I am going to go out on thin ice here. So right up front, let me set the record straight on a few things. First, I don’t think that defending Michael benefits the cause of BDSM in any way. Second, a lot of people immediately convicted him based on the news reports. Three, I am fairly certain that if you check my older comments, I have consistently said that something doesn’t add up – while of course also adding that bringing a 17 year old into a BDSM poly family was patently wrong. Last, I think his conviction was not justice. That last one, is where I go out onto thin ice. So let me explain.
Since this case became public it has bothered me. Something didn’t add up. I said from the beginning it felt like a setup. I agreed that the behavior was reprehensible, but I couldn’t shake the sense that no one is that stupid and Michael never struck me as stupid. I’ve been following and reading and putting together pieces of this puzzle. What follows is I think the final word on this. I tried to stick to details entirely as presented from online news articles. As is my way, I will not try to align my thoughts with popular opinion.
When you approach each decision upon its own merits, this results in an apparent inconsistency and that is as it should be, for real truth often seems counter intuitive. ~Xtac Quote
If the news articles are wrong, than all of my thoughts below are wrong too.
If you are not familiar with the case, in 2015 Charles Michael Segaloff, 59, of Lawton, Oklahoma, also known under his pen name of Michael Makai was indicted for
- traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a juvenile,
- kidnapping a juvenile,
- sex trafficking of a juvenile and
- enticement of a juvenile
Some articles regarding this:
If you read that last article, you would think that on April 1st, 2016, Michael pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor. After all, the headline reads: “Man pleads guilty in interstate sex case involving local teen”. That sounds like he pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor. He did not however plead guilty to the above charges. Instead, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of
- Sending offensive material to an individual under 18.
- Agreed to a plea agreement requiring him to register as a sex offender.
It sounds like he plea bargained to get out of the big charges, right? NO! Michael ‘s defense attorney, Joseph G. Shannonhouse IV, contended in a court document that “it is undisputed (that he had sex with the girl) and defendant would ask the court to take judicial notice of the fact that the age of consent in the state of New York is 17 years of age … and that the age of consent in the state of Oklahoma is 16 years of age.”
Before the judge accepted the guilty plea, Segaloff was asked by a prosecutor to explain what he was admitting to in the case. Segaloff said “he sent Facebook messages to the girl that suggested she be part of his “extended family.” The prosecutor said the communications were obscene and dealt with “BDSM” and polyamory.
NOW all of this makes sense to me. I have long maintained that this case didn’t add up. Even if he set off your “creep alarms”, his “warrior princess” model of sType spoke to some slaves who previously didn’t find an identity they liked. There were people for whom his voice uniquely spoke to them. His writing shows a high degree of intelligence. I found it hard to believe that a man with a very high profile would not calculate the risks, especially since he had a run in with the law already for sex related crimes. Now I believe that he thought that what he was doing, though reprehensible on a number of levels, was legal. Understand that:
- He did not admit to illicit sexual conduct with a juvenile because the age of consent in NYS is 17 and in OK it is 16.
- He did not admit to kidnapping, she came willingly with him.
- He did admit to sending a request to be in his poly family
Whether you agree with what he did or not the take away is that he was convicted of asking a person of consenting age to be in his poly family and to engage in BDSM and sex. Not for doing it, but for asking to do it. How can you be convicted of asking to join a BDSM poly family, but not be convicted of the actions that come with joining that family? It seems to me that how people feel about what he did has more to do with his conviction than anything else. If a person can consent to sex, I fail to understand how they can then not consent to discuss a poly or BDSM relation. This is the one piece that still does not add up. Or rather, it points a glaring finger at how inconsistent justice can be.
Justice I believe is often not served. The whole black lives matter movement hints at the growing unrest with justice. Justice should be the letter of the law, yet so many laws about morals have vague notions. Obscene is often just an umbrella for anything that makes someone “feel icky”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be convicted and sent to jail because I made someone feel icky. Justice is a fickle thing, it seems to me.
I know I am on thin ice here. His actions are indefensible. He was previously convicted of being a sex offender. People have expressed concerns about him. Many have said they had a gut feeling that he was not good for the BDSM community. He proved that with this move, but he also acted in a way that he believed was inside the law, and to some extent actually was legal. The sex was OK, and apparently legal. Communicating with her about BSDM though got him two years in jail.
Even if I do not agree with how they convicted him, from a father’s perspective, he got a light sentence. Forget about him for a moment. You have to wonder – what has this done to the girls life? That is the most reprehensible thing about this. At seventeen, you still have so much ahead of you. Does she feel victimized now? Has this soured her to the deep and meaningful possibilities that might otherwise have been hers later in life? BDSM is a place for the heart like no other, but you have to be open to it, and both parties need to be honest and concerned for each others mutual happiness. A good dominant is about helping improve a persons life. There is nothing about taking a girl from her family and school, that will improve her life. Just for the sake of argument, lets say her family was not good for her – Do we really think moving from an abusive home to a BDSM poly family is the answer? Of course not.
Understand that I am not saying that her home environment was bad, I am just playing devils advocate here. Under no circumstance was moving her in a BDSM poly home the right choice. The answer to an unhealthy environment is to get into a healthy environment, without full-time distractions, and finish school. Actions speak volumes and his actions speak more about his wants, than her needs. Dammit! One of the most valuable things an older person can offer is council and from a public perception of us, he just screwed over the community big time on this one.
He had an opportunity to council and help this young lady, to show that a BDSM owner can be a great resource; but I don’t think that was his first priority. Reading between the lines, the marketing of a coloring book along with this fiasco suggests he had other things on his mind. Littles are healthy. This was not. Ok, that last thought was speculation, the jury will please ignore it. Bottom line, when I think of all this, I understand why the prosecution did anything it could to get a conviction, consenting age or not.
Yet again on the other hand, when I think of what he was convicted of, I am stunned. All I am saying is, we should never support twisting the laws to see justice served. We have a very long way to go before consent counts in the laws of our lands and we need to agree that yes, means yes. It seems to me that the age of consent is meaningless if you can have sex but not discuss plans to be poly or engage in BDSM.
Just to be clear, while consent should have counted towards those discussions I don’t think anyone should try to defend consent to discuss BDSM in this particular case. Its a lose, lose case. Even if you won the right for her to discuss BDSM, it would be nightmare for the BDSM image we are trying to put forth of the being caring, responsible adults . I would be much happier if he had been convicted with endangering her welfare. THAT I could get behind. I have a problem though with convicting a person of discussing plans for a BDSM and poly relation. I sure hope I got that wrong and there is more to the conviction that I missed. Maybe this isn’t the final chapter.
Somehow, someday, yes has to mean yes, even to BDSM. There are times when yes means no, like when a person is too drunk, or underage the age of consent. Under the law, yes means no for S&M because its assault. Just because we want yes to mean yes, doesn’t make it legal. Some day maybe, but not yet. That will be hard to achieve. We have not grown yet out of the terrible mindset of no means no, and we can not yet delineate ourselves from domestic abusers when professionals find bruises on our loved ones.
I have mixed feelings about twisting the law to serve justice. I think it is all too common. Again, I think there is a growing feeling that is true. I also don’t like to see people go free on technicalities. Justice is certainly an imperfect system. All I am certain about is that yes needs to mean yes and in this case, it sounds like the age of consent and yes was sufficient defense for sex with a 17 year old. But not for discussing BDSM. THAT was a two year conviction. Interesting.