Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Sex, Offensive and Otherwise

with 18 comments

The woman–and, certainly, the very pretty woman–Jem was thinking of is Debra Lafave, and it’s odd that she should have brought it up, because it’s part of a phenomenon that I find a little uncomfortable.

First, I will say I see nothing wrong with the judge’s decision.  As far as I can tell by Googling it, Lafave had a sexual relationship with a fourteen year old male student, which is certainly against the law–but she doesn’t seem to have shown the sort of predatory behavior the sex offender laws were designed to police.  She hasn’t been caught fondling six year olds or raping fourth graders.  She doesn’t hang around on chat rooms looking for underaged naifs to jump on. 

There are certainly such people out there, and I think most people think that it is such people who are required to appear on the sex offender registry.

The fact is, however, that that registry now has lots of names of people who have exhibited nothing like the predatory behavior the lists were designed to inhibit, or tha tthe public (and the SCOTUS) was allowed to think was the basis of the end run these laws have taken around a number of Constitutional guarantees.  A number of states, for instance, require any person arrested for a sex offense–even if ultimately acquitted–to appear on the state registry.  SCOTUS says that this is okay, although it would be unConstitutional for any other crime, because “we have to protect the children.”

Okay, don’t get me started on Sandra Day O’Connor.

But here’s the thing–if you’re an eighteen year old high school senior who has sex with your fifteen year old sophomore girlfriend and her parents find out and get nasty–well, you’re guilty of statutory rape and if you’re convicted (and lots of people have been), then you go on a sex offender registry for life.  This is, I feel sure, not the kind of thing the public thought it was supporting when it got behind the registry and the sex offender laws.

I’m sure it also wasn’t the intent of those passing, and approving, of  child pornography laws to prosecute thirteen year old girls for taking pictures of themselves nude and sending them to all their friends, and then prosecuting the friends for receiving the pictures even though they didn’t know they were about to get them, and then put the whole crew on the sex offender registry for life. 

It seems to me that what we have done with sex offenders is to find an excuse for relocating moral controls over sexual behavior to the legal realm.  Our private culture may insist that anything goes.  A thousand psychologists may declare that sexual guilt is entirely a bad thing.  It doesn’t matter, because none of that applies when we’re dealing with children.

Then, of course, we redefine the word “children.”  Ask anybody you know about the “priest pedaphilia” scandal, and they’ll tell you that it was about priests raping little boys–six and eight year olds.

But in fact, aside from one really high profile case (concerning a very prolific priest), almost all the abuse allegations were against priests who approached teen-agers.

And no, I’m not saying that this is allowable, because it isn’t.  I am saying it’s not about “children.” 

Our sex offender laws treat sexuality with more inherent distaste than a Victorian chaperone, lumping together real crimes with minor malfeasance and things that shouldn’t be crimes at all.  What’s more, they treat all “sex offenders” as equal, as if that eighteen year old kid is just as much a danger to the public as a John Wayne Gacy.

It seems to me that we would do better if we accepted the fact that most of us do not, in fact, think it’s okay for sex to be as open, available and outside the realm of judgment as it is–that would, at least, be the truth.  If we think teen-agers should not be having sex, then maybe we need to send a culture-wide message–not just in laws and sex ed classes, but in movies and music and television–that it’s unacceptable, period.

Or–bigger shock–maybe those of us who have reached the age of consensual adulthood–you have no idea how long it took me to figure out the grammar for that prepositional phrase–anyway, maybe adults need to accept that there is only one way to really protect children from sexual predators, and that is to voluntarily accept some restrictions on their own sexual behavior.

I don’t know enough about the Debra Lafave case to have any kind of real take on what happened between her and the student, besides the sex.  And no, when you’re dealing with an adolescent, the actual case often isn’t as simple as it may seem.  She may have been a predatory bitch.  On the other hand, Mary Kay Latourneau is now married to the kid she went to jail for having sex with.

Okay, grammar is not my strong suit today.

