A respected opponent, not an enemy

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Am I my own worst enemy?

I don’t think so, if only because there are so many others!

All I can say with confidence is that Danny Whittaker, who runs a website called My Own Worst Enemy (MOWE), is definitely not the worst. For sure, he has shown himself to be sternly against child-adult sex, but after being interviewed by him as part of his regular podcast series on psychology and mental health, I would describe him as a respected opponent rather than an enemy of any kind.

That is because his interviewing style is fair and honest, which is more than can be said for most of the broadcasters and journalists who have had a go at me over the years. Nor did he selectively edit the recording so as to take things out of context as often happens, giving a distorted and unflattering impression. Instead, he has put our encounter out to the audience in completely unedited form. This is fine by me not least because I felt able to speak my mind without interruption and to present information it would otherwise have been very difficult or impossible to get across.

The result, I think, will be of interest to heretics here and to a much wider audience if it proves possible to attract their attention. So without further ado let me say I can highly recommend his Interview with a pedophile (British site but American spelling), which is available in audio-only at the website and on video at YouTube.

Be warned, though. Some people call us heretics monsters, but in this case the podcast itself is monstrous, a huge beast, a King Kong of a production! Danny’s introduction alone lasts nearly 40 minutes and the interview itself is about two and three quarter hours; so the entire show lasts almost a whopping three and a half hours! Early “critical acclaim” has been good, so this great length may not be as crazy as it seems.

I won’t say anymore about the interview. It’s best just to get stuck in. You may be thinking about skipping the long introduction, which would be OK, but I would also give this advice: if you like the interview you will love the introduction, or at least some its very unexpected highlights: one of them is on the Virtuous Pedophiles (see also second item below), a topic not discussed in the interview itself.

Actually, you might like to stick around on Danny’s site. One reason I agreed to do an interview with him is that I could see I would be in good company, as many of his other interviewees are people of some authority and distinction. Just to take a couple that caught my attention, there are John Cromby, a psychology professor at Leicester University, talking on power and responsibility, and Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, on Stoicism.

Danny’s “show notes”, as he calls them, are good too. This is where he introduces his guests and their subjects in written form. On the page about my interview, he presents a balanced view and gives links and references that I suggested. The direct links include Heretic TOC and two key sources of information on positively experienced child-adult sexual contacts, namely the compilations of personal testimonies produced by Marshall Burns in the Cases in the Research at his Consenting Juveniles website and Titus Rivas in his book Positive Memories.

Also on the page, via a button labelled “Tom’s recommended studies”, is a substantial list of mainly academic sources, which is both a resource for the reader and also backs up my claim that our heresies are well grounded in the research literature.

Finally, a word is in order about MOWE’s ingenious logo, the “o” of which takes the form of a snake eating its own tail. Looking this up, I discover it is a very old symbol, as I suspected. Called the ouroboros, this depiction of a “serpent” or “dragon” consuming itself apparently originated in ancient Egyptian iconography, entering the western tradition through Greek magical tradition and later associated with medieval alchemy. It is said to be often taken to symbolise introspection and personal re-creation, hence highly apt for Danny’s website.

It is also doubly relevant to my blog today, as will be seen from the tail-piece (yes, in both senses: it’s the final item and very much the tale of a tail!), which features some children and a snake in the most amazing wildlife (and that’s just the kids!) footage you will ever see, recently brought to my attention by a friend. I just had to share it.

VIRPED BACK IN BUSINESS

VirPed’s website is back up again.

I am not sure there is much point in saying this as few seem to have noticed it was down for at least a week earlier this month. Have I been missing something? Using Google Advanced Search for a domain-specific search of Boychat and Girlchat, I find no discussion of “Virped” or “Virtuous Pedophiles” in the last month, although I must admit this particular Google search tool seems to be a bit erratic.

Anyway, I was made aware on the 12th there had been a problem when someone mentioned it on Sexnet. Describing himself as “co-founder and co-owner of Virped”, Ethan Edwards replied to say there had been an announcement on the subject (possibly through email to members or on the “unaffected” peer-support forum). “Technical issues” had been cited. On Sexnet, Ethan said the account had been suspended because there had been DDoS attacks and these “were adversely affecting other customers on the same server”.

The DDoS problem seems to have been fixed by using Cloudflare, a company that specialises in DDoS mitigation. When you click on the virped.org link (not that anyone here would want to!) you have to wait a few seconds while Cloudflare somehow checks your browser and decides you are not part of a mass attack. Sounds like a company that might be worth remembering.

CHILDREN OF NATURE

Not a lot to say about this video (the top one of the two on the linked page). Just watch, and be amazed!

A wild ride towards self-acceptance

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Ed Chambers, today’s guest blogger, bravely strode into the public arena three years ago when he outed himself as a non-offending paedophile on British television, via the Channel 4 documentary The Paedophile Next Door. Not long afterwards he would be invited to Canada to take part in I, Pedophile, a film being made for CBS doc series Firsthand, broadcast in 2016. After the earlier programme, when he was named only as “Eddie”, I said his appearance had been the one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing production. So I am very pleased he has decided to tell us about his long battle to come to terms with his orientation, a struggle that has seen him engage in both cooperation and combat with therapy providers and the Virtuous Pedophiles (Virped).

I pre-announced this blog as “the Big One” last time because I knew it would be breaking entirely new ground. As far as I am aware, this is the first time a prominent former member of Virped has gone public with a stinging critique of the organisation and repudiated its philosophy – not counting, of course, his own devastating comments here following Peter Herman’s recent blog.

 

WE MUST BE STRONG IN THESE DARK TIMES

Now a middle-aged man, I have struggled all my adult life with a preferential attraction to prepubescent girls. Without being able to openly express this at the earliest opportunity, and correspond with those who could relate to me, it has been the cause of a great many emotional and psychological issues. With my academic and sporting pursuits suffering as a result, mainly through the use of drugs as an aid to denial, only recently have I been forced to face the realities of who I am. I wish I had done it sooner.

