All Tied Up in the Courts:S&M Rights Hang in the Balance

There’s a lawsuit before the courts that bondage enthusiasts in the S&M community are watching with intense interest. The question they’re all wanting answered is just how this decision is liable to affect them legally when it comes to getting someone to consent to whatever it is that gets them off.

I wrote a posting on bondage long, long ago, a “beginner’s guide”, if you will, but I’m really not an expert, and don’t know if I’ll ever do much more than the very vanilla kind of bondage I’ve indulged in up until now. I like being tied up and doing the tying up, but I’ve not wanted to try out more elaborate knotting or anything involving much pain, as I’m a reward-not-punishment type of gal.

As time passed, I learned my beginner’s guide was lacking some relatively important information, even if I think one or two of the comment-leavers were somewhat dickheaded in their approach of pointing that out. (The comments are intact both here and on my original blog, The Cunting Linguist. I’ll put the links at the bottom, and I’ve never deleted the ones criticizing my posts.) The main thing someone pointed out was that you should never, ever abandon someone who is bound. You should always, always be aware of what’s going on with your bound playment, ‘cos things can go bad in a hurry.

That being said, even the amateur in me thinks these guys fucked it up pretty royally by binding this guy in the manner described in this story and then “leaving him alone” for a number of hours. It would seem obvious that the fellow who killed himself in remorse must have also felt they’d fucked it up, or else why did he kill himself and leave a detailed letter about it?

Still, I don’t like this American habit of suing people for things, even wrongful death. I realize how hard it is to lose someone, especially wrongfully. My mother died, I believe, as a result of malpractice, but suing over it goes against everything I believe. I’ve had bad work days, and like the man says, shit happens.

But ruling in favour of this claim would mean a massive loss in freedoms for an already-ostracized and greatly misunderstoon community in the sex world. S&M practitioners constantly face judgment, ridicule, and misunderstanding. The ridiculous Craigslist episode last year (where a dickhead posted a fake slave/submissive personal ad and then “outed” all the respondants on his blog) is just another example of where society seems to think they have a right to judge what consenting adults do behind closed doors.

Here in Canada we’re more liberal sexually, and even here you’ll find some of the judgment, but not as much as there was before the great Showcase (what Canada calls our Showtime network) series “Kink“, which aired for 4 or 5 years and followed the lives of a few different S&M Canadians of different levels as it spent a season in each of the biggest cities in Canada. (13 episodes each year, following several different real-life people as they explored the S&M world, from newbies to hardcore, old-school, long-time S&M types.)

I was certainly one of the people who thought S&M folk were freaks when I was younger. I mean, really freaky, I thought. I’ve come a long way from my narrow-minded, good-girl youth. When I first began watching Kink, I was somewhat repelled by what I saw, but then I became attached to the people in the stories and I realized that, for whatever their reason, they were as compelled to be that way as I was to eat, write, photograph, or whatever else it is that I feel makes me whole.

Had I heard about this story some years ago, I might have erred in believing the plaintiffs should win their case. I’m older, wiser, now and think anything but the kind. Trouble is, in a litigious society where lawsuits are the norm, it’s pretty fucking hard to feel free to do as you please without worrying whose toes you’ll be stepping on and how much they’re gonna want for new shoes.

And the thing is, yeah, it’s a wrongful death. Things got fucked up. Someone died. It happens. Should the rest of society be forced to pay the price with their freedom to act when something really just went horribly wrong? I mean, professional atheletes drop dead of heart attacks during games. Stockbrokers make bad predictions. Priests sin. Shit happens. Humanity is a bitch. As crass at it might sound, it really just does go that way.

Maybe these people could learn a little from the S&M lifestyle: Pain is something one needs to endure. The more you endure, the stronger you get. The more you endure, the more you can take. You don’t cry out for a saviour just because it gets a little tough, you suck it up and say “thank you, mistress”. Life is hard. Bad things happen. Blaming others isn’t going to change the fact that something went wrong, and winning their day in court isn’t gonna make that hurt be any less consuming. Their life will still be lacking a person they love, even if they’ll never understand how he wanted to be treated so “badly”.

‘Course, this all might have gone a little easier if the fuckwits hadn’t gotten all freaked out, tossed the evidence, and buried the guy. It’s like the man Hunter S. Thompson said, “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

This is one case where people need to err on the side of protecting others’ freedoms by telling this family that they really do just need to suck it up, deal with the loss, and move on with life. The price the rest of us will pay will be far too high if this thing goes the way I fear it’s going, and even if I’ll probably never join the S&M community in that way, they too should have every right to practice what they like when they have consent between parties.

What are your thoughts?


My Bondage for Beginners is both here and at this blog’s original site, The Cunting Linguist, but the comments are different on both blogs. Click on where ya wanna go: part one here, part two here, part one on TCL, part two on TCL.

The hot photo was found on Jaeda DeWalt’s photography site, which you can go to here.