Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is every man a potential pedophile?

Pedophiles R Us   
   (2/8/21)  I'm surprised that everyone keeps being so darn surprised about child sex-abuse convictions against men such as billionaire pedophile and Clinton pal Jerry Epstein, former youth basketball coach Richard Dinizio (sentenced yesterday to 50 years in prison) and all those other "upstanding citizens" in the mold of Jerry Sandusky. It seems that most of these guys, whose crimes are covered in the media practically every day, are widely admired for their decency and effectiveness. They are so devoted, so trusted, so compassionate. They even fund boys' clubs and take disadvantaged kids on overnight camping trips! It's so heartwarming!
    When are we going to stop being "surprised" and learn that pedophiles are not creepy, defective members of a hideous subculture (at least not most of them)? Pedophiles are us. They are our fathers, coaches and neighbors. And that "us" is growing at an alarming rate.

     Several years ago, the authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire reported on the results of their  massive study of online pornography consumption. 
    They found that what men most search for is young people, "by a wide margin." 
    This is a shocking fact, when you consider the mind-boggling array of porn in which women of every size, age and race; other men; and even animals are used in every way imaginable for sexual release. It's the kids that our manly husbands and fathers want to mess around with  -- and the overwhelming majority of the interview subjects were "normal" men
    The myth that child molesters are pale, furtive, HOMOSEXUAL SODOMISTIC EVILDOERS has been disproven in study after study for more than 50 years. The most comprehensive survey of the literature by the University of California at Davis found that less than one percent of pedophiles are gay. 
    Child molesters are REAL MEN: the backbone of our communities. It's almost as if they compensate for their "guilty pleasures" by becoming role models of civic involvement and principled leadership. Even so, slightly more than half of Americans believe gay men should not be allowed to be classroom teachers. And, of course, the Boy Scouts' refusal -- reiterated in the summer of 2013 -- to permit gay men to be troop leaders persists with an intensity that is irrational and perpetuates extremely damaging stereotypes. Statistically speaking, your son would be safer with a gay Scout leader. He is turned on by MEN, not by little boys.
    The novel “Lolita,” about a man's obsessive lust for a 12-year-old girl, did not become an international sensation because it was beautifully written. It gripped the world  because it gave vivid, salacious voice to common male fantasies about seducing virginal children. As the data on this complex and painful subject prove overwhelmingly, these fantasies are not confined to a demonic little coterie of hell-bound subhumans.
    On Oct. 18, 2012, The Boy Scouts of America -- forced by the Freedom of Information Act -- released files documenting sexual abuse by thousands of its troop leaders ( 

    The molestation is so extensive that the Scouts seem more like a pedophilia cabal than an organization dedicated to the well-being and character development of boys. It's at least as messed up as the Catholic Church (and many other churches, including evangelicals, orthodox Jews and Mormons)
     On June 24, 2013, it was reported that four men are suing the Mormon church and Boy Scouts of America in federal court, saying they were sexually abused while attending scouting functions in Idaho. The suspects were middle-aged, middle-class, married heterosexuals and were members in good standing of their church. It is ironic that the church and other Scout sponsors have been so intransigent on permitting gays to serve, when their own "finest" are so defective. Perhaps gay men would bring a cleansing breeze of decency and honor to Scouting. Much stranger things have happened!
   In the "It's About Time"department: On Oct. 30, 2013, Fox News reported on new legislation making it illegal for registered sex offenders to work with children in the entertainment industry. BizParentz, SAG-AFTRA, the Association of Talent Agents, and the MPAA worked together to pass bill AB1660 in California. "It also serves a preventative purpose as it requires fingerprints for anyone working with children in Hollywood, just as is done for school teachers, day care providers and sports coaches in California." Corey Feldman, arguably the biggest child actor of the 80's, has just dropped some bombshells in his tell-all book "Coreyography," detailing rampant child sexual abuse in the entertainment industry. Almost three decades later, experts say not much has changed.

