I’ve noticed lately certain similarities in the ways paedophiles and Moslems are perceived in the popular imagination and portrayed in the media.
I’ve become particularly sensitive to this after having once or twice recently, when discussing the issue with non-paedophile friends, found myself acting in a manner resembling the stereotypical fanatic Moslem – troubling, if not actually ‘scaring’, my friends by the intensity of my convictions.
What I am about to write will be a ‘compare and contrast’ of certain media tropes concerning both groups and as such will be primarily concerned with ‘narrative’ rather than ‘facts’ or ‘truth’. I take what I know about the condition of paedophiles, relate it to how we are perceived, and compare this with what I perceive about the condition of Moslems.
There is an epistemological imbalance here – a lop-sided triangle of knowledge: I can correlate society’s narratives around paedophiles with my objective knowledge of being one, but I can’t do the same for Moslems – I can’t ‘square the triangle’. I am aware of how I perceive moslems (and am also aware of just how subjective and contingent my perceptions are), but I have little idea as to what really goes on in the minds of moslems.
Moreover any impressions I have are problematic because the word ‘moslem’ covers such a huge diversity of attitudes, cultures and beliefs and, because so much of the narrative about Moslems turns around notions of ‘deceit’ and ‘deception’ (as does, of course, the narrative around paedophiles).
I have had personal encounters and acquaintances with Moslems that have made an impression and given me pause to reflect on the nature of their religion and its relationship to my society. But nearly all of what I perceive about the more extreme aspects of being a Moslem (aspects which have become increasingly present in the public consciousness since the Rushdie Affair, 9/11 and the emergence of Daesh) comes from the media and is therefore, at best, second-hand.
Nor is my intention to criticise Islam or its believers, though the reader will have no difficulty in discerning my feelings: I find something profoundly alien in someone who believes that a woman is somehow worth less than a man; or who thinks homosexuality, adultery, listening to music, or drinking alcohol are more immoral than throwing innocent people off tall buildings for being homosexual, stoning women for having been raped, or abducting children and making sex slaves of them.
Granted, I have just characterised the Moslem mind using those traits popularly associated with it which are most extreme and which I find most puzzling and distressing.
I make no apology for this: whilst a geneticist might define a hyena by its DNA, a morphologist by the female’s outsized clitoris, and an ethologist by their complex social system – to its prey the only characteristics that matter are their sharp teeth, the strength of their jaws and the degree of their hunger.
Both have a sense of victimhood, whilst being perceived by the general population as victimizers.
In an era when the victim is king and people actively seek the power and status victimhood gives, it really sticks in my craw to identify myself (and, by extension, other paedophiles) as a ‘victim’. But if one defines a victim as someone subject to ‘systematic unfair treatment’ a glance at any news story dealing with average paedophiles (i.e. not genuine child rapists, traffickers &c) will confirm that, like it or not, we are ‘victims’.
Moslems’ bid for victimhood can best be seen in the concept of blasphemy (which makes a victim of their ‘god’), and the use of the term ‘islamophobia’ to automatically convert any criticism or ridicule of their ideology into something that feels like an attack on a person or community for some trait that they neither chose nor can change – something akin to ‘racism’.
Despite an incipient awareness of some of the injustice committed against paedophiles (see International Megan’s Law faces challenge, Free Range Kids), and some success on the part of Virtuous Pedophiles to redefine themselves as victims, the popular narrative still remorselessly characterises paedophiles as ‘victimizers’.
Likewise the actions of al-Qaeda, Daesh, Boko Haram et al against both the West and fellow Moslems, occidentophobia, antisemitism, the subjugation of women, and Islam’s imperialist agenda makes Moslems seem less victims and more victimizers.
Both feel they are wrongly represented in the media
Both paedophiles and moslems are most visible in the media through crimes and negative actions and both would claim that the media creates a false image of them by selecting only negative stories about them. This means that both tend to be characterised, in the public mind, by the worst that can be said or imagined of them.
The media reinforces the selection of negative stories about both groups by using words, photographs and stories that emphasise the deviance of the groups concerned and which give the story impact (think of how photo editors select the worst, creepiest, photos of paedophiles and, when there is some form of demonstration by Moslems, they choose photos in which the crowd looks most rabid).
