July 17, 2002


AND BACK TO PERVERTS...: It's been a while since I wrote about aberrant sexuality; it's about time to correct that.

(Long-time readers remember my lengthy post on pedophilia, society and Pim Fortuyn; even longer-time readers remember my thoughts on a certain Supreme Court decision, and Ann Coulter's reaction to it, regarding something I still get google-hits for. I won't invite more by mentioning it again.)

"Man who had sex with underwear-clad dogs forced to flee" may be an amusing headline (and tailor-made for Drudge), but this story is not merely gross and strange. This raises serious questions about crime and punishment, and has more to do with people than canines.

Why would you put women's underwear on a dog? To make it seem more like a human sex-partner. Why not find a human instead? Isolation due to social mal-adjustment is one reason; another, likely in this case, is wanting to do something to a human that you can't.

Consider the case of "crush videos," which are a problem for animal protection organizations; certain people get off on watching animals crushed to death by a high heel. The obsession typically starts with bugs, then usually progresses to larger and larger animals-- frogs and rodents are typical, but cats and dogs can show up. I read one anti-animal-cruelty activist quoted as saying he'd seen a crush video with a monkey. The point is that obsessives will seek things closer and closer to human.

Some people who are into crush videos identify sadistically with the heel, but it is more common for them to identify with the animal; their Thanatos is in overdrive. One Darwin Award nominee took this fantasy to its logical conclusion by lying under a board in a pit while his wife drove an SUV over him and killed him (their crush video collection was part of her defense, and she avoided jail-time).

Now back to those underwear-clad dogs. They were both found dead in bras and panties, one in a ditch, one hanging from the rafters of a garage. It's quite typical for serial killers to have childhood histories of cruelty to animals; this is how the blind-spot for empathy first manifests itself. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what this man's sexual intentions might be toward human women.

"Staff Sgt Boyd Campbell, of the sex-crimes unit, said his greatest concern is the possibility 'this is an escalating offence. Hopefully we are wrong but there is enough concern.'" More than enough, actually. Such a case calls into serious question Thomas Szasz's opposition to state-mandated psychiatric treatment. I'm still agnostic on Szasz-- some of his views seem very persuasive-- but in this case, the imminent rape and murder of women seems a virtual fait accompli without either near-constant surveillance or effective psychiatric treatment. The latter seems to me not only more practical, but also a smaller infringement upon personal liberty than the former.

Posted by John Tabin at July 17, 2002 07:12 AM