Ben Byrne*, “not a Dalai Lama sycophant”, feels that “the idea that the Dalai Lama would dedicate his whole life to ascending from attachment to the five senses but not quite be able to relinquish a freakish sexual attachment to children is absurd” and the suggestion that “he’s just a perv, based on one interaction among the countless thousands he has had with children throughout his life, is ridiculous.”
I remember reading news a couple of years ago that my hero and Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan was a child sex offender. The headlines were the typical click bait for the twitter generation – The Guardian ran with “Bob Dylan accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old in 1965”. I was mortified. “Really?” I thought, “at the height of his fame with the world at his feet Dylan wanted to groom a 12-year-old? Surely not, why would he want to do that? Why would anybody want to do that?” Dylan’s lawyers called the charges a “brazen shakedown” and they were eventually dropped in the summer of 2022 – The case fell apart when it turned out that Dylan had been on tour in Europe at the time that alleged grooming took place – but this was only after Dylan had been through a media shitstorm and included in a BBC article about child abuse alongside Catholic Priests and Prince Andrew.
Recently the Dalai Lama has courted controversy by pecking a young Indian boy on the lips and then asking the boy, with his broken English, to “suck his tongue” – all in the middle of a public gathering at his temple in Dharamshala. In the days since I have heard many explanations for the Dalai Lama’s words from Tibetans – apparently Tibetan grandpas will often give candy to their grandchildren transferring it from tongue to tongue, when the candy has gone the grandpa will say “now eat my tongue” – so the Dalai Lama was probably going for something along those lines and then blundered the English.
I err on the side of assuming that people are not child sex offenders unless there is some very damning evidence to the contrary. Therefore, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Dalai Lama is almost certainly not a pervert or a child abuser. I’m also almost certain that other high-profile figures, such as Bill Gates, Bob Dylan and Joe Biden, who have been accused of perversion or child abuse in recent years, are not engaging in activities of that kind behind closed doors – I haven’t been behind the scenes with them, that’s why I’m not completely ruling it out, but it’s so implausible.
There seems to be a narrative circulating that the one thing that people with a lot of money, influence and power in this world secretly want to get up to is child abuse. They earn a few billion, sell millions of records or work their way through the ranks to govern a country, but deep down they can’t wait to get themselves off to an isolated island or a hotel room somewhere and start abusing children. Really?! Would this really be the best thing that these people could be getting up to with all their money and free time? I don’t want to get into the particulars but wouldn’t sexual contact with a minor be among the worst experiences that anybody could have? What would a rational adult human being gain from that experience? At a cellular level there’s no genetic multiplication, at an emotional level there’s no partnership, no warmth.
This is not to say that there are not deranged individuals in this world who engage in child abuse, but this is a very rare phenomenon relegated to fringe folk who need intervention and psychological counselling. The idea that the Dalai Lama would dedicate his whole life to ascending from attachment to the five senses but not quite be able to relinquish a freakish sexual attachment to children is absurd – honestly, alcohol is addictive, it’s hard to give up; sexual relations with other adults, tough one; lying, sometimes makes life easier; but sexual attachment to children? Come on, how many adults find children sexually attractive? It is a tiny fraction of a percent comprised of people who need to see a doctor.
The Dalai Lama is a great historical figure. He received a letter from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, toured around Beijing with Chairman Mao, escaped to exile and has since written roughly a thousand books, met almost every world leader of note and lived through many chaotic twists and turns in India. I’m not a Dalai Lama sycophant, I don’t hang on his every word or consider him to be any holier than any other person, but his life is interesting and commands respect. This narrative where he’s simply a perv, based on one interaction among the countless thousands he has had with children throughout his life, it’s ridiculous isn’t it?
* Ben Byrne has a master’s degree in History and is an independent researcher