The media tend to think and report using broad, vague categories, which simplify the creation of stories but which eliminate nuances: thus the term ‘paedophile’ comes to include, over-and-above paedophiles sensu stricto, child molesters, child rapist, hebephiles, anyone on a sex offender register, and normies who find someone noticeably younger than themselves attractive.
Likewise, but to a lesser extent the media and the popular narrative conflate ‘terrorist’, jihadist’ and ‘jihadi sympathiser’, and even labels such as ‘Moslem’, ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ are thrown into the mix.
Both paedophiles and Moslems perceive themselves as having little access to the media and as therefore having a reduced ability to counter the negative narrative promulgated against them. This, of course, is much more the case for paedophiles than for Moslems, and has very grave consequences – allowing positive feed-back loops of fabulation and hysteria to develop, unrestrained by reason or fact (e.g. Day-care sex-abuse hysteria).
Both are perceived as defending indefensible positions.
Surprisingly, this maybe applies more to Moslems, when they are thought to be defending Sharia law, child marriage, the idea of a world caliphate &c, than to paedophiles, who are not generally seen as defending a position, but just giving in to uncontrollable urges.
The notion that there exists a radical philosophy of paedophilia has not properly entered the public narrative, and few of the disinterested public who are aware that radical paedophilia exists will have much idea of what it consists of.
Needless to say the popular narrative round child sexuality and paedophilia is becoming increasingly monolithic and depleted of nuance – and anyone who deviates from this (by, for example, suggesting that intimacy with a 15-year-old experienced, proactive girl is not exactly the same thing as intimacy with a 5-year-old) will be seen as defending the indefensible.
Both, when they repudiate and condemn the worst actions of their ‘own’, are not believed by the general public
This is because both are, to different extents, perceived as being intrinsically dishonest.
Paedophiles are primarily perceived as being dishonest because, in western societies, they can only establish and maintain relationships with children through deception. The popular narrative does not acknowledge the distinction between ‘deceiving the loved child’ (something many paedophiles would consider very wrong) and ‘deceiving those outside the relationship that would want to destroy it’.
The popular narrative is informed by the idea of the paedophile luring children away by inviting them to ‘see some puppies’, telling the child that their intimacy is ‘our little secret’ or, with very young children, teaching them ‘decoy words’ for erogenous zones and sexual acts. Some ‘guides for paedophiles’ available on the darknet do a great deal to reinforce this narrative.
Islam explicitly allows dishonesty in the forms of ‘taqiyya’ and ‘kittman’.
‘the art of making ambiguous statements, paying lip-service to authority while reserving personal opposition, in a kind of political camouflage or reservatio mentalis.’
‘a form of Islamic dissimulation or a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts’.
An example of Kittman is when Moslems talk about Islam as ‘a religion of peace’, when what they are perceived to mean is that ‘Islam brings perfect peace, but only once Islam has conquered the whole world. Till then the world will know no peace’.
Paedophiles often find themselves obliged to do both of the above. One has to keep secret the fact that one is a paedophile and it is rare that one can be open and honest when questioned.
Likewise I am aware of often having to equivocate (making use of ambiguities in a word’s definition in order to deceive the listener). If someone asks me what I think about child abuse, I’ll truthfully reply that I think it a very terrible thing.
But in so answering I am knowingly not adopting the definition of ‘child abuse’ that the questioner is using. By ‘child abuse’ they mean ‘any sensual interaction between an adult and a child’. Whereas my definition of child abuse would include ‘the mental, emotional or physical mistreatment of a child, as well as any manipulative or non-consensual sex’. My definition of ‘abuse’ doesn’t include consensual, caring physical intimacy. Obviously.
Even when condemning the ‘worst’ of their community, both are suspected of harbouring secret sympathies with them.
Paedophiles and their deeds are invariably portrayed negatively in the media. The media will explicitly acknowledge nothing that is caring and consensual in a relationship between a paedophile and a child, but will re-frame it to fit the one permissible narrative allowed for such stories. Knowing this, I not only suspend my judgment on the adult in such cases, but have a reflex sympathy for him – in doing so I’m already granting the ‘paedo’ more sympathy than would be generally acceptable.
If his only ‘crime’ is that of possession of child pornography then he has my entire sympathy.
If he had some sort of intimacy with a child and I suspect that it was a good, consensual relationship – again, the paedo has all my sympathy (‘cracks’, through which the ‘truth’ can be glimpsed, can appear in stories forced to conform to a false narrative – such as when the child continues to seek the adult out once the intimacy has begun).
