Down and dirty in the VP basement

61 Comments

A confession: distaste for Virtuous Pedophiles (VP) has hitherto deterred me from undertaking a thorough scrutiny of their website. I thought I knew quite enough about them, thank you very much, from their media coverage, plus exchanges with co-founders Nick Devin and Ethan Edwards on Sexnet and here on Heretic TOC.

Their input of comments to last week’s blog, Humble or haughty, nasty is naughty, however, meant I would finally have to get down and dirty, scouring their lair from attic to basement in order to make a properly informed response. That is why I have taken a bit of time over the job and is also one reason why, having made that effort, I feel it is worth featuring this undertaking as a follow-up blog. Another is the growing salience of VP in public discourse. I believe this means there will be sufficient general interest to justify showcasing the result.

Having said that, I had better issue a trigger warning. Please understand that what follows will be longer and less humorous than usual, without any particular structure leading you through from one paragraph to the next. I will simply be responding, first to Nick’s points then to Ethan’s. As such, the text itself, as opposed to inherent interest in VP, is so dull it may send you into a coma. There is more than you might expect, at the start, on research by Dr James Cantor. You have been warned!

RESPONSE TO NICK 

Nick wrote:

“Dr. Cantor’s scientific findings…appear to be generally accepted by other scientists, including Mike Bailey who we both trust. His work has also been confirmed by other researchers. Check out the resource section of our web site for some recent studies.”

What Mike Bailey and I both accept, along with others who have been taking an interest, is that James Cantor is a scientist of some repute and that his findings are interesting.

It is not true, though, that all of these findings are generally accepted. Cantor, for instance, has concluded from his own research and that of others, that paedophilia is a sexual orientation. I think he is right, and increasingly this seems to be the consensus, but the position is nevertheless contested. In one of the sources (“Are paedophiles’ brains wired differently?”) listed on your website resource section, he is quoted thus:

“Paedophilia is something that we are essentially born with, does not appear to change over time and it’s as core to our being as any other sexual orientation is.”

But Dr Paul Fedoroff is quoted in the same article as an expert with a very different view who thinks paedophiles can be “cured”. As you know, he and his colleagues (lead author Müller K.) published a claim to this effect in a peer-reviewed journal. His paper is listed on your website. Mike Bailey rebutted it, and Fedoroff et al. rebutted the rebuttal.

How are non-scientists like you or I supposed to know whom to believe? As responsible people, I don’t think it makes sense just to latch onto the first scientist who comes along who seems to know his stuff. We need to think about the evidence for ourselves, just as a lay jury must think about the evidence-based claims made in court by an expert witness (or possibly by competing experts on opposite sides).

Having said that, I have never personally disputed any of Cantor’s findings or claimed to have grounds upon which to do so. That may surprise you. It may even surprise Cantor, because his own reaction to my sceptical questions has always been one on knee-jerk hostility towards anybody coming from an “advocacy” position. He simply has no interest in patiently addressing such questions when it is easier just to hurl abuse.

Please understand that what I have disputed (but only through questions, not assertions) has never been Cantor’s findings but rather his interpretation of those findings. For instance, he wrote a paper about the “deficiency” in paedophiles’ brains of white matter.

There is a huge presumption in that word deficiency. It suggests that something is wrong. But it ain’t necessarily so. A post mortem examination of Einstein’s brain showed (or so it was reported in Neuroscience Letters in 1996) he had a smaller brain than average for an adult male: 1.2kg as opposed to average 1.4kg.  Does that mean he had a “deficiency” of brain power? Clearly not. Even when brain size is different on average between two entire classes of person (men’s brains are on average larger than women’s), it is unwise to leap to conclusions about superior functionality based on size alone.

Indeed, even where brain differences have been associated with a dysfunction, such as lack of social skills of people with Asperger’s, that brain style may also go along with exceptionally high cognitive functioning: there are plenty of geeks around with Asperger’s, and they make a huge contribution to the advancement of science, engineering, etc.

Cantor is well aware of the dangers of assuming inferiority based just on evidence of difference. He must be. He is gay. He knows there are research findings showing that gay men have subtly different physical development at the foetus stage, which is associated with disproportionately high left-handedness (as with paedophiles!), a different ratio between the length of one finger to another, etc. But he does not leap to the conclusion that gay people are inferior; nor should he.

That is exactly what he does with paedophiles though. He uses the word “deficiency” in relation to paedophiles’ brains and then, talking about brain development of the foetus, he speculates:

“A possible cause may be maternal stress or malnourishment.”

He continues:

“The more we can zero in on exactly what’s going on and when it’s happening, the greater chance of being able to prevent it from developing in the first place.”

Who could argue against such sympathetic common sense? Who would not wish to eliminate maternal stress or malnourishment?

Well fine, let’s do research on that.

But note the unexamined assumption that paedophilia is caused by an undesirable condition, and the scientist’s job is to find a way to eliminate it.

If Cantor is really being objectively sympathetic and humane, why doesn’t he apply the same logic to the gay population, given that they too are the product of in utero developmental anomalies? If he is really clever, he might be able to stop people being “born gay”, including any future Cantor clones! I doubt he will be applying for research grants along those lines though.

And here is another dodgy assumption, in the very same short passage from your own cited  resources. He claims it is as though paedophiles have cross-wiring in the brain. And, on this basis:

“It’s as if, in these people, when they perceive a child, it’s triggering the sexual instincts instead of triggering the nurturing instincts.”

The assumption here is that when the sexual instinct is turned on, the nurturing side is switched off. What Cantor does not seem to have considered, or does not wish to examine, in the possibility that for paedophiles (or for those of us who love kids as opposed to raping them) erotic and nurturing feelings towards children are not in opposition to each other. As with many mothers, they go together. In male paedophiles such feelings could well arise from a slight feminisation of the brain in utero.

As for what I think of Cantor’s findings, as opposed to his interpretations of them, I have often entertained sceptical thoughts but I have never had strong enough evidence to contest them, or not until recently.

For instance, Cantor reported that paedophiles tend to have a significantly lower IQ than average, based on forensic sampling. It would have been easy to rubbish such work on the basis that most paedophiles in the community are likely to be more intelligent than those who get caught committing offences. In fact, though, Cantor’s research is quite sophisticated and takes this possibility into account. Rather than making a weak criticism of his IQ claim on Sexnet or elsewhere, I have held my tongue.

