The crimes of Matthew Falder make pretty grim reading, and my heart goes out to his victims. Mostly, because they lacked the confidence and self esteem to tell him to F. off. The words of my 'mad as a box of frogs' mother, words that have served me well throughout my life. Some people only understand those two words, she told me, much to my chagrin, as having the gift of the gab, I was certain I could talk them round. But she was right. If you are watching mum, yeh, you win, lol.
Before the complaints flood in, I know this is not a subject for joviality, but now that I have your attention, if I had my way, I would have assertiveness on the school curriculum, because we have generation after generation of working class kids being indoctrinated to obey without question. The levels of confidence between public school kids and state school kids is profound. Public school kids are educated to be leaders. State school kids are educated to be led.
Forgive my little rant there, but I am using my blog to send a message to anyone vulnerable out there that, they don't have to put up with abuse or blackmail. So many people just need a nudge, a few kind words, or intensive counselling, in order to value and appreciate themselves enough to say no. That sadly, is a symptom of our selfish, uncaring society. We are loathe to give praise or take a few moments of our time to make anyone else feel good about themselves. It's as if we have a limited amount of sweetness and light, so we must ration it.
But let's get back to Matthew Falder. I'm not nearly as excited as those spamming my inbox. Is he typical of the 750,000? I'd say not. For one thing, he was an academic and a computer whizz kid, so that's got to rule out at least half of them. He was not atypical of a predator, he didn't exhibit any of the traits criminal profilers would expect, which is why he was able to operate undetected for so long. Kudos to the police by the way, for tracking him down, it was a difficult job, but they got the creep.
It is easy to stir up fear and hysteria when a monster is uncovered, but we have to remind ourselves that he is a freak of nature and not typical of everyone around us. Unfortunately, governments and those with agendas, use the aftermath of an horrendous crime to introduce draconian laws that affect the freedom of all of us and would have been useless to detect the latest maniac before he committed his crimes anyway.
Realistically, what are the chances that the Paedophile Hunters or Jim Gamble's Citizens Army would have tracked him down? Answer. None, and they didn't. He was caught by the police with the full resources of the Law (international) behind them.
Just to be clear I have never said that random crimes don't happen. They do, and they make front pages, but they are so few, most of us can name the tragic victims. The arrest of Falder doesn't mean there are still 749,999 to go. There are no precedents for monsters of his calibre, just as there are no precedents for the Wests and Fritzle. Heinous crimes don't run to a formula, each is unique. That's why putting three quarters of a million into a category is ridiculous. If there were a scale, some would be at the bottom, most would be in the middle, but only one in millions would fly off the scale as Falder has. Which throws up another anomaly. The police are clearly willing and able to pursue these monsters, so why are headlines like these so rare?
Turning to the 'Art' argument. The case of Matthew Falder demolishes the previous debate, because Falder pretended to be an Artist. Well that's it then, shut every art gallery and library, until every artist and writer has been vetted. And just for good measure, perhaps all art students should be given a CRB check before being allowed to pick up a paintbrush. The images were clearly distinguishable as illegal. Well, deh, he was the creator of them, the director, producer and blackmailer. He wasn't purchasing the work of others he was doing it himself, albeit vicariously through the internet.
Those screaming for censorship grab onto any ship that passes, the more heinous and the more salacious the crime the more outrage they can stir up. And they always attack the arts, as they see it as the root of all evil. Every generation of concerned citizens will claim 'this time it's different'. 'these crimes are more horrendous than anything that has gone before'. But it isn't. Those trying to connect Falder's monstrous crimes to the art debate, are clutching at the flimsiest of straws. Falder was highly educated and manipulative. The cyber Hannibal Lector, he knew exactly how to prey on people's weaknesses. He posed as an artist, because it is the logical thing to do if you want people to undress and pose. And being an academic, it is more classy than photographer or amateur movie maker.
This case has nothing to do with the Arts, or the freedom of everyone to use the internet, but it will undoubtedly kick off calls for clampdowns on our freedoms and more funding for paedophile hunters. I practice the philosophy of 'cold light of day'. That is, I try never to react in the heat of the moment, or reach conclusions while feeling highly emotive, those are the times that we are at our most irrational. Sadly, some use the shock and horror to rush in new legislation, usually those with a finger in the pie. Unfortunately, so many have cried 'Wolf' so often, we are being completely misled as to the real dangers.
For safety's sake, please all parents, lavish your children with praise and attention, they might not want to talk to you, but they will listen if you say nice things about them. The best gift you can give your child is confidence. It's like a suit of armour that will protect them for life. Don't scold them for what they have done wrong, praise them for what they do right. 'Any child who is loved enough will not grow up to a be a criminal' (unknown). To that I would add, 'any child who is loved enough will not grow up to be a victim'. Mummy tigers teach their cubs to know when to run, hide or fight back, we should teach our 'cubs' the same from the very start. Self confidence is their best form of protection. Even in our civilised society, predators target the weakest and most vulnerable. We can never rid the world of predators, but we can ensure that those we love are equipped with all the self esteem, knowledge and skills they need to fend them off.
And toughening them up, shouldn't just apply to our kids, it should apply to our friends, our neighbours, the stranger who just sat next to us on a park bench and spilled our their life story. Falden didn't just target kids, he targeted those who were vulnerable. And many of us are vulnerable at many times of our lives, that's why kind words mean so much.