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Text:Tom Hathaway - Memoirs of Forbidden Love/Screed by W.M.

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Dear Tom Hathaway,

Iʼve never had incest and donʼt feel the urge to, but I think the freedom of consenting adults to do so is an important civil liberty. I want to thank you for writing Taboo: A Memoir, and Iʼd like to explain why I think your movement is necessary and why I support it. Iʼm a professor and accustomed to holding forth, so please bear with me for a bit of screed.

Your book portrays the dynamics of change, of cultural liberation. Like the works of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Taboo subverts our mechanical culture of death and calls us back to the tenderness of the flesh. Its deconstruction of patriarchal sexuality is shocking, but thatʼs what we need now.

If weʼre serious about fundamental change, weʼre going to have to dismantle the structures that keep things as they are. This requires radical action, deeds that disturb us, that not only break the rules but wrench our guts.

This wild, rebellious change is threatening to each of us to the extent that weʼve internalized the current order and thereby identify with it. We all fear chaos to one degree or another, and to defend against it, weʼve allowed our culture to slip into retrograde. A new group of virtue mongers has fettered us with a stultifying propriety. Reaction has set in on all fronts.

But this too is just a phase, and we can move beyond it. Although weʼre all a long ways from freedom, we must continue to forge ahead towards it.

Itʼs time again to resist repression, to embrace our shadow side, to give our collective psyche another airing out, as in the 1960s. As Taboo states, itʼs time for the spirit of Dionysus to return. We need to keep up the good work of being bad.

That doesnʼt mean, though, that anything goes, that everything we want to do is OK. Thereʼs another aspect to this issue that we shouldnʼt lose sight of. Even in a revolution some laws are necessary, and one of those is against child molesting.

Some persons have been so warped that when their bottled‐up frustrations explode, they could do vicious things like molesting children. Children need to be protected from predatory adults.

If our culture, however, wasnʼt so puritanical, if we hadnʼt all absorbed such a dose of sex fear, these events wouldnʼt happen as often and they wouldnʼt be as damaging. Adults wouldnʼt be so sexually squelched and thus wouldnʼt be driven by such overpowering psychological urges. They wouldnʼt need to prey on those smaller. Children wouldnʼt have internalized the condemning judgments of society and thus wouldnʼt torment themselves about what happened. They could let go of the intrusion and leave it in the past. The community wouldnʼt flip into an hysteria of repression that can do more harm than the actual act. They could punish, when necessary, in a context of therapy.

In all our interactions with one another we need to remember to be kind. As you wrote in Taboo: “The only rule is kindness.” But although itʼs the only one, itʼs still a rule, and it has to be enforced. I think youʼll agree with me that thereʼs no way to kindly molest a child.

Sincerely, W.M.


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