Recently, though, I see there is a new forensic study which comes up with completely different findings, showing paedophiles’ IQ is normal:

Azizian, A. et al., 2015. A summary at the Paraphilia Research website begins “This new study joins previous research in finding that pedophiles have normal IQ.” A separate link to the previous research in question is extensively referenced. I have yet to read and assess all this, but we are talking about peer-reviewed studies.

One further point about research, before I move on. You proudly point to your resources section, which includes academic papers. I would point out, though, that it is a rather loaded selection, notably excluding work showing lack of harm associated with adult-child sexual contacts (notably the Rind et al. 1998 meta-analysis) or with positive outcomes.

Moving on from Cantor, and from research, you write:

>You are wrong when you say that I don’t criticize sex offender treatment programs.

I did not quite say that, but I accept that I inadvertently implied it. My apologies for that.

Also:

>Mike Bailey knows why I posted the link to the article [i.e. the Vice News piece discussed last time] because he, Ethan and I had private correspondence about it before I posted it. I was intrigued by the quote that was attributed to you because it sounded like you regretted not taking the path that VP has taken. Given your hostility toward us, that surprised me.

I do not doubt any of this. What I find harder to accept is that you had no further motivation, of a less charitable kind. You use the media, at every opportunity, to badmouth “pro-contacters”. Why would your approach be any different when trying to influence people on Sexnet?

>It never occurred to me that you would be so offended by the fact that someone from our group said mean things about you in the article. Like Ethan, I would have thought that you would be accustomed to this, and that you would not be so thin skinned.

That’s a bit like punching a woman in the face when you see her, then excusing yourself by saying,  “I know your husband often beats you up, so I guess you are used to it and won’t mind me hitting you as well.”

It also ignores what I said in this latest blog:

“I have no trouble living with Brett’s disapproval but being branded “pro-contact” is another matter entirely because it slyly misrepresents those of us who would like to see cultural changes and legal reforms leading to the possibility of sexual self-determination for all.”

Let me emphasise those first words: “I have no trouble living with Brett’s disapproval”. You are right to say one becomes inured to “mean things” that are said. If I were to lose sleep over insults on Twitter, or get desperately upset over routine tabloid vilification, I wouldn’t last long as a heretic.

The general rule, I think, is that bad-mouthing from those who are either ignorant, or just hired guns, is pretty much like water off a duck’s back in terms of personal impact. It can be much more wounding to hear unwelcome “home truths” from a close friend, or anybody one respects.

Or, indeed, from anyone whose views are likely to be respected by others because they appear to have some special knowledge. That would include scientists such as Cantor, and also you and Ethan (and Todd and Brett) because you are insiders to the experience of being MAPs. When you are nakedly hostile it is thus likely to influence a lot of people; also, your lack of solidarity with your fellow MAPs feels deeply treacherous.

I am sure you are aware of this. So the fact that you twist the knife at every opportunity does you no credit. It merely confirms you as vicious rather than virtuous.

I have no power in this matter though. Neither do any of us here so far as I can tell. All I can do is implore you not to abuse your own influence in the world. You can make your case on behalf of the non-offending paedophile quite effectively without resorting to incredibly offensive (especially to anyone less inured than me, and that will include most of the Kind community) anti “pro-contacter” propaganda.

You can simply choose to speak for yourselves and for other non-offenders, a category which I would think includes many of us heretics here, especially these days. Oh, and by the way, as long as you, Ethan and others go under pseudonyms we only have your word for it that you are non-offenders. Not that I am saying you ought to give your real names, nor am I accusing you. Just saying. As for your forum members, there will surely be former offenders among them who are now sincerely trying to stay “virtuous”, but not all will necessarily succeed.

While I am at it on the matter of pseudonyms, I would add another matter that should give the media some grounds for wondering just how kosher you are: VP has no constitution. You and Ethan are answerable to no one in the way you run it. You say you have “members” but there appears to be no democratic structure. You cannot be voted off the executive. This is perhaps not a great problem at the moment, especially as you do not seem to be asking anyone for money. Of course, a similar criticism could be made of Heretic TOC. However, like other personal blogs, this one is openly focused on my personal views and those of others I choose to host – usually fellow heretics but sometimes not, as in the present case. An organisation such as VP, by contrast, which aims to help distressed paedophiles (though curiously this is not listed in your official aims, which are very restricted and tucked away as FAQ Q5) arguably should be more accountable.

If VP continues as at present, successfully attracting publicity and further “members”, it will become increasingly difficult to monitor and moderate interactions on the forum on a purely volunteer basis, which will in any case have its downside in terms of quality control – as we have seen when Brett has been let loose.

If you feel the need to present a distinctive VP brand, I don’t think we heretics could have any objection to your doing so in a slightly different way. If you are going to set yourself apart, let it be from those who abduct, rape and murder kids, or who trick and exploit them: people who do real harm.

Nor would I object to you saying you do not think kids can consent, and that present laws should remain. That is certainly an arguable case and I have no quarrel at all with you saying you subscribe to it. Where I think most of us here would part company with you is when you collude with the tabloids and others in vilifying those of us who take a different position. That is just plain wrong, as wrong as the KKK used to be in attacking “dirty n……s” who “lust after our womenfolk” and seek “miscegenation”.

So please, I politely implore you, just stop it now!

RESPONSE TO ETHAN

Attempting to justify use of the term “pro-contact”, Ethan wrote:

>As you note, I see the possible confusion with using “pro-contact”, but I don’t see any strong evidence that Brett or Todd or the public at large are interpreting this as being in favor of adult sexual contact with kids today.

As Dissident wrote earlier today, it is a safe assumption that many will take it that way.

>”They are sufficiently repelled by pedophiles who confidently conclude that it’s only societal attitudes and laws that keep adult-child sex from being OK — even if they do obey the laws.”

But don’t expect Kind folk here to be happy with your efforts to reinforce how “repellent” we are. As Stephen6000 implied with his short sceptical question, you are going out of your way to reinforce prejudice based on whipped up emotions, not facts.

>“we have irreconcilable purists on our own side”

There are people whose views I respect who perhaps take an even dimmer view than I do of dealings with mainstream media such as Vice News, and who likewise might see no point in any sort of negotiation with VP over language such as “pro-contact” versus “pro-choice”, or whatever. Is that being a “purist”? Perhaps “realist” might be an expression more favoured by some.

>Todd and Brett rightly point out that even a few loud voices can stain those of us with moderate views.

Neither Todd nor Brett sound moderate to me, I have to say. Their denunciation of “pro-contacters” is rabid in its ferocity, and the VP website is likewise fiercely partisan.