However there are those cases where I would genuinely condemn the adult protagonist – such as adults who used their power and authority to manipulate or force children into intimacy.
But even whilst I genuinely condemn the actions of such people, a part of me is also aware of what it is to be lonely, possessed by love and desire, and be tempted. And whilst acknowledging the wrongness of their actions, I still feel that in most cases the reaction to their crime is disproportionate (‘Stop saying that rape and abuse are worse than death!’).
In short the general thinking around paedophilia is so flawed that I have no respect for the popular narrative and media on this issue. When I see a ‘paedo’ on the news I see someone with the same drives and desires as myself who was unable to manage them and control them, or who maybe just ‘got lucky’ and met the right child, and then ‘got unlucky’ when their relationship was discovered. My judgment is entirely suspended until I get some insight into what really happened.
I suspect a similar kind of thinking goes on with moderate Moslems when faced with the actions of extreme Moslems.
There is a suspicion that when Moslems condemn terrorism, quite apart from the possibility that they are equivocating by defining terrorism as ‘the acts of the West against Islam’, there is also the suspicion that they have sympathies with the persons they are seen to condemn. Whilst they may disapprove of their methods they may admire the terrorist’s devotion to their god, and agree that establishing a global caliphate is, in itself, a good thing. They may think of the terrorist as someone essentially good who has been driven off the correct path, and into acting wrongfully, by intolerable pressures.
Both are perceived as being sympathetic to sexual interactions between children and adults
Well (the more puritanical wing of VirPeds aside) as far as paedophiles are concerned I have to plead ‘Guilty, M’lud’ on that charge – though my conception of what is meant by ‘sexual interaction’ and ‘children’ is significantly different to that of the popular narrative.
First of all, according to the Hadith, Mohamed married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage three years later.
Given that it is a basic principle of Islam that a Muslim should follow the example of the Mohamed in every detail (apparently this is stated in the Quran no less than 91 times) this leaves western Moslems with very little wriggle-room when challenged on this question. Even when a Moslem does condemn Mohamed’s interaction with Aisha, or paedophilia in general, one is left in doubt of their sincerity as they may just be making use of Taqiyya and Kittman.
Another factor adding to the perception that Moslems are is, of course, the systematic use of child-rape and forced child-marriage by terrorist groups such a Boko-Haram and Daesh, and the legality of child-marriage in Moslem countries such as the Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Finally there are the notorious cases that make the news of Moslem child-prostitution rings – such as the ones at Rochdale and Rotherham – create the perception that Islam is friendly to child-adult sex (though this seems to be a friendliness towards the more nasty, hierarchical, power-oriented aspects of sex).
Both groups, when they refuse to accept the narrative society has constructed for them, can be perceived as arrogant
Moslems are perceived as feeling that their faith and their knowledge of their god’s wishes, through the Quran, sets them above Kaffirs, or non-believers. This can lead them to be perceived as ‘arrogant’
Likewise with paedophiles. If I were entirely open and truthful I’d admit to feeling a certain amount of superiority to those who adhere to a narrative as filled with errors, wrong assumptions, prejudice, distortions and fantasy etc as the one around child sexuality and paedophilia. Of course many of those people are also friends, acquaintances and family whom I also love and respect. And I also acknowledge that for anyone who is not a paedophile the ‘truth’ is almost inaccessible.
Likewise when a paedophile argues back, or if they merely assert, against the grain of the popular narrative, that they have never ‘offended’ and will never ‘offend’, they are labelled as dangerously arrogant (see some responses to Todd Nickerson’s appearances on 98fm’s ‘Dublin Talks’ radio show. As a VirPed I don’t agree with everything Todd writes or says, but I’ll acknowledge that he comes across well on his radio appearances – humble, thoughtful, polite and likeable – however many listeners thought him ‘arrogant’ for being certain that he will never ‘offend’).
Both are motivated by a vision of a better world – which would be generally considered as a worse world by the rest of society
This doesn’t apply to all paedophile: VirPeds especially are resistant to any changes in society that might lead towards intimate relationships between children and adults being less stigmatised.
However many paedophiles have visions for a society in which love and intimacy between adults and children would not be stigmatised, and therefore not harmful – visions based on Marxist, Ecologist or Libertarian principles. Whilst many non-paedophiles might adhere to such political ideologies most would strongly resist any association of their ideology with paedophilia (see how the German Greens have disowned their former sympathies with paedophilia).
