‘Virtue is its own reward’. This saying’s homespun simplicity tries to persuade us of something that deep down we know not to be true. We know that the real rewards of being virtuous are approval, acceptance and respect.

Virtuous Pedophiles‘ is an Internet-based mutual support group founded in June 2012 by Ethan Edwards and Nick Devin. They emerged from B4UACT – a pioneering paedophile support organisation established in 2003.

The goals of Virtuous Pedophiles, as stated on their website’s home page, are:

“[..] to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles do not molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help pedophiles lead happy, productive lives. Our highest priority is to help pedophiles never abuse children.”

Virtuous Pedophiles share many of the perspectives and beliefs of B4UACT. However:

“B4UACT officially makes a point of not saying that adult-child sexual activity is wrong aside from the need to obey laws. At the time (2011), its public actions and the discussion forum both favored the view that adult-child sexual activity was fundamentally OK if only societal attitudes would change. We felt the need for a separate group grounded in the fundamental belief that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong.” (see under ‘Q15 – Our history’)

Virtuous Pedophiles have had some significant success in getting their message heard in the anglosphere media. Channel 4 last November broadcast a humane and compassionate documentary called ‘The Paedophile Next Door‘. More recently, the Virtuous Pedophile, Todd Nickerson, has published two articles in Salon, and has given a lengthy interview on Irish Talk Radio, in which he articulately and intelligently presented a view of paedophilia few of the readers or listeners were likely to have encountered before.

But ‘He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon’; and whilst Virped has undoubtedly had some success in making inroads into the impervious and adamantine-hard carapace of public ignorance and hatred that surrounds paedophilia, I believe it has only been able so at considerable intellectual and emotional cost.

Virtue and Ethics

It is maybe a bit unfair to dwell on the name ‘Virtuous Pedophiles’. Ethan Edwards himself admits that he and Nick Devin, “found it hard to pick a name for this group that did everything [they] wanted’. But their name does provide a useful prism through which to consider the philosophy, actions and impact of Virtuous Pedophiles.

Ethics, Morality and Virtue are three concepts which represent the stages leading to right action:

  • Ethics – the philosophical examination of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad behavior
  • Morality – the function of applying ethical principles (you don’t have ‘ethical’ behaviour, you have ‘moral’ behaviour)
  • Virtue – behaviour guided by high moral standards

Ethics can exist without Virtue: a discussion of an abstract problem, such as the Trolley Problem, does not result in Virtue unless the participants in the discussion are in a situation where they can act on the moral decisions elucidated by such a discussion.

Virtue can also exist without Ethics: someone who refuses to kill because doing so violates the Golden Rule is acting ethically, whilst someone who refuses to kill simply because society, a god or some other authority tells him not to is not acting ethically since ‘obedience’ is a renunciation of one’s capacity to make ethical calculations. Both these people can act ‘Virtuously’, having each come by very different routes to the same moral conclusion e.g. that it is wrong to kill. Only one however, is acting ‘ethically’.

This difference is an important one – the route by which one arrives at one’s moral decisions often has very significant repercussions.

The Moral Position of Virtuous Pedophiles

Virtuous Paedophiles divide paedophiles into two camps:

“Pro-contact: Philosophy among some pedophiles that children are perfectly capable of consenting to sexual relationships with adults and thus consensual adult-child sex is fundamentally OK.”

“Anti-contact: Philosophy among some pedophiles that children are not mature enough to give meaningful consent to sexual relationships with adults and thus all adult-child sex is fundamentally immoral, whether there is perceived consent or not. The Virtuous Pedophiles community was founded based on this philosophy.”  (from their Glossary of Terms)

This creates a dichotomy in which they allocate to those whom they disagree with an extreme and untenable position. In truth the great majority of so-called ‘pro-contact’ paedophiles (a better name for this position is ‘Pro-Choice’) would be as adamant as any Virtuous Pedophile regarding the necessity of refraining from acting on their desires. This is not because of a belief in some vague, but eternal and ineluctable, mechanism of harm intrinsic to any sensual contact between a child and an adult, but rather out of an awareness that no matter how equable, trusting and caring the relationship, or how consensual and child-led any intimacy, one should not risk exposing a child to society’s most intense and damaging form of stigma.