Yes, I’ve taken a potshot or two myself against you guys, notably in my last blog, but only because there are limits to turning the other cheek. None of this antagonism would have started without VP setting out deliberately, right from the outset, to aim at making yourselves look good at Kind expense. It’s all there, quite clearly on your website, in your public pronouncements and even in your name: you are “virtuous” and lose no opportunity to define yourself against the “selfishness”, “self-serving rationalisations”, etc of the despised Other i.e. anyone with a different view to you, no matter how principled and indeed moderate it may be.

While our views are indeed a long way from the mainstream I don’t think we can be accused of extremism in our methods, which have always been peaceful, democratic and inclusive, which is why you are allowed to participate on this forum. We are reasonable, and as Mike Bailey says, principled. There is nothing immoderate about that.

We give no cause for you to talk in public about us in the extraordinarily hateful way you do, making us out to be all but sub-human, just as the worst of the tabloid media do. And then you, and more especially Nick, have the gall to claim we are being hateful. The hypocrisy is so naked and extreme it beggars belief that you can expect to be taken seriously.

>But the trends seem to be against you. “Holding your ground” seems like very much of a rearguard action.

Yes, it is. As you rightly point out, we have been losing ground for decades, since long before VP came along: victim feminism and “respectable” gay politics have steadily gained ground at our expense in mass culture. This does not, however, mean we are wrong or should give up. The early Christians had to fight for centuries before the tide turned in their favour.

Where I think we are holding our own and have some prospect of doing better in the near future is in the extent to which we MAPs begin to see ourselves as Kind rather than Virtuous. Bear in mind, it is not just Heretic TOC versus VP: other websites, such as those listed in the Blogroll here, offer good information and thoughtful analysis, with Consenting Humans as a recent very impressive addition. Dissident has given other examples earlier today.

There are also organisations which do not support the “heretical” perspective seen here but which are truly moderate where VP is not: notably B4U-ACT in the US, which I see has its annual workshop coming up in April, and FUMA, its fledgling UK equivalent, as mentioned in Heretic TOC last time.

>Meanwhile, 1,300 people have been inspired to sign up with Virtuous Pedophiles in the last 2.5 years. I don’t think there is any group where pro-legalization opinions are welcome (see how precise I’m being?) that has attracted members in anything like those numbers.

As we have seen from Samuel, there are grounds for scepticism over the meaning of these numbers. Also, it is not comparing like with like because Heretic TOC has not offered membership. This site scores hundreds of hits every day (over 500 yesterday). If we were to go down the membership route it is entirely possible we would get as many sign-ups as VP,  and with much less chance of people leaving through disillusion over the fact that you offer help (well, you offer your forum) that may not be experienced as all that helpful.

About your forum, you say:

“A forum provides a community to reduce isolation and desperation. The Virtuous Pedophiles forum provides a place where pedophiles can discuss living with their attraction, but with the shared understanding that sexual activity with children is wrong and that we are not trying to make it more acceptable.”

I find myself wondering exactly what this discussion amounts to, and whether many or most forum participants end up feeling they have been helped. Nick referred on Sexnet to data  I have supposedly ignored. Trawling the VP website in response to this accusation, though, I do not see anything that fits the bill, except perhaps for the “First Words” section of “Who We Are”. This showcases “…the initial messages we have received…. Reading them will give a flavor of our diversity, the themes that come up over and over again…”

These messages are interesting, and worthy of study, but they are indeed first words, which tell us why the writers came to VP in the first place. But they tell us nothing of how these people feel about VP after they have been around for a while, or why they leave if they do – perhaps because Brett has trashed their posts or they have not found the sense of community they had hoped for, or any real sense of how they can live with their paedophilia.

I may be wrong about this. Perhaps there is a lot of satisfaction. If so, VP would do well to ask members for their thoughts after they have spent some time on the forum, and when they leave, or go silent. Is there, indeed, any formal procedure for leaving? People register, but do they de-register? If not, then as time goes by your “membership” is going to be increasingly inflated by lost souls looking for a way out, a bit like the Hotel California:

“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”

Much better than just VP’s own survey, though, would be to encourage formal independent research for a peer-reviewed journal article. My call for this on Sexnet has so far gone without a positive response.

 

Extremists plot to disrupt ‘distressing’ dissent

57 Comments

Today is Heretic TOC’s third anniversary. So I hope you will join me, in spirit at least, in celebrating. Cheers!

Looking back, the occasion of the first anniversary was marked by some rather uncharacteristically gloomy reflections on my part titled What’s the point of it all, really?  To my own question, I replied:

To be entirely honest, I am not sure. I know there are umpteen blogs I want to write, and that I am in absolutely no danger whatever of running out of things to say… But I do sometimes wonder whether… I might do better to concentrate my limited time on authoring books, or submitting articles to academic journals.

I am glad that I carried on blogging, and that was reflected in last years’ anniversary reflections, Oh shit, I forgot the kid’s birthday! My own existential angst over Heretic TOC’s purpose and future do not appear to have been shared by visitors, who continue to grow in number. The average hits per day here in the opening month, November 2012, was 89; in the corresponding month of 2013 there were 192; for 2014 the figure was up to 296. This year it is up again, to 363.

The most satisfying aspect of Heretic TOC for me has been the extent of engagement by fellow heretics, with a grand total – a very grand total – of 5,767 comments published so far as I write. One piece in this third year, Inadmissible Testimony, drew an astonishing 484 comments. This year also saw the most page views in a single day since the blog began: 1,685 on 20 July.

One wonderful aspect of this participation has been the generally high quality of the comments, which on a good many occasions have given me information and ideas I have quietly purloined and salted away in my own database for future exploitation. Some of these contributions have even been pressed into more immediate prominence, yoked into service as guest blogs in their own right. One of these, Towards the aetiology of paedophobia, turned out to be the first of a magnificent trio by Lensman (who now has his own excellent blog, Consenting Humans, writing as “leonard sisyphus mann”), the others being The future is green, and liberating for children and The staircase has not one step but many. All three were and remain truly profound analyses, worthy of continued study and reflection. If there is to be any lasting legacy of Heretic TOC, these pieces alone will comprise a mighty chunk of it.

