates on the stories. If we do this we find that with MH370 we have a couple of stories from 2018 in the first 20 hits, and five from 2017. In the first 20 hits on “rotherham children” the two most recent stories are from 2016, with the vast majority being from 2014. (When the report was released.) Also just in the first 20 hits there are some stories which obviously don’t refer to the scandal, so the 94 from above is almost certainly too high, I’m guessing the 57 from rotherham+abuse is closer, which is once again a  0.7 on the scale.


It’s interesting that the results are consistent from the entire internet to just the New York Times (which is not to say I have anywhere close to a significant amount of data) but even if I had discovered something real, what does it mean?


I imagine (and this will be more important in a minute) that people see what they want to see. That those who want to construct a narrative where Rotherham got plenty of attention will point to the 54 (possibly more) stories which were published by the New York Times and say that was a lot. They might also argue that the reporting on MH370 is a bad comparison precisely because the coverage was so ubiquitous and saturated. (Though one would hope you would see less of that in a sober, respectable paper like the New York Times.) On the other hand those who think the story was criminally under-reported will point to the vast disparity in the two stories, and the lack of anything recent, despite the list of numerous other incidents where essentially exactly the same thing happened, for example, Telford.


Speaking of Telford you may be wondering what the New York Times had to say about the revelation of this most recent child sex abuse ring, if anything. Well unfortunately unlike Rotherham the word “Telford” is used to refer to things other than a town in England. It is, for instance the first name of a Telford Taylor, the principal Nuremberg prosecutor. But I can hardly imagine that you could talk about Telford without mentioning Rotherham, and if you search “site:nytimes.com rotherham telford” there are zero hits. The rest of the scandals I listed above, are mostly similar, the largest number of results I saw was 11, if you add the word “abuse” to cut down extraneous soccer articles (and even then “site:nytimes.com abuse rotherham keighley” is 67% soccer articles, two out of three.)


In any event, if you’re not convinced that reporting on this issue has been lacking, particularly reporting on the obvious pattern of the crimes and scandals, then I’m not sure what else would convince you, so from here out I’m going to assume that we’re on the same page: The epidemic of British child sex abuse rings is under-reported. The next question is, why?


Even if this is the first you’re hearing of things you might be able to guess at least one of the theories. And if you have heard of Rotherham, and the other towns you probably know exactly where I’m going. Many people, most of them on the right, feel that the reason these stories have been under-reported is the same reason why they went on for so long, an excess of political correctness. In nearly all of the towns where these child sex abuse rings existed the perpetrators were ethnically and culturally Pakistani, and in the few cases where ethnicity isn’t mentioned we encounter names like, Sufyan Ziarab or Nasir Khan. In no cases do we have any Bob Smiths, or Oliver Browns involved in the crimes. Accordingly under this theory, police did not investigate these crimes because they were worried about being accused of being racist and of having an anti immigrant bias. Following from that, in a very similar fashion, once the facts did come out, the stories did not receive very much coverage because the largely left-leaning media did not want to provide any more ammunition to people who would use it to support their own racist narratives of immigrants and immigrant crime.


It seems self-evident that on some level something like this was going on, and for many people the smoking gun is the story of when a researcher tried to blow the whistle on things in Rotherham back in 2001:


  • “[The researcher] was told she must ‘never, ever’ again refer to the fact that the abusers were predominantly Asian men.”
  • “...the [Rotherham] council tried unsuccessfully to sack the researcher after she resisted pressure to change her findings.”
  • “Data to back up the report's findings also went missing”
  • Finally, the most ridiculous part of the whole exercise for most people, was when the research was booked into “a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise [her] awareness of ethnic issues.”


The question is not whether political correctness and race played a part in ignoring the problem for decades, the question is how much of a part it played. Or to phrase it a different way, how much would the lack of political correctness and racial (over) sensitivity have sped up the revelation of the crimes? Those who take the report I just mentioned at face value will instantly respond that it would have sped it up by at least a decade (2001 as opposed to 2011) perhaps more. But even if you disagree with the figure of a decade, if your answer is not zero, that it wouldn’t have sped up discovery at all. Then you’re admitting some harm came from the ideology of political correctness. It then follows that the only justification is if political correctness and the associated ideology brought some extreme benefit which counterbalanced the extreme harm.


