A trio of weighty articles on paedophilia and related “sex offending” have made their appearance in leading journals in the last couple of weeks. What makes them stand out from the perpetual blizzard of bollocks thundering down on us with increasing intensity for the last decade or three is their positivity.
OK, it’s all relative. I’m not saying the revolution is around the corner or even that the worst is past. But at least we have seen a bit of resistance in influential places against prejudice, virulent hatred and inhumane treatment. Leading the way was The Guardian, in the UK: Jon Henley’s Paedophilia: bringing dark desires to light was the first I have ever seen in a mainstream media outlet giving significant coverage to research suggesting that paedophilia is not intrinsically harmful. That was superb, confirming my long-held view that Alan Rusbridger is the best ever editor of what may well be the world’s greatest English-language newspaper – greatness to which I feel its many feminist writers have contributed, actually, although I seldom agree with them. Incidentally, there were complaints about Henley’s article but the paper has run a “Reader’s Editor” piece defending it.
Considering where the U.S. is culturally at right now, it was hardly to be expected that America would follow suit quite so strongly. Nevertheless, The New Yorker and The LA Times have done their bit. Be warned, “The Science of Sex Abuse”, by Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker, is a whopper of nearly 8000 words. The length is well justified, though, as it enables the writer to present a detailed case of civil commitment in all its manifold injustice and inhumanity. Civil commitment, as those outside the U.S. may not know, has developed extensively since Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in 2006, enabling supposedly “sexually dangerous” offenders to be detained indefinitely after serving a regular jail term. As the article shows, rather than being applied only to violent rapists, civil commitment has been used against mere possessors of child pornography. Once detained, “treatment” is offered, and release can in theory be granted if it is deemed successful, but this very rarely happens. Instead, detainees under treatment are put under pressure to confess hands-on offences they have never in fact committed, with the effect that harmless people are “confirmed” as dangerous. Aviv does an excellent job of showing of showing up the corrupt and inhumane nature of this system, especially the regime at Butner Federal Correctional Institute, in North Carolina: while this is a safe haven compared to a lot of brutal hellholes, it is also the safety of the tomb, from which there is no escape; all in all, real life Butner makes the fictional prison of Shawshank Redemption fame look benign.
Dr Michael Seto, known to me through the Sexnet specialist forum, contributed to the New Yorker piece, and another Sexnetter, Dr James Cantor, is featured extensively in the LA Times one. Yes, it’s him again, Jimmy “the screamer” Cantori, notorious hit person of the Toronto mob. The screamer’s dodgy science is central to Alan Zarembo’s piece “Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia”, which, like the New Yorker one, focuses on a guy whose only offence has been use of child porn. But never mind the screamer’s dubious claim that paedophiles’ brains are deficient in white matter, and other less than flattering findings of that sort: the real significance of this article is that it foregrounds the growing consensus in the scientific community that paedophilia is a true sexual orientation, not a depraved lifestyle choice. Being “born this way”, as it were, does not excuse bad behaviour, otherwise it would be possible for a sadistic murderer to say “Well, I was born a vicious bastard, it’s not my fault”. Nevertheless, “born this way” rhetoric played well politically in the early days of gay liberation in America and could do the same for paedophilia.
The tone of Zarembo’s article is very much along these lines, pointing to a more humane approach than the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” vindictiveness that currently prevails in America. So, I am not disappointed, even though Zarembo interviewed me for 90 minutes as part of his research for this article but not a single thing I said about radical research findings (no intrinsic harm, and possible benefits, in consensual child-adult sex) was used.
I spoke to him again on the phone yesterday, when it emerged that he is thinking of another piece, too, possibly on scientific support for the idea that minor-attracted people might be less inclined to get into trouble if they were allowed child porn animation as a safety valve: in other words cartoon porn of the sort pioneered in Japan, with their lolicon (Lolita complex) art and its boy-oriented equivalent, shotacon. That should be an interesting article in a country where the First Amendment (freedom of expression) status of animated porn depictions of children is still not necessarily finally settled.