A mother hears an unexpected noise in her daughter’s bedroom, and her husband interrupts a kidnapping in progress. A child is snatched on a suburban street, and an Amber Alert is posted electronically across interstate highways.
Whenever we turn on the TV, radio or check out news on the Internet, we’re regularly exposed to sordid encounters involving a suspected pedophile. With each encounter, we’re shocked by the boldness of such perpetrators and share our alarm with young children. Certain societal conditions cause these animals to breed, and the time is right to institute changes that eventually expose and root out this evil.
I state my premise because of personal experience.
Almost 60 years ago, I had an unwanted encounter with a pedophile posing as a guidance counselor at an internationally acclaimed boychoir school in Princeton, New Jersey. Over the years, this perpetrator had accumulated credentials from well-regarded schools in the Northeast, and had won the trust of school administrators. Deep inside, though, he harbored a secret obsession: young, musically gifted boys.
After he was hired at the school in the fall of 1954, he started to focus on me once the Christmas holidays were over. “You appear to be suffering from too much tension,” he chided thoughtfully. “You need to work on that.”
“Oh, really?” I thought. At 11½ years old, I became self-conscious about possible physical affectations, but didn’t concern myself with anything more.
My parents lived in Miami, Fla., so I had become a resident at this distinguished Ivy League preparatory school for boys. The halcyon atmosphere and architectural splendor matched the school’s academic excellence, but did little to shield me from an imminent dark force.
I slept on the bottom rack of a double bunk bed in a small dorm room that housed five other boys, but one middle-of-the-night February morning around 2 am, I was roused by the guidance counselor, who put a forefinger to his lips cautioning me not to awaken anyone. Dutifully, I followed him out of the room, and he led me down the long hallway to his room.
It took the pedophile less than 10 minutes to pull down my pajamas and accomplish his dirty deed of sodomy. I never made a sound, afraid to anger or encourage my newfound nemesis.
Fortunately, he quickly reached an orgasm, which ended the encounter, and he told me to go back to my room and keep quiet. After obeying his instructions, I wondered what just happened.
Three days later, while going to breakfast, I was startled to discover each and every choirboy in tears, sobbing over an announcement that caused shockwaves. School officials had said the popular guidance counselor was resigning – “for personal health” reasons. He routinely shook hands with each boy, and as was his custom he used a furtive forefinger to scratch suggestively against each young hand customarily offered.
Later in life, I theorized one of the boys in my dorm room had silently awakened, feigning sleep to safely note what was happening. Almost immediately afterward, he related his eyewitness account of alarm to an authority figure.
Subsequently, the guidance counselor was confronted, and once he confessed was offered the chance to quietly resign. Since that time, I felt gratitude toward my anonymous savior, and learned to respect the secret world of children, because good kids need an outlet to look after their peers.
Whom did I blame for my betrayal? Was it the school? Was it the miscreant pervert?
No, it wasn’t the school, because the school acted appropriately when the misdeed was exposed. What wasn’t appropriate, though, is how it hid the cause of his dismissal. And strangely, I didn’t blame the pedophile, although I continue to view him as a predator, albeit a sick one.
I blame the society of the mid-1950s, where homosexual predators of the young proliferated because such occurrences were only whispered about, never discussed in public. Those were the days of the McCarthy era, when women were ostracized if they weren’t subservient to their husbands or, heaven forbid, flaunted themselves in public.
The “Father Knows Best” blindness of the mid-20th Century was responsible for the attack on my innocence, and my consistent kneejerk response thereafter has been to rail against censorship.
A short two months after I suffered the ultimate betrayal, the boychoir school embargoed broadcasts of the 1939 movie, “King Kong,” starring Fay Wray, claiming it was too violent for our young minds. The decision was reached once WOR-TV in New York City began telecasting the classic film twice a day for a full week on its “Million Dollar Movie.” Each television was monitored to make sure no one was watching at each of the 14 showings. What a waste!
I believe censorship lays the groundwork as a breeding ground for pedophiles. If any attire, look or behavior can be banned for being “inappropriate,” such dress code creates an atmosphere that eventually works to conceal aberrant behavior. “The Bill Cosby Show” was exalted for its clean, wholesome approach. Look at the awful truth now being revealed.
Some statistics unequivocally state that one out of three females have been sexually molested, most by a family member or authority figure. The same source adds that one out of four males encountered the same violation. Why aren’t these victims talking about it? Is there truth in these numbers or is there a conspiracy of silence in the guise of political correctness?
A preacher’s recent admonition about blue jeans personally raises a red flag. Underneath it all, I want to shout from the rooftops, “Pedophiles are like cockroaches. Turn on the lights, and they’ll scatter.”
As an adult, I don’t view myself as a victim. I see myself as an advocate for meaningful change, and when something causes me to react in disgust, there is usually a good reason.
Humor is our best defense against the serious times in which we live, and I will continue to cause consternation toward those advocating censorship. We need to keep the lights turned on, because it costs too much to turn them off.