While the story of the man caught allegedly trying to have sex with a bike is causing titters of amusement all over the internet, there’s something more than a little creepy about it that has nothing to do with the object of his affection. How can he be breaching the peace if he was alone? Why about the breach of privacy, when the cleaners broke into his room? And what is it about his sexual fetish that is “disorderly”, exactly? A little on the odd side, perhaps, but no more bizarre than plenty of other fetishes I can think of, having been a regular Savage Love reader for some time now.

Given that he is reported to be living in a hostel after leaving a council house, we can assume he is probably homeless or close to it – and the fact that he is 51 can hardly make his housing and social position much easier. He is now on the sex offenders register, and on probation, and the identified subject of a full media glare (how kind of the BBC to add the additional information of where he is currently living, so that he can be hunted out in person for ridicule).

But aside from the fact that this is a really nasty case of laughing at a vulnerable man, what does his prosecution say about the policing of deviance? In these days of promiscuity, where as a society we pride ourselves on being open to anything, always up for it, so much more liberated and free than those oppressed people over there in [insert non-western country of choice here], why are we still prosecuting people for being “weird”? Because, of course, only “normal” fantasies – like lesbians, domination and threesomes that play on and therefore reinforce sexual and gender roles outside of the bedroom – are acceptably risqué.

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