   Speaking of stranger things, there's the icky case of the venerable BBC (all these pedophilia gangsters seem to be affiliated with venerable institutions. Hmmm.)
    The esteemed British institution  was rocked in late October 2012 by allegations that longtime children's host Jimmy Savile, who died last year, abused an estimated 200 children and underage teens over several decades, sometimes on BBC premises. 
Jimmy Saville, left, and Gary Glitter in their celebrity heydays.
     Some of the alleged victims have accused other entertainers -- including rocker Gary Glitter -- and BBC staff of participating in abuse during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The BBC is accused of covering up the scandal
    But the biggest problem is not with institutions. According to most sources, about half of child sex abusers are the child's parent. Oh, Daddy dearest! 
    Another 18 percent or so are relatives. As we are often informed, the child almost always has a relationship with the abuser. Sandusky had lots of relationships, and I bet more than the originally alleged 20 of them became sexually abusive.    
     Why do we keep being so gushingly surprised when our most upstanding citizens are found to be predators? Doctors, teachers, Scout leaders, police officers, directors of charitable organizations, therapists, human-rights activists and business, political and civic leaders are being arrested all the time, often after years or even decades of abusing children. (The blue-collar guys, the loners, the drifters offend as well, of course, but that doesn't surprise us.)

    A congressionally funded 2005  study by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that almost all of those arrested for possessing child porn were men; 91 percent were white, and 86 percent were older than 25. Seventy-nine percent had a high school education or better, and 73 percent were employed full-time. Just regular guys in the grip of one of the few things I would characterize as truly evil.
    Why did Jim Jones, David Koresh and Warren Jeffs -- among many other charismatic religious leaders -- prey on boys (and girls)? Because they could! Like Jerry Sandusky, they had authority, motive, opportunity and plausible deniability. They did it because they had power over people, and power -- as Henry Kissinger famously said -- is "the greatest aphrodisiac." They think the rules don't apply to them, etc., etc.  They are blinded by the esteem in which they are held. They can't imagine that they'll ever get caught. Other guys get caught, not the Supermen of American society. We've heard this all before.
    Every night on the local news, there is story after story about child molestation, abuse and rape. The victims range from infants to adolescents and teenagers. Time after time, we are astonished to hear that upstanding members of our communities have done such terrible things to these beautiful, innocent young people.  