Several times I have reached out to mental health professionals in the NHS, and on numerous occasions I have asked for chemical castration and psychodynamic therapy. My journey for the purposes of this contribution began in 2001, in my late twenties. This was the first time I thought I was ill, when I wanted to know that I wasn’t paedophilic, or if I was that it could be changed. This first encounter was a disaster. At the end of a 45-minute session with a consultant psychiatrist, I was offered very little, other than a pen in order to sign the notes that had been made. Both the psychiatrist, and subsequent community psychiatric nurse to whom I was referred, viewed me with a look of horror, recoil and a complete lack of understanding. It broke me in such a way that I moved from my home town of twenty five years, to the adjacent city to start a new life, with a new identity.

Roughly seven years later, after leading a virtuous life, I returned to my habits of old. I had used cannabis as a crutch in my denial of being paedophilic since the age of 16, and my use of relevant pornography stretched back as far as 1998. I was fooling myself to believe that I could be any different, the draw was too strong. I carried on in a sort of limbo, with no one to talk to about the nature of my libido.

In 2011, in what would be a defining moment in my life, I had the opportunity to resurrect my first love, the Lolita with whom I had been so besotted in my teenage years. It was a crazy idea, as she had morphed into an overweight whale of a woman for whom I had little interest. I quickly moved on, this time hitting the drugs and pornography with a vengeance. It was a damning confirmation of the very thing I had tried to deny. As a matter of course, I proceeded to slide myself as clumsily as I could into a lot of trouble. As I crashed and burned, I desperately tried to find support.

I found Virped in 2013. To the probable dismay of many here, I owe them my thanks for the support I have received. However, it is not quite as simple as that. The persecution and harassment I have been subject to in my life would scarcely be believed, so will remain undisclosed, at least for now. Nevertheless, to say I needed a crutch is akin to stating that Kim Jong-un is fond of nuclear weapons. I found what I needed to survive, but with the accompanying incompetence of the NHS in the UK, I was still without therapy and the libido-reducing medication I was asking for.

Cue Dr Sarah Goode and her book Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children: A Study of Paedophiles in Contemporary Society, recommended to me by none other than fellow Virped, Gary Gibson. Halfway through the book I emailed Dr Goode, discussing with her my experiences with StopItNow and the NHS. By the time I had finished her book, something I view in retrospect as a shallow and narrow-minded assessment of the realities of being a Minor Attracted Person in contemporary society, I had already met with her and Steve Humphries, director and presenter of The Paedophile Next Door, in the latter’s office in Bristol. In May 2014, the filming of my contribution was finished, and I began the patient wait for the release in late November.

In these dark days, I travelled to Berlin for therapy at the Prevention Projekt Dunkelfeld (PPD), which has 11 centres across Germany. Anyone with the correct diagnosis will be assisted by the most understanding and considerate people, providing they have health insurance, or can pay privately. I found the German bureaucracy a nightmare, and it caused me a great deal of stress and problems in trying to settle there. However, a MAP can tell the staff everything and not be criminalised, not made to feel like the antagonist of an Alien movie, or told they are mentally ill. They will bend over backwards to help and it is a gift to us, from the only government in the world that gives a shit, and a credit to our community. With each visit to this institution, I was proud that I had finally been given something.

At this time, the release of The Paedophile Next Door was a huge disappointment to me. There was no talk about the PPD. Simply stated, there was the sacrificial paedophile, the “expert” doctor trying to garnish sympathy for the bogeyman, all the while pitted against the other participants who professed their universal hatred against our kind. Subsequently, my UK address was visited three times in two days by the police, much to the dismay of my friend who subsequently disowned me. I had found Ground Zero and flatlined.

Here in Berlin I found the beginnings of a revelation. I had come to terms with all of the descriptions mental health professionals use to describe people who are sexually attracted to children. I had even started to use them myself. I identified as a paedophile now. I had accepted it, whereas before I had wasted so many years of my life in denial. Although I was treated very well here, I had to move on once more, without therapy or drugs. Despite the PPD, the seeds of doubt were now firmly planted in my mind. Was I really ill or subject to a conspiracy that both undermined the existence and behaviours of MAPs as well as children who were sexually active? As for Virped, and their manifesto for the non-offending MAP, the writing was already on the wall. I had already seen they were complicit in the war on paedophiles, in the insidious guise of trying to help them.

It’s fair to say I was on the run. Before our communication ceased, my friend in the UK had informed me of the considerable interest the English police had shown in me. On top of that, I had seen some of the tweets that had suggested people were aiming to lynch me for the greater good. Suitably, I found work in Northern Cyprus, ironically a country only recognised by Turkey, and I figured I would be safe for a while. It was here I made contact via Virped with Matt Campea, a bright, young director with an open mind and a drive to represent MAPs as the protagonist. Whilst in Toronto, at considerable expense to Matt, I contributed to his documentary I, Pedophile. At the release in March 2016, it turned out to be the Yin to The Paedophile Next Door’s Yang, and was everything I and the Virped community had hoped for.

On my return to the UK, after 30 months of exile and now devoid of finances, the biggest surprise for me was to make it through the airport at all. I had imagined I would be taken aside by the police for questioning about various things, not least my participation in The Paedophile Next Door. Step by step, I rebuilt my life, and on the recommendation once again of Gary Gibson, sought the help of Juliet Grayson and therapy at StopSO. It turns out, as the full name would suggest (Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) that involvement with any therapist here concentrates on prevention of offending, and in this respect therapy does not cater for the well-being of participants. They are not subject to mandatory reporting laws, but are subject to ethical reporting by the therapist to their governing body, and accordingly the governing body would report to the police. Simply, one cannot discuss the very things that one needs help with. It is a madness that I pointed out to Grayson in numerous emails, and something she ignored. In fact, ignorance appeared to be her style, as it was a treacherous betrayal of my trust that caused me to pull out of another documentary project that we had started working on with VICE, promoting StopSO as a ground-breaking development for the treatment of MAPs. Inevitably, VICE would’ve presented this as a new way of processing sex offenders. I had become used to the way media organisations dealt with people like me, and the topic as a whole. Once bitten, twice shy.

