A bombshell hit the news on March 5, but so many stories have been jolting us since Trump came into office that this one got crowded out: Facebook asked users whether men could solicit 14-year-old girls for sexual pictures on the social networking website.

Porn vs art

It didn't take long, after the survey was announced, for Facebook to pull it, calling it a “mistake.” A typo is a mistake, pedophilia is a crime. How can child pornography, posted on a popular website (one that routinely pushes nudity in art off its pages), be OK? Even artist Sally Mann's photographs, in the 90's, of her three young children playing in the nude, remain controversial.

Shades of Roy Moore

More currently, didn't we just witness Roy Moore, of Alabama, lose his bid for the Senate over accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with underage girls? Or did Trump's insistent support of Moore's candidacy free Facebook to consider allowing pedophilia on its pages?

Twisted tale

The Facebook story is so ludicrous that it almost sounds like a joke reminiscent of actor Peter Sellers making perversity seem funny in his role as Clare Quilty in the 1962 movie “Lolita.” A black comedy based on Vladimir Nabokov's novel of the same name, the film also starred James Mason as middle-aged Humbert Humbert lusting after a 12-year-old (Sue Lyon) while trying to appear normal.

But it was Seller's hilariously mannered shtick that made you forget that the movie was about child abuse. Clearly, the movie studio didn't forget. Thirteen-year-old Sue Lyons wasn't allowed to see the movie.

Say it in English

“Lolita” the novel, subtitled “The Confessions of a White, Widowed Male,” and way darker than the movie was originally viewed as a dirty book. At first, written in Russian as a short story, Nabokov expanded it into a full-length novel in English, the language of his first governess, he said.

The work was repeatedly rejected by mortified American publishers until an underground press in France took it on in England. But there was such a furor over the content that the book wasn't released for four years.

Stunted growth

Nabokov provided an explanation for Humbert's longings. As a boy, he had a little girlfriend who died of typhus. Stuck in an arrested state of development ever since Humbert was only drawn to underage females and failed miserably at his attempt at marriage. The story doesn't seem funny anymore, and when he starts coveting Lolita, daughter of a widow, he marries the woman to be closer to her child.

Tragic end

The novel turns darkest when Humbert decides to murder Lolita's mother in order to have her child all to himself. But the woman dies accidentally, though not before she discovers her husband's secret longings in his diary. And that's just part one. Part two ends tragically with all the key players dying. Likely most people know “Lolita” as a fun movie. Maybe the novel should be required reading.

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