Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Homosexuality and Pedophilia

Posted by Jerry on February 6, 2006

Dateline recently ran a series of stories that busted child-predators and pedophiles on national TV. They did that with the help of perverted-justice.com, an online watchdog of child-sex offenders. I must applaud the amazing achievements of private enterprises like Dateline, Perverted-Justice and Oprah in their agenda against pedophiles. They have done a lot more in much less time than government and law-enforcement agencies.

Many people rightfully condemn pedophilia with the harshest of words. It is certainly a very heinous crime specifically because of its nature of creating life-long victims of very young minds. However, I will state this quite emphatically: Pedophilia is not an illness. It cannot be treated with psychological rehabilitation. Pedophilia is the same thing as homosexuality in that they are both expressions of an alternative sexual attraction besides the majority behavior of heterosexuality. The crucial difference between the two is that pedophilia is a CRIME because it willfully and ruthlessly exploits the persona and psyche of an individual who is incapable – psychologically and, in many cases, physically – of assenting to a mutually acceptable behavior. It is a physical and psychological rape of an individual who cannot yet assent to the manner of an activity he or she is being forced (seduced) to engage in. This applies equally to children and adults who are mentally incapacitated.

Homosexuality was also at one point considered an illness (and many still do), and homosexuals were subjected to all forms of “treatments” in utter futility, and sometimes to destructive ends. Now, having recognized that homosexuality is merely another kind of expression under the complex diversity noticed in human sexuality, we understand that homosexual behavior is not only moral, but its free and proper expression among consenting adults is also perfectly healthy.

Pedophilia is similar in that it is also a form of sexual expression that is borne out of the immensely complicated patterns of human sexuality observed among the 6 billion humans on this planet. It cannot be treated as an illness because doing so – as in the case of homosexual treatments – invariably backfires, is futile, and could be very destructive to the self and to others. Therefore, we should simply reject the so-called “benevolent” notion of “treating” the psyche of pedophiles to cure them of this ‘illness’. It is incurable precisely because it is not an illness to begin with! We cannot risk having another child molested because we hoped we had treated the pedophile’s psychological illness.

Moreover, it is only when we recognize that pedophilia is not an illness that we can morally condemn the actions of a pedophile as being criminal.

The sexual urge is too strong to argue that pedophiles can be forced into abstinence and be taught to live among people and children. Forcing abstinence on a pedophile is similar to forcing abstinence of homosexuals – the consequence of that we notice with some frequency now among homosexual Catholic priests – in a majority of cases, it just does not work.

I have some degree of sympathy for pedophiles simply because their sexual urges are motivated by their sexual orientation. I cannot say if it is entirely biological or entirely environmental; that is for science to decide. I lean toward the opinion that it is an intricate interaction between the biological and the environmental.

Nonetheless, knowing that Human Beings are not helplessly subjected to biological instincts like barn-yard animals, knowing that we have free-will and volition to understand morals and rights and boundaries, there can be no arguable excuse for a crime against a child by saying that it is determined by one’s nature.

Similarly, some homosexuals find it hard to morally defend homosexuality if it is understood to be a choice, and therefore, they hastily try to force their opinion that homosexuality is genetic and biological. I don’t think science has yet come to a conclusive decision on that issue, but the philosophical defense of homosexuality is not affected by any latest discovery of science. The fundamental principles of philosophy are already set, and allow proper guidance to the conclusion that homosexuality – as chosen or unchosen – is fully moral. Actually, to be more precise, the state of being a homosexual is really amoral if it is biological. It is the proper expression of homosexuality among adults that I regard as being subject to moral scrutiny. And in the event that science discovers that homosexuality is infact a choice or an influence, even in that case choosing to be homosexual can be a fully moral and ethical choice.

And so, understanding that the sexual motive is strong, and understanding that pedophilia is not an illness, and understanding that demanding abstinence from them while placing them fully within a surrounding of young children is futile and dangerous, I believe that it is best for society – and pedophiles – that they be isolated from society altogether.