I now realise, as a 43-year-old, it is society, not me, that is sick. I was 13 when I began to realise that my preference was for a body-type indicative of being paedophilic. As I have grown older, I have realised that my paedophilia is far more than a sexual attraction. It has been a wild ride, from denying my true self through the use of drugs, to crawling through the depths of suicidal thoughts and behaviours, to my exaltation above the ignorance of the multitudes to understand and appreciate the true sexual beauty of prepubescent girls.

There have been several times when girls in the age range 6-15 have expressed a sexual interest in me, and this includes a general curiosity in what it’s all about. Whilst I have never engaged them, this has been through a fear of harming them in some way rather than a fear of how society will view or judge me for having had said intimate relationship. This is indeed a fear that was born out of the tall tales of the child-rapist, reported all too often in the tabloid press. Rather than being born out of a desire to protect children, society’s bent towards banning intergenerational relationships is born out of a desire to subjugate the child and deny them essential rights to express themselves in any way they choose. It is out of this perversity that Virped was born. It is a support group for MAPs, but only as long as one conforms to the idea that it is our kind who are mentally ill, perverse in nature for our appreciation of the beauty of children. And yet, no one cares to cure us, aid us in our struggles, offer us what we need in order to lead that all-important law-abiding lifestyle. Therapy, PPD to one side, does not exist. All you will find in the eyes of those that return your look is horror and hatred.

Civilisation has reached the point where control is ever more paramount. Through the use of television and social media, surveillance is at an all-time high and becoming ever more pervasive. The dogma of Virped encapsulates the need of this intrusive society to control the thoughts and actions of everyone so that it conforms to a narcissism that is born out of pseudo-religious rhetoric. Quite simply, humanity in general refuses to acknowledge that adult sexual attraction to children should exist at all, and these spurious attempts to remove it from existence revolve around how it might appear to a race of aliens visiting in their space ships, or indeed Almighty God as He reclines on His cumulonimbus.

We need to reach out to young MAPs, and others of our kind who need help, and steer them away from the perils of Virped, and the dogma that will warp them into believing they are ill. I believed in Virped, as I did mental health professionals. Now I see them as an extension of a sick world that denies the rights of anyone under a set age, a world that has found the eternal shadow monster in a demographic that means no harm. We must be strong and survive these dark times whence we exist as the sexual heretic.

Self-abasement that invites contempt

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Be on notice, I boldly announced last time, that a “real event” may be on the way at Heretic TOC. Thus did I appear to be heralding a uniquely momentous forthcoming contribution. Today’s guest blog is not what I had in mind, which may seem a grossly discourteous way to introduce a guest piece, by talking it down, but I am simply stating a fact. Today’s article was contributed after my fanfare and was unexpected. By pure coincidence, though, its subject is in the same ballpark as the much anticipated Big One and makes a worthy warm-up act. It comes from veteran activist Peter Herman, formerly one of the editors of the NAMBLA Bulletin and also a past contributor to that organization’s website as well as twice being a previous guest blogger here.   

A CAUTIONARY TALE

A peculiar group calling itself Virtuous Pedophiles (American spelling), is currently presenting a different face of paedophilia. “VirPed”, to use their own abbreviation, believes that their members’ attraction to minors is an unfortunate and un-chosen affliction that they have determined to never act on so as to never hurt children. VirPed members appear sincere in believing that they suffer from an inborn defect, perhaps like alcoholism, that can be controlled but that has no apparent cure.

Being virtuous is undeniably admirable. So why is this group’s self-identity so disturbing?

The problems with this self-deprecating posture are manifold. Foremost of these is an abject sense of self. The VirPed belief system seems to grow out of a woeful lack of understanding of the human condition, of its amazing diversity and a too readily credulous faith in a pseudoscience that is not much different than that of the witchcraft manuals of old. They too easily accept the deceit that children are unable to give consent when it is obvious that they consent to many things of great import in daily life. More on this later.

But what is most striking is the pathetic lack of dignity VirPed’s cries for help projects. Their craving for approval as exhibited by the posting of a number of quotes on their site uniquely by self-appointed experts speaks volumes to their pitiful need for acceptance. Anyone who has ever observed certain classrooms of very young children assuming exaggerated postures of compliance to impress and get approval from their teachers will see a similarity (not to attribute this trait only to children who are after all at the mercy of their teachers: goose-stepping soldiers, faces turned in unison to their leaders, are no different). We all seek acceptance, but self-respect demands a different approach – one that takes into account and defends the true nature of the much maligned so-called paedophile.

It is evident that VirPed is clueless about human nature in that their pleas for understanding in the face of ignorance and blind hate are useless. One simply needs to look at responses to their tweets to get a sampling of the unrelenting hostile attitude. How tone deaf they are is exemplified by the very name they chose. Taunts such as “virulent VirPed”, “VirPed vermin” and “VirPed viper” too easily come to mind. But even without the easy hook they present to the haters, they still suffer the opprobrium of most of conventional society. The individuals who support them are overwhelmingly those whose professions and livelihoods feed on the victimization industry.

Above all, the sanctimony of this group is an insult to the vast unseen community also attracted to minors, who do not feel afflicted, but yet never engage in the arbitrarily prohibited acts of intimacy in current Western societies. VirPed eagerly defends these prohibitions evidently to highlight how sincere they are in their own self-denigration. VirPed besmirches as “pro-contact” those who are attracted to minors, as they themselves are, but do not accept VirPed’s orthodoxy. This aspersion ignores the fact that the vast majority of these “pro-contact” individuals nevertheless lead lives of abstention, not because prohibited yet consensual associations would prove harmful in themselves but because they know that negative societal consequences would be the actual causes of harm. There is much greater virtue in denying yourself in this way than in denying your very being by characterizing it as sick. Presenting oneself as damaged but contrite in VirPed’s situation is not only pitiful but downright repugnant.

The argument of VirPed-enabling charlatans such as James Cantor, who finds that “paedophiles” have brains that are incorrectly wired, is flawed in a way that will surprise. How unfortunate that Cantor’s ilk is unaware that a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Do Cantor and like quacks actually understand the utter complexity of the human brain? No doubt we are all “wired” in various ways as legitimate brain research seems to indicate. And Cantor’s acting as Dr. Frankenstein does not add anything to this fact but distorts it to his own ends.