Believe me, I understand that everything is a trade-off, and I suppose an argument could be made in this vein. Perhaps in order to have a society where these child sex abuse rings didn’t happen would require a society that is so racist that horrible racially motivated crimes would have occurred which would have been objectively worse than the systemic and repeated rape and abuse of thousands of girls, some of which, I’ll remind you, were as young as 11. I have to say, I have a hard time imagining what horrible racially motivated crimes would have taken place in 1980s England without political correctness, and I have an even harder time accepting that they would be so bad as to balance out what actually did happen.


I guess if a lack of political correctness would have only hastened discovery by a few days, or a month, then perhaps. But we have prima facie evidence that it would have hastened things by a decade, and at anything close to that amount of time, I can’t see any potential way in which the benefits of political correctness outway the harms.


Which means that basically the only way to not place the blame on political correctness is for it to have made no difference, and to be fair, there are some people who argue exactly that. That political correctness and everything under that umbrella had no effect in Rotherham. That for whatever reason police and the authorities are always slow about researching the sex abuse of children. And political correctness has nothing to do with it. An example of this argument:


If someone says “in Rotherham the police ignored evidence that these people were assaulting children, for politically motivated reasons”, then if I’m responsible I will go check how often the police ignore evidence that people are assaulting children for absolutely no reason at all and eventually I will probably conclude that police just frequently ignore evidence of serious crimes.


I have encountered communities where everyone constantly talked at Rotherham in exhausting detail but they had absolutely no idea about any of the other cases I mentioned.


I mean that. They just had no idea. You ask them “can you name a csa case where there isn’t evidence that the police could have acted ten years sooner than they did?” and they are genuinely surprised that in the case of Larry Nassar, in the case of Jerry Sandusky, in the case of Jimmy Saville, in the case of Catholic clergy, the police could have acted ten years earlier and didn’t. They’ve heard about Rotherham, and only Rotherham, and because their sources were so carefully selective in which horrible things they let their readers learn of, the readers end up thinking that something uniquely [sic] went wrong in Rotherham, instead of realizing that police just don’t actually typically do anything about evidence of sexual abuse of children until years and sometimes decades after they could have.


This is an interesting, and on the face of it, powerful rebuttal, so let’s consider it for a moment. To begin with, every one of the people he mentioned was in a position of power, and all of the abuse happened, and continued for as long as it did, because the perpetrators used that power to not only enable the abuse but also to avoid being held accountable for it. Thus I would argue that police do not wait for “years and sometimes decades” to act in all child sex abuse cases, but rather that this wait only occurs in cases involving powerful individuals. If this is not true, can anyone point to a similar csa case not involving powerful individuals which also had a very long gap between the first evidence and the actual public revelation? You may be tempted to immediately reply “Rotherham”, but hold off on that for a second. You may also be tempted to ask for any example where the police did not wait. There is a very well known example of this, which I’ve already mentioned in this space. An example where not only did the police and authorities act immediately, they acted in advance of actual information, and in fact went so far as to manufacture evidence. I refer of course to the Day-car sex abuse hysteria of the 80s.


As far as I can tell, the big difference in this situation is that the daycare owners had very little power. Leading me to again suggest that power is the critical component. But what does this refinement suggest about Rotherham and the rest?


It suggests that the Rotherham perpetrators were in a position of power. You might think this is a ludicrous assertion, but it is precisely what those who complain about Rotherham, those “communities where everyone [is] constantly [talking about] Rotherham in exhausting detail” are saying. That the reason Rotherham went on for so long is that the perpetrators had power, they had power based on their status as a racial minority. That when one of the abusers told one of the victims that he would not hesitate to use the “race card” if the police tried to take action, that he was threatening to use that power. The same way Nassar used his power as a famous doctor, the same way Sandusky used the power of Penn State football, and the same way Weinstein used his power as a famous producer. Most people can’t imagine that minorities would have the same kind of power, but I would argue that this is exactly what was going on in Rotherham and the rest of the cities. This is also part of the reason why there has been less reporting than one might expect. It’s simply dangerous to criticize the powerful.


Beyond this I’m not sure what else to say. To be honest the stories are almost too terrible to contemplate, too terrible to process. Particularly if they end up being exactly what they appear to be. Irrefutable proof that cultural sensitivity and tolerance have gone too far, and at terrible cost. But here at the end I just have one question. This list of ten towns, is it the end, or the beginning?





I’m not sure this particular topic deserves a clever gag at the end about donating. If you worry about stuff like this, then consider donating, if not, don’t.