Beyond Hysteria: Boy Erotica on the Internet.

Author:Johnston, Barry Cathal
Position:Book review
 
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Beyond Hysteria: Boy Erotica on the Internet D. L. Riegel Philadelphia: SafeHaven Foundation Press, 2004 96 pp., $12.95.

David Riegel begins his book by tracing some of what he calls the misinformed and unfounded counterarguments that are made in objection to Boy Erotica (BE). Speaking about one such book, Philip Jenkins' Beyond Tolerance, Riegel claims its author "fails to make critical distinctions, employs inaccurate and pejorative terminology, and on occasions, lapses into very unprofessional inflammatory rhetoric. He cites a plethora of anecdotes, but pertinent empirical data are noticeably absent" (p. 2). Riegel must have been greatly influenced by this book because not only did he choose a similar title, but the quotation above is a perfectly apt description of his work. Inflammatory rhetoric is particularly dominant as Riegel brands his intellectual antagonists as "a Pharisaical sect," (p. 2) "co-conspirators," (p. 8) and "self-righteous zealots," (p. 82) all of whom are participating in a "war of terror" (p. 82) against consensually expressed sexual relationships between older and younger males.

Only too aware and experienced with the accusations that may be thrown at researchers adopting his controversial views, Riegel quickly attempts to dispel any notion of "pedo-advocacy". He would rather his work be viewed as a dispassionate attempt to differentiate Boy Erotica (BE) from child pornography, and genuine BPM (Boy-attracted Pedosexual Males) from real molesters by means of rational discussion, empirical data and sound methodology. In what follows, he falls well short of his goals: his book tending more towards diatribe than dialogue; less reason and more rant.

In dealing with his enemies, Voltaire said he made one prayer to God: that they would be ridiculous. Riegel likes to make similar assumptions about his own detractors when he presents their views. He depicts them as ignorant and biased, succumbing to popular stereotypes and conventional wisdom ahead of more objective analysis. Such research no doubt exists--Riegel must have a parallel at the other end of the opinion spectrum--but he picks his fights selectively rather than exhaustively. Some chapters have few or no references and many of the studies for which he reserves particular criticism are decades old. It is easy to win an argument when one gets to handpick one's opponents.

A cursory glance at Beyond Hysteria by any undergraduate student would reveal glaring holes in...

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