The miraculous thing about this already known premise is how varied brains can be. Bach, Einstein, Gauss, Newton just to name a few had uncommon brains. So have those who are autistic or transgender. Not long ago the latter would have been relegated to the fringes of society out of total ignorance of their potentials for enriching the social fabric. But whereas being autistic and transgender also entail handicaps that can be compensated for, paedophiles, notwithstanding the general calumny about them, are fully functioning individuals, comfortable in their own skin, whose attraction to young people is the grand motivator for the unrecognized good they do.

Given their invisibility, the social benefit of the vast cohort of those who are attracted to minors can only be guessed at. John Money used the term “paedophilic genius” to characterize those men of genius who were attracted to children. Among these, to name just a few, are Lewis Carroll, Michael Jackson, James Barry, Oscar Wilde and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. We could also add the renowned American poet Allen Ginsberg whose boy-love poetry and support of NAMBLA were no secret. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, Nobel laureate in medicine, may not be as well known, as are countless others who have made exceptional contributions to society. But looking for the exceptional among so-called paedophiles misses the point. We usually become aware of those who have made a positive contribution only when disrepute unjustly falls on them.

Examples abound. The Catholic priest Bruce Ritter who founded the acclaimed Covenant House, a New York City haven for throwaway teenagers, had his life end in undeserved disgrace. The Foxfire endeavour that engaged students in Appalachia to research and treasure their culture became a celebrated national project. It was founded by a young teacher whose love for boys inspired his devotion to open their vistas. Though the foundation has continued to exist and prosper since 1966, no mention of the paedophilic genius who started it is mentioned in its materials. That teacher’s life was ruined on discovery of consensual relations with boys. The idea that such individuals nevertheless caused immense harm is as ridiculous as the belief in some current Muslim societies that religious apostates or heretics harm their religion and should therefore be condemned to prison or worse. The ruin and oblivion imposed on the unjustly disgraced is disturbingly reminiscent of the former Soviet Union’s Orwellian effacing of those no longer in favour.

I asked a man I once knew and who had been sent to prison for molesting a boy, “if your actions as you suggest were welcomed by the boy, how could it have come to that?”His response, “The boy had been in a car with his parents and an acquaintance when the subject of child molestation came up. The boy eagerly spoke up citing his own positive experience to counter the arguments being made by the adults in the car.’ As with children in Soviet era browbeaten to betray heresies by their elders’, there was no other possible outcome.

The opprobrium facing anyone who is attracted to minors insures that the contributions of this great and truly virtuous cohort as yet cannot be fully known. What we can ascertain is that the few we do know about cannot but be indicative of a vast untapped potential of individuals whose attraction to young people inspires a need to help them. The loss of this great potential is the more tragic when we consider all of the actual harm done to children that brings no comparable consequences. Among the most egregious of these is the gun violence killing and maiming of thousands of children each year. But this is only a sliver of the vast hypocrisy by those who wring their hands at what they consider sexual abuse of children but do little to otherwise safeguard them and promote their wellbeing.

If the faulty “wiring” accepted by VirPed and promoted by its cheering gallery is so prevalent one would wonder why nature persists in this “mistake.” Human beings have evolved through evolutionary happenstances. Genetic “mistakes” often result in benefits not only to the organism but also to the group. In human groups for instance, paedophiles’ attraction to the young make the former well suited to be mentors. Ancient militaristic Sparta should not be our model but its society is indicative of how sexual attraction was once coupled with mentorship to the benefit of the fighting unit. Such mentorships surely exist all around but woe befall anyone, especially single men, who show too much affection, too much dedication or even offer a little help. Heard at a swimming pool:

“You won’t believe what this boy asked me to do.”

“What, something awful?”

“No, he needed me to untangle the knotted cord on his Speedo. You can imagine what I could be accused of!”

And at an educational conference:

We are no longer allowed to touch pupils, not even with a pat on the shoulder. If we wish to confer praise we should simply say something like “Well done, James.”

There are those who would argue that the mentorship of the young by the mature occurs in any case. But much of it is through bloodless paid services such as teaching. Surely examples of passion and selflessness exist in such professions, but those are rare enough to be the subject of the occasional TV human interest feature.

Part of the denial of identity by the self-serving virtuous crowd stems from the guilt trip they place on themselves. The idea of self-interest seems to them something to be ashamed of. Anyone who has ever given it any thought realizes that the one totally devoid of self-interest is a carpet to be trod on. We have all known of individuals, be it the selfless mother who demands nothing of her children or family or the employee who never stands up for himself, where the need for approval only brings disrespect.

Hillel the Elder, the great Jewish ethicist, said “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” This pithy observation on the human condition two millennia ago is as valid today as it was then. The one whose desires are not balanced with the recognition of the desires of others deserves at least as much contempt as the one who always denies himself to the benefit of others.

Now, NAMBLA has been the favorite bête noire among the uninformed of this world and for which VirPed enthusiastically parrots condemnation. NAMBLA in its founding principle has always insisted that consensuality be the key element to any relationship. This has been mindlessly countered with the dubious notion that children are unable to give consent. This includes, in many jurisdictions, individuals just short or eighteen years.

Some decades back, before instant recordings, when differentiating between “good touches” and bad touches first came in vogue, a PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)TV program attempted to present the concept to young children. When “bad touches” were described to the children participating in the program one boy piped up asking “What if I like it?” Out of the mouths of babes oft come words of wisdom!

It is quite obvious that children are very capable of giving or withholding consent all the time. Progressive environments where this is understood will give youngsters a wide range of options when it comes to such things as education, nutrition, clothing or most other things that affect the young person.

Sex is another story. Though the stages of sexual development vary for all people, the subject is extremely uncomfortable if not anathema when it comes to children. A colleague I once knew confessed to me that as a seven-year-old he had had the “hots” for his female elementary school teacher. Though not universal, it is highly unlikely that his story was that unusual. On the other end of the spectrum, some adults never experience sexual attractions of any kind or only mildly so. We are all different. But, in this society and especially in English speaking ones, any adult sexual interaction with an evidently willing youngster will risk punishments often more vengeful than that for vicious murderers. That ample scientific evidence supports the fact that harm is absent even when consent is murky matters not a bit.