I’m also very aware, at this moment, of a case in Ohio where a known sex offender–the real kind, guilty of rape against children–managed to kidnap, rape and murder six more and bury the bodies in his home in spite of his place on the registry.  And the reports of his neighbors did absolutely squat in getting him investigated.

Part of the reason for that, I am sure, is that the registry is now so full of people who have committed so many different levels of offense–including (think of the senior and his sophomore girlfriend) things that weren’t offenses twenty years ago–that the police get complacent.  Joe may be on the sex offender registry, but, geez, lots of people are, and they didn’t do anything much–no need to jump through hoops just because the neighbors are complaining.

At some point, I think we’re going to need to decide what it is we really want to do about sex–about its appearance in the popular culture, about our own behavior and that of the other adults around us–and not just about what happens to children. 

If we don’t do that, we can pass all the laws we want, and they won’t do any good.

If we do do that, maybe we can go back to a common-sense approach to all these incidents.

Written by janeh

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

18 Responses to 'Sex, Offensive and Otherwise'

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  1. I, also, think that 18-year-olds having sex with 15- year-olds should not be regarded as a predator nor labeled as one legally so that he carries the stigma of “sex offender” and is subject to not being able to live within x number of miles from schools, etc. Excessive to say the least. However, had Lafave been male and not extremely attractive, I feel her sentence would have included prison time. Mary Kay LaTourno certainly spent time in prison and she, according to publicity at the time, had sex with only the one boy and was not a predator but an offender. She claimed manic depression as did Mary Kay LaTourno. That may be a reason but not an excuse. There are meds for bipolar disease. In this instance, I don’t think it’s a matter of prudish attitudes toward sex. The victims of LaTourneau and Lafave were indeed not children but they were minors. And adults having sex with minors is still illegal.


    3 Nov 09 at 12:56 pm

  2. Defining anyone under 18 as a “child” is a big part of the problem. We may treat them as children, but 100 years ago they would have been considered fully adult and people would have been wondering why they weren’t married and having children.

    Isn’t there still some southern state where 13 year olds can marry with their parents’ consent? If so, then that 14 year old could in no way be considered a “child.” Not to mention that if he’d killed someone, there’s a better than even chance he’d have been tried as an adult. Have sex, you’re a child victim. Kill someone, you’re all grown up. It is an inconsistent and illogical approach to the whole thing.

    Here are some scary statistics…something like 94% of people arrested for “child molestation” including those who had sex with someone 2 years younger than themselves, plead out. That’s right, they don’t go to trial, because the consequences of going to trial are so much worse than even taking a felony conviction. How could they be worse, you ask? In a case I have personal knowledge of, the prosecutors piled on counts, including counts they fabricated which never came to trial, and the judge imposed bail of $50,000 per count. The person dug up the bail, and the SAME DAY, the prosecutor “discovered” 10 more counts. They filed counts where the witness statement said “he never touched me.” !!! The person impoverished himself and his family in order not to spend 18 months in jail before trial. As it was he spent 4 before they got the bail.

    The defendant was risking 20 years in jail at trial, they offered him 18 months jail time if he’d plead. What would you do?

    In the 4% of such cases that *do* go to trial, something like 96% end in conviction. That’s right. Do you think there’s any way on earth the police & prosecutors do such a stellar job that none of those people are wrongfully arrested? The fact is that juries are far more likely to convict an accused child molester than a murderer, because the feeling is that it’s better to be safe than sorry, because everyone knows child molesters never stop. THERE IS NO PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE for accused child molesters. They got arrested, they must have done something wrong. It’s far better to convict the innocent rather than let someone who *might* harm The Children loose.

    In the case I’m talking about, the man would not plead guilty to something he hadn’t done. Even after proving at trial the accusers were fabricating, to the extent of insisting they’d been molested in one state at the same moment they were physically present in another, and that they’d been molested in front of their PARENTS and police officers, repeatedly, the best this guy could do was two hung juries.