As for any others that may be worth re-reading, I have been telling myself in the run-up to this anniversary that I really must have a good rummage through the back catalogue to fish out the best ones, with a view perhaps to running them as an e-book called Best of Heretic TOC, or whatever. In fact I mentioned just such a possibility in last last’s anniversary reflections. The only problem is actually getting around to doing the task. At least I have at last made a start, though, and following an appeal made here in July I am now kindly being helped by Ronnie (who posted on the About page) to compile an annotated index of every blog.

Looking forward, my feelings are still somewhat equivocal, as they were at the first anniversary. If there were any foreseeable prospect of kind people getting a better deal any time soon, if the mood were shifting towards the liberation of kids’ sexuality, rather than its suppression, I would doubtless feel a whole lot keener. To write in such an atmosphere would be truly exciting and exhilarating.

Even in a bear market, though, there are those who will always make a fast buck out of selling assets short, enabling such speculators to profit from panic. In a way, that is what the now thriving Virtuous Pedophiles are doing. They are selling kindness short, talking down the value of being kind and thereby making capital out of enabling unkindness to prosper. Their brand of writing and putting themselves about in the media might well feel “exciting and exhilarating” to those who sully themselves with it, but their success comes at the heavy price of selling their souls.

I make the point following the remarkable recent media coup by Todd Nickerson, already well known in kind circles for his posts as  “Markaba” at GirlChat and elsewhere. Not that he uses the word kind to describe child lovers. On the contrary, in a long article in the hugely influential American online journal Salon, he went out of his way to adopt the divisive language favoured by the VPs. Thus he disparaged those of us who seek liberation through long-term cultural change as “pro-contacters”, thereby deliberately fostering the false and libellous impression that we invite kind people to be heedless of present laws, or even (since it is left to the reader’s imagination) that we would condone or excuse non-consensual acts.

The media loved Nickerson’s blend of pity-seeking and finger-pointing. Big pieces soon followed in Daily Mail and The Independent; there was an interview on Irish radio.

Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same. Much more. The VPs, with whom Nickerson is now actively associating himself, have for some time been presenting a package that clearly appeals to the media, and they are now becoming a widely recognised brand.

Posting their own facts and figures on Sexnet recently, they claimed to have over 1,000 members now, albeit, in the words of Nick Devin, co-founder of VP with Ethan Edwards, “They don’t all stay around obviously, and not all participate.” Sexnet moderator Mike Bailey humorously replied: “Congratulations! (I know it’s not true, but kind of funny to think of Nick, Ethan, and 998 FBI agents on a website.)”

Many a true word is said in jest, for sure, but I rather think those FBI agents and their British equivalents will be focusing harder on Heretic TOC than the VPs, for the obvious reason that we are more likely to be perceived as a source of “extremism”.

If the success of the VP brand presents a threat to heretical thinking – and make no mistake, it does – the crudely coercive agencies of the repressive state constitute a far bigger one. In the UK, especially, where this blog is written, the latest ominous development is the government’s plan for a  new Extremism Disruption Order, already briefly mentioned in the comment columns here.

British radical Peter Tatchell has set the scene on his website, in an article titled Extremism Disruption Orders menace free speech.

The government’s main intention, announced earlier this year, is to crack down on Islamist extremism, with a view to stopping the process through which young Muslims become radicalised into taking part in bomb plots and going abroad to join “Islamic State”.

That sounds fine, but the measures the government has outlined strike at the heart of free expression. They are so broad and vague they could penalise a range of dissenting and minority opinions. The government has refused to define what it means by extremism, but the legislation will clamp down on “extremists” even if they have not broken the law. Don’t take my word for it, or Tatchell’s. Here is what prime minister David Cameron said when he was introducing the proposal:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.” He then went on to promise that the government “will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.”

So, no more tolerance! Obeying the law is not enough! What will be demanded in our supposedly liberal society, it seems, is total conformity.

Simon Calvert, director of Defend Free Speech, set up to oppose the initiative, said:

“Defend Free Speech believes innocent people will fall foul of this unnecessary and dangerous piece of legislation. It will criminalise those who hold unpopular, unfashionable or challenging views. This could include pro- and anti-religious groups, trade unionists, environmental and animal rights activists, critics of UK foreign policy and people campaigning for LGBT rights. Indeed, we have already seen police urging teachers to report on parents who go to anti-fracking protests.”

In such a climate, it does not need much imagination to understand that pro-kind views will be in the firing line and that a blog such as Heretic TOC will immediately be branded extremist, even though it could hardly be more polite and moderate. Indeed, when the politicians talk about what “extremism” should be taken to mean, they tend to talk in terms of “glorifying” terrorism and “normalising” paedophilia. Unlike the anti-frackers and the rest, us heretics would be seen as prime targets along with the directors of obscenely glamorised beheading videos.

Defend Free Speech has warned that EDOs could be used to prevent individuals from going to certain places, mixing with particular people or even using mobile phones, the internet and social media. The group says the government will use the civil law test of “the balance of probabilities” rather than the stronger criminal test of “beyond reasonable doubt” in order to impose the EDOs and that even the mere risk of causing “distress” could be enough to trigger the new powers.

My guess is that the worst fears expressed by Defend Free Speech will not come to pass. This group appears to be very broad-based, and its leadership includes heavyweights such as former Conservative Party leadership contender David Davis MP, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP and ex-Chief Constable Lord Dear. Robust resistance to the worst excesses of the EDOs can be expected from the now rather splendidly militant House of Lords.

Whose freedom of expression will not be accommodated though? Why, us heretical kind people, of course. In these circumstances, it may become impossible in the coming year to continue a blog such as Heretic TOC unless it is written from outside the UK. In any case, there must come a time when, as an individual, one’s contribution has run its course. While this is not quite a valedictory on my part, it is intended to hint that others – especially those in other parts of the world – should be thinking how best to sustain a discourse of heresy in the perhaps not very distant future.

Virtuous turkeys vote for Christmas

75 Comments

Heretic TOC offers no detailed comment for the moment on the following guest blog, submitted without invitation by self-styled “virtuous” paedophiles Ethan Edwards and Nick Devin, although the headline speaks for itself. Some will wonder why I agreed to carry this piece at all, perhaps feeling all it will do is take us into sterile sparring and deeper entrenchment in mutual antagonism. However, I think there is enough to justify publication, both in terms of clarifying the VP position and obliging us to think about aspects of reality on which we might prefer to bury our heads in the sand. Or, rather, switching abruptly from the terrestrial to the celestial, might our more revolutionary ambitions be said to belong to Cloud Cuckoo Land?

