This blog is called "Celibate Pedophiles". The core message is that many pedophiles never engage in any illegal activity and pose no danger to children. As a result we deserve civil liberties and respect -- and if we dare to hope for more, compassion and assistance.
But then there are the other pedophiles, the ones who are not celibate. If I took a narrow view, I could distinguish us as vigorously as possible from them. Perhaps I could win favor by suggesting even more draconian punishments. We are OK, but they are evil monsters.
I can't do that because I don't think it's true.
Yes, there is the occasional horrific pedophile who does unspeakable things to a Jeff or an Amber or a Megan. The best way to think about those men is as psychopaths who also happen to be pedophiles. Similarly horrific crimes against adult women are far more common, and we do not focus on the perpetrator's sexual attraction to adults as the key factor.
There are also plenty of pedophiles who commit crimes that are less serious -- though still serious. If you think pedophilia is an evil, alien force that robs a person of his essential humanity, then there is no limit to how harsh a punishment is appropriate. Our ancestors burned witches -- and if all the facts and theology had been as they thought, it made sense. But once you know that pedophilia is a sexual attraction that is set early in life and cannot be changed, and that the people who have it are essentially normal in all other respects, then it is no longer evil and alien. If you actually know what it is like to be sexually attracted to a young child, as I do, then you naturally feel compassion for a pedophile offender in one key respect -- you get the fundamental motivation. You see them as people who made bad choices, just like other criminals. And you then want society and the legal system to treat them by the same standards as they treat any other criminals.
I am opposed to sex offender mandatory minimum sentences, civil commitment, sex offender registries, and post-release restrictions on residency. I think criminal penalties for many sex offenses against children are too harsh. I'll probably get to all those topics in time, and more as well.
In addressing such topics, I take the risk of diluting my fundamental message -- that lots of pedophiles never break the law. But a sexual attraction is something important I share with pedophiles who break the law, and I can't just ignore them or demonize them.