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Sex Panic and the Punitive State$
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Roger Lancaster

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255654

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255654.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021

The Magical Power of the Accusation

The Magical Power of the Accusation

How I Became a Sex Criminal and Other True Stories

(p.104) CHAPTER 4 The Magical Power of the Accusation
Sex Panic and the Punitive State

Roger N. Lancaster

University of California Press

This chapter represents an “autoethnographic” account that focuses on the writer's chance experiences. It retells the story of how the writer became a sex criminal. His experiences reveal something of the texture of events, from a close vantage, and serve as empirical evidence, as ethnographic material to be productively examined. The lives of gay people, including gay teens, have changed dramatically since the 1970s. But if the law no longer criminalizes homosexuality, and if overt expressions of homophobia are considered unacceptable in large portions of society, this is not to say that sexual anxieties have lessened or that accusation has lost any of its occult power, only that these anxieties have acquired new sources of potency. The discourse around child abuse has given stalwart homophobes a seemingly unassailable venue for homophobic ecstasy in the guise of inflamed righteousness. Law, surely, is not justice itself but only a means of attaining it.

Keywords:   law, sexual abuse, sex panic, homosexuality, society, accusation

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