There’s no shortage of ridiculous arguments and positions with respect to virpeds and those who support them, but there are some that just seem to crop up again and again, so I want to deal with those here. I’ll address three such arguments at a time in a series of three posts. For now anyway. I could always expand on these posts later. It isn’t like I’ll be running out of absurd accusations and positions from the haters any time soon! Now, without further ado . . .
(1) You’re just trying to normalize pedophilia.
This is probably the most common accusation leveled not only at the members of VirPed, but also quite often experts in the field of pedophilia like James Cantor and David Finkelhor, and most ridiculous of all, at “liberal” media publications who approach the issue in any kind of compassionate and level-headed way. First off, this is a pretty ambiguous accusation, often intentionally so, I imagine. What exactly do these people mean by “normalize pedophilia”? If they’re arguing that we are trying to get people to understand these issues better and not approach them from a position of blind fear, ignorance and hatred, well then, guilty as charged. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. But often what they really mean is that we are secretly attempting to break down society’s moral opposition to sex with children.
Okay, there are certainly pedophiles on the web who support the pro-contact position, but they tend to just support it outright. What value is there for such people in claiming to support the moral and legal opposition to sex with kids when they’re an anonymous web presence anyway? They would be philosophically shooting themselves in the foot when they could just as easily support the pro-contact position from behind their anonymous usernames. After all, beliefs are not illegal in America, nor in the rest of the civilized world as far as I’m aware, and remaining anonymous, as long as they are careful, there are no social consequences for them in real life for holding that position on the web. I’m not going to say that there is nobody at VirPed who secretly supports the pro-contact position because I simply cannot know that, but I know that most people there are sincere in their dedication to VirPed’s cause.
Now, for someone like me, who is fully out, there are sounder reasons to lie about this, but if I were going to do that, then I would be far less inclined to say things like this. I would devote myself fully to the status quo position and make no attempts to rock the proverbial boat at all. But that is not my nature. I care very much about the truth, so I cannot in good conscience pretend like society is right about things I know they’re wrong about, and there are plenty of them. And I’ve found that, if you’re a self-confessed pedophile, it makes little difference anyway for a whole lot of people what one’s position is on the contact issue or other matters of relevance to us. They are determined to hate you regardless.
Ergo, I would have nothing to lose by maintaining a pro-contact position if I truly believed in it, as I learned very well when I was a supporter of the pro-contact position. I was just as much ‘out’ back then as I am now, and I am essentially in the very same position now that I was then. The only significant difference between then and now is, I was able to get a couple of articles I wrote published on Salon. But these articles certainly did not make me rich or popular. I earned $150 apiece for them. I’m still very poor. I still have no health insurance, no way to afford psychological counseling, no steady employment. I still live exactly as I was living when I was a pro-contacter. I still don’t interact much with kids, or venture out much in public at all, really. In fact, I interacted much more with kids (always in legal ways, of course) when I was a pro-contacter than I do now.
So what precisely did I gain from changing my viewpoint? Fame? Did I really serve myself better by becoming a more visible target for the disdain and ridicule of the haters? Hardly. Wealth? Like I said, I earned very little for my articles, and anyway, I actually had a few pro-contact friends who occasionally sent me money when I hung out at those boards, so if anything, I made out better financially as a pro-contacter. Most importantly, do I stand to break down society’s defenses against adult-child sex, as the accusers claim? It definitely isn’t my goal, but if it was, I must ask, how would it benefit me? Even if there was a slight chance in some distant future that this dystopian scenario might actually play out (extremely unlikely to say the least), there is simply no way it would ever occur within my lifetime, and even if it did, I would still believe it was wrong and would not engage in it.
So, in what reality would this position ever serve to benefit me if I was a secret pro-contacter? This accusation simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I am an anti-contacter because it’s what I really believe, period. As for my articles and my public representation of VirPed, my reasons are fairly simple, the main one being that I have experienced a lifetime of suffering because of my sexuality, and I only hope to make things better for the younger generations who are cursed with this most unfortunate and useless of sexual orientations, so that maybe they won’t have to go through what I’ve been through. That’s the primary motivation of my going on the public record as a virped. You can believe that or not, it makes little difference to me.
(2) You are just hiding in plain sight.
This accusation was recently leveled at another virped on Twitter during a debate, in those exact words. Given that most virpeds—including the one who was debating in this case—are still completely anonymous, this simply makes no sense. I’m not sure the accuser fully grasps the concept of hiding in plain sight. And for those few of us who are fully out, how are we hiding? It’s not like we could molest children and get away with it by simply claiming, “Oh, I believe sex with children is wrong, so you know I’m not breaking any laws. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have children to molest . . .”
In what simplistic Scooby-Doo universe would this tactic actually pay off? How stupid does this accuser believe we/the authorities/society is that anyone would ever consider this as plausible? Picture us saying to each other (as we rub our hands together in glee): “Imagine, my friends . . . we can get away with molesting children, and all we have to do is openly admit we’re pedophiles but pretend like we believe sex with children is wrong! Mwa ha ha ha!” Yeah, that would work. Of all the dumb accusations we’ve had to contend with over the years, this one really takes the cake. If I was going to try to get away with sexually abusing children, the very last thing I would ever do is admit I was a pedophile on the interwebz, even from behind an anonymous username. And I certainly wouldn’t out myself to the entire world, write articles for Salon, publish a blog about pedophilia with my name and face all over them, and do a bunch of radio interviews. I think I’m a wee bit smarter than that.
No, given the massive stigma we face, isn’t it far more likely that we simply are who and what we say we are? D’oh! Damn you, Occam’s Razor, you sly bastard!
(3) Anyone who supports or is kind to pedophiles must be a pedophile themselves.
It never fails: someone writes a tolerant and logical article about pedophilia, and the writer is labeled a pedophile themselves. And I’m sure James Cantor and his compatriots have been accused of being pedophiles more than once. It’s the dirtiest trick in the book. Despite being a transparently fallacious argument, accusers know they can often shut down an opponent this way because no one wants this label, certainly not those who aren’t actually pedophiles.
What makes this so insidious is that it’s actually a few different fallacies rolled into one. Most obviously, it is an association fallacy. You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘guilt by association’—well, that’s pretty much the association fallacy in a nutshell. More recently, I’ve seen scholars, including Dr. Cantor, use the term ‘courtesy stigma’ which is pretty much the same thing as experienced from the other side. That is to say, those who have had to contend with an association fallacy, or who fear the consequences of having to do so, are inclined to avoid this stigma, often at the expense of the truth or even common decency. That’s why the journalists, scholars, et al who have chosen to buck these immense social pressures are to be commended and respected. In their own way they are fighting the same uphill battle that we are.
Likewise intrinsic to this argument is an appeal to emotion (argumentum ad passiones). It plays upon the fear that most people have of being stigmatized, and in terms of stigma, probably none is more powerful than pedophilia. Finally, it’s just a good old-fashioned straw man attack—by labeling someone a pedophile in this environment, you instantly undermine anything they say, no matter how right they may be. Of course, this point also applies to actual pedophiles.