Still Not Free in the U.S.—Your Sexual Fantasies

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On this most un-free COVID-stained July 4th, I want to caution you about another important way in which we are not free: regarding our sexual fantasies.

You are NOT free to fantasize about sex that is illegal. If you do, and you’re caught, you will have to prove you do not actually want to do those things. This is almost impossible. In fact, in my experience as an expert witness in courtrooms across America, I’ve rarely seen anyone do it successfully.

Say you and your boyfriend like to pretend during sex that you’re a mean school mistress and a disobedient school boy. Perhaps you exchange emails early in the day about what you’re going to do: “Oh, mistress, please don’t punish me!” “Well Justin, you’ve been bad again, so this time I’ll have to force you to lick teacher between her legs. And if you don’t do it right I’ll smack your privates really hard.”

Good clean fun. As long as the emails don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Say you and your girlfriend like to pretend during sex that you’re forcing her to submit to a gangbang—scary dudes who assault her against her will. You exchange emails all week where you pretend-threaten to do this, and she responds with pretend-nervousness.

Good clean fun. As long as the emails don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Say you’re scanning the web looking for new people with whom to fantasize such things. That’s when the emails can fall into the wrong hands. And you can be in the biggest trouble of your life.
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Say you like to talk with another adult and pretend you’re an adult teaching a child about sex. Or preparing them for sex. Or arranging to meet them for sex. This age-oriented role-playing is extremely common, from the light “Oh daddy!” between spouses to medium games like “what if” (“what if I had met you when you were 12, and I taught you how to kiss, and you wanted to please me so much…”), to the more involved scene in which someone dons adult-size children’s clothes and is easily seduced, or must “submit” to forced sex.

As long as nobody knows, two adults can do what they like.

But if two people email or text about this, and the digital trail falls into the hands of the police, the person playing the adult role in the fantasy could be in big trouble. And with a huge open spigot of Law Enforcement money chasing these fantasies, that happens every week in this country.

Here’s a common situation: someone who likes to play with such fantasies is married to someone who doesn’t. When that first person gets restless, they may look for an adult stranger with whom to play such fantasy games—just talking, or talking with actual sex.

This is more common than you might think, which is why Craigslist was incredibly popular, and why there are now a jillion chatrooms, BDSM forums, and other gathering places for people who want to meet strangers to share fantasies—with or without sex.

That’s “strangers” as in “adult strangers.”

As in, “I’m looking for a stranger who likes to pretend she’s a kid who wants sex with a grownup, and I’m an adult who likes to pretend I’m interested in having sex with such a kid.”

It’s all adults, it’s all pretend, no one gets hurt. Occasionally the two adults have sex together.

If you think it’s creepy, don’t do it. You can even stop reading this. But no one gets hurt, and it’s legal, right?

This is apparently a phenomenon with which many American police departments are unfamiliar.

There are police departments in every state with units devoted to finding people who fantasize online about adult-child sex.

And so police departments are going undercover to ADULT chatrooms, advertising “I’m a kid who wants sex with an adult” or “I’m an adult with a kid whom I’d like to watch having sex with an adult.” When an adult hobbyist in this ADULT chatroom reads such an ad, they (accurately) assume “it’s an adult pretending to be a kid, or an adult pretending to have a kid,” and they think “this is a game I like,” so they answer. And they think the adult-adult fantasy game is on.

But the police are looking for people to arrest for being interested in sex with children, so they play up their chatroom persona, sending and receiving dozens or even hundreds of texts. And they invite the hobbyist—whom they assume is a predatory criminal—to meet for this illegal sex. When the hobbyist shows up, assuming he’s going to meet an adult—which he does—he is arrested for allegedly intending to have sex with a child.

When this person protests his innocence, the police simply print out the transcript of the texts, in which the arrested person is breezily talking about sex with a child in the most explicit way. Pretend talk. Or talk that you can read as not-pretend, if you wish.

When this person goes on trial, the jury is instructed that, per the American way of life, this defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That’s what everyone learns about our country, it’s one of our most historically dramatic and fundamental rules, it’s what, perhaps more than anything else, makes this country a miraculous experiment in human rights—we’re each innocent until proven guilty.

However, juries in these cases don’t tend to see it this way.

Because prosecutors demand that these defendants prove they were fantasizing—which they can’t. No one can. Prosecutors reduce these cases to four very simple things:

  1. It’s his word against ours
  2. What kind of pervert enjoys fantasizing about sex with kids?
  3. If he fantasized it, it’s because he actually wants it
  4. Jurors, do you really want to take a chance that this might be a pedophile, and put him back on the street?

And so almost every one of these guys is convicted and goes to jail for an excruciatingly long time. Followed by probation for many years. And registration as a sex offender, often for life. That means no job, no home, no military service, no contact with their own children. These are the guys you see living in tents under freeway overpasses.

So on this July 4th, remember that while you’re (mostly) free to share your sexual fantasies with your mate in private, if you fantasize on the internet or by text or email, you’re not doing it in private. And if your fantasies offend the police or frighten a jury, you can be destroyed.

In America.

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