Are Jon Henley and The Guardian prophetic or is it just sound science?

Finally, a word in edgeways at the Guardian!. is a blog entry penned by Tom O’Carroll. He points to a media piece by Jon Henley published in The Guardian in which he shares his overview of the current debate regarding the pedophile. As journalism goes these days on this topic Henley’s piece is well written and balanced.

On my Facebook site this comment was offered: “Matt Wilkinson of the Sun, and where one writes seems to be well worth making note of, attacks Henley for being liberal and left-wing. Clearly for him such labels are harmful to writers! Sadly The Sun newspaper and it’s writers see any reasoned argument as pro-pedophile, and if they are right, then it tells us a lot as to where the Sun believes the debate is going to travel to. The fear here is that reason, in the end, will prevail.”

The response to Jon Henley’s article (a sample listed below) has included some strong messages of criticism about the Guardian newspaper for publishing this item, as well as personal attacks on Tom O’Carroll – viewed in such attacks as unable to speak because he has a profile of a ‘career pedophile’.  Sociologically speaking O’Carroll is probably one of the most consistent contributors one can find to the global debate on pedophilia, for a period spanning decades. (For more see his website: Heretic TOC.)

Reflecting on this article by Henley there is an important question in play here, that of what constitutes scientific and moral authority, how is the truth spoken, what are the rules governing this process, and is it that moral positions, especially driven by emotional aspects, can have little or no empirical basis and still stay in play?

Recently in an article by Zachar and Kendler the question was posed can decisions in the sciences like the classification of Pluto as a planet and is homosexuality a mental disorder help us understand how scientific authority functions for us today? In their paper they show there are situations, at times controversial ones at that, where empirical evidence and theorizing can be very much at odds. Their solution is problematic for some issues however. Zachar and Kendler argue for a form of democratic exchange, they see privilege and the seeding of scientific subcommittees with one-sided experts as unhelpful, and on the face of it such a position is easy to agree with. Where this democratic process can be unhelpful are in issues that are deeply socially contentious, issues like pedophilia. Democracy tends to keep social prejudice rather than overturn it.

What is needed is something both secular culture and religion have come to value – in secular thought it comes under the heading of intellectual insight and critical thought; inside the world of religion it is seen as prophetic speech, visionary leadership. From a secular perspective what you end up with is a better view of the real, and in some cases that includes an emancipated society and culture; in religious groups it is an appreciation of the divine and the human. Both frames of reference see any situation as able to be improved able to get better, science can progress from where it is to a science which is more sound, societies that are more humane. Perhaps that is what unites a person like Tom O’Carroll and the sex abuse industry, there is a belief that things can improve, child abuse can be reduced, individuals can see themselves as being inside a human community and they should not be expelled for being sexually what they feel they cannot change – and why should they.

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5 thoughts on “Are Jon Henley and The Guardian prophetic or is it just sound science?

  1. Look, as a pedophile, Tom Watson reply is very demonizing. He treats pedophiles as “infiltrating” academia and such: The idea behind this is that pedophiles arent members of society. They are “others”, monsters hiding in the dark. Pedophiles “infiltrate” society: they are not member of it. Pedophiles “infiltrate” institutions: they are not decent and worthwhile members of them. I am not ok with that kind of thinking.

    Pedophiles are human beings. We are not perverts or predators: Most of us are productive, happy and law-abiding members of society. We are not monsters lurking in the shadow. We are members of society. Your son, your daughter, your best friend can be a pedophile. That doesnt make him bad or evil.

    Now, if pedophilia was considered a sexual orientation: what would be the problem? What rights would you loose? We are not talking about depriving people from their rights. We are talking about giving a little of self-esteem, of self-respect to people who live being marginalized and excluded from society. Heterosexuals and homosexuals wouldnt loose rights. You wouldnt loose anything. And we would win self-respect, self-esteem, respect. We wouldnt be considered sub-human creeps, unworthwhile of human treatment.

    You know how many children and teens are pedophiles? Did you know that most pedophiles find about their sexual orientation when they are not even 15? That would let those kids to feel a little human.

  2. In a nutshell: pedophiles are not “others”. There is no “us” and “them”, there is only “us”. Louis Jordan said “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”. There is no clear cut between pedophiles and non-pedophiles. There is no division between pedophiles and people who want to protect children: Many pedophiles want to protect children as much as heteros and gays and many who work everyday to protect children are pedophiles. Most child abuse is not done by pedophiles: is done by straight men. Children starving, tortured, killed in a war, in a bombing, are killed by heterosexual men. On the other hand, many of the pedophiles that society demonize have never hurt a kid in anyway and in fact work to protect children. That is the whole message of Sarah D. Goode’s books. That is what society has to understand.

    • Sorry, I agree with this comment to the point at which suddenly “straight men” and “heterosexual men” are the source of every evil, not paedophiles.

      Surely, if “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”, from where on earth do all these “straight, heterosexual men” starving, torturing, bombing and killing children suddenly spring up?

      I am mindful of Durkheim, who pointed out that human societies need Others in order to exist. Here, apparently, in order to define and identify themselves, ‘virtuous paedophiles’ need infanticidal straight men.

      But it was feminists who invoked paedophiles, insisting on the need to ‘protect children’ from them not ‘straight men’. The history and geneaology of the movement is well attested in the public record. I agree, there is no division between pedophiles and people who want to protect children. That’s the problem.

      I argue that childhood, like consciousness, and sex, is not an object that exists empirically in the real world. Part of this ongoing dilemma in ‘child protection’ derives from the fact that far too many so-called ‘adults’ need children in order to exist, in order to create an identity and industry and jobs for themselves, not the other way around.

      The more relevant question to be put is why children need all this ‘protecting’ all the time, from whom or what? From all these infanticidal heterosexual men? Surely you jest.

      If we are going to have universal human rights in which everyone is to be considered equal, before the law at least, then let those rights be universal, and include children and men along with all these feminists and gays and paedophiles and child protectors around the place.

      If we are all to be chickens, let’s just be chickens.

      • The wording of my title for the blog piece deliberately pointed to two owners of a body of knowledge, one religion with its ideas, beliefs, and prophets, the other being science with its desire to be ever evolving, always more sound. I don’t argue for their removal; I do look for when they can come together and both nod their head and say, let’s go this way in order to make things better.

        Durkheim is a bit had to assess for me because this preference for the many over the one is the very thing that underpins that idea “we know what’s good for you” message regarding the care of the young. In a similar way I am uncomfortable with the idea feminists made it happen regarding the fate of those men who are labelled pedophile. Do I really want to attribute that much clout to feminist programs for social change, any more than I see liberation for gay men means demonising straights (heterosexuals).

        Nothing here but us chickens, yes, it is the straight-forward us who are to decide what is next and what really is.

  3. The recovery of that universal view where people are all considered equal, and where everyone has the same rights, legal and civil, is something our societies and cultures need to work on I think. Most minor attracted people who have put their head up and spoken about their life in spaces like America, England, and New Zealand would say lack of real equality is a issue 2013. The social positioning of the pedophile profile is very negative at this pioint in time. This speaks directly to what the Virtuous pedophile goup want to say, based on what the comments above say at least.

    At the same time I don’t see this group (Virtuous pedophiles) as universally embraced by all minor attracted persons as ‘their voice’, so there are other things said and done by this group that perhaps needs to be placed on the table. I am glad the group stepped up to speak, but I won’t speak for them, that is not my job.

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