On the question of sensual interactions between children and adults there is little or no difference between the ‘anti-contact’ position and the mandatory position of Society. This could be a coincidence: Virpeds may have arrived at this conclusion through evidence-based reasoning, debate, questioning and the acceptance of doubt. Or they may have adopted the default position of society in an act of faith akin to that of the religious person who refuses to kill out of obedience to a god.

Show your working out!

There are two characteristics that distinguish morality arrived at through reflection and morality arrived at through obedience to authority.

To arrive at morality using ethics involves considering the many sides of a question, it involves doubt (after all what’s the point on embarking on ethical reflection if you are already certain of your conclusions?), it involves imagining your way into the minds of those you disagree with and trying to understand why they believe what they believe, it involves considering situations and contingencies which are not clear cut.

Morals reached through ethical reflection involve a lot of ‘working out’, are complex, contingent, and usually require a long essay or book to explain adequately. They are made up of shades of grey.

Morals obtained from authority are definitive and can be stated briefly. They rarely acknowledge nuances, doubts, context and exceptions. They also transfer authority to those who repeat them. Think of the ten commandments. They are ‘black and white’.

Of course a glossary is not a book-length analysis –  so to accuse the above-quoted statements of Virped’s morality of deriving from ‘authority’, on the basis of their brevity and clear-cut nature, would be unfair.

So is there any evidence on their site and forum as to how this moral position was arrived at? Is there any evidence that they’ve noted and addressed any weaknesses in their stance, that they’ve acknowledged counter-arguments? The following, from Virpeds’ rules, definitively answers these questions:

“All the discussion in the group takes as its premise that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong. The idea that it is only the legal system and misguided attitudes of society that keep adult-child sex from being a good thing is not welcome here. Detailed discussion of why such activity is wrong is not allowed either. It’s fine to do that in other forums, but not here. It reopens the question for members who don’t want to do that.” (from INTRODUCTION and RULES, RULES, RULES)

This blanket refusal to engage with challenging ideas should be balanced against the necessity for such a site and forum to state, establish and police its core philosophy and principals. I participate of several paedophile forums that will have no truck with non-consensual interactions with children. I am sure that any sadistically-inclined paedophile may feel this unfairly excludes them and that such a position is casually dismissive of arguments they might put forwards to support their desires.

So why do I feel comfortable with the policy of some sites which don’t allow the defense of paedo-sadism but not with virped’s blanket ban on the consideration of so-called ‘pro-contact’ ideas?

I think it’s because, for Virpeds, the distinction between pro- and anti- contact is not a peripheral issue but a core issue. They state this as the difference which caused them to secede from B4UACT (see quote above): it defines their existence, their membership, and is a determining factor in how they present themselves to, and access, the media and the public.

This suppression of any arguments which throw into question the philosophy upon which Virpeds are based resembles that of cults and dark-age religions which, through forbidding access to inconvenient narratives or labeling such narratives as beyond the pale, preemptively immunize their membership against adverse influences, ensuring that ‘once you’re in there’s no easy way out’.

On a more subjective and personal level I certainly have the impression that on Twitter, and other such sites, Virtuous Pedophiles have a dismissive and censorious attitude towards anyone whom they perceive as having ‘pro-contact’ ideas. If one doesn’t find oneself blocked or un-followed for expressing ‘pro-choice’ ideas, they have often seemed to think that they can shut down discussions with statements such as “Children cannot consent. End of. Move on”.

“Children cannot consent. End of.”

I don’t intend to write a detailed criticism of Virpeds’ stance here as that would take up a whole essay in itself – but I would want to draw attention to how their stance can only be maintained by ignoring or discounting crucial evidence and ideas.