    Haven't we kept our blinders on long enough? Pedophiles are arguably the most hated members of the human race, but is their attraction as twisted as we like to believe?  
    These crimes are so common that it seems disingenuous to call the behavior “aberrant.” It is estimated that for every man who succumbs to these impulses, as many as 10,000 endure “intense temptation” to engage in sexual activity with children. For millions more, it is a real but well-repressed curiosity or attraction.
    We need to confront this issue honestly, which will make a lot of people very uncomfortable. It's about time we accepted the possibility that an attraction to children is within the broad spectrum of normal human sexuality (which is not, of course, to say that the attraction is widespread, or that the abuse is acceptable).  Sexual interest in children -- some of it casual and fleeting, some obsessive --  is rampant and always has been. Throughout history and into the present, adult sexual relations with children and adolescents (including incestuous ones) have been accepted, encouraged, even glorified in some cultures.    
    This excellent January 14, 2013, Los Angeles Times article reviews current research findings on pedophilia. (,0,197689.story?track=lat-pick.) 
   (Studies indicate that a sexual preference for children is inborn in some abusers, genetic and incurable, although there are strategies for repressing the urges, the LAT article reports. The research also distinguishes between true pedophiles, who helplessly "fall in love" with children, versus those who are not sexually attracted to their victims but "have personality disorders or violent streaks." Their victims are usually family members, and they account for about half of all child sex abuse, according to the article.
"Boy play" in Afghanistan means he'll be doing more than dancing for his elders.
    Pedophilia is a widely accepted practice in southern Afghanistan, for example, where "boys are apprenticed to older men for their sexual initiation," according to American social scientists studying tribal cultures. The practice is called "bache bazi," or "boy play," and it's been going on for centuries.
    The Nation magazine reported on "a charming and cultivated American priest" in Haiti who who grooms boys for export as "pretty lovers" to be sent around the world for the sexual delectation of wealthy men. The author met a Frenchman, who said he was in Haiti because “his insomnia required two black boys every evening, two different ones each night.”
    Hundreds of thousands of men every year -- many of them Americans -- engage in organized “sex tourism,” primarily in the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong  and even Australia, where beautiful little girls and boys are loaned out like library books.  What happens in Thailand stays in Thailand, right? As one guy revealed on “60 Minutes” last year, you can have three little girls in your bed all night for less than the price of a hamburger and fries. 
    The Thai government advertises the "delights" of its young attractions openly (sex tourism brings in billions of dollars) and one resort lures pedophiles thusly: "If you can suck it, use it, eat it, feel it, taste it, abuse it or see it, then it's available in this resort that truly never sleeps. Pattaya is not for prudes."
    Children are forced into sexual slavery all over the world. In dozens of countries, little girls are sold to become "wives" as well as servants. 
    In many countries, including places that we regard as "tropical paradises," the use of children as sexual partners is regarded as healthy and natural. Incest is legal in countries as diverse as Brazil, China, Japan, Israel, Portugal, Turkey and Argentina, although ages of consent vary. In many cults and sects – and in particular historical eras – children have been prized as sexual playmates. In ancient Rome and Greece, pre-modern Japan, Renaissance Italy, Moorish Spain and Tsarist Russia, man-boy relations -- friends with benefits -- were a central part of the culture.
     So we can surely be offended and outraged and repulsed by the use of children for sex, but we shouldn't be surprised. The attraction seems to be a part of our makeup, however well-repressed it generally is.
    And psychoanalysis inadvertently provided a quasi-intellectual rationale for the abuse. Sigmund Freud and others advanced the theory -- "polymorphous perversity" --that children are sexual beings from birth, and they can experience libidinal pleasure by being touched anywhere on their bodies.
    In Japan, which is the world’s second-largest producer of child pornography (we're Number One, of course), the existing law has effectively encouraged the growth of a lucrative market in sexually explicit images of children, ranging from manga comics to animated movies and, at the most dissolute end of the spectrum, films of children being subjected to rape, torture, and other crimes, according to the Christian Science Monitor. (
    "Yielding to years of pressure to fall in line with the rest of the developed world, Japan’s Parliament outlawed the possession of child pornography on June 17, 2014. However, in a concession to the nation’s powerful publishing industry, the new law will exempt illustrated images of sex acts involving children found in manga as well as anime cartoons and computer graphics. Japanese police had  blamed the continuing legality of child pornography for a surge in criminal cases involving its production and circulation. Across Japan, the number of such criminal cases has jumped tenfold since 2000. Efforts to completely outlaw child pornography at the national level had been blocked by the nation’s publishing houses, for which the popularity of manga has offered a rare bright spot in an industry otherwise hit by declining sales of books and other print publications because of competition from the Internet. It is not uncommon to find popular comics in Japan that depict naked or nearly naked prepubescent girls, sometimes engaged in explicit sex acts, for sale in neighborhood convenience stores. The new law will also leave untouched gray areas such as the popular genre of 'junior idols,' often 12- and 13-year-old girls who are photographed in sexually suggestive poses while scantily clad."(

    Until the new law goes into effect, photos and videos of minors (anyone under age 20) committing graphic sexual acts will continue to be available in adult video shops nationwide. Men openly peruse child pornography  during their long train commutes to urban centers.
There is a brisk market in pornographic manga comic books.
     About a quarter of Japanese female students aged 12 to 15 have taken part in telephone chat clubs, in which male clients pay to enter booths, and wait for private calls from girls. The phone conversations usually fix a date to meet and are often a straightforward agreement on the details and price of the particular sexual act to be performed. 