There is an inverse to the prohibition just described. None of us have a choice in being born or the environment we begin life in. Some are born into toxic environments where families or societies can block out all outside influences that would allow their children options outside of negative constraints. Yet there is no legal recourse preventing adults in these situations from, for instance, teaching their children racism or religious indoctrination that harm them. Likewise, there are few legal recourses to sanction parents withholding certain medical procedures when based on religious belief. Other egregious examples abound.

We are all influenced by the opinions prevalent in our societies. Luckily, not everyone wears the limiting blinders making us aware of more rational options. Unfortunately, VirPed followers are not among the enlightened and have avidly drunk the Kool Aid.

As a final caution to you VirPedians, the doctor Frankensteins that you so avidly court, instead of bringing you sympathy, will surely provide you with an unenviable cure. If faulty wiring is the perceived problem, you can be sure that brains can readily be operated on. If the dubious frontal lobotomies promoted in the 1930s could be performed then and chemical castration today, the possibility of the state messing with your brains using increasingly sophisticated electronics is not a great reach. And to others with narrow minds and too ready to condemn those different from yourselves, do not be so sure that in our increasingly technology besotted society some perceived defect in your little brains will not send you to the operating table. Take counsel from Pastor Martin Niemöller, the anti-Nazi theologian and concentration camp survivor who wrote these prophetic words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak for me.

LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM – WTF?

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… localism instead of convergence, identitarianism instead of universalism, short-sighted egotism instead of collaboration, and the calamitous idea of focusing on those considered to be similar while shunning “the other”. I fear the way that so many people hope to defend themselves from the malaise of life, from existential confusion, by choosing a group identity and sticking to it.  – Carlo Rovelli, theoretical physicist, former radical student activist, historian of the philosophy of science

The politics of identity is narcissistic and needy…. It’s all inherently censorious. Because if your political activism is indistinguishable from your natural characteristics or cultural identity, then any criticism of your political activism will inevitably feel like an assault on *you*. This is why student politicos in particular are so insanely cagey about open debate, forever hiding themselves in “safe spaces” and trying to ward off campus anyone who criticises them in the same way monks might once have wielded crucifixes to chase away witches. – Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked! in The Spectator

Are identity politics intrinsically as disastrous as Rovelli and O’Neill claim? After all, there could be no politics at all without groups of like-minded people rallying together against others who think differently. These opposing groups have always thought in “Us and Them” terms, if not along lines of gender and sexuality then of social class and wealth. In Britain and elsewhere these differences have been the lifeblood of democracy. Marx urged the working class to unite. This could be considered identity politics because the workers first had to identify themselves as part of the “working class”, a separate entity set against the exploitative “bourgeoisie”. But at least Marx envisioned a society beyond class warfare, based on equality and justice for all. His thinking was grounded in a universal concept of justice, with fairness for everyone, not winner-takes-all. This ideal was betrayed in those countries that took the revolutionary road; but democratic socialism has been more honourably successful.

Like democratic socialism, our vision for the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the 1970s was grounded in a universalist ethic. We believed in sexual liberation for all, not just for paedophiles. That is why we supported women’s liberation and children’s rights – the right to sexual expression, of course, but much more as well. It is why we supported GLs not just the BLs who were always by far the largest part of our membership. Even sociologist Frank Furedi has conceded that “PIE and its sympathisers did not simply express a form of liberationist identity politics”. Yes, we initially rallied together around our shared sexuality, as the “working class” once rallied around their labouring status, and as women and gays rallied around their gender and sexual desire; but shared identity was just an organising tactic in the service of a vision – as we saw it – for everyone, not just our own narrow group.

There were those in the gay movement who thought in a similarly constructive, inclusive way. It is thanks to them, and to those who began to identify and organise as other sexual minorities, that the male homosexual identity (gay) made common cause with the female one (lesbian) and those of bisexuals and transgender people, giving us the combined LGBT movement. This is now sometimes expanded to include Q for Queer, the last of which is potentially a capacious vessel for those who don’t fit in anywhere else and don’t quite feel able to come out as anything definite. Wonder who that could let in? 🙂

It hasn’t stopped there, either. We now have a rich alphabet soup, even extending in one formulation to LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexural (WTF?), asexual, gender-fuck, polyamorous, bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism”. At first blush it all looks like a wonderfully comprehensive celebration of sexual diversity, a huge range of sexual identities assembled in a great conclave, bringing people together in an identity politics of the best sort, based on solidarity, not division.

But we know different, don’t we? For instance, one elephant most definitely not in the (bed)room is sexual attraction to animals, which could be designated by Z, for zoophilia. Not that I know anyone who fancies sex with elephants, but then I’ve never heard a mahout talking candidly. Anyway, you won’t find Z on the list and P is conspicuously absent from the party too. So are N. and H; and E. Indeed, none of the controversial chronophilias named by Michael Seto and discussed recently here in The seven ages of sexual attractiveness make it to the recognised lists of initials: paedophilia, nepiophilia, hebephilia and ephebophilia all go unmentioned, as does the umbrella term MAP and even the unthreatening Kind. Maybe that’s our fault. Maybe Kind activists should be pushing harder. But to blame ourselves is a bit like blaming Jews for failing to stop the Holocaust: swimming against a flood tide of hatred is sometimes just too hard.

Interestingly, though, a couple of lonely voices – openly gay ones, and not closet Kinds as far as I can tell – have been pressing for greater inclusivity. Putting to shame the “respectable” gays who have climbed the ladder of social acceptability and kicked it down to stop others following, are two brave guys: psychologist Jesse Bering and gay history expert Gert Hekma. Bering, author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, pointed out in an article last month that “LGB people arguably share more in common with the Zs and Ps than they do the Ts, since being transgender isn’t about who (or what) you’re sexually attracted to, but the gender you identify with. Unlike those representing the other letters in this character soup, trans people say their sexuality plays no role at all. Why then are Ts included while other, more unspeakable, sexual minorities aren’t?”

