I just completed Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed. The author, Kathy Marks, was one of the journalists on the island to cover the sexual abuse trials a few years back–trials that shattered the myth of the island as a South Pacific paradise. Within Seventh-day Adventism, the myth included the image of the place as an Adventist haven, with no crime, and only one church.
Well, they fooled us, didn’t they? Fletcher Christian and his boys rebeled so that they could live in unrestrained hedonism. But in a few years their tyranny over the Polynesians (including stealing of wives) led to their own deaths. Marks supposes that what might have then happened is that the men agreed not to go after one another for sexual misconduct. A climate of sexual abuse of girls developed, in which men in their 20s and 30s raped young girls–and also engaged in promiscuity with one another’s wives. It seems the only taboo that endured was prohibition against father/daughter incest. It’s a horrific, disgusting tale, of a community torn by back-biting within and yet defensive self-protection towards the outside world. They proved experts at “hypocriting,” playing pious for the cameras of tourists.
Some of the pastors assigned by the church were fooled. Some felt helpless. Some just told complaining girls to be quiet and not make a fuss.
It’s a tragic tale. Yet in the wake of the trials, there is little remorse and no repentance–just accusations that they were victimized by the outside world and by journalists such as Marks. Marks paints a portrait of an island of consummate con artists. The islanders continue to put on the happy face and sell their souvenirs via webpages. Still hooking people on the myth.