Keep authoritarians away from all children

They look like normal human beings!

I have a confession to make: I’m a heterosexual male. I find women’s bodies attractive. I’ve looked at porn, and even found some of it titillating.

That fact does not overwhelm my interactions with women, and isn’t even a minor factor in how I regard them. I don’t “rate” women, and I don’t collect pornography — it’s not that interesting. Collecting photos of random naked women is more than a little creepy.

So there are a lot of things I don’t understand about this.

A former deacon for Moscow’s Christ Church has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Alex Lloyd was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene this week. Judge Lynn Winmill handed down the sentence and ordered Lloyd to pay $5,000 in restitution and placed him on probation for 20 years.

Lloyd pleaded guilty in federal court in August.

Adult pornography isn’t criminalized, but if it were, I’d be safe, even after confessing that I like women’s bodies. I don’t find the idea of collecting computer images of sexy people at all appealing. Don’t they know that real relationships are much more satisfying? What is going on in the heads of these fools? They’re obsessed with some of the most vile pornography I can imagine!

And then there’s this recent bust.

A Chicago man faces several child pornography charges in Cook County after a federal investigation infiltrated the encrypted media app Telegram and found a cross-country network of people sexually exploiting children, the Sun-Times has learned.

The work of Homeland Security Investigations in Arizona, dubbed Operation Swipe Left, led agents to Norris “Nick” Stauffer, 27, who is charged here with disseminating child pornography, records show.

It also resulted in criminal charges against more than a dozen people elsewhere — including at least two with political ties — amid allegations of livestreamed abuse, kidnapping threats and the production and distribution of child pornography.

A federal judge called some of the allegations “horrific.” When agents raided one suspect’s home, video depicting the sexual abuse of an infant was allegedly playing on a screen. And Cook County Circuit Judge Mary Marubio stressed to Stauffer in February 2022 that “this is not a victimless crime.”

“This is a crime that preys on children and exploits children,” the judge said, according to a court transcript.

At least 17 people have been charged in all, including in Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., California and South Africa, authorities say. Judges have handed significant prison time to nine of them. Ages of the group’s victims ranged from 6 months to 17 years old, according to a Homeland Security Investigations official.

Yeesh. It’s like trying to understand serial killers — it makes no sense, but somehow the culprits find gratification in it. The investigators can’t find any thread of a connection between all these wicked people.

Eric McLoughlin, deputy special-agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix, Arizona, said most of the defendants charged come from more varied backgrounds than Hageman and Verastigui. They included a youth soccer coach, an amusement park employee and the son of a police officer, McLoughlin said.

Records show Stauffer worked for a grocery chain.

“We often see that the types of individuals involved in these horrific acts, really, they come from all different walks of life,” McLoughlin said.

Except, maybe, one thing they’re overlooking. One of the scumbags worked for the Republican party, another for Turning Point USA. All of them were using Telegram, a service popular among conservatives. They were happily chatting with one another, thinking they were protected by encryption, and reinforcing their sickness with extreme comments.

Separately, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., filed charges in February 2021 against Verastigui, who has been identified as a former Republican National Committee staffer in multiple news reports. Prosecutors alleged Verastigui told a group he “can’t stop thinking about touching, raping and killing a newborn baby.”

All of them conservative. Alex Lloyd was a member of a notoriously conservative church. Also, all of them men. These are the kind of men who protest loudly about “groomers” and think drag queens reading books to children is somehow nefarious. There’s got to be a connection in there, somewhere.


  1. raven says

    There’s got to be a connection in there, somewhere.

    There is.
    I’ve posted it a dozen times at least. Once more because it is relevant.

    A lot of it is because of authoritarian, patriarchial ideology and beliefs.
    When you believe a male is superior and dominant because god set things up that way, child sexual abuse rates end up much higher. So does domestic violence directed at women.

    To quote one well known escapee from the fundie xian swamp, it is a broken system and not fixable.

    From “Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches”, by Carolyn Holderread Heggen, Herald Press, Scotdale, PA, 1993 p. 73:

    “A disturbing fact continues to surface in sex abuse research. The first best predictor of abuse is alcohol or drug addiction in the father.

    But the second best predictor is conservative religiosity, accompanied by parental belief in traditional male-female roles.
    This means that if you want to know which children are most likely to be sexually abused by their father, the second most significant clue is *whether or not the parents belong to a conservative religious group with traditional role beliefs and rigid sexual attitudes*. (Brown and Bohn, 1989; Finkelhor, 1986; Fortune, 1983; Goldstein et al, 1973; Van
    Leeuwen, 1990). (emphasis in original)

  2. raven says

    More, old post.
    Reverend Katheryn Riss is BTW, a xian minister.
    “…father perpetuators rigidly uphold “old fashioned” values,
    emphasize the subordination of women, and isolate the family unit.”

    Katheryn Riss:“Traditional” Sex Role Hierarchy Is Associated with Domestic Violence and Incest Studies of highly religious homes in which abuse and incest take place show that father perpetuators rigidly uphold “old fashioned” values,
    emphasize the subordination of women, and isolate the family unit.