Hekma, for his part, noted in a conference presentation this summer that the proliferation of initials moves our understanding of sexuality away from sexual behaviour towards a terminology of identity and orientation. As such, it echoes a change noted by Foucault from “doing” to “being”: a century or so ago, the sodomite became the homosexual, moving from a legally defined act to a medical concept of an identity. A main idea of sexologists at that time was that the identity of the homosexual should be accepted but the behaviour should be prevented. It was a variant on the Christian theme: accept the sinner but not the sin.

Homosexuality has long since moved on from that limitation, but a proliferation of marginalised variations are candidates for moving into the space thus vacated. Hekma mentions a whole range of fetishes. “The list is endless,” he says, “Have a look on grindr and tumblr for the dozens of sexual fetishisms.” He points out that in its most accepted variation the continuously expanding list of initials as yet excludes “the major classical perversions” (BDSM, fetishism, paedo-, necro-, copro-, zoophilia). He argues in favour of taking them into the fold, including paedophilia. Such an inclusion could hardly occur without legitimising paedophilic fantasy at least. As Hekma says:

The point many people miss on questions of sexual variation is that fantasies are central and most desires need not be enacted in immediate reality but they often happen in indirect and imaginary ways. Sexual preferences can be staged.

This politics, emphasising identity over behaviour, and especially over behaviour in the real, non-fantasy, world, arguably offers an advance worth having. It may be that the Virtuous Pedophiles could succeed in having “virtuous”, or not-acted-upon, paedophilia accepted as VP on the initials list if they chose to go down that road. It could be a staging post to greater acceptability, as it was for homosexuals. But, in order to succeed, this form of identity politics would seem to depend for its success on denouncing us Kinds – we who do not agree with “virtue” but have it thrust upon us anyway, through draconian laws and policing. As we know, the VPs appear all too keen on this divisive style, and it pays off for them. It is no accident that Jesse Bering has expressed his support for the VPs but not for the Kind views espoused by more radical activists.

Divisive identity politics has featured strongly here at Heretic TOC recently too, at least in the comments. One contributor, under a bewildering variety of names (Why? It just looks schizophrenic), has been not only virulently anti-feminist but also militantly pro-hebephilic and just as aggressively against every other kind of sexual minority and even those in the “normal” mainstream. For him, even heterosexual teleiophiles – adult men attracted to adult women and vice versa – are just perverts because adults’ “natural” preference (for males at least) is for the freshly nubile girl, at the very start of her reproductive potential.

I prefer not to dismiss ideas merely because they seem strange. That would be very much at odds with Heretic TOC’s heretical mission. So, I will concede there is a case to be made that throughout most of human pre-history it might well have made sense for girls to start having babies as soon as they physically could, and that a man’s preferred choice of sexual partner would reflect this. Infant mortality was likely to have been very high, and a whole range of perils including disease, attacks by predatory animals and occasional famine would have made it impossible to sustain or grow the population without full use of every year in the female reproductive cycle. Evolution must have favoured early reproduction or we would not be here to ponder the ways of our ancestors. So, it seems inevitable that for hundreds of thousands of years what we now call hebephilia would have been, along with ephebophilia, the most natural of sexual orientations for males. Having said that, our culture and social needs are very different today. Civilised society has moved on from pre-history in many ways that are a great improvement. None of us, of whatever orientation, can justify our sexuality solely by reference to a long gone past.

A bigger problem with this contributor’s ideas than the mere logical weakness of his argument, however, is the divisiveness of his hebephilic identity politics. According to this way of looking at things,  hebephilia is the only good and virtuous way of loving. Paedophiles and ephebophiles, even bog standard teleiophiles, are perverted in this account, driven solely by selfish lust.  It is a peculiarly nihilistic “politics” because it systematically trashes every possibility of political alliance, which is the way real politics gets done. It gratuitously makes enemies of everyone. In any case, there is no clear  taxonomic split between hebephilia and paedophilia, nor between hebephilia and ephebophilia: the overlap between these categories is considerable, as discussed here recently. Just as there is no “pure” race, such as the Aryans, on which the Nazis based their delusions of racial superiority, there are no pure unalloyed sexual orientations either. We may identify as solely hebephile, or whatever, but the majority in any orientation category are mongrels with a range of tastes.

Again, though, the weak logic behind the contributor’s truculence is less significant than the attitude itself. It is divisive, as already noted, and it is also self-centred, expressing not so much a group identity as an individual one: it is a politics of one person against the world, which is not a practical politics at all, but more a cry for help or a scream of rage against everything being so complicated and confusing these days. As such, it echoes O’Neill’s view, above, of those censorious modern students who are so “narcissistic and needy”.

As for why things have taken such a turn, and what might be done about it, those are perhaps stories for another day.

 

KING OF THE STING IS STUNG

Yo! Great news! The bastard has got his come-uppance at last! Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, former star undercover reporter for Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers, especially the Sun and the now defunct News of the World, is facing jail for tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos two years ago. Following a two-week trial at the Old Bailey, a jury today found the 53-year-old “King of the Sting” and his driver guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice.

It’s all over the news, including this Daily Telegraph report, and nobody could be more delighted than me, not least because I was a victim of his lies myself, a story told in When Heretic TOC met the Fake Sheikh, written in July 2014 soon after Judge Alistair McCreath publicly concluded that Mahmood had attempted to persuade a witness to change his evidence and then lied about it under oath.

In my case, Mahmood tracked me down to a naturist resort in France, where he pretended to be not a sheikh but a sheikh’s aide, tasked with the role of checking out the resort to see whether it would be possible for his boss to take a discreet naturist holiday there. His real mission, though, using a very “underage” looking female reporter as an accomplice, was to tempt me into some sort of indiscretion. Maybe they hoped I would proposition her. When that failed they simply made up lies and another accomplice took a photo with a long lens that made it look (falsely) as though I was standing naked with a young boy and chatting him up. Mahmood even had the gall to write up the story in his autobiography, claiming it as one of his successes. See also my follow-up story, The strange case of the brilliant ‘bimbo’.

