On Mar 25 a Michigan newspaper reported the story of a man who was caught by a police officer early one morning with his cock up the vacuum cleaner hose at a local carwash.

The story was picked up by various news organizations around the world and naturally became fodder for the US late-night comedy shows.

“It’s been horrible,” the man told the Saginaw News. “I’ve been keeping my nose clean and staying out of trouble.”

He’s been keeping more than just his nose clean.

Although you have to admire his creative approach to masturbation, you can’t help but laugh. It’s schadenfreude and farce.

Imagine the look on the guy’s face when he looked up to see a cop standing there. I would love to have seen it and would give real money to see the hickey.

It’s the kind of thing a guy will never live down. People will talk about him at cocktail parties and his mother will secretly worry about what he’s getting up to whenever he’s left home alone with all those titillating household appliances.

Playing with your penis is clearly victimless; the vacuum cleaner didn’t object, sucked with vigour and refused to testify.

But what’s not so funny is that the man was sentenced to 90 days in jail for indecent exposure. The Saginaw News published his name and home address (how that information could possibly be germane to the story is entirely beyond me) and the man says he’s become a social pariah, as if vacuum cleaner sex is the weirdest thing a man has ever done with his cock in Saginaw.

What should be a silly story and harmless laugh at this guy’s expense has led to a criminal record for him. The consequences of his actions are really unreasonable and it seems as if the world is just being mean to the guy for the simple pleasure of it.

The whole story is more a tragic comment on fucked-up sexual mores than anything else.

In another tragic story about prudery, on Mar 30 a 14-year-old girl in Trenton, New Jersey was arrested and charged with child pornography after posting naked pictures of herself on her own MySpace page.

If she’s convicted she could face 17 years — more time than she’s been alive — in jail and/or become a registered sex offender.

It’s all just so ridiculous.

Stories like this are not peculiar to the US, or at least we can’t say they don’t happen here. The same scenario, in which young people taking innocent pictures of themselves or their friends could be tried and convicted of child pornography, has unfolded repeatedly here over the last few years.

Just on Mar 26 the RCMP announced more child pornography arrests. Among the charged are two young men, 20 and 21.

We’ll likely never know the details of their alleged crimes. Were they trading pictures of their younger selves? Were they trading pictures of consenting partners just a few months or years younger than themselves?

Of the OPP’s largest kiddie porn arrest sweeps over just the last two years 25 percent of those charged have been young men in their teens and early 20s. We don’t and won’t know the details of their alleged crimes either. We have to rely on police and jurists to interpret the subtleties and nuances of human sexuality and we all know how terribly bad at that they can be.

It could be entirely true that something that may be completely innocent or just embarrassing and humiliating will negatively impact their lives forever.

And that’s just plain mean.
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