Kieran Salsone has written a piece about Clive Hamilton’s essay “Rethinking Sexual Freedom” at his “Websinthe” blog. He identifies Hamilton’s views on sexuality as conservative, and I agree.
Salsone identifies Hamilton’s intellectual dishonesty:
He [Hamilton] also goes too far straw-manning ‘post-moderns’.
The debate over the sexualisation of girls has outed these post-moderns. They have always argued that children are sexual creatures and should be allowed to explore and express their sexuality without the guilt imposed on them by neurotic adults and conservative clerics. Luckily, they believe, children are much smarter than neurotic adults and slip easily into a savvy, ironic, critical mode whenever there is any danger of falling under the sway of advertisers or media.
He then goes on to describe an unholy alliance between those that think children shouldn’t be punished merely for touching themselves in ‘a naughty place’ and corporate vampires trying to push ‘corporate peadophilia’ as a means of selling their wares.
While I have no problem with attacking commercial interests having anything to do with children’s sexuality, it’s wrong to say that there is a causal relationship between the two without undermining a movement to remove shame and denigration from the lives of children.
I’ve written a long comment there, mostly fisking parts of the article, and finishing:
Hamilton’s final words:
“Today the historic mission is no longer to attack and tear down, but to rebuild a moral code. In affluent, liberal societies, the task is to understand that freedom cannot be found in a moral free-for-all, but only in the careful exercise of restraint.”
Here Hamilton claims that the only choices are a “moral free-for-all” and “the careful exercise of restraint”.
I reject that. The task is to help people to resist all pressure from without and make their own decisions, so they are not guilt-tripped by potential sexual partners OR by busybodying fussbudget ethicists. If we ever get to that stage, we can be almost certain that some people will freely choose to make sexual decisions that Hamilton disapproves of.