    He’s impoverished, all the good things he’d done for young people are at an end. The prosecution didn’t have any evidence at all, only a few witnesses, all of them a close clique. Hundreds (literally) came forward to attest the guy was a saint. No other witness against him could be found. Much of the defense case was actively prevented from being presented by the judge. (Prosecutor in a robe, in this case)

    And all because people cannot see straight when the words “child molester” are uttered. (in this case there were no real children either. All the people involved were over 15)

    I’m not sure a common-sense approach is even possible any more. It all just seems to get more and more absurd.


    3 Nov 09 at 1:22 pm

  3. Also, I know my math doesn’t work out above. 94% plead. 6% go to trial, of them, 96% or greater are convicted. Sheesh. No one said there would be math.


    3 Nov 09 at 1:26 pm

  4. Actually it is New Hampshire (not a southern state the last time I checked) where marriage is allowed at 13. And where do your statistics come from regarding the number of people charged with sexual offenses against minors pleading out? And this is the 21st century not 100 years ago when children as young as 12 routinely worked full time in cotton and other fabric mills. If that is now considered a violation of child labor laws how then are minors to be treated as adults as far as sexual activity with legal adults is concerned? Minors were treated as adults not all that long ago–at the beginning of the 20th century, certainly, and as such, I expect, matured sooner. Life expectancy was much lower at that time and I expect that factored in to taking on the responsibilities of adulthood at an earlier age. But I also disagree, as Janeh does, with minors being tried as adults for murder and other violent crimes.


    3 Nov 09 at 2:01 pm

  5. Oh, heck. I’ll argue the other point of view.

    My sister-in-law is a psychologist who has spent about 20 years working with both children who were sexually abused and the adult perpetrators. A liberal-to-libertarian politically, she is absolutely in favor of pedophile sex offender registries. She insists that by the time these men (much more rarely women) are caught, they have already molested more than one child. And after years of therapy, some — only some — of them accept that what they are doing harms the child, and there is a good chance they won’t do it again. But they will always want to. Sometimes they deal with it through kiddie porn or fantasies; but most of the time they don’t. In years of working with them, she has seen them move to a house across from a school, volunteer at a church to work with kids, etc. That is, they get near kids again. And they “can’t help it” (what they say). So she thinks it’s absolutely essential that people know who they are and keep an eye on them.

    I have to say it bothers me — it seems unconstitutional, right? You do your time and then you get a second chance. But she says ADAMENTLY that pedophiles are a different case.

    That said, clearly the categories of people put on the sex offender list is too broad. Two teenagers doing it in the back seat of a car shouldn’t be included. I also think there should be some form of review every few years, at which time someone could be taken off the list.

    As far as false accusations, rampaging judges etc — after listening to my sister-in-law over the years, I can provide dozens of the opposite cases — adults who didn’t believe the kids, juries who acquitted because “a father couldn’t have done that,” etc. That is, humans are imperfect, the system fails, and in general, we go from one extreme (the child is lying) to the other (the child is never lying).

    But I do think this is a case where we have to listen to specialists who work with pedophiles and other sex offenders. They are overwhelmingly in favor of the sex offender registries.

    My two cents


    3 Nov 09 at 2:30 pm

  6. jem, social responsibilities at an earlier age had nothing to do with lifespan. Actually, most people 100 years ago who made it out of childhood had a pretty good chance of living what we would consider a full life. Childhood diseases killed a lot and brought down the average “life span” but then other than childbirth, most people didn’t have trouble until the diseases of age got them.

    Kids of 15 & up entered the workforce because their labor was needed and valued. I’m talking about farm work, not fabric mills. But that makes my point too. The fabric mills took the young because they needed those slots filled and they could pay children less. But the fathers of those children weren’t standing idle. There was more work than hands to do it.

    Teenagers married because, well, those are the healthiest, most productive years, because teenagers are horny, and marriage was the socially sanctioned way to get laid.