Virtuous Pedophiles, like the uninformed public, believe that 21st Century WEIRD societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) give the impression of believing that they have hit upon an unquestionable and evident truth; a truth that has eluded many other cultures (including most of the west itself in earlier historical periods) for possibly hundreds of thousands of years: that, regardless of contextual factors such as stigma and illegality, and regardless of the quality of the relationship and interaction involved, any sensual or sexual intimacy between a ‘child’ and an ‘adult’ is intrinsically harmful to the child.

Clearly there are major problems with this position. Can Virped offer any proof or indication that the youthful sexual activity common in societies such as the Lepcha, the Marquesans or various Inuit tribes was harmful? (Indeed it’s my impression, from a non-systematic perusal of the ‘Growing Up Sexually Archive‘, that those societies most permissive of child sexuality  are generally the least war-like, least rapacious and are most often described in idyllic terms.) Indeed a site search for either ‘Growing up Sexually’ or its prime author’s name, Magnus Hirschfeld, brings up no results. It seems that they are not interested in thinking about the issues outside of the confines of 21st Century WEIRD society.

Whilst Bruce Rind fares better (with 17 topics in which his name is mentioned) there is little evidence on the site or forum that they have taken into account the potentially game-changing research of Susan Clancy (as outlined in her book The Trauma Myth). A search of the Virped forum brings Clancy’s name in only one topic (there are more topics for the writer Tom Clancy!) and here a discussion is preemptively quenched out of respect for the above-quoted rule forbidding any discussion which doesn’t take “as its premise that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong”:

 A: “I know this goes against the thesis, but… I was a “victim” of non violent sexual abuse. I didn’t ever fear him and I loved him. I sorta liked it even. As an adult, instill love him. I remember the past with a fondness. He and I chat on Facebook often. I don’t blame or hate him. I don’t have trust issues and i don’t feel betrayed. Oh I didn’t mention I was 7 at the time. Idk if thats important or not to the discussion.”

B: “I don’t want to turn my review in a discussion, cause it could easily turn into a discussion about arguments on adult-child-sex, which is against the rule in this forum […]”

A: “I can see your point about not turning it in to a discussion..my apologies.”

(part 2 can be found here)

14 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Virtuous – Part 1

  1. First of all, I’d like to point out that I am able to quote the following from the linked description of the sexual side of Lepcha childhood:
    – “The majority of women, however, depend on the intervention of a man; the physical signs will start whenever a girl experiences copulation, and there is therefore no stigma attached to grown men forcing little girls of nine or ten, and this occurs occasionally”
    Here, the word ‘forcing’ is what catches my eyes. Going on to the description of the Marquesans:
    – “Marchand (1797:p109)[1] noted eight-year-old girls indulging in public intercourse and other unnatural acts. (One girl was held by four old women when she would not submit.)”
    I’m not trying to refute your overall point, but found it noteworthy especially given your comment on how such societies seem idyllic.

    On the matter of the Virtuous Pedophiles, I get how there’s a use for a place for people who don’t want to contemplate such a controversial question, to gather. I get how a lot of people associate the pro-choice/pro-contact stance with something they don’t want be a part of, whether they associate it with sinisterness or perversion or something less grave, even if they themselves are paedophiles. I think it’s good that there’s a place for them (among others), and I don’t know that it would be beneficial for anyone if they had to deal with that.

    The question of whether childhood sexual experiences is inherently, intrinsically harmful, is one where the ‘no’ answer can be seductive to a bold mind that is prone to radical non-conforming opinions. The taboo can fuel that seduction, and for some people who have just started thinking about it, excitement and a lack of prior serious considerations of the ‘no’ possibilities may cause thinking that is confused or lacking in nuance in the beginning. Therefore there may be some people discussing the issue that come across like evangelical vegetarians, to some degree. At VirPed, I take it that that is avoided.