Virtuous Pedophiles Explain Their Views

We are aware, of course, that many activist pedophiles have been critical of our organization, and we appreciate the opportunity that Tom has provided to share our thoughts. We thought it would be helpful to tell you a little bit about our history, our goals, and how we go about trying to accomplish our goals before we react to the criticism. You can find more information about us on our web site (www.virped.org).

Combatting Stigma

Our first contact with other pedophiles was a few years ago when we joined B4U-ACT. Nick was put in contact with B4U-ACT by a therapist who helped him when he was first coming to grips with his sexuality. Ethan found it from web searching.

Our time with B4U-ACT was disappointing. We believed that stigma was a major source of the problems faced by pedophiles — many pedophiles internalize societal attitudes resulting in severe depression, many even become suicidal. We felt that the main cause of this stigma was society’s conflating of pedophilic feelings with pedophilic actions. We believed that stigma would be reduced if society was made aware that many pedophiles are able to successfully resist their sexual feelings. Hence, our mantra: “We don’t choose to be sexually attracted to children and we can’t stop being sexually attracted to children, but many of us are able to successfully resist our sexual feelings. You should sympathize with us, and help us resist our sexual feelings, not hate us.” We tried to get B4U-ACT to adopt this approach. They had no interest because they felt that it would antagonize pro-contact pedophiles. They also believed that the approach wouldn’t have any impact – that people hate us because of our sexual feelings without regard to whether we act on them.

We continue to believe that we are right on this, and the early evidence is encouraging. Several sympathetic articles calling attention to the plight of pedophiles who successfully resist their sexual feelings have appeared in the year or so that we’ve been around, including in Salon, the Atlantic, the LA Times, CNN, Daily Beast and Crime Library. A recent book, Perv, by Jesse Bering, is similarly supportive, and we know that several college professors use our web site when teaching about pedophilia in their human sexuality classes.

There are a lot of people who share credit for this changing attitude, and we are among them. Will this recent spate of favorable articles make its way into the public consciousness and reduce stigma? We don’t know, but the early signs are hopeful.

Our Forum

In addition to trying to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia, we also try to help pedophiles lead happy, productive, law-abiding lives. We try to accomplish this with our forum, which is a support group for pedophiles who share our core values.

Most of the people who reach out to us are in serious distress. They feel shame because of their sexual feelings, fear that they will not be able to lead happy lives. They feel that things are hopeless, that they are all alone. Many are depressed; some are suicidal. You can get a feel for the pain that people are feeling by clicking on the “First Words” tab under the “Who We Are” section on our web site. Pedophiles who hate their attraction may be able to reach out to us but would never on principle join a pro-contact forum. But thinking we make pedophiles miserable would be reversing cause and effect.

What do we do to help? Sometimes just letting people know that they are not alone, expressing sympathy and support, can be enormously helpful. Those of us who have successfully managed our pedophilia describe how we have done so. Often this involves encouraging people to focus on other interests — job or school or recreational or social activity, or encouraging pedophiles who are also attracted to adults to focus on adult relationships. Sometimes we encourage people to see professionals, often through ATSA, Project Dunkelfeld or ilovechildren.us.

Will we be successful? Will we help pedophiles lead happier, more productive, law-abiding lives? Who knows? We’ve had about 250 people cycle through our forum in the 16 months that we’ve been around. Some join and stay, some are on for a while and leave, some leave and come back. Many of them think that we have helped. Of course, we are not so naive to believe that this means that we have really provided long-term benefit. We suppose the jury is out. We do the best we can to help.

Our Views On Legalization, Harm…

We know this is important to many more activist pedophiles. We consider it to be interesting from an academic perspective but of little practical import to our goal of helping pedophiles lead happier, more productive, law-abiding lives.

None of us lives in ancient Greece and none of us is likely to move there in the near future. Laws and societal attitudes on adult-child sex are not going to change in the foreseeable future. Activist pedophiles have been fighting this battle for more than fifty years. Many are eloquent. Many are clever. They have had no success. Laws have become more harsh; societal attitudes more severe. Activist pedophiles who promote changes in age of consent laws are pretty much reduced to talking among themselves and have no ability to influence discussion on important issues where change is possible. Their arguments have no traction with society at all. Even if we shared their views, which we do not, we would remain silent and choose a different battle.

In terms of our view of whether consensual sexual relations between children and adults are harmful, our understanding from leading sexologists is that it is not as harmful as is generally believed and is not harmful in all cases. It is, however, harmful in many cases, sometimes severely so. The problem from the pedophile’s perspective is that he can’t know ahead of time which cases will result in harm. A child who seems to be enjoying sexual activity at the time may later internalize societal attitudes and severe harm could result. Taking the bigger picture, whatever the level of harm, there is very little benefit. Very few people look back on their childhood sexual experiences with other adults as profoundly positive – the relationship may have been, but not the sexual aspects. A great many look back with great anguish.

We do not take seriously claims of activists that they are really advocating for the right of children to engage in sexual activity with adults. The claim seems implausible on its face – why is it that only procontact activist pedophiles argue that children should have the right to have sex with adults? Surely others are also concerned about children yet they don’t seem to think the right is important. Children will eventually become adults and can then have the entire panopoly of sexual experiences, so it is hard to see how denying them this right for a few years results in harm. Moreover, we have no problem with children experimenting sexually with similarly aged peers.

Relations With Pedophile Activists

We think we probably agree with other pedophile activists on about 90% of the issues – reducing stigma, helping pedophiles deal with mental health issues brought on by their pedophilia such as depression, making mental health care more accessible, eliminating mandatory reporter rules, eliminating sex offender registries, eliminating civil commitment, eliminating laws prohibiting things like virtual porn and erotic fiction… We don’t think pedophiles should feel shame as a result of their sexual attractions. We think children should not be made to feel guilty about sexual feelings and explorations. When adults do engage in sexual activity with children, we think the children should be treated in ways designed to reduce iatrogenic harm.

It is disappointing to us that pedophiles who disagree with us on a small number of issues focus on those few areas of disagreement instead of the many issues where we agree. It is particularly perplexing since it should be apparent to everyone that there is no prospect for changing laws relating to adult-child sex in the foreseeable future but our organization has helped make progress on some of the other issues.

We think the negative reaction may be a reaction to our perceived holier-than-thou attitude as reflected in our name and in our public statements that adults should not have sex with children.