    Today, we do everything we can to keep young people in school and out of the workforce as long as possible. Unemployment and underemployment would be *much* worse if all the millions of people in high school, college, grad school, etc suddenly were in the job market. The concommitant juvenilization of people into their middle and late 20s follows with that. If you don’t have a job, an independent income, or are married and living with a spouse, you’re not an adult. You shouldn’t be treated as one. You’re still a “kid.” If you treat a 24 year old as a “kid” treating an 18 year old as a “child” makes sense. Sort of. Even though they can vote and join the military, and get shot dead for their country.

    If someone isn’t productive and adult, they shouldn’t be having sex, in our culture. So we have all sorts of delaying tactics, most of which don’t work, which try to deny the biological facts that by age 15, almost all girls and most boys are ready for sexual behavior and reproduction. Emotionally? Probably not. Certainly they’re not mentally ready for parenthood. But for sex? The body is ready and willing. We try to delay that activity for *years* beyond what people have considered right for millenia.


    3 Nov 09 at 2:35 pm

  7. I really, really have trouble with the idea that ‘by the time they’re caught, they’ve already committed a lot of offenses, so we need to take that into account when deciding on penalties etc’, which I’ve heard about other crimes than child sexual abuse. It cuts right to the heart of the presumption of innocence, and the idea that the state shouldn’t punish except for crimes it can prove in court that you did.

    I don’t think any justice system is perfect. Of course, egregious wrongdoing as Lymaree describes can and should be eliminated, but you’re never going to entirely avoid various biases. Sometimes being solidly middle class will make a judge or jury throw the book at the defendant, so as to show they don’t have favourites, sometimes it will make them think such a basically decent-looking person can’t be that bad. A pretty woman might get off more lightly, or less so, for similar reasons – and has extra risks, according to what turned up when I googled – a police officer involved in prostitution took indecent photos of her??

    I really don’t understand the current attitudes about sex. Maybe the conviction that ‘children’ of 15-19 need protection against ALL sex, not just rape does have something to do with the increasing infantilization of older and older people. When they extended our school system by a year (for various reasons), one result was that the new Grade 12 students were no more mature than the former Grade 11 students – many of whom, at the same age, had been living on their own while working or attending post-secondary institutions. We do seem to invent strong financial and social incentives to keep teens child-like – dependent and out of the workforce – as long as possible. I don’t really know why. I used to think it was because with our increasingly complex society more time was needed in education to equip them properly, but I now think that the necessary education for a lot of people could be provided much more quickly and that there are still relatively unskilled jobs available, although they tend to be more in the service sector than in heavy physical labour.

    But back to sex in our culture. The way it works doesn’t make sense. We encourage sex among adults, even to the extent of placing the desire for a new sex partner above, say, loyalty to an existing relationship or the continuation of a family. We encourage very explicit entertainment – which we show to children – and dress pre-pubescent girls like the women in those music videos. Parents encourage ‘dating’ and ‘dances’ at younger and younger ages, in some social circles.

    And yet, when someone screams ‘child sex abuse’ all rational thought closes down, even if the ‘child’ in question is 14 or 15, and the relationship is consensual.

    I’m not saying I think teens should be sexually active early, and I certainly think pre-pubescent children shouldn’t be having sex at all. But it makes no sense at all to have a society that glorifies raunchy videos and foams at the mouth at the very idea that teenagers have sex.


    3 Nov 09 at 3:27 pm

  8. mab, I think the *worst* thing one can do for children who are legitimately abused is to believe that every single person accused is guilty. Once the process is called into question, it becomes less likely that factual accusations will be believed. We’re still in the hysterical phase (remember the Salem witch trials?) where all accusations are taken as fact. But there *will* come a backlash eventually, when notorious accusations are proved false, all the “kids don’t lie” myths are disproven, and someone who has been abused will have a harder time proving it.