    The kind of meeting places where debate of the question isn’t quenched, where pro-choice or childhood-sexual-experience-positive (like sex-positive) are heard, yet where non-consensual activities seen as bad, are important, I think. For people who have had the type of epiphany that I attempted to describe above, I think it’s more likely that they’ll heed that which they hear from “sexual stuff may be good, but don’t do it in this society”-people, than that which comes from the “it is wrong, end of discussion”-crowd.
    Whether they would otherwise have gone on to dabble in sadistic sex, if they didn’t have something that lies between* “it is wrong” and stuff that disregards consent and may go to despicable extremes, I don’t know. But as I said, I think it’s important.

    *: Between might be a bad word to use here, since I’m not sure it makes sense to think of a straight line going from “it is wrong” to sadistic sexual abuse with respect for sexual love with consent on the middle bit of the line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment SierraWhiskey.

      Re the quotations regarding the Lepcha and the Marquesans.

      The data and observations regarding the Lepcha were collected by Geoffrey Gorer into a book ‘HIMALAYAN VILLAGE – an account of The Lepchas of Sikkim‘ published, I think, in or before 1938.

      Yes, Gorer does say that a man “forcing” himself on a girl of nine or ten “occurs occasionally”.

      The phrase is ambiguous: what is it that ‘occurs occasionally’? The ‘forcing’ of intercourse? or the intercourse itself?

      Another question that arises (and to which I don’t have a ready answer) is to what extent is Gorer, as a English-educated Edwardian with (presumably) English Edwardian attitudes to sex, is not interpreting all such contact between a man and a child as ‘forcing’?

      Lastly it seems that the forcing may have been a result of the Lepcha belief that puberty could only occur after copulation. Could his observation be of a ‘medical’ intervention that has to happen when a child approaching puberty has not yet engaged in copulation? That she would be ‘forced’ for medical and developmental reasons, in order to induce puberty, rather than for sexual reasons?

      Such forcing is common in all cultures – in the West in the form of braces for teeth, eye-patches for lazy eyes, drugs to treat growth problems, and, yes, going to school – all of which can be severely unpleasant for the child but which are, when taken within the context of the culture’s belief systems, quite rational responses to perceived problems.

      If we go further back into our history – especially before the discovery of anaesthetics – children were routinely ‘forced’ into quite horrific discomfort, distress and pain for their own good. And, of course, in some western countries it is still the norm to cut off parts of a boy’s penis, often without anaesthetic.

      Of course we think differently – the onset of puberty is not hampered by virginity. But I suspect that it would be wrong to assume that the forcing observed by Gorer had the same cultural meaning for the Lepcha as child rape does to us in our own culture. By the same token a culture that allows its children great freedom could look at ours and conclude that the West imprisons its children between the ages of 4 and 16.

      As to the Marquesan “One girl was held by four old women when she would not submit” – it is not clear (unlike with the Lepcha quote above) whether this is something that was approved of or tolerated by the Marquesans, or whether he was reporting something that would have been considered criminal or vicious behaviour by fellow Marquesans – I suspect that the simple fact he reported this as an incident rather than a pattern of behaviour or custom suggests that it was something that was notable by its enormity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t see what the basis is for speculating that Gorer is misinterpreting all intergenerational sexual contact as acts of force. Unless there is reason to think otherwise, I think it should be assumed that Gorer is reporting things accurately.
        Regarding what it is that happens occasionally, it leans heavily towards the interpretation that a forcible act occurs occasionally, for me.

        To think of a forcible sexual act as carried out as a necessary medical intervention is difficult to relate to, and it’s hard to know whether the Lepcha have the same mindset as a Westerner giving a child a vaccine. There are different kinds of coercion, and I don’t know if the Lepcha case is one of physical force, though I don’t normally think of braces or vaccines being carried out by way of physical force.