In terms of the name, it was not subjected to focus group analysis among different constituencies. Ethan’s top choice was “Celibate Pedophiles”, and while Nick’s preference for the name won out, he viewed it as basically synonymous with “Celibate Pedophiles” – which he disliked as suggesting erroneously that none of us had sex with legal adults. The original internal working name was “Gold-Star Pedophiles”, after the Dan Savage column – and while we liked the column, we felt that as the name of an organization it was demeaning, gold stars being worthless fluff bestowed by adults on gullible children.

“Virtuous Pedophiles” was chosen not with regard to how pedophiles who debate such things on the internet would feel about it. It was directed to the 90% or more of society who know very little about the issue. Among them, a common view is that all pedophiles rape crying and struggling children and get sadistic pleasure out of it. “Virtuous Pedophiles” contradicts that stereotype. It is also meant to exclude those who engage in sexual activity with children by apparent mutual consent (leaving under debate how fully informed such consent could be). Yes, by our name we intentionally set ourselves apart from such pedophiles. We think it’s really important that people know we exist, and the evidence that we were right is that it can get some people of liberal inclinations to think more carefully and sympathetically about pedophiles. We do not view ourselves as virtuous in contrast to pedophiles who are opposed to adult-child sex under today’s circumstances but want to transform society so it would be truly OK – though we believe that they are mistaken. Being “not virtuous” is a moral judgment. People who do engage in sexual activity with children know better or should know better, and we do think of ourselves as more virtuous than they are. (We have a few members who have engaged in sexual contact with children, but are remorseful and are dedicated to never doing so again.)

With respect to our persistent statements that adult-child sex is wrong: The general public hates pedophiles. Pedophiles who waffle about whether adult-child sex might be OK do not get a hearing. The only way to get society to listen is for those of us who are truly opposed to adult-child sex to emphasize that fact. This requires us to say it loudly and often. To borrow from Tom’s always eloquent rhetoric, we have to burnish our halos.

We would never suggest that those of you who disagree with us should pretend you agree. But you might wish us well instead of despising us. To the extent we are successful, you might benefit in terms of all those issues we agree on.

Rivas takes his analysis deeper

42 Comments

The book Positive Memories, first featured in A positive sighting of 118 black swans at the beginning of this month, was rightly welcomed by many heretics here. As a substantial and well organized collection of accounts by adults looking back upon positively remembered sexual relationships with adults in their childhood it could hardly fail to amount to a valuable database. Not everyone agreed, one notable dissenter being “virtuous” paedophile Ethan Edwards, who raised a number of objections. Those which criticized the book itself were rebutted by the author in a guest blog Author Rivas defends ‘black swan’ sightings. In a companion piece, he now goes into a deeper general analysis – deeper, indeed, than I have seen before, as it systematically and logically explores distinct categories of possibility that I have not previously seen engaged. This is the mark, I suggest, of a trained investigator. It is not often we see original thought in this area, so I suggest readers put their thinking caps on and consider it carefully. Let’s put it another way: Rivas is not just a collector of stories. He writes: 

A few more general comments:

– We cannot use meta-analyses to demonstrate (that it is very likely) that there are harmless voluntary relationships. This can only be demonstrated at the level of the individual case history. If there are no cases in which harmful consequences are absent, this cannot be disproved on the level of the comparison of individual cases, let alone on the level of a meta-analysis of such comparisons.

– As I write in the Discussion of my book, it is essential that a sharp distinction is made between intrinsic (or inherent) harm caused by the eroticism as such and non-intrinsic harm caused by social psychological factors such as taboo, social rejection, stigmatization, and negative dogmas about pedophilia.

– If we establish that in all likelihood there are harmless voluntary erotic relationships, we establish that eroticism as a physical fact is not an automatic cause of harm in voluntary erotic relationships. This is because if harm were automatically caused by the physical erotic actions as such, how could there even be a single case in which the physical erotic actions were not harmful? Thus, we have the following options:

(a) Voluntary erotic activity with adults is not intrinsically harmful, but it can only lead to harm in interaction with psychological factors, i.e. social psychological factors (such as internalised taboos) and cognitive factors (such as expectations about the relationship). This is my position. I’ve tried to identify such psychological factors and I’ve formulated recommendations for their prevention.

Any purported differences between boys or girls or younger and older children are in my view to be explained and handled psychologically, as otherwise there should not be any harmless voluntary relationships with girls or younger children (younger than 12). There is no reason to believe that all girls involved in harmless voluntary relationships are tomboys or that all younger children involved in such relationships are more mature (before the relationship started) than their peers. As for now, I believe that most harmful so-called voluntary relationships simply are not voluntary in the sense of ‘remaining voluntary during the entire relationship and regarding any important erotic activity’. But if I’m wrong, I hold that differences should be explained psychologically, rather than on the basis of sex or age.

(b) Voluntary erotic activity with adults can be intrinsically harmful –  independently of social factors – but only in certain children, with specific genetic predispositions. It is certainly not intrinsically related to the child’s sex as such, because if it were there would be no harmless girl love relationships. It is not related to the adult’s sex either, because otherwise we would encounter no harmless relationships in which the adult was a woman. Similarly, it is not intrinsically related to the child’s age.

There is no evidence for it, but taking this genetic hypothesis seriously, one would have to search for the genetic disposition(s) that would (in interaction with eroticism with adults) cause harm. Before voluntary relationships would be allowed by parents or care-takers, children would first have to undergo genetic testing as to whether they carry the (combinations of) genes that would make their positive erotic experiences intrinsically detrimental in the long run.

(c) Voluntary erotic activity is intrinsically harmful in children with certain personality types. The negative effect of voluntary eroticism would not be direct or biogenic as in (b), but indirect, via the child’s personality. However, the harm would be intrinsic all the same, as there would be a non-social link between harm after strictly voluntary eroticism with an adult and the personality type of the child. Although the eroticism would be (really) voluntary and therefore also (automatically) based on their personality, when children have some types of personality, it would still intrinsically cause harm later on. There is no evidence for this, but if proponents want to take this really seriously, they should start searching for the personality types in question, based on a thorough investigation of harmful voluntary relationships.

– In the Discussion I’ve explicitly said some things about risks, such as:

Information

To increase the general awareness of the criteria a good intergenerational relationship with a minor must adhere to, it is highly desirable that the public media provide plenty of information about this issue, and clearly differentiate between morally sound relationships and manipulation or abuse.

Responsible adults who feel attracted to minors should feel encouraged to increase their empathy towards them and understanding of them. They can benefit from the experiences of others like themselves, either on an individual basis or via bona fide organizations.