    It’s parallel to the situation where women falsely accuse men of rape. Every false accusation makes it tougher for the next victim to come forward and find justice.

    And in the case of child or minor molestation, a false accusation never even needs to proceed to arrest to ruin a career or a life. Once it goes to trial, the person involved might as well move to Mongolia and herd yaks as to try to continue their former life.


    3 Nov 09 at 3:46 pm

  9. In 1900 4.1 percent of the population was 65 or older. In 2006, that number was 12.4%. (Census Bureau: Demographic Trends in the 20th century)

    The term “teenager” was not used until 1941. In the early 1900s adolescence was a brief period between childhood and adulthood. (20th century teen culture by Decades, Lucy Rollin) See excerpt below:

    The Early Decades,
    “The teen of the Nineties, or even of the Fifties, did not exist in America in 1900. Adolescence in the early decades was a brief time between childhood
    and adult responsibilities. The large majority of teens did not attend high school but entered the workforce as soon as they could find jobs. If they
    lived on farms, they took on major tasks even during childhood. They married young and had children of their own by the time they were in their late teens or early twenties.”
    I agree that adolescents delay responsibilites of adulthood more than my generation did. A great deal of that is probably due to economics. But I’m not sure that I see the connection between a 23 year old woman and a 14 year old boy having sex and in trying to prevent sex among teenagers with people their own age. Sex happens, certainly, and the body is certainly ready for it earlier and earlier. Even though minors are not children, adults initiating or participating in sex with them is exploitation. As you said above the body is willing but the emotional maturity is not there. My opinion, not necessarily fact.


    3 Nov 09 at 4:36 pm

  10. Every era seems to have its own “pet” problem. There have been witch hunts and heretic hunts, persecution of homosexuals, “reds under the beds”, political correctness and now hysteria about sex offenses. My guess is that 100 years from now, people will be marveling at our attitudes. But then they will have their own pet hatreds.


    3 Nov 09 at 4:50 pm

  11. Two things: The plea bargain business stems from our cumbersome procedures (sorry Jane) as much as anythng. If it takes a year or more to prep for a serious trial and months to hold one, we’ve seriously impeded trial by jury, let alone a right to a speedy trial. And we’ve got other troubles: untried accused no sane person wants out on the streets, and genuinely innocent held for months or years awaiting trial. Obviously we should be hiring more judges, but we also need to look at how to get a fair trial much faster than is presently the case.

    As for the sex offenders list, I think we’re back to the problems which come from squeezing all the discretion out of the system. It’s very hard to write a law which will include all the people you really should be keeping track of without including a bunch of ones who are no threat at all. Try it youself: define “molest.” Define “child.” On the first hack, you wind up with the 18 year old who sleeps with his 17 year old fiancee going on the sex offrenders list. (Actually happened, and last I heard he’s still having troubles with the INS.) Pass a “Romeo and Juliet” law to exempt, say, a two or three year window, and you wind up with an 18 year old getting a susccession of 15 year olds drunk–and subsequently pregnant or infected with a venereal disease or both. Different status for drunkeness? Anyone care to guess what percentage of adult consensual sex takes place after someone has a nightcap? Different status for disease? Does herpes count?
    You’ll soon wind up with a law on the subject which looks like WAR AND PEACE, but probably not so clear and well indexed.
    Or you define the crimes fairly broadly, trust to the discretion or prosecutors and the jury’s understanding of local mores, and let a judge-subject to appeal or pardon–decide whether a particular offense or pattern rates placement on the list. It still won’t be consistent. Some times I’ll disagree with the result, and sometimes the result will be just plain wrong. But that’s also going to be true of that long complicated law code. Human relationships are messy and complicated. If anyone has a simple rule on this one which will work if rigorously applied–please publish.

    As for changing attitudes toward sex, I don’t have to do a thing. None of us do. Just wait 20 or 30 years, and there will be a new attitude and a new set of rules regardless.


