NOM Continues to Conflate Homosexuality and Pedophilia


The vile National Organization for Bigotry Marriage, which is actually anti-marriage, continues its long history of ridiculous and bigoted anti-gay screeds by once again conflating homosexuality and pedophilia in a post by Douglas Farrow, a professor of “Christian Thought” at McGill University, which is actually just part of a longer piece in Touchstone Magazine.

Pedophilia, for example, is an orientation, or so the psychologists tell us. And orientations are now constitutionally protected, not to say politically celebrated. How then can we continue discriminating against pedophiles, which clearly we do?

Pedophiles naturally, hence in some sense appropriately, desire sex with children. Children, on the other hand, being vulnerable in various ways, need to be protected from sexual advances by adults. So we tell pedophiles that they must restrain themselves, or find other outlets for their sexual urges. Which is discriminatory…

We can try to justify the discrimination by proceeding to a balance of harm argument, of course, but we cannot then avoid the implication that there exists no inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation. And if that is true for pedophiles—perhaps for consistency we should call them pedosexuals—it is true also for homosexuals and heterosexuals. There may be, or arise, real and present dangers to society that justify repression of one or both of the latter, as of the former; and the same is true for any other tendency or orientation.

Alternatively, we can attack one of the premises, so as to invalidate the conclusion altogether. We might attack the first premise by saying that pedophilia is unnatural and immoral; that it is, in itself and as such, an illegitimate attraction, a morally and psychologically misdirected orientation. That indeed is the traditional view, but of course the traditional view does not recognize orientation as a protected category in the first place. To say that an orientation may be misdirected or illegitimate is to say that it cannot serve, as a person’s sex serves, to qualify one for legal protection. In other words, to attack the first premise is to fall back into the old biological objectivism and into the despised public morality of a pre-Benthamite era.

Perhaps, then, we are not prepared to attack the first premise; recognizing that, if we do attack it, we must either show that pedophilia is not really an orientation at all (but what then is an orientation?) or be prepared to overturn the jurisprudence and legislation entrenching orientation as a protected category. In that case, we may prefer to attack instead the second premise, and avoid in that way the troublesome and discriminatory conclusion—restrain yourself or else!—that puts pedophiles in the position that homosexuals, or for that matter philandering heterosexuals, once were in.

Ah yes, the false dichotomy. He pretends that the only possible way to distinguish between homosexuality and pedophilia, since both might broadly be called “orientations” is to do away with the very idea of orientations or to revert back to his own anti-gay reasoning. But that’s nonsense. He ignores the most obvious difference between the two, a distinction that is at the very heart of the notion of individual rights: Pedophilia harms someone against their will, before they are of an age to make a rational choice. Homosexual relations between consenting adults obviously do not. That is a distinction that is at the very core of a free society, as expressed so well by Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill and scores of others.

But to admit that is to show that the real premise of his argument is the desire to impose his religious rules on others and to punish gay people for daring to be what he wishes they were not. His position is a dishonest pretext, not a serious argument.

Comments

  1. says

    My god, how does someone who’s that sloppy a thinker get a faculty position at a respectable secular university? This Professor of “Christian Thought” seems bent on demonstrating that there’s no such thing.

  2. MikeMa says

    Yeah, he really doesn’t understand consent since his religion doesn’t require it for the wives I guess. I’m surprised there are no references to goats.

  3. plutosdad says

    The amazing thing is, the bible has next to nothing to say about pedophilia. If he TRULY thinks not “harming others” (not to improve them like disciplining your child) is NOT the basis for morality, but instead wants to rely on several thousands of years old texts, then he should welcome pedophilia as normal, and still hate gay men. But he obviously doesn’t believe that.

    He is onto one thing, if we cannot call desires “wrong”, then we should treat pedophiles the same way as anyone else. Their desires are dangerous, but not necessarily “morally wrong” (I mean the attraction only).

    I think it would go a long way toward improving justice and protecting children if we DID treat pedophiles as people in need of our help, rather than monsters we should despise. If those people could come forward before they harm a child and ask for help, and get it, then children may be a lot safer.

    But we have to subjugate our desire to punish people in order to do this.

    Ok my actually point to all that is: I think what he fears so much is losing the ability to judge and think he’s better than others. But losing that privilege would instead improve society, the justice system, and protect the weak far better than the punishment based system we use now.

    After reading Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape and how people actually want to punish and how pleasure centers of their brains show activation when they think about punishing, I am more than ever convinced our desire to punish wrongdoers is just as negative a feeling to act on as the feelings the wrongdoers acted on. After all, if hurting another person makes you feel better, how come in one context we say it’s ok, but in another context it’s wrong?