        Sometimes it can epiphanous and enlightening to read about foreign cultures, and sometimes you want to stick to your own principles when judging the behaviour of such societies. Some of the stuff in the anthropological descriptions you linked to that doesn’t sound forcible falls into the former category, the forcible stuff into the latter. Another example of the latter can be found by searching for ‘himba unwanted marriage’ on youtube.com.

        One could also just hope that the forcible acts are not the norm, and that it’s a matter of there being both good and bad in every society, though the distribution may vary (from what I hear, I’d rather be a woman in Sweden than in India). Another example is the description of the Pirahã people in the Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes, which tells of both a sensual relationship between a man a 9-10 year old girl and mention (with regrettable brevity) the occurrence of gang rape.

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        1. I was imagining how an anthropologist from the Lepcha a century or so ago might report on child sexuality in the US or UK today…

          “The USA has draconian laws against any sensual intimacy between adults and children, believe that children are not sexual, and suppress through both the legal system and cultural censure all evidence and manifestations of child sexuality. Occurrences of the rape of children are frequently reported in their news media…”

          >”I can’t see what the basis is for speculating that Gorer is misinterpreting all intergenerational sexual contact as acts of force.”

          Yes, it’s a bit of a habit with me…I was just listing those areas of uncertainty: anthropology, especially the anecdotal etic type of anthropology, can be a confused mine-field where the odd and unusual is reported because it is noticeable and interesting, and where the observer’s culture and preconceptions determine what is observed. That’s why with statements such as Gorer’s it’s useful to state explicitly those linguistic ambiguities that could hurry us into false conclusions as to what he was actually observing (… I did a lot of anthropology as part of my degree…)

          On forcible sex acts – in my own childhood I was once or twice held down struggling by an adult trying to force something into my anus. It was my grandma inserting a suppository to treat a bout of chronic constipation. Such an act – if the observer didn’t have the necessary information or a perception of the motivation, could be mistaken for a sexual assault.

          >”Sometimes it can epiphanous and enlightening to read about foreign cultures, and sometimes you want to stick to your own principles when judging the behaviour of such societies.”

          I think it’s always enlightening to look at other cultures – especially regarding our own culturally entrenched beliefs. But when looking at other very different cultures one mustn’t be tempted into a polarised position: one needs to steer a course between relativism and cultural absolutism, between ‘everything is excusable if you know the causes sufficiently well’ and ‘the culture I happen to be born into has got everything right’. One can learn from different cultures, use them as data, without taking on those cultures wholesale, warts and all.

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    2. Just got round to addressing the second part of your comment, SW…

      >”On the matter of the Virtuous Pedophiles, I get how there’s a use for a place for people who don’t want to contemplate such a controversial question…”

      I know where you’re coming from, SW, and I hope that my essay, despite it being critical of VPs, doesn’t come across as wholly negative. I think what really bothers me about VPs is that they are not engaged in a quest for Truth but a quest for Acceptance, but I can acknowledge that they probably do a lot more good than harm, and maybe reading from the script of Society is the only way to get a bit of truth about paedophilia into the public domain.

      We can think of VPs in relation to the phenomenon of the ‘Overton’ Window (that an idea’s viability depends mainly on where it falls within a scale of public acceptability: Policy – Popular – Sensible – Acceptable – Radical – Unthinkable). Paedophilia is at the ‘unthinkable’ end – but VPs seem to be steering it towards ‘Radical’ in that it has become acceptable for some non-paedophiles to openly express sympathy or pity for the ‘condition’ of paedophiles – I’m thinking of the responses to Todd Nickerson’s Salon articles and “the paedophile next door”. Indeed I know some non-paedophiles who are supportive of us – but they wouldn’t express that opinion publicly.

      >”Whether they would otherwise have gone on to dabble in sadistic sex, if they didn’t have something that lies between* “it is wrong” and stuff that disregards consent and may go to despicable extremes, I don’t know. But as I said, I think it’s important.”

