Your Lying Eyes

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21 August 2006

Perversion on the Net

The New York Times has a riveting and disturbing expose on the use of the internet by pedophiles as a kind of world-wide self-reinforcement support group. Pedophilia groups have blatant e-conversations seeking opportunities to fulfill their fantasies and assure each other to assuage guilt. The article reads like a tale of horror where our worst fears unfold one after the other:
Did anyone, one man asked, know of girls’ camps willing to hire adult males as counselors? Meanwhile, elsewhere in cyberspace, the second group celebrated the news that one of their own had been offered a job leading a boys’ cabin at a sleep-away camp.

The most frequent job mentioned, however, was schoolteacher. A number of self-described teachers shared detailed observations about children in their classes, including events they considered sexual, like a second-grade boy holding his crotch during class.

Some pedophiles revealed that they gained access to children through their own families. Some discussed how they married to be close to the children from their wives’ previous marriages.

Using deception to gain access to children is a recurring theme. For example, on a site for adults attracted to boys, someone calling himself Vespucci asked in June whether a single man could become a foster father. The respondents cautioned Vespucci to disguise his pedophilia.

Pointers on ways to get close to children were frequent topics. One man posted an Internet “help wanted” advertisement from a single mother seeking an overnight baby sitter for her 4-year-old daughter.

Their self-justifications are just as disturbing. The internet groups help not only in identifying opportunities but also in suppressing feelings of guilt and remorse.
Pedophiles see themselves as part of a social movement to gain acceptance of their attractions. The effort has a number of tenets: that pedophiles are beneficial to minors, that children are psychologically capable of consenting and that therapists manipulate the young into believing they are harmed by such encounters.
Pedophilia is obviously a serious dysfunction. While it is incredibly politically incorrect to associate it with homosexuality, both involve the focusing of sexual desire towards biologically barren targets. In neither case does it seem likely that a gene for such behavior is likely to have evolved never mind maintain itself in noticable numbers. (While pedophiles can and sometimes do have children - whom they may then abuse - they obviously are not as prolific as the general population). But perhaps pedophiles are rare enough (<1 in 10,000) that a 'pedophilia' gene might be the cause. That these people seem to not understand how bizarrely abnormal their desires are argues that the problem is organic and not some acquired psychological quirk. If a microbe can relieve a rat of its fear of cats - indeed, even build an attraction - then I don't think screwing up someone's sexual-desire wiring seems too far-fetched.

But whether it's a pedophilia gene or germ (apologies to Greg Cochran), this sure seems like something worth investigating with some serious intent to find a cure or vaccine (if pathogenic or effective genetic screening if not). However rare they may be, pedophiles can do a lot of damage - look at the carnage Joseph Duncan managed to perpetrate just by himself. Harsher and harsher prison terms may or may not deter acts of molestation and probably make us feel better, but they undoubtedly encourage murder by raising the stakes of getting caught so high. (Castration would probably work but I'm thinking we might want something a little less barbaric.) Funding this kind of research seems more important t our society - and a lot more likely to succeed - than, say, establishing Jeffersonian democracy in a fractured, medieval, tribal Islamic populace. Would 1/1000th of annual Iraq expenditures be too much to ask?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice piece Ziel. I had read the same Times article and was somewhat shocked as well at this whole networking business with this abhorrent (to put it mildly) behavior. I think time and research will help us find the reasons for the behavior. For the moment, let´s just say that in the case of homosexuality,at least one has the consent of two or more adults. With pedophilia that is certainly not the case. Shining light on this issue will continue to show it for the sickness that it is. As I tell other people in the recovery community over here, "in Jersey, we like to say that denial is not just a river in Egypt."

August 22, 2006 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually found it unsurprising. Other stigmatized groups, like S/M enthusiasts, gays and even nerds construct online communities where they feel more comfortable and find valiation of their unusual preferences. Why not pedophiles?

Because pedophilia is awful and abhorrent, you say. I'm not disagreeing that it is--children can't give consent and can be horribly scarred--but the pedophiles obviously don't see it that way, and naturally seek out each other's company.

August 22, 2006 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The most frequent job mentioned, however, was schoolteacher. A number of self-described teachers shared detailed observations about children in their classes, including events they considered sexual, like a second-grade boy holding his crotch during class."

You know who you have to sympathize with? The vast majority of male elementary school teachers who aren't perverts.

All of these news media accounts of pedophile elementary school teachers must be making alot of people -especially the mothers of elementary school kids - suspicious, wondering if all males in that line of work aren't pervs.

Its too bad, because alot of non-pederast adult males have chosen to go into elementary school education because A)with so many little boys growing up in environments where they never see adult males these days, at school is the only time they ever see one, and B)as there are so few professional jobs being created these days, and with women being so aggressively drawn into traditional male fields, alot of young men go into elementary school teaching because they figure its their best bet at finding gainful employment.

August 22, 2006 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The net is a great place for people with unusual mindsets to get together. Sometimes that's rather OK: for example, atlatl enthusiasts. But it's even better for crazy people - you know, crush freaks, proud anorexics, ITAG (who want National Health to pay for drilling holes in their heads), those who want to unleash the amputee within - and, not least, those who think Iran is the major strategic threat facing the West.

August 23, 2006 2:30 AM  
Blogger agnostic said...

I think pedophilia's rare enough not to immediately come under the spotlight of being pathogenic. But I know which paraphilia would be infectious, if any are -- coprophilia.

September 02, 2006 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pedophiles' reasoning is pathetic and their actions are vile and extremely harmful -- but a lot of the anti-pedophile zealots are even worse!

Male teachers in public schools are an endangered species because of the risk of being falsely accused, and there are countless people who are perfectly willing to both lie and enable liars in order to secure false convictions and favorable judgments. This issue is ripping our society apart.

It would be AWESOME if scientists could "cure" this issue.

August 25, 2009 1:43 PM  

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