  4. Stevarious says

    it is true also for homosexuals and heterosexuals. There may be, or arise, real and present dangers to society that justify repression of one or both of the latter, as of the former; and the same is true for any other tendency or orientation.

    That’s right! We do exactly that when we outlaw rape! Gay rape and hetero rape are both illegal! Obviously the distinction is harm and consent! You are right on the brink of a blinding epiphany!

    Alternatively, we can attack one of the premises, so as to invalidate the conclusion altogether.

    Dammit! You were so close!

  5. Phillip IV says

    There may be, or arise, real and present dangers to society that justify repression of one or both of the latter, as of the former; and the same is true for any other tendency or orientation.

    Hmm, if we would accept that argument…and look at some world population statistics at the side…I guess he’s making an argument for repressing all procreative forms of sexual behavior, and promote non-procreative forms? Ah, no – given how he’s a Oxy-Moron (“Christian Thought”? Really?) he probably refers to the supposed harm gay marriage is going to be doing to society – you know, the harm that people like Farrow tend to allege to be ‘obvious’ and ‘inevitable’ despite the absence of any actual evidence.

  6. John Hinkle says

    I read that blurb twice, and both times my reaction was akin to flies buzzing in my ears. It sounds like so much blah blah blah. I guess that’s what you get with sophistimicated theology.

  7. sivivolk says

    Hey Ed,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’m going to check with the Freethought Association at McGill, and see if we can call some attention to this on campus. It comes in the wake of an online campus newspaper re-posting an article on the dangers of same-sex couples adopting children, and we might be able to make a bit of noise.

  8. matty1 says

    I just want to shout at these people, “Consent, fucking consent”

    They may take that as a request.

  9. kermit. says

    As an atheist, I am not blessed with an arbitrary list of taboos and required behavior; I have to act on the assumption that morality is about how we treat other people.

    Since consent is irrelevant for the moral value or their behavior (by their standards), they really do not fundamentally understand the difference between consenting adults and child rape. Many of them are still baffled by the concept that raping a wife is (or should be) illegal.

    They have the morals of the samurai – that is, morality, or right behavior, is being willing to obey their lord’s commands. If a lord told one of his samurai warriors to behead a peasant, then that peasant’s head would roll. The samurai’s own feelings are irrelevant, or should be, in their value system. In fact, they are judged for not wanting what their lord wants.

    This is a hard path to follow, but it’s a largely arbitrary one, and difficult to predict. Samurai can fight each other if their lord’s have a conflict. So to can fundamentalist theists fight each other if they hear different commands from their imaginary lord god. If psychotic, they can hear *anything, and have the social infrastructure, the approval, for carrying the orders out. If merely delusional but sane, they still can interpret their bible in any number of ways. Since it’s a type of Rorschach ink blot, they can see whatever they want – literally – in their book. The words are so contradictory and vague and symbolic that their own desires are the primary process for finding meaning in it.

    In an ideal world, concrete thinkers wouldn’t ever come in contact with religion :(

  10. matty1 says

    @plutosdad,

    I entirely agree, the problem is we have trouble distinguishing pedophiles from child molestors so any attempt to reduce future abuse by focusing medical treatment on those ‘at risk’ of causing harm will be shouted down on the assumption you are talking about letting child rapists ‘get away with it’.

  11. anteprepro says

    Children, on the other hand, being vulnerable in various ways, need to be protected from sexual advances by adults. So we tell pedophiles that they must restrain themselves, or find other outlets for their sexual urges….
    We can try to justify the discrimination by proceeding to a balance of harm argument, of course, but we cannot then avoid the implication that there exists no inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation. And if that is true for pedophiles—perhaps for consistency we should call them pedosexuals—it is true also for homosexuals and heterosexuals.

    Right. So he acknowledges that we tell pedophiles to restrain themselves because having sex with children harms them. But, instead of just leaving it at that, like a decent human being, he takes the argument that because one doesn’t have the right to harm others via “sexual self-expression” and concludes that one doesn’t have a right to “sexual self-expression” at all, regardless of harm. Which is quite the leap in logic. He might as well be saying that because rape is criminal, all sex should be criminal.

  12. d cwilson says

    We can try to justify the discrimination by proceeding to a balance of harm argument, of course, but we cannot then avoid the implication that there exists no inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation.

    I keep reading this sentence over and over and I still don’t have any clue as to what he is trying to say other than to quickly dispose of the harm argument.

    First he says there’s no “inviolable right to sexual self-expression”, but there is a right to self-expression. It’s called the First Amendment. Then he claims there’s no right to public approval. So what? Why do this authoritarians never seem to understand that the whole point of the Bill of Rights is to ensure that our rights are not subject to the whims of public approval?

    Either way, what does that have to do with the idea of harm? Just because you think something is icky doesn’t me the harm argument isn’t valid.

