A sad day in America

My thoughts are with the survivors, friends and family members of those lost in the night club shooting in Orlando this morning. It’s clear that we still have a long way to go in the fight for freedom and tolerance for sexual minorities in this country. I will leave you with a quote from Leigh Hunt:

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good.  So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.

Pedophiles deserve free speech just like everyone else

Among the things I’ve encountered on the internet from our opposition, the most dangerous is the desire to silence us, to remove from us the basic human right of free speech, which, at least in America, has been granted to us all through the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Here is an example taken from Twitter:

Voiceless No More

Ostensibly such arguments are presented on the view that to give pedophiles, even non-offending ones, a voice is to somehow legitimize the sexual abuse of children. This is, of course, absurd, but it hints at the real motivation behind this position, which is that pedophiles may actually have some valid things to say, a notion that may undermine this person’s most deeply held justification for their own hatred, that being that pedophiles are not in the same class as other human beings, and that we therefore do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. In the end this is clearly not founded in reason, but in emotion, which makes it a case of special pleading, as it is simply assumed to be true on some obscure moral principle and nothing else.

The above writer says pedophiles don’t deserve a voice. On what grounds? That our speech would be so dangerous that we might alter society’s perspective to the point where it may legally allow child molestation? This position demonstrates a terrible lack of faith in the very underpinnings of the principle itself, and therein lies the problem. If this principle stands on such shaky legs that it could be easily undone by simply granting pedophiles a voice, then clearly it is a principle which needs to be re-examined anyway. But I tell you this is not necessary. It is with great irony, then, that I, a self-confessed pedophile, assert that the principle on which we hold sex with children to be taboo is indeed strong enough to withstand any criticism or discussion. In other words, I appear to have more faith in the morality of society’s position than many non-pedophiles do. I have posted this quote before, but I think it is warranted again here:

Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

Once again, this is taken from Areopagitica, a famous defense of free speech made by notable Christian writer and philosopher John Milton, who is here arguing that to suppress the speech of anyone whose views we disagree with is to devalue truth itself, because if one genuinely believes their ideas are correct and have faith that the majority of society will be able to recognize the inherent truth of that, then they have nothing to fear by allowing their opponents to speak freely. To suppress the speech of one’s opponent is merely to demonstrate a deep-seated insecurity in their own beliefs.

Moreover, as has been stated and demonstrated repeatedly not only by me but by many notable experts on pedophilia, to silence pedophiles is to marginalize them even more, to push them further underground, where they become far more dangerous than if they are out in the open where they can be observed, and helped. To put it another way: to remove a pedophile’s voice is to remove his humanity, and to remove his humanity is to remove his faith in the goodness and fairness of others, and to remove those things is to remove the final barriers that stand in the way of him placing moral constraints on himself, because a man who has been cornered and beaten into submission by a society that claims to be just is a man who will no longer see fit to honor that society’s notions of justice. For what difference does it make to him if society places no additional value on the pedophile who does not offend than it places on the one who does? More simply, it seems to me to be self-evident that it is much more dangerous for children when society silences and oppresses pedophiles at all costs than it is when they provide them with incentives to embrace society’s values with respect to children and sex, one of those incentives being a dignified place at the table of discussion, a sturdy and well-placed stall in the Marketplace of Ideas.

Finally, I would point out that there is but one reason, and one reason alone, that the right of free speech has stood strong since its inception: its strength lies in its universality. This is because, once a justification has been made to silence one group, it isn’t long before a justification can be made to silence another, and another, until the thing at last has no value. If one weakens the framework on which a human right stands by allowing for exceptions, then before long the entire structure crumbles. This, of course, applies to all human rights, but most especially to freedom of speech, which our legal system is founded upon, for everyone who is accused of some heinous act or who is doubted in some respect has a right to plead his case, which would be impossible without free speech. Our legal system would be a mockery of justice without this core value, and anyone who stood accused of sexual abuse, no matter how innocent, could then be demoted to the status of non-human, and one’s enemies could then be systematically demolished by simply accusing them of being a pedophile or sex offender and scrounging up some proof to justify the accusation.

