In my last post<last post> I argued that once erroneous beliefs about pedophilic desire are corrected, a cascade of bad consequences can be corrected and eliminated.
With the exception of the true believers of some conservative religions, modern people recognize that sex is a good thing. It's good for health and mood. We encourage people to find willing adult partners for whatever they like and go for it. As I described in my last post, having decided that gay male attraction is just fine, we encourage gay men to have fulfilling sex lives too.
Of course, we also recognize individual choice as paramount. If a person for whatever reasons, for instance a personal moral code, feels that sexual activity for them is not right, then that must be respected above all.
In some cases, sex involving another person is not possible or not such a good idea. One example is people with physical disabilities. We are sympathetic to their plight and think creatively of how they can achieve some measure of sexual satisfaction. Another is those with serious emotional or intellectual impairments. Once again, we would encourage them to masturbate if they wanted to.
Another interesting case is pubescent or adolescent kids. Joycelyn Elders was for a brief while the Surgeon General of the US. To quote Wikipedia, "She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in risker forms of sexual activity, and she replied, 'I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.' " She was forced to resign by conservatives, but social liberals knew her claim was entirely reasonable. Masturbation is a great way for people of any age to achieve sexual satisfaction when there are reasons to abstain from partner sex.
Most men continue to masturbate even after they are married. There is a controversy about pornography (<here is an example> chosen almost at random). The liberal view is that for ordinary men, porn in moderation is just part of the good life. Before explicit porn became so very easy to get, men were interested in calendar girls and Playboy centerfolds.
So, now we come to pedophiles (funny how most of my posts come around to pedophiles sooner or later). The decent pedophile does not want to have sex with children because he knows it poses a risk of severe harm to the child, but he has the same sex drive as anyone else. His interest in children was not something he chose and he cannot make it go away. His best available expression of his desire is masturbation. Masturbation is usually supported by fantasy. Human beings deserve sexual satisfaction, and pedophiles are human beings. Pedophiles masturbating to fantasies of children is a good thing. Now, we can consider other reasons why on balance it might not be good if it leads to bad consequences, but in and of itself it is a good thing. To many in society this is a radical idea. I challenge social liberals to construct counterarguments, given their basic position that human freedom and self-fulfillment are a good thing if they do not harm others. This position will be shocking even to a great many pedophiles -- who, like gay men in times past, grew up hating themselves and their attractions.
What about those "other considerations"? An instructive comparison is gay men in the 1980s. It was known that receptive anal sex without a condom posed a major risk of contracting AIDS. So a typical view was that any men who did that were crazy, selfish, or deserved what was coming to them -- and were guilty of spreading the virus so that "decent" (that is straight) people were at risk. But the truth was that anal sex without a condom was central to the sexual satisfaction of many gay men, and was therefore a good thing in and of itself. The risk of AIDS was a serious one, and large segments of the gay community did come to accept condom use, but it was at a serious cost to the good life for gay men.
There is in fact no comparable harm to pedophiles masturbating to pictures of children. One candidate that has been proposed is that it leads pedophiles to the abuse of real children. Another is that it creates a market for the creation of child pornography and thus the suffering of more children. Both of those arguments are very weak, in my opinion, but those are subjects for other posts. The main point is that any such considerations are negatives that must be weighed against a positive -- sexual satisfaction of pedophiles. If countervailing concerns are tiny or highly uncertain, then the positive should win.
Some could argue that any danger of child abuse, however tiny, should outweigh any sort of carnal satisfaction. Yet we do not in practice observe this anywhere else in life. Any time you drive your car to get to some frivolous entertainment, there is a small chance that you will kill or maim a child in a collision, yet we accept such risks without a second thought. And sexual satisfaction is not a frivolous entertainment.
The calculus may be different for individual men. Those who have in the past abused a child sexually have a much higher risk. Any pedophile who feels that sexual fantasies involving children pose a risk for him personally of abusing a child should take this very seriously. I offer them all my full support in a decision to abstain.