The Odyssey of an Essay
This story begins with a post on SafeHaven on 8-7-99 at 3:57 pm:I am one of the editors of Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Human Sexuality. I am currently updating the 7th edition, for publication next month. In the United States, the subject of adult-child sex has become heated, in light of the new research presented by Rind et al questioning the contemporary assumption that adult-child intimacy is harmful.I want to make a very important point before I go any further. While I was misled, double-crossed, and otherwise treated with disdain by the other principals in this story, Bill Taverner was the exception to these others. He was at all times forthright and honest with me, although he made it quite plain that he was not in sympathy with my point of view. He approached this issue with an open mind, treated me with courtesy, helped me locate source material, and offered suggestions from an editorial point of view. He is a rare individual, a person who can address a controversial issue, even one with which he disagrees, with a professional and objective attitude. His purpose and aim through all of this was to present both sides of an extremely controversial issue in complete fairness. He was, sadly, to be as frustrated in his aims as I was in mine.
I am looking to include an article which paraphrases the Rind conclusions (since the Rind article itself is too long). If you are familiar with any such articles supporting and summarizing the research, I would certainly appreciate the leads.
P.S. To verify this as a legitimate request, I have listed the URL for my book's last edition:
Note: This URL, for the sixth edition, is no longer valid.
I contacted Bill by email (his email address was in the post) and said that I was not aware of any such article by any author who would allow it to be used under his real name. I then offered to write such an article, making it clear as to who I was and what my positions and affiliations were. I expressed doubt early on that anything I wrote would ever be accepted by a major publisher like McGraw-Hill, but he assured me that he had been given the authority to find the most accurate and supportive article for the Rind point of view that was available. In retrospect, I have no doubt in my mind that he was telling me the truth as he understood it. Unfortunately, he also was being misled, and, in the end, would likewise be double-crossed.
I spent an awful lot of time writing and rewriting, consulting with others, researching facts, begging better qualified people for reviews and input, and generally giving this project my very best shot. I felt that, should this succeed, it could be a very important step in opening a meaningful dialogue between the boylove community and the college professors and students who would use this textbook. Perhaps, at long last, those who are teaching, and those who are learning, would have an opportunity to hear at least a small part of our side of the story.
Due to the unfortunate crash of both a computer and a backup program, I am missing the emails, and consequently the date, when the essay, entitled "The Real Evil Among Us", was submitted to Bill. The title was chosen as a reply to the "offsetting" essay with which mine was to be paired, "The Evil Among Us" by "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger of radio "tak show" infamy. I was still feeling very pessimistic and cynical when I got an email back from Bill (which email I sure wish I hadn't lost) to the effect that my efforts were the most complete and comprehensive he had seen so far. Apparently Bill then had a bit of a time selling the essay to his senior editor, Dr. Robert T. Francoeur, but, after a couple of weeks of discussion, Francoeur agreed that mine was the best "offset" of all they had seen, and that it "would" be used. Ted Knight, managing editor of the book for Dushkin McGraw-Hill, confirmed both his and his company's acceptance, adding that he "didn't see any need for concealing the author's identity" and that to do so "would not be honest". When I got the email from Bill confirming the acceptance, my feet left the earth and did not touch down again for several days.
The following was then posted on the Internet in the table of contents for the Dushkin McGraw-Hill site:
ISSUE #13. Is Adult-Child Sex Always Harmful?
New! YES: Laura Schlessinger, from "Evil Among Us," Dr. Laura Perspective
New! NO: David L. Riegel, from "The Real Evil Among Us," An Original Essay Written for This Volume
I stayed in this state of bliss until the evening of October 3rd, when this email arrived:
I have bad news.
Bob informed me today that he was strongly urged by three prominent sexologists not to use your article in Taking Sides. These individuals believed that using your article would likely prompt federal governmental scrutiny in our professional work and personal lives.
One sexologist relayed his concerns based on his own personal experience with such harassment.
For what it is worth, I disagree with this decision, and have been debating the issue with Bob since he raised the issue last Monday. But I agreed to yield to the input of these sexologists, if they were in agreement with Bob.
I am very sorry.