 

HEWSON HAMMERS ‘ABUSE FUNDAMENTALISTS’

I guess most heretics here will be aware by now that yet another fiasco has struck the bloated, unmanageable “independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse”. After losing no fewer than three chairpersons, the inquiry now has to deal with the departure of a key figure who had been holding the wreckage together – counsel to the inquiry Ben Emmerson QC, who resigned at the end of last month.

Fewer readers, though, may be aware that the excellent barrister and commentator Barbara Hewson penned a stinging piece on the subject for the Daily Mail under the headline “This fiasco of a sex abuse inquiry is totally out of control…and has to end NOW”.

The most stunning aspect of her analysis is that unlike the politicians, or most of the media, she has dared to criticise the so-called “survivors”. The inquiry, she says, “has always been dogged by rancorous in-fighting between different camps of ‘survivors’ of historic sexual abuse.” She says prime minister Theresa May did not anticipate when she decided to set up the inquiry two years ago in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, “just how extreme many of the campaigners demanding an inquiry were.” Not pulling any punches, she writes:

I call them ‘abuse fundamentalists’. Some of them are avid conspiracy theorists, recycling tall tales from the Eighties era, when panic about alleged Satanic ritual abuse was at its height….They have all been traumatised, they claim, and everything that is wrong with their lives today is somebody else’s fault. [There is] a vocal lobby who seem as impervious to reason as religious fundamentalists. Unless you submit to their world view — a fixation on the idea that society is riddled with shadowy VIP paedophile ‘rings’ shielded by an evil Establishment omerta — they will viciously condemn you as an apologist for paedophiles.

And there is more! Well worth reading in full.

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.

 

Humble or haughty, nasty is naughty

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When New York-based journalist Paul Willis, from a newish online outfit called VICE News, emailed me early in December, I was not overly excited by his proposition.

In fact, I found it a bit depressing, albeit worthy of attention. He wanted to know about paedophiles who suffer from depression. Well, many do, of course. Nothing surprising about that given the stigma and oppression we have to put up with, even if we behave like saints. Mercifully for me, I am blessed with a generally optimistic and cheerful disposition: I may be down, but never for long. So I thought I was probably not the best person to help with this important story, and decided to pass it on to friends at the Forum for Understanding Minor Attraction (FUMA), which has mental health at the heart of its mission.

One very significant contribution they made was to give Willis an excellent article by FUMA co-founder Stephen James, which highlights how MAPs’ mental health problems are often exacerbated by unsympathetic and ignorant “therapy”.

What I did not know at the time, unfortunately, but I should have guessed, was that Willis had also been in touch with the Virtuous Pedophiles. And his article, when it appeared just over a week ago, was firmly anchored to the VP narrative. Ironic, huh? Virtue favoured by VICE! Titled “Realising You’re a Paedophile Can Make You Want to Kill Yourself”, it was fine in its sympathy for non-offenders. It made the important point that the stigma and consequent social isolation faced by many MAPs can be hugely damaging.

But what sort of damage? While a high rate of suicidality was rightly mentioned, the main emphasis was on the dread possibility that some MAPs might be radicalised and turn towards “extreme stances” like that of “a notorious pressure group called the Paedophile Information Exchange, which advocated abolishing consent laws completely”. The article also mentions support for “children’s sexual self-determination” as part of a belief system by which “most of us are understandably horrified”.

Some of this excoriation is the journalist’s own, but much of it comes straight from Virtuous Pedophiles Todd Nickerson (formerly online as “Markaba”), who may be remembered from a recent Salon article, and also a guy called “Brett”, said to be a VP moderator. Brett said he had “nothing but disdain and contempt” for “pro-contacters”, among whom he named me personally.

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. It falsely implies we favour ignoring the law in favour of sexual “contact” at any price. Others here, notably Dissident and Stephen6000, have favoured the expression “pro-choice”. Even VP co-founder Ethan Edwards, who also figures in the VICE piece, has expressed reservations over the “pro-contact” description. In a comment on Heretic TOC last year as Ethane72, he more reasonably spoke of “pro-legalisation”.

To outsiders this might seem a trivial distinction, like the minuscule differences in Monty Python’s Life of Brian between a bunch of fissiparous liberation groups in Roman-occupied Judea. When they are exhorted to stop squabbling among themselves so they can fight “against the common enemy,” the foe they first think of is not the Romans but the Judean People’s Front! Freud, in his Civilization and Its Discontents, called it  “the narcissism of small differences”.

Is there a way of avoiding such differences and fighting together for a better society? If it were down to relatively sensible people like Ethan it might be possible. In reality, though, we have irreconcilable purists on our own side, and on the VP side there are Rottweilers like Brett who prefer the language of “disdain and contempt” to seeking common cause. Referring to “pro-contacters”, he is quoted as saying:  “It’s partly because of that crowd so many people are unwilling to listen to me and paedophiles like me.”

One interesting message we may read between the lines here is that even though the VPs are clearly having it pretty much entirely their own way in the media, the battle for hearts and minds among MAPs is another matter: we pro-choice or pro-reform folk, who together identify as the Kind community, appear at least to be holding our ground in the ideological front-line against “virtuous” thinking.

And with that in mind, it’s time for a despatch from another part of the battlefield: Sexnet.

The fun kicked off when Nick Devin, co-founder of VP, posted a link to the VICE article on the Sexnet forum, which as regulars here may recall is an email information exchange and discussion group primarily for senior researchers and clinicians in the fields of sexual biology, psychology and behaviour, with a small seasoning of sexual minority activists, journalists and other odd bods in the mix – a blend whose composition is in the gift of the moderator, psychology professor Mike Bailey.

Now what y’all need to know about Nick is that like Uriah Heap in Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield, he is really, really humble. His shtick is to ingratiate himself with the experts at Sexnet by never, ever questioning their wisdom or expertise. He doesn’t need to, of course. The VP line is that society is right to condemn child-adult sexual relationships, so why would he argue with the big cheeses on Sexnet who do research showing what is “wrong” with paedophiles’ brains, or who test and refine sex offender treatment programmes?