Minors ought to be made fully aware of their rights and interests in the context of a possible platonic or erotic relationship with an adult, by easily available sources of written information or documentaries that specifically aim at children or adolescents.

The prevention of harm 

Even if we completely tracked children’s actions and physical encounters by audiovisual means, they could still be attacked by a sexual ‘predator’ before we’d be able to intervene. It is not feasible to remove all risk from a minor’s life. For instance, deception by strangers always remains a possibility unless we wish to transform people into fully remote-controlled cyborgs (except for the persons controlling them, of course). Furthermore, excessive fear and restrictions in the name of safety might hinder the child’s development and cause developmental harm by trying to preclude it.

In the context of voluntary ‘pedophile’ relationships, a general prohibition may bring about frustration and sadness in the child. The destruction of an already existing relationship with a specific adult may even lead to real psychological trauma. Therefore, completely forbidding a relationship is an extreme measure that may only be morally justified in case of real danger, i.e. when there is serious evidence of the adult’s lack of responsibility or integrity.

As Huib Kort and G.  G. stated in their article Demons: The Utopian Dream of Safety:

There is no solution in repression, subversion or elimination.

For these reasons, we should rather strive for minimal risk within a general context of liberty. The ethical criteria mentioned above, in combination with the principle of over-all (non-directive) monitoring (by parents or care-givers) of the relationship and adult partner, aim at doing just that.

Children’s voluntary relationships with peers are already widely accepted and monitored by their parents or caretakers. Why should this not also become a possibility for their voluntary relationships with adults? Why should an adult in such a voluntary relationship be inherently more dangerous or less reliable than a friend who is of the minor’s own age?

Note that we are speaking about individuals who have proven willing to submit themselves to such monitoring, not about adults who intend to abuse their relatively greater physical strength, power or experience at the expense of the child.

Furthermore, any adult involved in a ‘pedophile’ relationship should fully realize that non-compliance with the ethical criteria mentioned above, will inevitably lead to unpleasant consequences, for the child but also for themselves. Minor (but structural) transgressions may simply lead to restrictions or even the end of a relationship. In more serious cases, legal sanctions should be a real possibility, even if a relationship has always remained wholly voluntary from the child’s point of view. This should serve as a deterrent to the morally feeble.

Heretic TOC adds: T. Rivas also has some further comments in response to Ethan Edwards, who posted more than half a dozen contributions. Rather than trying to attribute this new response to any specific post or posts by Edwards, I have entered it in the comments section of the present blog.   

 

 

Author Rivas defends ‘black swan’ sightings

32 Comments

The author of Positive Memories, T. Rivas, has responded to the critique offered by Ethan Edwards following my most recent blog, A positive sighting of 118 black swans, in which I introduced the book. Announcing this response as a guest blog, as I now do, gives me the opportunity to correct an unfortunate false impression I left last time when I said “Rivas is not a trained scientist so far as I am aware.” I would have done better, clearly, to be more aware, because I have since learned that he has masters degrees in both psychology and philosophy. He writes:

Here’s my answer [to Ethan Edwards]:

–       As should be clear to any reader, erotic relationships do not just involve ‘adult’ sex in the sense of penetration. In fact, I explicitly state in the Discussion: “Consensual ‘pedophile’ erotic contact is by definition based upon the consensual erotic activities that minors typically practice with themselves or other minors. Especially in relationships with young children, normally there will be no penetration, but only kissing, caressing, petting, mutual manual stimulation, shared masturbation, or oral stimulation, with only rare exceptions. ” That’s the problem with the approach taken by readers such as Edwards who have made their minds up to such an extent that they don’t bother to read the whole book from cover to cover.

In my book, we’re not dealing with the caricature of pedophile erotic contacts as consisting of adult coital sex forced onto children, but with the eroticism characteristic of an individual minor that is voluntarily shared with an individual adult.

–       What does Edwards mean by iatrogenic contamination? These cases are all self-reported! So what kind of contamination by medical doctors (as I understand his terminology) could be involved? Is he simply accusing me of making up the accounts?

–       I’ve included Judith Levine in the category of erotic relationships, because as I explicitly state: “In exceptional ‘erotic’ relationships here presented there was hardly any physical contact, but I have not listed such cases under platonic relationships if the former child felt really in love with the adult and longed for such [physical] contact.”

–       In the case of Koekie, I explicitly write: “After the caravan, Ben visited her at the farm where they lived and they had some mild non-genital erotic contact.” So, Edwards simply hasn’t read this story carefully enough.

–       Edwards states: “I looked to see what hints I could get about an answer to my question: Would the relationship have been worse or better if the sex hadn’t been present? I thought 4 gave a clear indication that they actively wanted the sex, 2 hinted that the sex was more something they put up with, and for 13 it isn’t clear.”

My response: What’s important is that all these women are talking about the relationship as a whole and not just about the sexual part. None of the women states that they objected to the sex, felt ambiguous about it, or were harmed by it, while all of them indicate that they recall the relationship as something positive. If the erotic parts were really problematic, why on earth would they stand up for their positive memories of the relationship as a whole? Especially in these days with widespread anti-pedophile hysteria?

Edwards’ question whether the relationship would have been worse or better if the sex hadn’t been present, first of all is simply not a question that is asked in this book. This book centers around the question whether there are ANY erotic pedophile relationships that are remembered as positive and that have not caused any harm or painful ambiguity, based on the former minor’s own perception.

In none of the cases presented is there any reason to believe that the erotic aspects ‘ruined’ anything. And that’s what is important. It simply must mean there is nothing intrinsically detrimental about the erotic aspects as such, as long as they are voluntary and match the child’s personality. We’re not discussing the “ideal” type of relationship here, but simply whether an erotic relationship can be positive and harmless or whether it cannot. I wonder whether Edwards believes children should abstain from any type of erotic contact (and maybe even masturbation) because that would make their relationships (in the case of masturbation that would of course concern one’s relationship with oneself) more ideal? If so, what are his reasons for believing this? If not, why should the effect of voluntary pedophile eroticism be any different from that of all other types of eroticism? What should be so magical about pedophile eroticism, especially if we are talking about the exact same types of activities? Is it simply the adult’s age, the age difference or the older adult body? If so, how to explain any type of positive recollection of the pedophile eroticism (as such) by the former minor? We should have expected there would be none. Now that positive memories do seem to be reported, we should try to explain all of them away because we already know what reality is like before we’ve studied it. After all, what are data if we have the gift of infallibly knowing how things work a priori?