    3 Nov 09 at 5:54 pm

  12. mab says, among other things:
    “But I do think this is a case where we have to listen to specialists who work with pedophiles and other sex offenders. They are overwhelmingly in favor of the sex offender registries.”

    I think we’ve had more than enough experience of listening to “experts” to prove that it’s not only futile but dangerous. Their advice tends to be coloured by zealotry, closed single-mindedness and, above all, self-interest.

    Seek their advice when its needed, sure. Use their skills in appropriate ways to help victims, definitely. But when it comes to policy, treat them with considerable skepticism.


    3 Nov 09 at 6:38 pm

  13. Mique, you’re saying that we shouldn’t listen to “experts” –the opinions of psychologists or other professional people who have worked the longest and have the most knowledge from direct observation and education regarding sex offenders and pedophiles when it comes to setting policy? You’re saying that because they have years of experience working with sex offenders that they can’t be objective? I find that extremely confusing.

    I agree with Robert: 1– that trials–for anyone accused of any crime– are anything but speedy and preparation is cumbersome. Trials are also expensive and time consuming. 2–And that formulating a law on sexual offenses that includes all exceptions and extenuating circumstances is not probable.


    3 Nov 09 at 9:23 pm

  14. Let me put it this way, jem. I’ve worked with experts for many years, eg doctors, lawyers, fighter pilots, bomber pilots, police, social workers, you name it. If I want to know whether something within their field of expertise is feasible within certain parameters, eg cost, techology, etc, I’ll ask them. If I decide that we need to do something that they are qualified to do, I’ll ask their advice as to the best way to achieve that end. But I will never, ever ask them whether we _ought_ to do whatever it is that they are experts in. That decision is not something they are, even within their expertise, in any way specially qualifed to make.

    Example: General Douglas MacArthur was hell-bent on invading North Korea and hang the consequences. Militarily, MacArthur’s expertise was about as good as it was likely to get. Yet President Truman quite rightly sacked him when he wouldn’t take no for an answer – just as all sorts of “experts” today refuse to take no for an answer when their pet enthusiasms are thwarted by the political policy makers, ie those elected to make such decisions.

    If you want to see a vivid exposition of the sort of thing I’m talking about, read Theodore Dalrymple. His “Romancing the Opiates” and “Life at the Bottom” are as good a place to start as any.


    4 Nov 09 at 12:16 am

  15. Cheryl, I didn’t write this: ‘by the time they’re caught, they’ve already committed a lot of offenses, so we need to take that into account when deciding on penalties etc’ Maybe you thought I meant that, but I wasn’t talking about criminal penalties. I meant that in therapy, the pedophiles who were caught virtually always admitted that this wasn’t the first time. Nor, Lynmaree, did I write that every child should be believed. I meant that there is a swinging pendulum. 30-40 years ago there was a tendency to NOT believe children (partially under the influence of Freud — it’s a fantasy — partially because this kind of crime hadn’t been reported much and people didn’t know the extent of it). Now the pendulumn has swung the other way and there is a tendency to believe children first and doubt later (if at all).

    I do not — absolutely do not — believe all specialists all the time, particularly doctors and most particularly psychologists. There have been too many “schools of thought” over the years, cases when “everyone knows that…” which later turned out to be wrong. I also have problems with the constitutionality of sex offender registries. This came up when I was in the US and saw a news report about this. I sounded off to my liberal-to-liberatarian brother and sister-in-law, expecting they’d agree with me. Instead they argued the opposite point of view based on their experience (for many years my brother worked in the foster care system). Their position is that pedophiles always, always, always want to have sex with children. They can’t change that. Some, after years of therapy, can truly understand that it harms the child (they all, without exception, maintain at first that the child enjoyed it and wanted it, even in horrible cases of, say, a father tying up a 6-yr-old boy and raping him). Those men might not try it again. But then again, they might.

    I argued that this would be the same thing as, say, publishing lists of people with HIV. They said: No, not the same thing. Adults have access to information; they can ask questions, use a condom. If they’re stupid or take risks, that’s their problem. But children are not adults. They can’t stop a pedophile. So we need to protect them.