  13. scienceavenger says

    We might attack the first premise by saying that pedophilia is unnatural…

    You might, except that flies in the face of, what is that again…oh yeah, REALITY. In nature, males pretty much take females when they are wont to, or when the females are capable of procreating, regardless of their age. OTOH, having an arbitrary absolute age limit on whom one can have sex with is about as unnatural as one can get.

    But since when is what happens in nature the standard for the rules we should adopt in society? Isn’t the entire point of civilization to remove ourselves in large part from the attributes of a purely natural, “nasty, brutish, and short” existence?

  14. Ramel says

    So by his logic: Collecting stamps and collecting freshly severed ears are both hobbies, if you believe people should be allowed to collect stamps then you can’t argue that cutting peoples ears off is wrong….

  15. says

    @15: May I point out that the Thoughtless Christian Professor is in Canada, where the American Constitution and its various amendments do not apply?

    Not that that changes the basic principle at stake, which the TCP seems to be missing: if your actions are no hurting me, or any vulnerable third party, then it’s none of my business.

  16. jonrowe says

    Indeed the DEFINING feature of wrongness of pedophilia is that it harms the underaged child involved and that is WHOLLY absent from homosexual relations between consenting adults.

    The “nature” angle only strengthens this distinction (making the invocation by the professor totally inapt). How exactly is pedophilia “unnatural”? Nature says once children are fertile they are “adults”. Hence having sex with a post pubescent 14 year old may be immoral (I think it is) but there is no plausible “unnatural” argument. Yet IT’s immoral for PRECISELY the same reason having sex with a prepubescent 11 year old is: It harms the underaged actor involved.

  17. anandine says

    Where do we draw the line? Well, we draw it between what consenting adults do together and what an adult does to a child.

    They seem to think that if we allow adults to do any particular thing, then we must allow them to do everything. If we allow people to be gay, then we have to allow them to commit murder.

  18. exdrone says

    anteprepo @14:

    he takes the argument that because one doesn’t have the right to harm others via “sexual self-expression” and concludes that one doesn’t have a right to “sexual self-expression” at all, regardless of harm. Which is quite the leap in logic. He might as well be saying that because rape is criminal, all sex should be criminal.

    Yup. That was the line of logic that I thought he was following. Ban sex altogether in order to preclude discrimination. The beauty of this solution is that it will eventually solve the problem for all time. So, done and done. Next problem up.

  19. Pinky says

    What’s next on the NOM’s agenda? Who will be the next target of their nebulous hate?

    Going after those uppity women who do not obey their husbands?

    Lamenting the law preventing them from beating their children bloody so the young can be twisted into the shape of their religion?

    Does NOM have the filthy “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” sitting in a closet for a rainy day?

    NOM please; you are so last millennium.

  20. says

    I wonder if the professor would support the idea of all men being subject to some sort of easily reverseable “chemical castration” to prevent them having sex without permission. After all most rapes are committed by men, and in general fundies think that sex and marriage are only truly proper when procreation is involved. So obviously men should only be allowed to have sex if they’re trying to impregnate their wives. If possible they should only be allowed to have sex when their wife is at the fertile point of her cycle. Such a drug regime would also prevent gay sex, and perhaps the surveillance needed to monitor each woman’s fertility cycle would prevent them doing bad things like having any sort of sexual pleasure.

  21. zmidponk says

    We can try to justify the discrimination by proceeding to a balance of harm argument, of course, but we cannot then avoid the implication that there exists no inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation.

    Does Farrow not understand that this argument cuts both ways? If there is no ‘inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation’ that protects homosexuality, then surely this is equally true of heterosexuality, and the idea that heterosexuality is the ‘correct’ sexuality, and thus is the only kind of sexuality that should be allowed to be formally recognised by a marriage. If neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality are protected in this way, why is it that homosexual couples shouldn’t be allowed to be married?

  22. escuerd says

    We can try to justify the discrimination by proceeding to a balance of harm argument, of course

    Of course. And this is implicit in most arguments against discrimination. “I’m not hurting anyone by being different, so why I am I being treated as a lesser person for it?” The first part usually need not be explicit, since when someone is being different in a way that hurts others, the answer to the second part is obvious.

    but we cannot then avoid the implication that there exists no inviolable right to sexual self-expression or indeed to public approval of a so-called orientation.

    So he has discovered that people’s rights are violable when they begin to violate the rights of others. Good for him. Now if he can actually establish how that relates to gay people, I might care what he has to say.

  23. says

    So he has discovered that people’s rights are violable when they begin to violate the rights of others.

    Indeed: even free speech is infringible (and I’m pretty sure that even our host would agree) in certain cases. But it’s still allowable to eg. call apologists for religious bigotry poopy-heads (and for them to return the compliment, should they wish).

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