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6 Responses to “Homosexuality and Pedophilia”

  1. Ergo Sum said

    As an after-thought: I’m sure there are many peripheral aspects of pedophilia that can be psychologically treated, for example, their addiction to the internet, their addiction to sex, their issues with self-esteem or self-worth, their own issues with repression or molestation, etc.
    But, notice that these treatable issues could be common among any group of people… not just pedophiles. In terms of the actual sexual attraction to young children, I don’t believe it is an illness that should or could be treated.

  2. I wonder if it’s possible to be a pedophile but limit one’s expression to fantasy. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s good for them to take jobs where they deal with kids, but naturally they are atrtracted to those job.

  3. Ergo Sum said

    It probably could work for some, but I doubt that many (or all) pedophiles could be restrained only in fantasies… at some point, the urge to manifest fantasy into reality does take over. In light of this, it is interesting to put Rand’s formulation of psycho-epistemology in our understanding of such people. Pedophiles, in that they have an alternative sexuality, are not really that different from homosexuals… though the most crucial and moral difference lies in their actions (not states of being).
    Rand had suggested a strong connection between one’s sense of life, one’s psycho-epistemology, and one’s explicit philosophy on life. Peikoff and Sciabarra seperately explore the implications of Rand’s theories on sex and fantasies (fetishes, etc.)

  4. Runner said

    An Open Letter.

    Greetings. Please allow me to assess your ideas in the spirit of an honest quest for the truth about the concept of pedophilia. One question that has plagued me for a long time after I initially read this essay was, “What definition of ‘pedophilia’ are you using?” Explicitly defining this concept is important so that we as objective thinkers can gain a rational perspective on pedophilia, in a time when the emotions of well-meaning people lead them to misunderstand that concept.

    The definition that I have derived is: Pedophilia is sexual attraction to a child, i.e., a conscious human being that is differentiated from all other human beings on the grounds that he cannot conceptually determine any fundamental rational values. (And if he cannot conceptually determine THESE, he cannot choose a sexual partner with the confidence of a process of abstract thinking. Sex, after all, is meaningful only when it is an expression of our deepest life-serving values.) Please understand the fact that pedophilia, both etymologically and as an internal state of mind, is “sexual attraction to a child”; consider this especially in light of your own “definition” of the concept.

    I take your “definition” of pedophilia to be “pedophilia is a CRIME because it willfully and ruthlessly exploits the persona and psyche of [a child] who is incapable – psychologically and, in many cases, physically – of assenting to a mutually acceptable behavior.” Yes, an adult who coercively consummates his sexual attraction to a child is the cause of a crime. However, pedophilia, being as it is a state of mind, is not the cause of the crime; only the physical expression on the part of the older partner is the cause. Intense attraction alone does not “exploit” anyone, bad as it may be; it is only when the irrational attractions manifest themselves to an affected “partner” that they are “exploitative”.

    As to the possibility of a non-exploitative pedophile, you writem “The sexual urge is too strong to argue that pedophiles can be forced into abstinence and be taught to live among people and children.” This statement sounds incredibly arbitrary to me. What facts about the (universal) human sexual urge support your belief that it is too strong to overcome? Surely you are aware of the existence of celibates. Furthermore, why sould anyone who has not committed an actually destructive sexual act be “forced” into abstinence? That would be a blatant violation of his right to be treated in a non-coercive manner.

    In light of my proper definition of pedophilia, your concluding statement that “I believe that it is best for society – and pedophiles – that they be isolated from society altogether” is completely unwarranted. Individuals who who have not committed any crime deserve complete, unlimited freedom. This means that government must not restrict the movement and general freedom of individuals–pedophiles included– who abide by objective law, unless and until law-abiding individuals cease to become so, i.e., BREAK objective law. And objective law outlaws actions, not inner states of mind.

    It would be non-objective for the government to round up a group of people based on their attractions alone, and force them to live in isolation from the larger society. And I personally find such a scenario revolting.

    I do pray that this malevolent end is not what you had in mind.

    Sincerely,

    Runner.