    We have stuffed our own torrent of pedophilia into a box and stored it out of sight and out of mind. But we'd better brace ourselves for a real epidemic, and you can probably guess why.
    The Internet has turned pornography into a mainstream product. Billions of dollars are year are raked in by subsidiaries of AT&T, Time Warner, General Motors, EchoStar, Liberty Media, Marriott International, Hilton, On Command, LodgeNet Entertainment and News Corporation (not to mention hundreds of obscure porn production lines) -- all of which make and distribute "extremely raunchy" adult films, according to the New York Times. 
    The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined, the Internet Filter Review reports. It adds that 12 percent of sites on the web are pornographic. The average age of first exposure to pornography is eleven. Some 90 percent of youths 8 to 16 years old have viewed porn online (most while "doing homework.") A quarter of all search-engine requests are porn-related, and 35 percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic. 
    At least half of all hotel guests buy these adult movies, which means that pay-per-view sex from television hotel rooms may generate about $250 million a year in sales. At home, Americans buy or rent nearly $5 billion a year worth of graphic sex videos.
    About one in three regular Internet users visits one of the more than 100,000 sex sites on the Web regularly, according to Forrester Research.
    Sean Calder, a vice president for e-commerce at Nielsen/Net Ratings, which gauges the popularity of Web sites, adds ''The numbers point to a huge personal need. We see lots of people logging on at 3 in the morning.''

     Consumers exploring this sordid world are drawn to ever-more extreme and deviant imagery as they become desensitized to the milder forms. For untold millions of "normal, healthy" American men, this has meant a descent into child pornography, as well as gang rape, bestiality, bondage, and a whole lot of things you don't want to know about. 
     Chat rooms are filled with men who are trying to cope with an obsession that they didn't seek and that they find repugnant. They "happened upon" this material, and now they can't seem to let it go. They recount the urgency they feel about getting back on the computer to view more images of child pornography. Their description of their tormenting hunger, and the "release" they get when they get their "fix," make it clear that the material is addictive in the same way as hard drugs. The men give each other advice on the best ways to divert themselves from child pornography and to avoid acting upon their intensifying urges. Exercise, or practice meditation, or just stay away from boys entirely, they are advised.

   It appears that those who prey on children fall into two major categories. There are the more normal guys, the "good" guys who have decent marriages, wholesome community and professional connections and overall respectability. They fall into the abuse almost by accident -- through an intimacy that develops with a little kid on the team they coach, for example -- or, increasingly, after a little bit of nervous exploration on the Internet grabs them by the throat and yanks them into a mindset they never could have imagined.
     It is these "ordinary, upstanding" men who concern me most, because it is among this group that the huge surge in pedophilic interest and "dabbling" has occurred.   
    I imagine that it begins innocently enough. You've got a computer right in front of you, and you've heard about this vast, mysterious universe of pornography that's out there. You're just curious. One little peek to see what all the fuss is about, and then it's back to your Power Point presentation. That's the plan.
    From what I've read -- and from what I've been told -- it doesn't work that way. Pornography, appropriately enough, is seductive. 
    The market for child pornography has grown by several thousand percent in the past ten years. It has become a multibillion-dollar commercial enterprise, and is among the fastest growing businesses on the Internet, according to Ernie Allen, President and CEO of  the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
     John Shehan, director of exploited children services at NCMEC, says the market for child pornography has become as large as the adult-porn industry. 