    They often blame their sexual sin on their daughter/victims. The mothers, fearing conflict with the husband and censure by the religious community, often ignore the incest. Dependent on the fathers economically and emotionally, such wives avoid confronting their abusive husbands, thus allowing the incest to continue.2 Thus, the imbalance and inequality of “traditional” marriages can be dangerous.
    To quote some experts: “Helfer and Kempe (1968) in their book The Battered Child report that the assault rate on children of parents who subscribe to the belief of male dominance is 136 percent higher than for couples not committed to male dominance.”3

    Of course, child and wife physical and mental abuse is also very high. Looks pretty dysfunctional all around.FWIW, the author of this paragraph is a christian minister, Reverend Kathryn Riss. I know putting a Reverend in front of a female name makes fundie heads explode.

    Carolyn Holderread Heggen, “Religious Beliefs and Abuse” 3 in Women, Abuse and the Bible;How Scripture Can Be used to Hurt or Heal, edited by Catherine Clark Kroeger, (Grand Rapids,MI: Baker Books, 1996), p. 17.4 David H. Scholar, “The Evangelical Debate Over Biblical ‘Headship’” in Kroeger, p. 29.5 Jackie M. Hudson, “Characteristics of the Incestuous Family”, in Kroeger, p. 726 Ibid., pp. 77-78.7 Holderread Haggan, p. 17.

  3. littlejohn says

    Well, yes of course real relationships are much more fulfilling. But what does that have to do with people – usually men – who are only sexually attracted to children? Surely it’s better that they look at porn than have a “real” relationship with a child. Please don’t misunderstand me – I find pedophilia vile. But no one (I presume) chooses to be a pedophile. Short of executing them, what is your solution?

  4. says

    I put this on the open political thread on nextdoor for Tucson, AZ.
    We have a public opportunity to talk about grooming. The man who sexualizes his daughter and barges in on teen pageants like it’s ok called DeFascist a groomer and pedophile. Since Ron is part of the same authoritarian culture I would not be surprised to see grooming behavior in him too.

    The beer with students is inappropriate and can be seen as grooming, but wow. This has better potential than my hope that Biden and Trump would have to argue about who the “real sexual harasser” was.

    There’s an opportunity here.

  5. says

    “it’s better that they look at porn than have a “real” relationship with a child”…that’s a rather common rationalization.
    Surely it’s better that a man look at sadistic porn than that he actually torture his wife. Surely it’s better that a man torture his wife than that he actually murders her.
    How about if we condemn it all and recognize that these people are unsavory and not fit to be associated with children, or god help us, make policies regulating children?

  6. euclide says

    @4 : therapy, medication to limit urges, social control to avoid them being in contact with children, with strong safeguards to avoid excess policing (like using the same laws for sexting by minors because it’s easy)

    But like all the intersection between criminal and mental health issues, it’s complicated but has to be treated somehow

  7. lasius says


    Surely it’s better that a man look at sadistic porn than that he actually torture his wife.

    I don’t judge porn I find icky, as long as everyone involved in it’s creation was a consenting adult. Of course for child porn involving real children that’s right out.

  8. lasius says


    I diasagree. Being sexually attracted to children by itself is not illegal and a pedophile should not be forced into therapy or medication against their will if they have not acted criminally. Otherwise you could argue to pre-emptively medicate all heterosexual men as potential rapists.

  9. epawtows says

    @6: It is possible to make porn without involving actual people: artistic drawings, animation, computer -generated, etc.
    Not saying that a computer -generated image of a kid being tortured is okay, even if it’s low fidelity enough there is no chance of anyone mistaking it for real (i.e. more like Second Life, not a Deepfake). But the fact that it exists means just opposing on the grounds of ‘it exploited someone ‘ is inadequate.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    … ordered Lloyd to pay $5,000 in restitution …

    The linked story does not explain who Lloyd took the 5K from that he must now restore. Did the court make him pay for his own prosecution?

    … investigators can’t find any thread of a connection between all these wicked people. … They were happily chatting with one another…

    What does “thread of a connection” mean, then?

  11. ardipithecus says


    Regardless of how the child porn is generated, it is still degrading to children, and contributes to the perception of children as less than real people. Cf. blackface and cultural appropriation.

    Coddling pedophilia with computer generated stimuli may be a form of harm reduction, but it isn’t a solution by any means.

  12. wzrd1 says

    The man who sexualizes his daughter and barges in on teen pageants like it’s ok called DeFascist a groomer and pedophile.

    Trump, like most of the far right has long been heavy on projection.

    As for CGI or living children being victimized and videos used for gratification, in many, many cases, physical action upon those urges occurred after repeated viewing of such video content.
    Look for research in a search of DSM-III-R 302.20.

    For more information on the scope, which I suspect only scratches the surface, see:
    I do suggest reading with an empty stomach, I’m glad mine was empty.
    Table 1 on page 10 is telling, page 20 as to preferences, habits and TTP’s are discussed immediately after the tables.
    Citations are in appendix II.