  5. Ergo said

    Runner,

    I agree with many of your points. In particular, I agree that it is incredibly revolting for a government to “round up a group of people based on their attractions alone.” However, our key disagreement lies in the matter of whether a society can reliably trust an individual to consistently and continuously curb his sexual urges especially when that sexual urge–if enacted–could be incredibly disastrous to the psyche of a child.

    In my opinion, there are no grounds to justify the argument that society must simply trust that a pedophile will not act upon his pedophilic tendencies, that he will remain celibate or modify his sexual attraction. Indeed, trusting and hoping that a pedophile will not act out is akin to placing a baby in front of a hungry lion and hoping that it won’t eat the infant. Even one victimized child is one too many.

    The interesting matter to note is that we cannot foster the hope that persons with pedophilic tendencies out at large in society will not act upon their urges as we hope that Catholic priests will not betray their celibate vows and have sex. In the latter case, even if they did act upon their sexual urges, it would involve consenting *adults* in the sex act (assuming the priests are homosexual or heterosexual, not pedophiles). Thus, it is permissible to hope and trust that our priests don’t act in the manner, because even if they do, their actions do not inflict deep-seated psychological harm, given that the act is consensual.

    I percieve pedophilia as a *natural* manifestation of one of the many human sexual permutations. Hence, it is my view that leaving it up to a person with such tendencies to curb it himself is especially cruel even to him and that it is akin to asking a heterosexual to abstain from having sex. While some may possess the extraordinary will-power to withstand their urges (some can be celibate), we cannot simply assume that all others will, too. In the case of pedophilia, this risk is especially crucial because it involves the mind and development of a young human being. In such a scenario, the role of the government–in conjunction with private social institutions–is to protect children.

    Also, it must make an interesting discussion to consider the traditional standard of age that demarcates a child from an adult. Some societies have it at 13, 16 or 18. I think this factor is very important in this discussion, which I have not addressed in my post. However, the implicit assumption in my post and comments thus far has been of children who have not yet reached puberty.

  6. Runner said

    Dear Ergo,

    Thank you for responding so thoroughly and respectfully to one who had found a degree of disagreement with your ideas (me). This gratititude is due to my belief that this is a truly sensitive subject to debate. Before you read on, consider that your premise that “the implicit assumption in my post and comments thus far has been of children who have not yet reached puberty” is also my own in this posting, as well as post #4 of this thread.

    You wrote in response to my first post:

    “I agree with many of your points. In particular, I agree that it is incredibly revolting for a government to ’round up a group of people based on their attractions alone.’ However, our key disagreement lies in the matter of whether a society can reliably trust an individual to consistently and continuously curb his sexual urges especially when that sexual urge–if enacted–could be incredibly disastrous to the psyche of a child.”

    I agree with you that “even one victimized child is one too many.” I personally value the justice that is doled out to child molesters in the form of prison time and other measures.

    In the legal sense, interpersonal relationships in an ideal society are founded on respect for the lives of others–namely, respect for the fact that others have the right to be left alone to live their lives. As a result, each individual member of such a society has the chance to be in full control of his or her life; consequently, each man is free to achieve for himself a proper life–the life of a human being who values “reason, purpose, and self-esteem” and who sufficiently acts according to those values. Such a society must use force and/or the threat of force to defend the human lives within it against the initiation of force–especially (and thank you for apparantly implying the following point) in cases where a child’s whole inner life is at stake, due to its immense sensitivity to physically invasive, outside pressures.

    I do not believe that society can rightfully do anything at all in order to prevent someone with a pedophiliac attraction from molesting a child, who a) has not molested a child and who b) is not imminently going to molest a particular child or group of children. I take full note of your belief that the sexual act is inevitable in the great majority of pedophiles because of the metaphysically demanding “need” for sex that humans exhibit. Granted, this human “need” for sex, coupled with the harm that would result from its harmful consummation with vulnerable children, suggest that pedophiles should be isolated from soiety due to what would be an inevitable crime–even if they have committed no crime or sexually hurt anyone. However, the very fact that there exists a minority of pedophiles who manage to remain celibate (of which you have suggested the possibility), and who are at peace with themselves with respect to their lifestyle, shows that they have admirably averted the commission of a sexual crime, thanks to their faculty of volition. This minority has also shown, Ergo, that they should not be legally punished based on a crime they did not commit; they are not sexual animals seeking out their next victim or sexual act.

