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The Twisting Lane: Some Sex Offenders was published by Hutchinson, London in 1969. The review appears to date from that time.

The twistiııg lane

by Tony Parker

Hutchinson, 35s.

I AM an admirer of Tony Parker's work. But to say of it, as the Rev. W. J. Bolt has said, that it “reveals a rare genius for moving the dumb and inarticulate to speech and self-revelation” is, I think, to praise it for the wrong reason. In my experience, by no means every criminal is necessarily inarticulate, and self is apt to be the only topic that interests the chronic offender. It doesn't require genius to persuade him to talk freely of this, unless genius is to be equated with a willingness to lend a sympathetic ear and bridle a moralising tongue. I don't doubt that if I were to interview a number of sex offenders of my own selection, I should end with as much source material as Mr. Parker collected for his new book. Which is not to claim that I should be able to reproduce it so eloquently and persuasively.

Unlike Mr. Parker, however, I should be tempted to try to evaluate the reliability of what I'd been told, for I question whether an offender is capable of being completely honest with anyone or - what amounts to the same thing - of being completely honest with himself; if the unpunished in our society need what Ibsen called the 'saving lie“, so very certainly do the punished.

Consider the case of Graham Davis, for instance, who, if the story he confided to Mr. Parker is to be believed, received a three-year prison sentence for buggery at the age of 18, though he was a first offender and though the worst to be said against him was that he had taken advantage of the homosexual proclivities of several adolescent boys younger than himself whom he had met and loved. To accept this as the whole truth would lead me to conclude that English justice is no less cruel and purblind than it was in the days of Oscar Wilde. I don't, and can't believe that.[1]

Yet I feel equally sure that this story, like the others in Mr. Parker's book, is nearer to the truth than the law ever knew or tried to find out; and is close enough to it to expose not only the futility of a punitive response to sex offences, but the essential arrogance of those - psychiatrists included – who claim the right and the ability to assess culpability or the degree of any individual's responsibility for his actions. That is the message of Tony Parker`s work. He would only weaken its value if he were to question the complete truthfulness of his information, for he would thereby allow us an opportunity to rationalise the message out of existence.

Giles Playfair


[1] If the reviewer was correct that English justice was insufficiently “cruel and purblind” in the 1960s to condemn an 18-year-old first offender to three years in prison for buggering willing boys of 14 (the only known age of Davis’s boys), it certainly became so by the 21st century, when sentencing guidelines mandated a minimum of five years imprisonment for a single such act.




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