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.