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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Normalizing Pedophilia



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Decadence is on the march! And now, a defense of pedophilia as just another “sexual orientation” has been published in the mainstream left wing UK newspaper The GuardianFrom, “Paedophilia: Bringing Dark Desires Into the Light:”

Paedophiles may be wired differently. This is radical stuff. But there is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Two eminent researchers testified to that effect to a Canadian parliamentary commission last year, and the Harvard Mental Health Letter of July 2010 stated baldly that paedophilia “is a sexual orientation” and therefore “unlikely to change”.

This isn’t news. We already know that those who abuse children sexually are always dangerous. That is why they must register with the police when released from prison.

Understanding causes is one thing–I’m all for it–but the effort is definitely underway to normalize the behavior:

The reclassification of paedophilia as a sexual orientation would, however, play into what Goode calls “the sexual liberation discourse”, which has existed since the 1970s. “There are a lot of people,” she says, “who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong. Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia.”

Social perceptions do change. Child brides were once the norm; in the late 16th century the age of consent in England was 10. More recently, campaigning organisations of the 70s and 80s such as the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) and Paedophile Action for Liberation were active members of the NCCL when it made its parliamentary submission questioning the lasting damage caused by consensual paedophilic relations… A Dutch study published in 1987 found that a sample of boys in paedophilic relationships felt positively about them. And a major if still controversial 1998-2000 meta-study suggests – as J Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, Chicago, says – that such relationships, entered into voluntarily, are “nearly uncorrelated with undesirable outcomes”.

The idea, apparently, is to embrace pedophilia as a normal part of the human condition so that we can help those with the “orientation” refrain:

For Goode, though, broader, societal change is needed. “Adult sexual attraction to children is part of the continuum of human sexuality; it’s not something we can eliminate,” she says. “If we can talk about this rationally – acknowledge that yes, men do get sexually attracted to children, but no, they don’t have to act on it – we can maybe avoid the hysteria. We won’t label paedophiles monsters; it won’t be taboo to see and name what is happening in front of us.”

We can help keep children safe, Goode argues, “by allowing paedophiles to be ordinary members of society, with moral standards like everyone else”, and by “respecting and valuing those paedophiles who choose self-restraint”. Only then will men tempted to abuse children “be able to be honest about their feelings, and perhaps find people around them who could support them and challenge their behaviour before children get harmed”.

I am sorry, pedophiles can already get help in controlling their urges before they ruin a child’s life–and certainly, many do. Good on them. But turning the abhorrent and pathological into the somehow acceptable will not protect children. Quite the contrary.

Think about it: If the desire for sexual congress with children is just “another orientation”–an odious comparison, in my view–and if some children supposedly ”like it” when they voluntarily engage in sex with adults–and indeed, if it doesn’t actually hurt them–how long would the absolute rejection of cross-generation congress last? Not very. It wouldn’t be long until we saw the absolute prohibition on pedophilic sex downgraded to a mere “taboo,” which, as the last fifty years teach us, are made to be broken. NAMBLA members must be grinning ear-to-ear.

I call this kind of discussion, “terminal nonjudgmentalism,” because it is designed to move us from viewing pedophilia as absolutely unacceptable, to an issue that is debatable and should be “discussed,” toward the final goal of acceptability. 

No “conversation!” No debate! Having sexual relations with children treats them as mere objects, a good definition of evil.  If this view ever enters the mainstream–and that seems closer–we are on the road to cultural death.



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