Conversations with paedophiles

Questions about potential child abusers

Sean Moncrieff had a remarkable interview with a paedophile today on Newstalk.

Now, if you know me at all, you’ll be aware that my views on kiddie fiddlers are to the right of Hitler.  I’d feed the fuckers feet first into the gearbox of a fast-running John Deere tractor, and yet, Moncrieff’s show gave me pause.

He spoke to a man who identified himself as a paedophile, which immediately got me bristling, but then it turned out that this person was not a child abuser. This man said he was sexually attracted to children but that he had never acted on his urges and never would.

I find that difficult as a parent and as a human being. When my children were small, I would probably have wanted to kill anyone who harboured such urges, even if they had never acted upon them, but on the other hand, the angry urges of a protective father are not a rational basis on which to establish a civilised society, because angry protective fathers would kill almost anything that looks crooked at their beloved children.   It’s a man thing. It’s a hard-wired thing.

What bothered me about the Moncrieff interview was the notion that paedophiles might be hard-wired.

Where do we go with this?

I don’t know, and I’m not advocating any position on it. I’m certainly not defending paedophiles, but if it turns out that one per cent of the population has this tendency, as suggested during the interview, what are we to do with  the one in a hundred who find themselves sexually aroused by our children?

Emotionally, I want to kill them all right now, but we can’t frame law based on my emotions and anyway, we don’t execute  people in a civilised country, so where is this going? Should laws be based on my emotions as a father? Should laws be based on what a person feels, even if they never act on those feelings? Should we imprison people simply for being what they are, even if they never do any harm, and if so, should we stop there? Should we start to jail people for being potential thieves or Nazis?

I don’t know.

This isn’t one of those prescriptive articles where I tell you what I think.

Moncrieff asked a very hard question that deserves a reflective response by thinking people.

So what do you think?


17 thoughts on “Conversations with paedophiles

  1. It’s a weird one. So if he thinks about kids but doesn’t act on it, should it be a crime?
    If I said to someone “Jaysus is love to buy a bag of weed now” and a Garda heard me, could I get done for it?
    If you solicit sex you can be done for it, even though you haven’t actually done anything wrong. You’ve only thought about it, like those bean Gardai who arrested blokes in town for asking “how much?” a few years back.
    Should the guy on the radio today be treated as a criminal?

  2. As far as I could tell from listening to the interview, he didn’t solicit anything and he didn’t do anything.

    That’s what causes me difficulty. It’s all about what he thinks.

  3. Some people, a minority and dangerous minority, have pedophile urges. Other minorities have sadist tendencies. Let’s just say that some humans have ‘hard-wired’ (?) or ‘inbuilt’ tendencies toward evil. Parents have to be constantly vigilant and protective. The police and the psychiatric profession need to be eternally alert. But news media should not stir the pot with hysteria.

  4. According to today’s mores Socrates and a lot of his peers were paedophiles. I agree with Stephen Fry that sex is equivalent to eating a sandwich, sometimes lovely, sometimes not, sometimes nasty and just as profound.

  5. He didn’t do anything, it’s all in his fantasies, so he said.

    Hm, I’ve been taught that the “superiority” of humans over other animals is that they have a developed brain which recognises morals and can overcome more primitive desires. That this distinguishes humans from other animals. Not that a lot even try it considering the atrocities against other humans, animals and the world as such.

    Now with strange, violent or otherwise dangerous sexual desires, let’s say for example, that a lot of men might have fantasies about raping a woman. But they know it’s wrong and just don’t do it. In ordinary life most are perfectly nice and have healthy relationships (hopefully).

    Let’s say further, a lot of women have fantasies to stab their husbands to death while asleep. Most don’t do it.

    Or, as often mentioned in social media, a lot of parents have fantasies to kill a paedophile – or the scumbag next door. Do they do it? No.

    If this man is hard-wired to sexually abuse children, knows about it and keeps well away from them, in reality and online, because he knows it’s wrong on so many levels than we can’t condemn him, I think. Not as long as he keeps his desires under control.