    According to some of my readings of the online writings of self-proclaimed “moral” pedophiles, they reasonably appear to me to be caring, productive, and all-around good people. Many of them proclaim that they are genuinely concerned for the welfare of children, that the good of the child is absolutely paramount, and that sex is irrelevant to having an intimate relationship with a child.

    Now, I do not regard all their “nice” statements as reason for one to be unwary of a pedophile’s attractions–they can lead to morally destructive outcomes as much as they can lead to a rights-respecting outcome. And I neither trust nor admire all the “love and gush” that they parade online in order to win sympathy: they are attempting to substitute neo-hippyism for reason in their quest to win over anti-pedophiles.

    However, these internet writers are normal people who have managed to disregard their sexual urges, favoring instead an appreciation for being in the presence of a child’s “beauty and spirit”.

    What I find as alien to me and slightly arbitrary is your view that sexual desire is always fully potent in human beings.

    You write:

    “I percieve pedophilia as a *natural* manifestation of one of the many human sexual permutations. Hence, it is my view that leaving it up to a person with such tendencies to curb it himself is especially cruel even to him and that it is akin to asking a heterosexual to abstain from having sex. While some may possess the extraordinary will-power to withstand their urges (some can be celibate), we cannot simply assume that all others will, too.”

    Sexual urges are sensations felt in certain parts of the body. Apparantly they can suddenly arise in the bodies of virile men, without conscious summoning. They exist and cannot be denied outright. They can only be satisfied. I regard masturbation as a viable way to pacify, if not completely fulfill, sexual urges. Also, the sexual urge in an elder person is likely to be significantly less intense than it once was. (Does a ninety-five year-old pedophile require “extraordinary willpower to withstand [his urge]”?)

    In conclusion, I would like to comment on the pedophiles that do indeed harm children, i.e., the child molesters.

    You write:

    “In my opinion, there are no grounds to justify the argument that society must simply trust that a pedophile will not act upon his pedophilic tendencies, that he will remain celibate or modify his sexual attraction. Indeed, trusting and hoping that a pedophile will not act out is akin to placing a baby in front of a hungry lion and hoping that it won’t eat the infant.”

    No, there are no grounds “to justify the argument that society must simply trust that a pedophile will not act upon his pedophilic tendencies”–any more than there are grounds for society to “trust” that a suicidal tending, ideologically motivated Palestinian will NOT act upon his nihilistic “philosophy” by exploding a concealed bomb on a buss filled with people. Unfortunately, when there are no signs of such an imminent and approaching threat to life in society, there is nothing that anyone can do to avert such a catastrophe. In the example of the armed Palestinian, only when his intent to detonate the bomb is made known, or when his possession of the bomb is made known, can those in the know have a chance to stop it from harming the passengers. Outside of such knowledge, there is nothing that can be done with a person who either does not announce his intent to set off the bomb, or does not display the bomb. (So long as we live among volitional human beings who are complete strangers to us, we truly do live in some degree of risk.) This example relates to child molesters in that their uncontrolled body is akin to the Palestinian’s weapon, whereas their singleminded, rabid sexual attraction is akin to the Palestinian’s nihilism. Essentially, I believe that the government and knowledgeable private citizens must keep a look out for subtle signs about the nature of any pedophile’s sexual urge (is it benign or rabid), and if they know it to be outwardly and dangerously rabid, then they should appropriately act to NOT KEEP THE “BABY” IN FRONT OF THE “HUNGRY LION” (to borrow your terms), so that the hungry lion will not go after it. And the rabid vs. benign distinction is important because it determines whether there will be a victim or not, and thus, whether government should be involved or not.

    Sincerely,

    Runner

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