–     Edwards: “What astonished me was the leap from the data to the conclusions in this study: The existence of positive memories of relationships between adults and children can hardly be doubted anymore, and this enduringly raises the issue of sound criteria for morally acceptable relationships.’ ”

My comment: All of these cases concern positive memories of such relationships. So, eh, where exactly would the leap have to be? I utterly fail to see this. Unless Edwards demonstrates that most of these positive memories are not really positive memories, my conclusion seems very justified to me!

–      Edwards once more: “There is no way to compare positive to negative outcomes. If we want to say science has anything to do with this, we need data showing that when those criteria are met, harm does not happen or is very rare. What does the present data tell us about the occurrence of harm when strict moral criteria are met? Nothing, except that harm is not universal. Now, the chances of avoiding harm when strict moral criteria are met are surely much better than winning the lottery jackpot. They could easily be 50% or higher. How to estimate that value and its implications is an entirely different topic. (To keep this in context, there is no change to my personal view that adult-child sex is wrong and always will be.”

My response: well, this really is a matter of skipping the relevant parts of my book! I explicitly state the following things that are very relevant in this respect:

(1) Some readers may wonder why I do not use statistics to analyze how often the psychological effects of these experiences are negative, neutral or positive. The reason is easy to understand: I’ve limited myself exclusively to cases in which the respondents themselves report that any noteworthy form of (inherent, non-external) harm was entirely absent.

This collection does not intend to explore if some cases of alleged abuse are, as such, harmless, and if so, what percentage falls in this category, but if there are any cases of voluntary relationships without (inherent) negative repercussions.   In other words, it does not start from the overly undifferentiated, conventional concepts of ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘pedophile encounters’, but specifically from relationships and contacts that were consensual from the minor’s perspective.

Therefore, questions such as: “Are boys and older children less likely to be psychologically harmed by ‘abuse’ than girls or preteens?” really do not apply here.

(2) This collection seems to establish clearly that neither the minor’s sex and age nor sexual contact as such are the direct source of any potential problems in the future. Taking the existence of harmful consensual relationships seriously, this implies the possible harm must be caused by other factors.
We already mentioned the phenomenon of what is sometimes called secondary victimization, i.e. a negative social re-interpretation of the relationship in terms of abuse. Also, some seemingly consensual relationships may not be consensual in certain important respects, such as the onset, frequency, or specific types of sexual contact. This may be caused by miscommunication and insufficient knowledge of the minor’s development and personality.

Herein lies a task for parents or other caretakers in that they should check in an open, unprejudiced manner if the minor really wants the relationship and its possible erotic aspects.

Special care should in this respect be given to children with psychiatric or developmental problems, to prevent confusion.  However, in the context of direct consequences of real consensual relationships, the two main problems I can think of are:

(a) misunderstandings about the intentions of the adult partner (e.g. about the duration of the physical aspects of the relationship – the minor would want the sexual bond to last, while the adult would not), and

(b) confusion in the former minor about his or her sexual identity.

The first problem is covered by the fourth ethical criterion.   [TOC adds: This appears to refer to a list of ten “Important ethical criteria” set out on pages 231-233 of the book. Criterion 4 begins, “The adult must be honest about the nature and extent of his or her feelings and affection for the child or teenager.” ]

The second problem is mainly related to specific same-sex ‘pedophile’ relationships in which the younger partner would not possess a gay orientation as an adult and would feel insecure about his or her adult sexuality. The solution to this problem obviously consists of a greater societal acceptance of homosexual feelings, phases, and experiments and is in this respect related to gay emancipation.

Some authors seem to think that a third problem might especially arise when a relationship was exceptionally positive. The former minor might become dissatisfied when it turns out to be difficult to find a new relationship of comparable quality.  Something like this (besides possible other imperfections of his relationship or adult partner) seems to have been claimed by Ted van Lieshout, the Dutch author of Zeer kleine liefde, and Mijn meneer. (Please note that this claim concerns the consequences of well-balanced ‘pedophile’ relationships, and not just of one-sided, overly sexual relationships that might indeed lead to insatiable sexual desires; see the seventh ethical criterion.) [TOC: Again, this is one of the ten ethical criteria set out in the book.]

However, in my view, this cannot at all serve as an argument against the ‘pedophile’ relationship, but only against the normal way many adults apparently relate to each other. To blame this on the ‘pedophile’ relationship is a bit like blaming an outstanding musician for the fact that many or most musicians are (in comparison) mediocre.

At most, the emancipation of positive, consensual relationships ought to go hand in hand with the promotion of good relationships between adults, as part of a more general relational or love ‘revolution’.

Furthermore, any possible dissatisfaction is directly related to the taboo on ‘pedophile’ relationships in that the former minor may find it difficult to be open about what he or she is missing in relationships with other adults.

Nowadays, if this issue is at all discussed, it is mostly regarded as a negative consequence of the ‘pedophile’ relationship itself. Even to the extent that any positive relationship should really be considered abuse, because a ‘pedophile’ would in this view invariably take the risk of making a ‘normal’ love life for the child impossible.

Some also claim that a positive ‘pedophile’ relationship may lead to a general preference for older partners, as if such an alleged preference would be inherently problematic. Similarly, some claim that peers may seem less attractive due to a lack of erotic experience, as if such a ‘defect’ could not be overcome by the initiative of the former minor.

Others even believe that the relationally experienced minor will end up being less attractive than average to potential partners of the same generation. This is odd, because quite a lot of candidates will find an experienced lover more rather than less appealing.

Although the quality of a positive, consensual ‘pedophile’ relationship could be successfully approached as a general standard for affection or sexuality, even such a relationship is still usually regarded as an undesirable, abnormal interference by an adult in the life of a vulnerable child. I have the impression that some scholars welcome any possible complications after the relationship, as long as they can use them as an argument against consensual ‘pedophilia’.

Supporters of a popular myth of the inherent unpredictability of harm typically refuse to differentiate between the consequences of morally sound relationships and the impact of irresponsible contacts, and between secondary victimisation related to social condemnation of a relationship and real, intrinsic abuse.

Many things in society ought to change, but something positive deserves to be protected.

(3) Only from a conservative, closed-minded outlook on life and human values may it seem obvious that some phenomena which are consensual and psychologically harmless should still continue to be regarded as immoral. Starting from any other approach, personal experiences are obviously more important than prejudices and caricatures.

I will only respond to any further comments by Ethan Edwards after he’s read the whole book page by page and really shows he’s digested its contents 🙂

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