Moslems are perceived as having a fundamental allegiance to Sharia law and notions of a global caliphate, and see it as a duty to work towards these.
Both are associated with corruption and contagion narratives
We are all too familiar with the term ‘grooming’ where an adult treats a child with respect, shows them love and makes them happy, gives proof of their loyalty and trustworthiness and, surprise surprise!, the child responds to this as do all humans (and many non-human animals) by returning the love and affection. In short – ‘grooming’ a word which turns something otherwise laudable into something negative, something with the odour of corruption about it.
The contagion narrative associated with paedophilia is that of the ‘abused growing up to become an abuser’ – a myth that has largely been debunked but which persists in the popular narrative.
The Moslem equivalent is found in narratives of propaganda, brainwashing and in the selection of vulnerable individuals to target for radicalisation – a process similar to that of ‘grooming’. In a sense both paedophiles and radical Islam are considered as stealing the souls of the vulnerable (Hundreds of children suffer ‘soul murder’ at hands of clergy abusers).
Both live outside of, and in parallel, with society
In many european countries Moslems are perceived to live in ghettos defined as ‘Moslem areas’ and where non-Moslems can feel unwelcome. They are perceived to have their own institutions (mosques, madrassas, islamic schools) – all of which can seem hermetic. In the UK there are even special islamic courts and tribunals that run in parallel to the established legal system.
Paedophiles (whether ‘offending’ or not) are considered as ‘outsiders’ who, especially if they haven’t ‘offended’ and can not be identified, exist in society by subterfuge. Indeed it is generally assumed that all paedophiles either have already offended or are certain to offend in the future – so the question of whether they have been found guilty of a crime or not is considered irrelevant to their status.
This is most clearly seen in the way that paedophiles, once identified, are denied their right to participate fully in society – either through being ostracised, through the loss of work and community, or by the restriction placed on them by a sex-offender register, restrictions which are often life-long.
There is also the perception that both paedophiles and radical Moslems interact mainly on the darknet – a part of the internet that exists beyond the scrutiny of society, and the idea of ‘Paedophile rings’ posits the existence of invisible organisations (the word ‘ring’ gives the impression of strength, structure and exclusivity) that operate either independently of, or parasitically on, society.
A recurring media narrative is the paedophile/terrorist ‘who lived next door’ who either ‘kept themselves to themselves’ or ‘seemed a really decent bloke’ – the apparent ‘decency’ being interpreted as part of the deceit intrinsic to such groups.
What has been the value of this exercise?
What can an analysis of how Moslems are perceived teach us about the condition of paedophiles?
Surely we already know just how misrepresented paedophiles are in the popular narrative?
How does this differ from other inventories of misconceptions, such as my earlier ‘18 Common Misconceptions About Paedophiles & Paedophilia‘?
Whilst the ’18 Common Misconceptions…’ addresses errors that reason and evidence can refute, the items listed above, for the most part, can not be so simply refuted.
That, I think, is because they are ‘metanarratives’ – narratives about narratives. The question we can ask about them is ‘how has the narrative made use of the truth?’ not ‘are they true?’.
The deceptions that these metanarratives perpetuate are not those of ‘untruths’ but of employing a framing, a point of view, in which only negative truths are plainly presented, and positive truths are suppressed or spun into negatives.
The popular narrative gets the facts about grooming broadly right – paedophiles are prone to treating their loved-child particularly respectfully and indulgently – and this can lead to the child feeling affection for the adult and maybe expressing that affection physically. But by imputing a ‘motivation’ (which is much harder to prove, or disprove, than ‘behaviour’ and ‘deeds’) the popular narrative manages to completely up-end this normally laudable behaviour into something negative and manipulative.
This shows that our struggle is not one of simply collating and asserting facts, evidence and employing Reason, but that we also have the harder task of countering and subverting a narrative which reframes all facts and evidence around child sexuality and paedophilia in such a way as to reinforce a single, hegemonic and censorious narrative.
Finally, I feel that this exercise has given me some insight into the mind and thought-processes of the paedophobe: I recognise in my islamophobia many of the characteristics of the paedophobic narrative – especially the degree to which I am ready to attribute to all Moslems the worst interpretations and characteristics imputed to the Moslem mind. It’s always salutary to have one’s certainties problematised.