      I think there is a problem for paedophiles in our society (which I touch on in the second part of this essay), especially young paedophiles who are forming their identity. Undoubtedly love and sex are culturally mediated phenomena – the way we meet, fall in love, seduce and act out our desires are all cultural acts. Heterosexual teleiophiles exist in a culture dense with information, examples and role models which teach us how to be ‘good’ lovers; homosexuals recently too, plus they have long had an underground culture which socialised young homosexuals in what it meant to be a valued member of the homosexual community.

      Paedophiles certainly DON’T have any easily available cultural models of what it is to be a ‘good’ paedophile – the only role models available are the monsters and murderers largely invented and fed to us by the media – though an occasional documentary on Lewis Carroll allows a hint to seep through that a paedo can be a warm, talented, interesting and moral person who loves children.

      So I fear that young paedos who are constructing an identity for themselves end up building that identity from the predominant ‘libidinous monster’ model of what it is to be a paedophile – I think we see a result of this in some of the nasty comments one reads below youtube videos with attractive children in them and the (apparent) popularity of ‘hurtcore’ on the darknet.

      I know one or two of the MOAR-crowd who became members on paedo fora and seen them going from being a bit obnoxious to becoming thoughful, ethical-thinking paedophiles – because they were in a context where the monster archetype was no longer accepted and different ideas of the ‘paedophile’ were being modelled.

      I suspect there IS a continuum between ““it is wrong” to sadistic sexual abuse with respect for sexual love with consent on the middle bit of the line” – though I doubt that the whole continuum is present as a possibility in every paedo, or even most paedos – the same continuum exists for teleiophiles – with puritanical and sex-hating ideas at one end and sadists and sex killers at the other. Society is pretty good at ensuring the huge majority of teleios occupy the acceptable middle ground – however that same society fails hopelessly (let’s be honest – it’s not even trying) at helping construct the idea of the ‘ethical-living paedophile’.

      That’s why, for all my criticism, I can’t condemn VPs – they offer a clear model of what it is to be a ‘good’ paedophile in contemporary western society – a model a hell of a lot better than the Monster.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find myself agreeing with the stance this blog post adopts. I have worked as a family therapist, second my career has included a time where I trained and worked as a religious leader – a Catholic priest. Finally my personal commitment has been shaped by an academic career – in addition to my theological training I have invested time and work inside academic communities and studies – sociology, philosophy, culture studies, and language aquavit ion. In all this I find diverse examples where notions like wisdom, knowledge, emancipation, tolerance, and others guide me to define what seems dangerous and what seems safe.

    I am aware the pedophile and the sex abuser are the profiles that many see as the source of danger and fear. My position is that currently, inside western Anglophile cultures in particulate, danger and fear seems most clearly demonstrated by society’s social stigma and I’ll-will directed at the pedophile.

    I think it unwise and illusory to frame things simply in terms of sexual contact between the young and the old verses compulsory celibacy for a group of adults whose sexuality is positioned as problematic.

    Oscar Wilde expressed a dislike of the morally righteous in his day, I find myself having a similar attitude of caution, even distrust, when looking at a group like the virtuous pedophile lobby.

    I see the texts found in literature, psychotherapy, religions of many varieties, likewise diverse philosophies, all support a belief our real danger is our capacity for self destruction that envelops our neighbour.

    I am glad this topic is alive and not dead because it is ‘wrong.’

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  3. “Societies such as the Lepcha, the Marquesans or various Inuit tribes … it’s my impression… that those societies most permissive of child sexuality are generally the least war-like, least rapacious and are most often described in idyllic terms.”

    We might add peace-loving bonobos to that list, where sexual activity with everyone plays a major role in their lives, including intergenerational sex and communal sex. And then we have the aggressive chimpanzee typically resorting to violent, often fatal, confrontation, whenever the community encounter an outsider chimpanzee. Sound familiar? The parallel between: the nuclear family within WEIRD puritanical societies where kids are denied access to everything sexual and where aggression and confrontation is the norm, and chimpanzees, is striking.

