Pedophilia is difficult to talk/write/think about
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Rod Dreher weigh in on a piece at Gawker by Cord Jefferson on the topic of pedophilia. I read it and was surprised at the sympathy for pedophiles given the Gawker empire’s generally negative stance towards males who make people feel sexually uncomfortable in much less serious ways.
Dreher recently corresponded with a pedophile who reads his blog, and Dreher can’t help but see suffering behind the man’s words.
Coates thinks Jefferson’s is a bad piece of journalism and overly apologetic of pedophilia.
I don’t know, some topics aren’t easily handled. If they don’t please everyone it doesn’t necessarily make them a bad piece of journalism. In Jefferson’s defense, since, as he writes, pedophiles are the one truly despised group in our society – they are often killed in prison – the piece carries an implicit condemnation, as Jefferson relates at his Tumblr account about he and his editors’ discussion over whether the piece should carry a trigger warning. They determined that a headline mentioning an incident between a man and a child was trigger warning enough though Jefferson admits that he did not put much thought into the juxtaposition of the word “sex” with “rape” or “molestation”.
When I read Jefferson using the word “sex” to describe an act between the man in the piece and his 7 year-old relative, I read that as the pedophile thinking of such an act in sexual terms rather than criminal terms. That’s part of the problem with pedophilia; despite their knowing that society disapproves of their behavior and desires, it feels natural to them. We all know it isn’t sex, but the pedophile doesn’t/can’t think in those terms.
While it’s OK to understand whether or not these desires are beyond the scope of social remedy – we can’t successfully fix them – we can still enact retributive and preventive justice measures. The knowledge that they might suffer a really terrible fate in prison if they are caught molesting a child is a curb which I’d have no problem not doing all that much to fix.