Story by: Neva Chonin of SF Gate
Submitted by: Doug Rapson
“Star Trek” fans get no respect. When they’re not being derided for living in their mothers’ basements, they’re being mocked for studying the Klingon alphabet. Life for Trekkies is especially tough these days, with their television franchise finally fading into retirement after decades of spin-off series and film adaptations.
And now this. An April 27 Los Angeles Times story on the exploits of the Toronto Police Service’s Sex Crimes Unit reported on “a dark fact” uncovered by its Child Exploitation Section: “All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years,” the article revealed, “was a hard-core Trekkie.”
Wha … who … huh? I know that the Vulcan mating ritual of Pon Farr can arouse some unruly passions, but hey. Kiddie porn? Child exploitation among those benign nerds who flock to comic conventions in their Federation uniforms? Say it isn’t so. Or at least present plausible evidence why it is.
“It has something to do with a fantasy world where mutants and monsters have power and where the usual rules don’t apply,” suggested Toronto Detective Constable Warren Bulmer, donning a confiscated Klingon sash for his interview. “But beyond that, I can’t really explain it.”
Yeah, right. Color me skeptical, but I require a little more to sell me on the “dark fact” that “all but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.” If there’s empirical evidence, trot it out. (Hard-core Trekkie membership cards? Salacious action figure dioramas? What?) If there’s a causal relationship, at least try to explain it. If you “can’t really explain it,” don’t bring it up. Geeks get enough grief as it is, man; they don’t need to be labeled perverts.
Unfortunately, my attempt at Earth logic will probably go unheeded. The Trekkie!perv! train has left the station. Last week, Macleans magazine followed up with its own report on the connection between child porn and “Star Trek.” The article’s opening sentence is priceless: “The first thing detectives from the Toronto police sex crimes unit saw when they entered Roderick Cowan’s apartment was an autographed picture of William Shatner.” Yow! Now, even I’ll admit that is perverse. According to Macleans’ Jonathon Gatehouse, other suspects possessed pictures of themselves in Federation uniform, remote controls shaped like phasers, “Star Trek” credit cards and Trek-inspired screen names. “We always say there are two types of pedophiles: ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars,’ ” Detective Ian Lamond told Gatehouse. “But it’s mostly ‘Star Trek.’ ”
Trekkers and the people who love them are understandably consternated over this. Blogger Ernest Miller, for one, did some sleuthing. He called the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit, where an officer told him the four-year figures in the L.A. Times were probably offered in jest, but maintained that most offenders collared by his department had “at least a passing interest in ‘Star Trek,’ if not a strong interest.” Whether or not the “all but one” figure is accurate, the inference that the USS Enterprise harbors an army of aspiring pedophiles is sparking debate in the blogosphere.
“Maybe it’s that they’re capturing geeky criminals,” suggested one Corante.com poster, “and that type of geek is into popular SF, and will have some ‘Star Trek’ stuff based on sheer popularity and extent of franchise.” Again with the earth logic! This poster, I think, hits the heart of the matter. Toronto’s Child Exploitation detectives conduct most of their investigations online, where child porn has become a noxious underground economy. And though more regular joes have found their way onto the Internet (if George Bush can manage it, anyone can), it remains a kingdom of nerds.
Conclusion: When in Rome, many pedophiles will be Roman; when online, many pedophiles will be nerdy. And nerds traditionally like science fiction and fantasy. If the detectives had been savvy enough to look beyond the ‘Star Trek’ connection, would they also have found other, equally geeky similarities between their perps? Robert Heinlein books, perhaps? Comics? Collections of oversize T-shirts? Acne medication?
Need I say more research is needed? Because dudes, scapegoating is too damn easy. Subcultures and minorities are always blamed for aberrant social behavior, whether it’s goths taking a hit for Columbine or peaceable Rastafarians being labeled cult members. Today the Trekkies, tomorrow the southpaws: The Macleans article also cites evidence linking pedophilia with being left-handed. Something to do with the brain. Whatever.
Meanwhile, the nerds are trying to make merry with their bad reputation. “What channel is the hard core ‘Star Trek’ on?” demanded another Corante.com poster. “Is it a satellite pay channel or something like Spice TV? I only get the boring regular ‘Star Trek.’ ”
When you find out, tell me. I’d pay a hefty cable sum to see Spock and Kirk cross that final frontier, acknowledge their long-simmering love and boldly go where many men have gone before. Pon Farr, baby. It’s not just for Vulcans anymore.