  “Traditionally, we have viewed pedophiles as the users and distributors of child pornography,” said Allen. “However, the consumer market for child pornography is growing, and becoming much broader."
    This broader audience, according to a paper titled “Child Pornography: An International Perspective,” consists of individuals "who may not have a sexual preference for children, but who have seen the gamut of adult pornography and who are searching for more bizarre material.” 
French model Thylane Blondeau is ten years old.
     Ten years ago, Muireann O’Brian also observed this in her work with child sexual abusers. She heads the Bangkok office of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, a global organization that helps police and lawyers target child molesters. 
    She pointed out that “arrests have shown men with perfectly normal sexual proclivities become seduced, then involved and finally addicted to child pornography. Their addiction may manifest itself by them just keeping and looking at the images . . . But it has been found that the addiction leads many men into seeking out children to abuse.”
    An estimated 58 percent of children used in child pornography today are prepubescent, and six percent are infants.  NCMEC is seeing an alarming trend in which victims are becoming younger and younger, and images are much more violent. In its 2005 study, 21 percent of those possessing child pornography had images showing sexual violence toward children.
    There certainly is and always has been a "coterie" of hardcore pedophiles. These are the "evil people"  -- the loners, the misfits, the secretive, unkempt fatsos -- whom we normally envision when the word pedophile is used (although that image is wrong -- there are many of the "upstanding" guys who are hardcore). These are the ones who buy, sell, trade and produce child pornography. They trade tips on how to "groom" and gently seduce or cynically manipulate or simply terrify youngsters into a sexual relationship. The Internet has been a tremendous boon to their ability to organize, communicate and trade images.
     It appears that these people, unlike the typical coach or schoolteacher, are to some extent hard-wired to have pedophilia as their sexual orientation, and that they can't control what they desire any more than we can. There are chromosomal abnormalities that have been identified, and even a gene sequence that makes you 13 times more likely to commit a sexual offense than if you didn't have it.   
    The overwhelming majority of convicted felons carry these genes; 98.1 percent of death-row inmates do.
    "These statistics alone indicate that we cannot presume that everyone is coming to the table equally equipped in terms of drives and behaviors," a July 2011 Atlantic article by David Eagleman states.


    These footnoted data from Wikipedia offer even more evidence that it is difficult to assume pedophiles are fully responsible for their actions:  Pedophiles and hebephiles (those attracted to children near puberty) have lower IQs, poorer scores on memory tests, greater rates of non-right-handedness, greater rates of school failure, lesser physical height, greater probability of having suffered childhood head injuries resulting in unconsciousness, and several differences in MRI-detected brain structures. 
    These findings suggest that there are one or more neurological characteristics present at birth that can cause of increase the likelihood of being pedophilic. Evidence of familial transmittability "suggests, but does not prove that genetic factors are responsible" for the development of pedophilia.
     The psychiatric profession regards pedophilia as an illness and as a distinct sexual orientation. Studies of pedophiles' brains at the University of Ottawa have shown differences in the way they react to changes in hormone levels. 
    Other possible risk factors include psychological problems during puberty and even being brothers: The Journal of Psychology in 2000 reported that "a gap of several years between brothers might deprive the pedophile of companionship in formative years of sexual behavior development."

   Organizations such as the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) have sought to have the age of consent lowered and to have criminal penalties for consensual relations removed. They claim that these sexual relationships are not harmful and can in fact provide enriching mentorship and companionship to boys who are starved for love. 
     NAMBLA literature ranges from high-minded, reasoned essays on civil liberties and the virtues of platonic, loving relationships between older and younger males to hideously matter-of-fact tutorials about seduction and about sex tourism, which the group encourages to avoid legal penalties in the U.S.
    NAMBLA points to studies which indicate that man-boy sexual relationships, when not forcible, do not damage boys (the data on girls are another story). Shockingly, the authors of a 1998 paper published in the prestigious American Psychological Association Bulletin criticized the use of conventional terms such as pedophile, victim and perpetrator and recommended that “a willing encounter with positive reactions” be labeled “simply adult-child sex.”   
     The clear implication, according to writer Maria Eberstadt,  was that “adult-child” sex would "some day become normalized."