    I guess in my previous life I was a bonobo, capable of altruism, compassion, empathy, KINDness, patience, and sensitivity and, enjoying lots and lots of sex with everyone :o) Definitely a demotion in this life :o(

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    1. It is not necessarily a demotion.
      I believe humans can be divided into two major groups : aggressive and self-seeking, and gentle and co-operating. Most paedophiles fall within the latter category. That is why the term “Kinds” makes sense. Just like “Gays” does.
      The only way, I believe, society can be redeemed is if humans take on bonobo characteristics, and shun chimp-like behaviour.
      Hopefully, it is not too late for change.

      , it is not too late.

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  4. I always liked B4U-ACT, I read and downloaded a lot from their site. They devote themselves to removing stigma and have a non-judgmental position on the sexual and decision capacities of minors, or on what would be the ethics of intergenerational sex in a child-trusting sex-positive society; they just advise MAPs to avoid putting themselves and their junior partners into trouble by breaking the laws of the present society. That is a position that can unite people of various opinions in a common fight against hysteria and bigotry.
    I cannot say the same of VP. First they blame B4U-ACT for not defending the VP principle that intergenerational sex will forever be unethical in whatever type of society. Next, I read on the site a statement by a founding member comparing his erotic attraction to diabetes (with a good treatment of either, you can lead a normal life). Thus I did not want to go further visiting the site. I also read in the mainstream press an article about VP members, they remind me of “alcoholics anonymous”, because they are mainly former CP addicts who are afraid of their own addiction.
    VP’s message to CP addicts is “deliver yourself to a psychotherapist”, and of course in the US the latter is bound to denounce you to the authorities, so cops and judges will intrude and control your life. The real solution to CP is not having shrinks, cops and judges taking over your life, but knowing real love (oceanic feeling), but the shrinks, cops and judges will not allow you to love whom you want, because they will scream “danger of molestation”.
    You will never improve society by grovelling in front of conservatives.
    NB. I don’t like the expression “pro/anti-contact”; first “Contact” is the title of a 1997 SF film with Jodie Foster, about contacting ETs; next “contact” means here only the skin and ignores the feelings; finally it omits the distinction between “mutually desired” and “imposed by force, deceit or authority”.

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  5. You nailed it. Ethan’s response is not surprising and he uses the usual arguments.

    The moral and ethics have a practical relevance. The discussion of that is the core of any support. If I know why a contact will harm the child, I will remember the reasons in certain situations and change my behavior. A dogmatic belief in morals obtained from authorities will not be as strong as an understanding.

    Sometimes, enlightenment is the antidote.

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    1. The sensible assumption is that different things work for different people. The criticism of this blog entry is that a fully examined understanding is best for EVERYONE — instead of letting people pick whichever path seems best for them. If VP members ask, “But I just need to know, WHY is it harmful?” we refer them to my blog, GirlChat/BoyChat, and research papers. We all agree that a sufficient reason to abstain is that likelihood of sociogenic harm. VP members tend to think there’s more than that going on.

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  6. I’m the above-referenced Ethan. The author (what name do you go by here?) graciously let me look at an advance copy of this and give feedback. He didn’t take much of it, but I presume that’s because of genuine differences of opinion.

    The discussion of virtue, ethics, and morality is sort of interesting but its practical relevance escapes me. To quote from the VP home page: “Virtuous doesn’t mean we think we’re better than the average person, just that we’re not worse.”

    There has been some confusion about terms, but VP and its key members understand that among “pro-contact” pedophiles are a great many who are committed to never acting sexually with a child as long as it is illegal — who are genuinely concerned about the adverse effect of a legal investigation on the child involved.

    Yes, the VP site’s positions are not the culmination of lengthy scholarly inquiry, though the blog author is aware of my own considerable thoughts on these issues (in celibatepedos.blogspot.com). But the complaint is that VP does does not allow debate on all these issues within its own walls. In contrast to cults, VP says it is fine to discuss these issues elsewhere and doesn’t discourage members from doing so while remaining in VP.