To say I was crushed is a gross understatement. I wrote back to Bill thanking him for his efforts, and told him that in my mind he bore none of the responsibility for this double-cross. The next day I emailed Francoeur, with copies to Ted Knight of McGraw-Hill (who for some strange and mistaken reason I thought was on my side of the dispute) and to Bill. The following are only two excerpts from a much longer letter:
I find it pathetic that the senior editor of a textbook that claims to provide a forum for "current controversies" would make decisions based on timidity rather than principle. The issue that you are soft pedaling is ancient as well as current, and the truths of the matter are nothing new, only knowledge that has been suppressed in our hysterically sexophobic culture. By avoiding a full and factual refutation of the Schlessinger diatribe, you are tacitly endorsing the hate and intolerance she exemplifies.and
I am deeply saddened and disturbed by your "about face". I thought for a while that you, like your courageous coeditor, were one of those rare individuals who is committed to a full and open examination of all sides of controversial issues, even the unpopular and politically incorrect positions, someone who would not be influenced by either fear or pressure from those who wish to perpetuate the status quo. I was obviously quite wrong.
Thinking the matter was over with, I began the painful process of regrouping and discussing the next step with some of my coconspirators. However, the soap opera had two more acts yet to play, and on October 7th I received this from Bill (again, only excerpts):
I thought of another possibility. I might frame your essay with an introduction describing our hesitancy to print it, with respect to your website affiliation. In the postscript, I could pose the question to the reader of whether or not (and if so, how) your affiliation impacts on his/her opinion and interpretation of your article. The act of distancing ourselves from you and your affiliation with your website may satisfy Bob's concerns.Aha! So the problem isn't the essay per se, the problem is ME! If the messenger is tainted, then we must dismiss the message....
Finally, during my trip I met with another (very) prominent sexuality educator and described our current situation. While she may not agree with your viewpoint (she did not read your article), she feels your perspective may be necessary for a fair, accurate representation of the issue.
I emailed my thanks to Bill, and calmly set back to gnaw on my fingernails while awaiting the next news. It came on October 12th:
Yes, we're going with your article.
For what it's worth, the intro Bob wrote when we were not going to use your essay was harsh and condemning of Schlessinger, her viewpoint, the congressional reaction, etc. By comparison, my intro is tame but fair and objective, I think. I would greatly value your feedback on my intro, specifically checking for any inaccuracies that crept in and also my description of you, Safe Haven, etc.
The text follows. Its size needs to be doubled, so any suggestions would be helpful.
I spent all that evening working on that intro, there was no time for consultations, whatever was to be offered has to come from me. And now. I woke up quite early the next day, went over my work a couple of more times, and sent it on to Bill.
Later that day, I remembered that the "permission" that McGraw-Hill needed to publish my essay had gotten lost in the shuffle, so I emailed Ted Knight of McGraw-Hill giving him at least a temporary permission until the necessary forms could go back and forth, and asked a couple of other minor questions. The curtain was about to come down on the closing act. His reply, in part, in complete contradiction and refutation of his earlier statements:
Below is the text of the message that I sent to both editors this morning when I learned that they planned to reinstate your article.
Bill and Bob:
....... However, your change of mind throws it back to us and we have definitely decided we can't include his article. We also need the issue title posed differently - something along the lines of what Bob and I agreed on.
We're within only a couple of days of closing this book. The options are ..... or to drop the issue and go with eighteen rather than nineteen issues.
In closing, I must reiterate that Bill Taverner is as honest and fine a gentleman as walks the face of the earth. I wrote him once again and thanked him for his efforts, and assured him that I had nothing but the deepest respect for him. It is just too bad that those with whom he is associated in this particular endeavor are so much inferior to him.
The odyssey of this essay, however, did not end here. The essay became the genesis of Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers, which was published in March 2000, by the SafeHaven Foundation Press. The chapter in that book entitled "The Rind Report and child sexual abuse" is an almost exact copy of The Real Evil Among Us.
Responsible boylove is a reality with a long and honorable history of its own, and that reality refuses to be subjugated any longer. We may have lost a skirmish, but our guerilla warfare will continue until the day when we have shed the shame and secrecy that a sick and sexophobic society has imposed upon us, and we can take our rightful place as those who are most committed to the welfare of the boys we love.
David L. (Dave) Riegel
PostScript: Some five years after the events described above I was recontacted by Bill Taverner with a request to use my original essay in the ninth edition of "Taking Sides." Since nearly five years had passed since the original writing, I revised the essay, as well as addressing some additional issues.