    The APA has since repudiated the paper, but there was a period in the late 1990s when the concept of "pedophile chic" was being tossed around. The disturbing theory was that these attractions are obviously not abnormal; that they can be beneficial; and that they should not be stigmatized. Children are as sexual as the rest of us, advocates said.
    A group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals say it's time to change the way society views individuals who have physical attractions to children.
    The organization, which calls itself B4U-Act, is lobbying for changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the guideline of standards on mental health that's put together by the American Psychiatric Association. The group says its mission is to help pedophiles before they create a crisis, and to do so by offering a less critical view of the disorder.
     "Stigmatizing and stereotyping minor-attracted people inflames the fears of minor-attracted people, mental health professionals and the public, without contributing to an understanding of minor-attracted people or the issue of child sexual abuse," reads the organization's website.

    B4U-Act said that 38 individuals attended a symposium in Baltimore in August, including researchers from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and the universities of Illinois and Louisville. According to the group, which is said to not endorse every point of view expressed, the speakers in attendance concluded that "minor-attracted" individuals are largely misunderstood and should not be criminalized even as their actions should be discouraged.
    I certainly don't agree with this. The abuse and exploitation of children must remain criminal , but we do need to adopt measures that are more enlightened than simply throwing people in prison.
    We need to recognize that pedophilic tendencies are being expertly created by a massive, ever expanding, profit-making industry that gets its targets "hooked" very much the way drug dealers do. In both cases, entire communities are traumatized, directly or indirectly, by what ensues.
    We must provide programs that are designed to help those who are not hard-core, genetically predisposed abusers. They have become artificially conditioned to desire children. I don't see why they can't be conditioned back toward normalcy, just as we condition people hooked on junk food to enjoy the wholesome beauty of a nutritious diet.
    These men are damaged. They are destroyed. In some respects, they are victims, who took one innocent peek down a hole and fell in. I am not equating their victimhood to that of the children, of course, but I don't see how we can cast the first stone in a situation like this. 
    We need to invest far more resources in stemming the flow of child pornography. The damage it does is incalculable.
     We need more treatment for hard-core offenders. Although it has become conventional wisdom that pedophilia is virtually impossible to "cure," there are in fact several approaches that some researchers claim have great promise, including behavior modification therapies and a redirection of sexual attraction. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking to hope that such measures can work. Chemical or surgical castration is a last resort, but it is effective as long as the offender's motive is sexual rather than a desire to dominate and subjugate.
    Finally, we need to stop demonizing predators and try to regard them as sick rather than evil. They usually do get out of prison, and if we shun and isolate them, they are much less likely to adapt to normal life. When there's no place for them to live except under a viaduct, and when no one will give them a job, recidivism is much more likely.
     This issue is addressed in an informed, sensitive  fashion by Margo Kaplan, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Law, Camden (  
   "The fact that pedophilia is so despised is precisely why our responses to it, in criminal justice and mental health, have been so inconsistent and counterproductive. Acknowledging that pedophiles have a mental disorder, and removing the obstacles to their coming forward and seeking help, is not only the right thing to do, but it would also advance efforts to protect children from harm," she writes.
    In a forthcoming post, I will offer a personal perspective on this topic. Just doing the research for it has made me a bit damaged myself, and I wasn't able to achieve the understanding or empathy for true pedophiles that I sought.

 I wanted to become more compassionate by educating myself. It backfired:

May 22, 2014 New York Times:  "It began in Westchester County with the arrest of a police chief who was teaching classes about sexual abuse at a Roman Catholic church. The investigation soon swept up many others who were swapping files of children forced into explicit sexual acts: two registered nurses, a Brooklyn rabbi, a New York City police officer, a paramedic and a Boy Scout leader.
    All told, 71 people — 70 men and one woman — were taken into custody in the New York City area in recent months on charges of possessing, producing or distributing child pornography, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday at a news conference in Manhattan attended by four New York district attorneys.
    “The professional backgrounds of many of the defendants is troubling,” said James T. Hayes Jr., a special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations. “We can no longer assume that the only people who would stoop to prey on children are unemployed drifters.” Other suspects include an airline pilot and an architect.

A version of this article was published on Nov. 9, 2011.