    Most people are not intellectuals, and they don’t hold their positions based on careful analysis. On this issue, we were all raised with the idea that adult-child sex is wrong. Many pedophiles accept this, and would not be caught dead in a group where people are taking seriously the idea that it would be just fine if only the laws would change and they should work to change them . There are plenty of other boards (including GirlChat and BoyChat) where people can go if they want to discuss those ideas. But even those who have thought about those issues may want to avoid such discussions. There is a seductive quality to those arguments. One analogy would be a support group for kleptomaniacs — those who feel a compulsion to steal. It’s reasonable in such a group to prohibit raising those rare cases where stealing might be justified. It’s reasonable to prohibit serving alcohol in meetings of recovering alcoholics.

    There are places to discuss the merits of the pro-contact position, and we are fine with people doing that. They just don’t do it inside of VP.

    Regarding the person who had childhood sexual experiences not regarded as abuse, note that we did not kick the person out, we did not delete the post, and we did not tell the person he was mistaken.

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    1. >” But even those who have thought about those issues may want to avoid such discussions. There is a seductive quality to those arguments. One analogy would be a support group for kleptomaniacs — those who feel a compulsion to steal. It’s reasonable in such a group to prohibit raising those rare cases where stealing might be justified. It’s reasonable to prohibit serving alcohol in meetings of recovering alcoholics.”

      Interesting image. To maybe over-extend the metaphor:

      If Virtuous Pedophiles are something like an AA meeting, with everyone desperately trying not to think about the absent bottle of booze they’re denying themselves, then ‘Ethical Paedophiles’ are more like a dinner party of friends amicably focused on discussing a variety of topics whilst partaking moderately and sensibly of a bottle of wine – and, yes, the circle of friends at the table would include children, contributing as equals to the ‘craic’.

      And, yes, also partaking in and enjoying the wine – in small, diluted, age-appropriate quantities of course – but learning about alcohol, its pleasures, its effects, its risk and its place in the community and society.

      And also learning that, though enjoyable, it’s not such a big deal as their friends from ‘don’t-drink-till-you’re-18’ families seem to make it out as being.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am glad that you make parallels between sexuality and alcoohol, as the policies of the USA in both respects are similarly absurd and counter-productive.
        I have studied the topic of drugs and addiction lately, in particular from the social psychologist Stanton Peele (see http://www.peele.net/lib/index.html). As he explained, addiction is not caused by the molecules that you ingest, since some people can be addicted to various things, such as love, while some other people can consume alcohol or cocaine without being addicted. The addiction is a problem in the mind and life of addicted people.
        In the USA, the drinking age law is black-and-white: below the age, you cannot drink a single drop of alcohol, even under parental supervision; past that age, you can drink as much as you want. That age was 18, and one saw many young people in the 18-21 age range practicing binge drinking, then provoking road accidents or violence. So they decided that 18 year-old is not mature enough, and they raised the drinking age to 21. Then one saw that same binge drinking problem, but now with people in the 21-24 age range. So today some people think about raising that age to 25… On the other hand, among observant Jews, children progressively learn to drink alcohol in a family or religious context, and they have very few alcoholics; among them, an alcoholic is someone escaping his adult responsabilities, who does not care for his family and community. Alcoholism is also rare among Chinese, who do not hesitate to mock their alcoholics. Among native populations crushed by European settlers (e.g. native Amerindians), alcohol was brought to them by these settlers, it is the symbol of their destitution, and alcoholism is rampant.
        Peele compared alcohol consumption between Mediterranean countries (France, Italy, Greece, …) and the USA or Nordic cultures. In Mediterranean countries, alcohol is part of the cultural and gastronomic heritage, it is consumed in a gastronomic and social context; on the other hand, in the USA and Nordic cultures, alcohol is a vice and sin of the individual. Now in Mediterranean countries people on average drink more alcohol than in the USA, but they have less problems with binge drinking and alcoholism.

        Liked by 2 people

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