These are but three reasons why freedom of speech must be protected for all, not only for those we like or agree with, but everyone, pedophiles included. Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I can think of no greater injustice than removing or suppressing a person’s voice based on some aspect of their being, particularly one they did not choose. Have we learned nothing from history? We have long embraced the notion of universal human rights in this grand country, and I hope we can say, today, tomorrow and forevermore, that we shall never get to the point where any individual or group will be silenced because they are merely disliked or disapproved of in some capacity by another individual or group.

Margaux Fragoso’s endorsement of VirPed

Margaux Fragoso, author of Tiger, Tiger, has recently been in contact with the VirPed community. I’ve spoken with her personally and she is exactly as interesting and delightful as I always imagined she would be. Well, she is officially endorsing VirPed. Here’s what she says:

I am a sexual abuse survivor and author of a bestselling memoir Tiger, Tiger, which has sold in 26 countries, been translated to nineteen languages. Kirkus Reviews called it an “Outstanding Debut of 2011,” and it was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011. The movie rights were bought by the acclaimed director Hector Babenco. In addition, my work has appeared in the New York Times, NPR, and various literary journals.

My abuse began when I was seven years old, after I met Peter Curran, who was a retiree and collector of exotic animals. Though Peter abused me, he also gave me praise and emotional support that counterbalanced my horrific home life—a viciously critical father and mentally ill mother. When Peter committed suicide in 2001, it emotionally shattered me. I would say that suicide in general is so desperately painful for abuse victims that I’d plead with even known offenders not to take that route. I have read the scientific literature that pedophilia is an orientation, not a choice, and that as long as it is not acted upon, it remains “dormant” so to speak and thereby harms no child. VP is committed to protecting children like the seven-year-old Margaux who could not protect herself and whose family did not protect her. I wish Peter had chosen a Lewis Carroll type relationship with me that involved no acts of sexuality and then I would’ve been spared countless psychological problems and years of therapy. If an organization like this one had been available to Peter perhaps he would have never offended against me and my life would be infinitely improved for it.

Virtuous Pedophiles is an extraordinary website where those struggling with feelings of attraction to children can find support and a community. It is here that they can form positive links with others and resist the impulses to offend against children. This website does a tremendous service to both children and parents by serving as a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous wherein everyone strives to “stay clean” and honorable. I believe that this website will do far more to lower child abuse rates than our current system of punishment, social ostracism, and threats of violent reprisal. I support VP wholeheartedly as an abuse survivor, as a worker with human trafficking victims, as a mother, and as an American citizen. We need more websites like this and so I hope they will thrive and flourish as it serves to protect the most vulnerable and precious members of our society—the children.

Many people have endorsed our organization over the years, but the ones that always move me the most are those from abuse survivors. After my articles came out I heard from many of them, and their stories were always harrowing, but what struck me most about them was the kindness and understanding they offered me, a direct contrast to the shrill and hateful attacks we normally encounter on the internet. And now Fragoso has offered similar words of support for Virtuous Pedophiles, which I find incredibly touching.

Yet another example of a child abused . . . by the system

I can’t believe this is still happening. Wait, yes I can.  A 14-year-old boy in Three Rivers, Michigan has been busted for producing child porn, all because he took a nude photo of himself on a girl’s phone.  The girl then sent it to another girl, who also sent it to someone else, and guess what?  Now those girls have been busted for distributing child porn!  All three of these kids are now going to be labeled sex offenders simply for doing something that comes natural to teens. It’s a moral outrage alright, but not what the kids did.  Rather, the fact that the state is unwilling to distinguish between kids playing around and kids actually being victimized is absolutely unacceptable.

This is what a moral panic run amok looks like, but that’s how it always goes.  In the end, when left unchecked, these kinds of things wind up hurting the very people they’re meant to protect.  The reality is, there is a faction of society that is so insecure about their own sexual issues that they can’t stand the thought of kids being sexual beings, and so the kids who shatter this precious illusion invariably wind up getting punished for it.  This is just such a case.  This boy and these two girls are now lifelong social pariahs.  Perhaps it’s time for society to learn the concepts of balance and restraint. Here’s a great quote by Mary Wollstonecraft that everyone involved with government in any capacity should have as their personal mantra:

“Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.”