JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON THE TERRIBLE CONUNDRUM OF PEDOPHILES – DIFFERENCES IN MODERN SOCIETY FROM EARLIER – RULE OF LAW VERSUS MIGHT MAKES RIGHT – WHY SOCIETY CANNOT TOLERATE SOME MINORITIES’ INTERESTS –   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE ABOUT AN ARTICLE IN SALON

I agree that likely the same proportion of people abuse children as ever. It is probably fair to say that any large human population has a similar distribution of “outliers” in the many functions of the brain.

But society has changed its views on what constitutes proper care of children and what constitutes abuse, and rightly so in the view of most people. There are historical examples of pedophiles being tolerated to varying degrees. Thomas Jefferson began sleeping with his slave, Sally Hemmings, when she was thirteen. Robert Hooke, eminent 17th century scientist, had a long sexual relationship with his young niece.

But those kinds of examples cannot be cited as an argument for tolerating pedophilia in a modern society any more than other once-tolerated practices such forced marriage or bride burning or honor killings or droit du seigneur or still a hundred other ancient practices which reflect only the principle of might makes right. Might does not make right when you establish a true society of laws.

We have the rule of law now, and we don’t tolerate, for example, the marriage of 12-year old girls to men, even though the practice continues in several of the world’s dark corners and was once a part of aristocratic European culture.

I do think pedophiles may be characterized as just one of many of Nature’s unfortunate “freaks.” They occur naturally, likely with a certain frequency, but most of society cannot accept them because parents feel keenly the need to protect their children from predators of all types, and the laws of a modern society always reflect the needs of its basic unit, families, and I include families of all descriptions.

The human brain is almost infinitely complex, and it is the seat of sexual desire and imaginings. We know well in the case of other organs, as say with the heart or lungs, how many natural faults and glitches there can be. The brain’s very complexity makes it subject to an amazing variety of irregularities. All of our mental illnesses, I believe, can be ascribed to the huge number of irregularities, and repeated patterns of groups of irregularities (syndromes), which emerge regularly in the brain, the most complex of organs.

And I don’t see it as being any different with conditions like pedophilia or sadism or psychopathy. I’m not calling pedophilia a mental illness, there is nothing useful in saying so, but I am saying it is just one of many unhappy and naturally-occurring conditions which arise regularly yet cannot be accommodated by modern society.

It all makes an irreconcilable problem in terms of a minority versus the large majority’s vital interests, but I do think it essential for our laws and practices always to protect children’s interests first.

Pedophiles in modern society then are automatically condemned to unhappy, constrained lives, but this reality is no different from other such natural but unhappy situations which occur regularly.

Psychopaths, too, occur with a certain frequency in any population, but we can hardly be expected to tolerate what they feel the strong impulse to do. Then again, sadists are a natural phenomenon, but we cannot, as a society, accept people’s enjoying hurting others. And some men seem to be born with rape fantasies, again likely a natural phenomenon that we simply cannot knowingly tolerate.

The truth is, modern society has some inherent limits on the freedom of certain kinds of individuals, and I cannot see how that can be otherwise.

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