Parallel U
pt. II

Number 32–First Impressions

You know how sometimes you’ll blurt out something only to realize later that really wasn’t what you meant, or that the idea really needed a bit of clarification, or even when you do see the misconstruance right off, you don’t have the opportunity to make a proper correction?

Well, that’s sorta how I felt after sending out the last email. You might’ve gotten the impression that the most disgusting of things happen here with regularity, with impunity.

Well yes, but it’s not quite so black and white.

The spoiled brat, rich kid, nephew of the Prime Minister, who sprayed a crowd with his handy ak-47 received an 18 month sentence for ‘unpremeditated’ murder. It seems that the court went into a highly unusual closed session in order to change the charge from the much more serious, premeditated murder. The slimebag might appeal, but it looks good for him to spend a little more time behind bars. Nowhere near what he deserves but believe me that’s progress. Breaking news; according to yesterday’s paper he has spent the last month in a hospital room – complete with TV, air-con, cell phone and frequent visitors – rather than a cell. He isn’t scot free, but I doubt he’s properly learned his lesson.

When the despicable lying, thieving scum placed in the White House by a cabal of Extreme Court Justices serves time for his lies and deceptions that have resulted in the loss of thousands of American and Iraqi lives, not to mention provided a perfect home for terrorists, I’ll consider that US justice has risen to the level of Cambodia’s.

Back to Cambodia, a woman recently got a 20 year sentence for prostituting two children, 10 and 12. It helped that she was Vietnamese; the long sentence, that is, since the Khmer are not terribly fond of immigrants from their much bigger and more powerful neighbor. I’m sure it was with glee that the judge slapped on the hefty jail time.

And almost every week now a Western pedophile gets popped, with some getting sent back to their home countries for prosecution. This will hopefully throw an element of fear and caution in those who think they can get away with anything here. The problem is that most pedos are unredeemable. Unless they do something really weird like become whacked out Jesus freaks they seem incapable of changing.

In fact, I know one of the guys who was busted recently, and I wasn’t at all surprised since he was indulging in some activities that were, at the least, extremely unseemly. A few months back he brought a girl of 8 or 10 to one of the clubs I frequent. He was straight-backed and serious and not at all flirty but still it looked mighty nefarious. I questioned my friend the bar-owner who assured me that as far as he knew the guy was playing it straight.

He had met and befriended some street kids, so the story goes, and it seems like the authorities, including the US FBI – he’s an American citizen – don’t really have a case on him other than the fact that he hangs around with kids. Friends and coworkers – he’s an English teacher – insist that he’s clean. On the one hand it must be possible for a man to spend time with kids – and these kids are such great little people and so needy; it’s really heart-rending seeing them scrape for survival – without being motivated by craving for their bodies; on the other, considering reality, it seems unlikely. Benefit of the doubt?

The mark of a true pedophile is his ability to block out any recognition that his actions almost invariably result in lifetime trauma. All men get strange untoward out-of-bounds sexual feelings and urges but only the truly deranged actually carry them out.

Is it possible for a pedo at heart to relate to kids without slaking his thirst? Hard to say. Hard to imagine. One friend here satisfies his mania by having a girlfriend who, though she’s in her mid-twenties, has the body of a skinny American 10 year old.

Speaking of kids, the four year old boy I mentioned, who courses through the clubs till the wee hours selling his confections, is really a cute little kid. One of the guys asked him his age, he responded ‘20’, but then rolled around on the floor, totally reverting to kid status. What he’s doing must feel like being 20. If the pool table is free he pushes some balls around though he can barely see over the side of the table. Four is the exception for kids forced to work for a living, but preteens out pounding the pavement is common. In a sense it hurts seeing kids forced into such straits, but that’s life. For all too many people in the world, that’s what life is about. And makes even more poignant and dismaying the fact that the US is the stingiest country in the world in terms of development aid.

Makes you think, makes you ponder. I have grandkids whose challenge in life is another plastic toy or set of Pokeman cards. As it should be, kids have the right to kidhood. But concurrently it makes you realize how much children are capable of. Could my grandsons focus for even one hour on the task of earning money? Can I even say that they are happier than the working kids here? Can I say the average American with 100 times the income is happier than the average Cambodian? Not really... well, those here who exist at the bottom of the heap, who don’t have enough to eat, aren’t so smiley, but almost everybody else is.

Are we holding children’s development back by trying to keep them immature as long as possible? Here in a nightclub amongst an adult crowd doing adult things you might find one of those 16 year old virgins, maybe downing a soft drink, maybe a whisky. Is she being irretrievably corrupted? Or is the Puritan American way of presuming that immaturity is somehow transformed into adulthood at the age of 21 what’s out of whack? BBC recently did a story on the Belgian government offering low-alcohol beer as a lunch option for middle and high school kids. Better than super-sweet soft drinks was the reasoning. Belgian kids under 16 can’t go into a bar without their parents, otherwise there are no age restrictions.

Ah, but America, land of the free, land of stripper bars where 18-year-olds can get naked and lewd but can’t drink a beer, and of drug tests. Get yourself pee-in-pants drunk the night before your corporate ordained urine test – the one that gives you the privilege of selling your soul to work for them – stagger in barely able to stand and hey, you’ll pass, a-o-k. But if you shared a joint a month earlier, my God, you’re a worthless, low-life drug addict.

The drug thing is pretty loose here but tightening up. Cambodia’s poor quality, often corrupt law enforcement system has made the country into a transit point for heroin and meth and what have you from the Golden Triangle and gotten the UN, pushed by the US, to try to force a crackdown. As long as America is fighting a neverending drug war, excuse me, culture war, everybody else should suffer equally. Prohibition is what keeps the prison-industrial complex going and it’s one of the US’s biggest growth industries, so can’t give up the war now.

You might also have gotten the impression from my commentaries that Cambodia is a lawless and dangerous place but I can assure you I feel safer here than I would in many places in the US... besides, would you pick up a newspaper if the headline read, “Everything Was Peaceful, Normal and Uneventful Yesterday”?

Weather report; stayed relatively cool – under 80 F (27C) through most of February with lows about 70 (21C) but now has crept up to 86 F (30 C) for the high with 50% humidity. Goes down to 77 at night with 70% humidity. Quite a few clouds lately, especially in the morning, but hasn’t rained more than a few drops since mid-December. We’re headed into the heat of April and then May before the rains start again.