A quick visit to Gert Late Night© 25 September 2017 Marthijn Uittenbogaard
Last Monday, I was called on my phone by someone from the television show Gert Late Night. This is a show on the Belgium television channel VIER (FOUR). They wanted me in their show that evening. The topic would be a helpline for people with pedophile feelings, called Stop it Now. The show is not live. They film for one and an half hour and afterwards they reduce the time to forty minutes. Approximately two hours after recording, they broadcast the shorter version on television. An expert on pedophilia would also be in today's show, as well as three famous Belgium people. The woman on the phone, said their names, but I had never heard of them. She also said the full name of Gert - Gert Verhulst - and I responded did not know him. After the show I found out it was Gert from the very famous children's show Samson and Gert.
The show was not live, but I thought: let's give it a try. And so a taxi brought me from my hometown Hengelo to Antwerpen. A three hours drive. In Antwerpen, we were led to a building, where I could eat something and I talked with two young women, both work for the Gert Late Night show. One of those two was the woman that called me earlier that day. The show is filmed inside a boat. When it was my turn we walked to this boat. A security man was walking behind us. The whole scene, with this white boat and the security man behind us looked like a shoot from a mafia film about a drugs deal. I entered the boat when they called my name. To my left hand, I saw all the guests on a sofa, but I was being lead to the area on the right side of the boat. Here was a bar and I was offered something to drink. I ordered a red wine. The sidekick of the show, James Cooke, came to me. He gave me a hand and he disappeared. Some moments later he came back and I could watch the expert on pedophilia talk on a television screen. I could see them in real life at the other part of the boat, far away from me.
Then James Cooke started interviewing me. His tone, from start, was one of disapproval. 'You are in favor of sex with children, how can you explain such a thing?' Not a line to start such an interview in my opinion. I explained that not so long ago it was not a rare view. Many political parties thought the same. I was in the defense position right away. Why this is necessary, I do not know. I also pointed out that a recent study group of experts in Germany - both men and women - advised to lower the the age of consent from fourteen to thirteen or even lower to twelve. I talked about the real problem with most of the abuse, that it's the taboo that makes that people cannot talk about sexuality. In sex-negative climates you have more abuse: see the catholic church or strong religious incest fathers. I also said that many more than one or two percent of the pupulation, that the expert came up with, have pedophile feelings. In some studies they found that most people are attracted to children between twelve and sixteen. James Cooke said, when I talked about twelve year old puberty children (in Dutch: pubers), that I was wrong and that pubers are sixteen years and older. I had the feeling that he wanted to disagree me on everything, no matter what I said. He talked about grown up people being manipulative. I responded: so that's how you treat your children? I stated that the taboo on this subject makes very bad laws. I gave a recent example from the United States, where an 18 year old, who asks for a nude picture of his or her 17 year old lover, must be send to prison for 15 years! That is the minimum sentence that politicians in that state recently voted for. This is not at all child protection, it's madness and a disgrace for human rights. I talked about the monthly meetings within the NVSH (Dutch Association for Sexual Reform) where sometimes people thought very negatively about themselves and that they were afraid to rape a child. And that after some talking with other people with pedophile feelings, they could handle their sexuality and they were not a danger to children anymore. Such people, pedophiles who are struggling very hard with their feelings, can now call Stop it Now. But I myself have no need for calling, I said. Cooke, by the way, kept calling the Stop it Now help-line the pedo-help-line. I stated several times that it's wrong to call it a pedo-line, because many people with pedophile feelings are not pedophiles and calling it a pedo-line will not advocate them to call this line if they are in need for help. What more did we 'discuss'? I said that I had people talking to me on the streets, with positive pedophile relationships and people with negative pedophile relationships. One time someone said to have had both experiences: a bad one and a good one, with two different grown ups when he was a child. The ones with the negative relationships mostly don't like the witch hunt either. They also want more nuance.
I think, even in the circumstances where the interviewer acted the way he did, I made some points. But of course, most of this did not reach the audience, because it was cut out. And this is what I don't understand. I can talk in a normal way about pedophilia with a young girl, early twenty, from the redaction of the show. I can talk about pedophilia with a taxi driver much better than with someone on television. On television, it's usually not possible to discuss this subject on an honest level. For a television channel, it's a risk to give me a podium. And it would even be a greater risk if they would treat me fair.
During the interview, I had a bad cough. I had a frog in my throat (dutch expression?). I think this came from how they treated me. In the taxi and so on I had no throat problems. I had no rapid heartbeat until I found out how they 'interviewed' me.
Still, I believe that what I'm doing is the right thing. I must break the walls of not discussing this subject in an honest way. We have to deal with the facts, with all the opinions, with all the experiences, et cetera.
Lots of children aged twelve, thirteen, and fourteen want to have a (sexual) relationship with Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande, I said. This made it to the public. But the most important thing is not what I say, but it is how the atmosphere in the studio is. I could be less offensive with my opinion, but than I would lie. And I truly do not see how that would improve things. Would they let a kind man alone with a child if the madness on pedosexuality - and on child sexuality! - is not open for discussion?
After I was interviewed, I was ordered to leave the boat. The expert reacted to my part, but I had to leave. So unfortunately, I missed his reaction. I left, the muscled security man walking behind me. A group of a dozen people were standing in front of the boat. They were from a musical act, I believe, that would start after the pedophilia item. I was not allowed to stand close to them. Not that they acted aggressively or that they looked in disgust, but only because the security man wanted a distance between me and them. A ten meters distance was not enough: I had to stand further away he ordered. I was waiting for my jacket and my bag, these were still on the boat. The two young girls (both early twenty), walked with me to the taxi on the docks. They gave me a bottle of red wine. A slight moment I though about not accepting this wine but I changed my mind. The taxi brought me to my mother's home, because I was already planning to visit her the next day. Now I had a free drive, instead of going by train. A drive, with Antwerpen somewhere on it's way. I gave my mother the wine.
A friend, who saw my part on the Gert Late Night show said it was not bad at all. I am happy when the taboo on discussion pedophilia is lifted. Unfortunately, that is still music from the future. I suffer, seeing what people have to go through these days. That's my drive.