    I am still conflicted about this. But I trust their professional opinion. Maybe pedophiles are a special case. I don’t see any self-interest in their position, Mique. They don’t get more work with sex registries; in theory, they should get less. And that would be fine by them.

    Because in your worst nightmare, you can’t imagine what they hear from kids. And the terrible thing is this: the best, most comprehensive, longest, and most competent therapy in the world does not guarantee that these kids will ever recover. Some do, but many don’t.


    4 Nov 09 at 4:52 am

  16. Sorry to be a blathermouth (blatherpen) today. I just wanted to clarify: I’ve been speaking of convicted pedophiles. I do not think people who were acused but aquitted should go on the registry. I don’t think teens who have consensual sex should go on it. I agree that each situation is unique, and in an ideal world and justice system, an impartial judge should make decisions based on the facts of the case, histories etc. I agree with Robert — it’s hard if not impossible to write a law that codifies the difference between two consenting 16yrolds and an 17yrold predator. We seem to want to eliminate judicial discretion, but people are too complicated for that.

    And we’ve gotten away from the question Jane was posing — what does our society (our societies) want to do about sex?


    4 Nov 09 at 7:07 am

  17. What our societies want to do about sex is obviously a very significant part of the problem. On the one hand we have people who think that too much is not enough, and at the other extreme are those who think that any at all is far too much.

    But back to the experts. I was not trying to suggest that all experts are self-interested, but there is a tendency for them, as a group, to be that way.

    Here in Oz we have an ongoing situation with a convicted paedophile who has been hounded mercilessly by the media and “concerned citizens” since he was released from jail a year or so back. He’s been placed in various towns/cities but the media have always made it their business to blow his cover and to whip up hysterical reactions from people in the area where he lives, much as the British tabloids have regularly done over there. Read all about it here:


    Many of these witch hunts resulting in the debasement of our judicial systems and the rule of law are being driven by so-called “experts”. But when the chips are down, the best they seem to be able to come up with is that paedophiles need to be locked up indefinitely unless they agree to chemical castration on “precautionary” grounds – because the experts say that they inevitably will offend again. So the answer is for society to swallow to decide what it wants to do about sex which is where we came in. :-)


    4 Nov 09 at 8:53 am

  18. I think ‘experts’, especially those in areas that aren’t numerical and clear-cut, can be, not self-interested, exactly, but so tied to theory that they are sometimes blinded by their convictions. They aren’t acting in their own interests as much as they are convinced that their theories are correct, and the conclusions formed by them are moral imperatives. When you combine this with the worst bits of the human tendency to form mobs to destroy the other, the identified and socially acceptable target, you get a very nasty and vicious situations.

    I do have some sympathy for those in psychology, psychiatry and social work who have to deal with the more intractable and vicious bits of human nature with the few tools they have. It must be much easier being an engineer, because there are well-established methods of figuring out which bridge will collapse under the weight of a truck. There’s really no such way of determining which human will be unable to keep their sex drive within the limits required by society.

    I’m willing to bet, just on probabilities, that there are pedophiles out there who never offend. They either have a weaker sex drive than average, or a much higher than average ability to suppress or control it. The pedophiles who come to the attention of the police or psychologists or related professionals are, almost by definition, the ones who either failed to control their urges, or the ones who see no reason they should try to control their urges.

    But pedophiles provide an excellent target for the hatred in any humans who become part of a mob, because some of them do real and irreversible damage to children. We seem to need the occasional circus (Roman style). It’s just the target that changes. And if the occasional pediatrician or young adult with an even younger lover gets caught up in the nets, that’s the price we have to pay.

    I wish I really thought that registries and hounding of offenders from pillar to post protects children. If I did, I, too, might manage to convince myself that the collateral damage didn’t matter so much.


    4 Nov 09 at 9:19 am

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