“When I was quite a young boy,” said Uriah, “I got to know what umbleness did, and I took to it. I ate umble pie with an appetite. I stopped at the umble point of my learning, and says I, ‘Hard hard!’ When you offered to teach me Latin, I knew better. ‘People like to be above you,’ says father, ‘keep yourself down.’ I am very umble to the present moment, Master Copperfield, but I’ve got a little power!”

Just like Heap the Creep, Nick has learned to play his ignorance like a fiddle, making a virtue of it, as of so much else. So when he posted that link on Sexnet to Willis’s VICE piece, he did so in the most “umble” way possible, offering no comment or opinion of his own. And what a cunningly powerful tactic that turned out to be, enabling him to disseminate smears against alleged “pro-contacters”, including “disdain and contempt” for me as a named fellow Sexnet member, without so much as a word, as it were, from his own mouth.

Honour bound to reply, I rebuked VP for their smear tactics and Nick for his personal role in promoting them. Which unfortunately allowed Nick to play the “umble” injured innocent: What me? Begging your pardon, good sirs, I am just the ’umble messenger. Why are you being so ’orrible to depressed paedophiles? Why are you being ’ateful towards us VPs?

He even cited a taxonomy of MAPs devised by Ethan Edwards, ranging from “hands-on offenders” at one end to “anti-contact” at the other. Specifically praised are those near the out-and-out anti-contact end who are “humble/laid back: Leaves it up to society to figure out appropriate ages of consent, realizing that they have a selfish interest in lower ones, and maybe it actually does cloud their thinking, so they set that aside.”

I’ll come back to that question of “selfish interest”, and how supposedly “pro-contact” paedophiles “rationalise” our beliefs, another time. For now, though, I would just note that our guest blogger Lensman has a superb new blog on this theme at his own website, Consenting Humans.

Anyway, as you might expect, I replied to Nick’s ’umble observations, including his further accusations that I was ignoring data favourable to VP and misrepresenting his organisation. My riposte proved too much for the least ’umble figure on Sexnet by far, the toweringly arrogant James Cantor, who has long been a near ubiquitous presence in VP’s media campaigns.

Cantor was volcanic.

“I do not believe O’Carroll belongs on Sexnet,” he thundered. “…despite years of mere argumentativeness, O’Carroll has presented no actual information, just twisted misreadings of what someone else said, leading us to waste time untwisting it back into what we did say.  No one can or will learn anything from rhetorical games.”

Yes, well, we know James of old, don’t we? Those who have been around here a while will recall that my “no actual information” back in 2012 included a critique of his brain-imaging research, which had supposedly shown a “deficiency” in the white matter part of paedophiles’ brains. My critique was supported by a British neuroscientist who blogs as Neuroskeptic. But that didn’t stop Cantor – or Jimmy “the Screamer” Cantori, notorious hit-person of the Toronto mafia, as I dubbed him – from denouncing me as “an impostor”, with the implication that only accredited scientists should talk about science (except, of course, in an ever so ’umble way!)

As Cantor is one of the biggest of the big guns on Sexnet, it might be supposed this latest screaming denunciation would see me being shown the Red Card. But no! Purely ad hominem attack, which this was, is generally frowned upon in the forum, and Mike Bailey was not overly swayed. He wrote:

“Tom O’Carroll is on SEXNET because he knows stuff and because he has a principled position that, although I don’t entirely agree with it, is good for sex researchers to hear, if they listen. He has also sometimes been exceedingly patient with those here who clearly think he’s wrong and distasteful. (This patience, unfortunately, has never extended to Nick Devin and Ethan Edwards.)

“The intellectual divide between Tom’s and Nick’s/Ethan’s views is interesting, and I’ve learned things reading them (and I haven’t always agreed with either side). The debate invariably gets personal to some degree, but not so much that I generally need to get involved. It’s understandable, sometimes, like in the present case. I happen to know that Nick forwarded that article because of Tom’s quote, which he found striking, rather than because of what the VP member said about disliking Tom. But it is understandable that Tom thought otherwise.”

As you can see, Mike exonerates Nick from ulterior motives. He could be right, but I don’t think even a psychology professor can just “happen to know” with any degree of confidence whether a person’s stated reason for doing something is the real or only one. Neither can I, to be fair. Having watched Nick’s manoeuvrings for years now, though, it is hard not to be suspicious.

Mike closed with a call for “future examples of intellectual calmness and generosity” on both sides. Following this, one item soon arose on which there was some modest scope for agreement with the VPs. This time Nick posted a link to a new article titled “Can Child Dolls Keep Pedophiles from Offending?” I commended it as an interesting piece, and noted that Heretic TOC had blogged in similar vein last October. This piece, as I don’t think I have mentioned before, was taken up by several of the tabloids in Britain: the Sun, Mirror and Express. These stories were all of the twisted, warped, vile, sick pervert variety, as may be imagined, which suggests that the VPs and their allies in the media may be far better placed to get this particular idea taken seriously than any “pro-choice” supporters will be able to bring about any time soon.

 

RADICAL CASE IN RUSSIAN

Congratulations to the latest translator of Paedophilia: The Radical Case, who emailed today to tell me he has completed a Russian version of the book. It is now online here, although I don’t suppose many of us will be able to read it, including me. I can tell you the title, though, which is rendered as

Педофильский радикализм. After that comes the “Author’s preface to the Russian translation”, which looks like this: Авторское предисловие к русскому переводу. I can’t see it topping the charts for Russian reading this month, but I like the thought that after all these years someone would think it worth making such a big effort to give them the chance to give it a whirl.

 

DAVID BOWIE IN TROUBLE

Meanwhile, David Bowie’s new album Blackstar surely will be a posthumous chart-topper. But that doesn’t mean he can just relax up there in Heaven, confident his reputation is secure, oh no. Unlike Jimmy Savile, who was able to rest in peace for almost a whole year before accusations of child sexual abuse began to surface via a TV documentary, the Bowie bashers are already at work. We now have The dark side of David Bowie, a story in Salon by culture editor Erin Keane, in which she takes the vaunted genius to task for his “history of sex with underaged groupies in the ’70s”. But his one named “victim”, Lori Mattix, says it was consensual so, hey, no problem!

 

Extremists plot to disrupt ‘distressing’ dissent

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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.

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