For those who oppose everything that Kinsey did, this connection is naturally a useful one, and there have been some press suggestions already that Tate was co-opted by those on the American far-right, whose agenda is not the morality of scientific procedure, but that of sexual behaviour. Even allowing for that, though, the story was a shocking one. Dependent on respondents for information about illegal sexual behaviour, Kinsey had formed secret associations with paedophiles, in particular a voracious erotomaniac called Rex King, who wrote detailed diaries of his numerous sexual encounters. It appears that Kinsey's own passion for raw information had blinded him to what lay behind the tables -- "I congratulate you on the research spirit which has lead you to collect data over these many years," he wrote to King, "Everything you have accumulated must find its way into scientific channels." A better scientist would have been extremely wary of these "facts" - how can you base solid conclusions about child sexuality on the reports of a man who has a vested interest in depicting his victims as consensual pleasure seekers? And even the very worst scientist would see that interpreting "groaning, sobbing or more violent cries, sometimes with an abundance of tears" as evidence that a child has had an orgasm, was grotesquely unreliable. But Tate's accusations didn't stop there - there was some evidence that in his zeal for knowledge, Kinsey might have steered his contacts in the direction of particular research questions - in other words, that he might have procured fresh acts of abuse rather than simply asked for details of old ones. During the trial of an ex-Nazi paedophile who had corresponded with Kinsey, the accused suggested just that - though this testimony, too, had a taint of self-interest. Not all of those who assisted Tate were hostile to Kinsey - the most damning evidence of a kind of professional deformation of conscience came from Clarence Tripp, a loyal Kinsey aide who helped compile the Institute's comprehensive film record of sexual acts and who dismissed the very idea of child abuse as a kind of puritanical fiction. He conceded, in the interests of absolute accuracy, that two of King's victims might have become distressed, but that was only, he implied, because of anatomical difficulties - "there was a fit problem," he said blithely.
I didn't entirely trust Tate's account - he didn't properly substantiate the wilder claims about Kinsey's own sexual psychology (it was claimed that he had circumcised himself without anaesthetic), and his film was often crudely manipulative in a way that made you suspect its invisible tailoring - the Kinsey Institute, for instance, was filmed from a low angle, looming like some sinister bastion of mad science. But even so, the main charge stuck - Kinsey allowed abusive men to think that they were conducting experiments, and at that point observation turned into encouragement.Reuse content