    As a woman I know how it feels to be permanent an object of sexual fantasies in the minds of men. Not neccessarily me personally but as a woman in general. We live with degrading public pictures, with lecherous glances, unwanted touches, a slap on the wrist for rapists and the lot. Women are hard-wired to accept this as social reality. Most of them at least.
    Nobody cares, it’s normal, isn’t it? Or does anyone condemn a man for having such secret desires?

    Now with children we are rightly outraged because children are, well children. They have a right to be protected. There are no “ifs” and “buts” and certainly no pschological excuses – or any excuses.
    My instincts and my emotions would go the same way as those of many others: Beat the bastard to pulp.
    But in reality I wouldn’t do it, because my violent fantasies are just that: fantasies.

    Neither would I kill or beat a man because he has fantasies about raping a woman.
    But in both cases I would be very wary (if I knew about it) and see to it that the would-be-paedophile or would-be-rapist would be watched closely. And I certainly couldn’t be friends with either.
    But then, do I know about the very secret fantasies of my friends? Or they about mine?

  6. I like carry’s post, if a little long. We all have fantasies – men about women and women about men. If we have a moral sense we can try to repress our fantasy inclinations. But if somebody, particularly a man, has continuous fantasies relating to children and underage teens, would it be advisable to regard such fantasizing as ‘sick’, abnormal and therefore very dangerous? As requiring medical advice and help? And if a man in particular has continuous fantasies about raping women, isn’t this longstanding mental habit also dangerous? Fortunately many fantasizers control their hyper-imaginary urges, using a sense of moral prohibition. Unfortunately for victims of terrible sexual crimes there seems to be no effective conscience to act as a brake against vicious assaults against the vulnerable.

  7. Sorry, Benjamin, for the length. In my job I have to write to the point and in a given range. In private I go all epic …

  8. Yes, thoughts are free and it’s a very catchy German phrase or rather an old song, originally composed in the 13th century. It was about freedom in an age when being free was not a given. The original reads (roughly translated): “Nobody can find the band that ties my thoughts. You can capture woman and man, but nobody can catch thoughts.” There were several versions after that, but the idea behind it remains the same: Physical harm, suffering and oppression can never incarcerate your thoughts. It was a song of the unfree.

    But we live in an age where freedom is conceived as the right to fulfill one’s dreams (or maybe the American constitutional “pursuit of happiness”), no matter what. And that means that the dream of one person to harm another is seen as a right to do just that.

    And there is the danger. Fantasies, as evil as they might be, are one thing, which can actually be channelled into more productive activities or can be compensated in some way or another (i. e. my sometimes murderous fantasies end up in reading gruesome murder mysteries or drafting crime stories myself instead of murdering some eejit I have it in for since ages) or they can be kept consciously under control, if there is no other outlet.

    With the modern concept of “fulfilling one’s dreams” or “live your fantasy” (as such not a bad thing) comes the entitlement attitude and lack of responsibility of many to do as they wish without consideration for others. And there lies the dilemma.

    Too long to read?
    “Die Gedanken sind frei” alright, but some thoughts should better be seen as just thoughts and being kept from entering reality.

  9. That’s the trouble with these comments. You can’t delete or edit them.

    What I should have said, Bock, is that I presume you’re joking when you suggested I was out of my depth.

  10. But we didn’t argue. I just picked up Pat’s German quotation, tried to explain it* and used it as a springboard to get on with my thinking (or typing) aloud process.

    *to readers in general, not to Pat, who at least knows this quote – in German!
    It wasn’t my intent to come across as little Miss-knows-it-all, almost not… ;-)

  11. I agree with Carry on the double. I wasn’t arguing with her. I had an idea she was German or had a German background from some previous references and I thought the German expression was appropriate for that reason and because it encapsulates what I believe is a core concept for the discussion – unless of course we want to enter an Orwellian world of thought crime and thought police. I agree with Carry’s elaboration in response.

  12. To act or not to act?…that is a question. One also needs to consider the criminality within our own consumption of murder, rape, and other such acts while feeling smug in an innocent sort of way, but guilty deep down.

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