May 16, 2002


PRO-PEDOPHILIA PIM: Rod Dreher says he certainly would not have voted for Fortuyn (were he Dutch), as he'd said he would in his election analysis, if he'd known of Fortuyn's "pro-pederasty views" reported here. In my tradition of delving intellectually into the unthinkable and disgusting, I'll actually examine what Fortuyn said. I think what he missed is that society's disgust with pedophilia, far from being just another sexual more, serves a fundamentally rational purpose.

Fortuyn wrote that "paedophilia is just like hetero and homosexuality. It is something that is in the genes. There is little if anything that you can do about it or against it. You are who you are… sooner or later the proclivity makes its irresistible appearance. It is not any more curable than hetero or homosexuality." This may not be an unreasonable assertion (that pedophilia may be uncurable does not imply that it must be tolerated). Here comes the odd bit:

After the invention of the Pill came sexual liberation. Gay sex became accepted, and why then should paedo sex not be allowed – under the strict condition that the child is willing and that there is no coercion?
The answer, of course, is that the child is not considered competent to consent to something he or she probably doesn't even understand. Fortuyn had sexual encounters with men as a small child and felt he wasn't hurt (which is why he held these views), but not every child would react the same way to his experiences. Though it is true that the trauma from pedophilia often comes more from adults' horrified reactions than from the incident itself, many adults, looking back on childhood encounters like those Fortuyn described, would also feel traumatized in retrospect after being conditioned against adult-child sexuality.

Society builds in this conditioning for a very good reason. Over thousands of years, the family unit has emerged as the most efficient format both for consummation of sexuality and propogation of children. Recently, as population growth has reached a plateau in the developed world and the nature of marriage has changed for better or for worse, variations have emerged-- childless couples both gay and straight for sexual fulfillment and companionship, and single parents or same-sex couples for raising children (not to mention polyamorous groups). But an adult-child relationship can never be a viable unit for stable companionship and/or sexual fullfillment. Serial monogamy or even serial polyamory is leading, if by trial and error, toward something stable, but because children are becoming different people, so to speak, at a faster rate than adults, they can never be a stable member of a couple or group. The physical ability to bear children is almost beside the point-- psychological development has to be mostly complete for a person to be part of any stable sexual unit, whether for companionship or child-rearing.

It is true that adults can have flings not meant to lead to anything more substantial, but because the coupling or grouping is a facsimile of a viable unit, it can be accepted as an outlet for sexual fulfillment. But a fleeting sexual encounter with a child resembles nothing viable at all. Society finds it revolting because it has no place-- it can have no place-- in society. A child might be more likely to survive a sexual encounter unscathed if society did not project its revulsion, but for all practical purposes this is impossible; society will be perpetually disgusted. Unlike gay sex, this is not something that can be subject to any cultural evolution-- the gay man can become part of a stable unit, but the child cannot because a child is not a stable person. A society that accepts sex with children is irrevocably depraved because it has accepted something fundamentally different from any other sexual permutation; the fundamental difference is instability, and one suspects that a society that cannot organize itself into stable units cannot, ultimately, be a stable society.

(This is one of the few times you will see me make a communitarian argument, but I think this one is very strong.)

Posted by John Tabin at May 16, 2002 05:54 PM