    Addressing and correcting for such aberrant behavior I’ll leave to brighter minds that are more knowledgeable than myself, just as I’ll entrust brain surgery to a neurosurgeon who specializes in brain surgery to address such needs. I’m neither a criminal justice expert, nor a psychiatrist, but I do know when to defer to such experts and especially, when to consult with them.

  13. vucodlak says

    The comments in this thread touch on a related topic I’ve been curious about for some time, and this seems like a good place to have the discussion, so: what are everyone’s thoughts on the best methods of rooting out and exterminating pedophiles?

    I’m thinking some sort of standardized testing would be necessary, but when? I’m thinking it would have to be early teens. While it’s true that pedophiles are likely pedophiles from birth, I’m not sure it would be possible to sort out normal attractions between younger children from pedophilia. The test I’m envisioning would probably be something like a detailed questionnaire coupled with some kind of apparatus meant to detect response to certain stimuli, sort of a cross between a polygraph and that thing from Blade Runner.

    Then, once a pedophile has been detected by the testing, what would be the best method of disposing of them? Lethal injection remains a popular method in the US, but it’s getting harder to obtain the drugs used and find competent people to administer them. In any case, lethal injection is mostly designed to cause maximum suffering while still looking “clean,” so I think it should be avoided.

    I think either a firing squad or a device like a guillotine would be the best method. We’d certainly have no shortage of volunteers for the former, especially if we ensured that everyone was using live ammo, but the latter would be more reliable. Either way, it should be quick, clean, and followed immediately by cremation to prevent anyone from defiling the remains. I think it best that the state refrain from wanton cruelty wherever possible.

    I think the best way to handle it would be to do it all in the schools, around eighth grade. The whole thing could probably be handled in a day if execution and cremation facilities were added to every middle school, minimizing the disruption. We could offer nice commemorative urns to parents whose pedophile offspring have been eliminated, and maybe some kind of tax breaks, to ease any hurt feelings. Children who pass the tests could get ice cream, so they don’t feel left out.

    The real problem, I think, is finding a solution to those pedophiles who are already past testing age. Perhaps most could be caught if they had to be tested to renew their driver’s licenses, but some would still slip through the cracks.

    Anyway, I’m eager to see other ideas on the topic of detecting and eliminating this scourge. Oh, here’s a thought- what if, instead of creating the bodies, we ground them up and used them to supplement healthy meals in the school cafeteria? Certainly couldn’t be worse than what my school served us for lunch.

  14. says


    It’s called “restitution” for historical legal-language-neepery reasons. (“Damages” aren’t allowed in criminal sentences in the US.) The “restitution” is supposed to be paid to the children in the actual images for which there was a criminal judgment rendered. (Legal language neepery again — frequently, the collection is so large that only a few exemplars are put into evidence, and it’s only those formally entered in proceedings that can cause restitution.)

    According to the governing statute, the restitution is supposed to help repay for the therapy, etc. that the victims will need to move on with their lives. Naturally, it’s in an amount bearing little or no relation to that purpose — but that’s a consistent problem across all criminal restitution penalties, state and federal, child-victim and otherwise, sexually related and otherwise. (Really: When’s the last time that the “restitution” award imposed on a drunk driver, which is usually capped at an obscenely small amount and is outside the scope of insurance coverage for a parallel suit, covered the potential mental-health consequences for a teenager who saw a parent die?)

    This is one of those “there is no winner” situations. On the one hand, leaving “solely up to the judge” has historically created Problems, and will in the future. And will always seem unfair to someone. On the other hand, leaving it up to the legislature… has historically created Problems, and will in the future. But those are the two choices we have been left with.

  15. wzrd1 says

    @vucodlak, so we’ll summarily execute people entirely absent a crime of any sort, just due to a trait that would require magic to even detect?
    What other traits should be exercise your neo-eugenics pogrom upon?

  16. VolcanoMan says

    I dunno…the very idea of sex with children makes me throw up a little in my mouth, and I cannot imagine getting enjoyment from watching others do it. To my mind, I don’t see how this could even be pleasurable, like…sex is about connection, and children are incapable of connecting on this kind of level, with anyone. They are objects to their abusers, passive parties who don’t have the power to say no. More critically, though, these non-consenting minors are people, and they are cursed with lifelong trauma in exchange for a few people’s (usually men’s) sexual gratification. The whole thing is abhorrent. But like @3 littlejohn said, nobody chooses to be a pedophile, and those who actually go on to commit deplorable acts against children are likely in the minority of pedophiles (recent research has shown that as much as 1 to 5% of the male population has some level of sexual interest in children, and while for obvious reasons it is difficult to study this topic, it is clear that most of them never commit any crimes against children).

    So while my empathy is first and foremost for the victims of horrific crimes, I do spare a thought for the people who are unable to express themselves sexually (because the cost is too high), and who live celibate and/or unfulfilled lives as a result. Demonizing attraction is, and always will be evil, because attraction is involuntary – I can’t suddenly stop being insanely attracted to brunettes roughly between 5’5″ and 5’8″ with brown eyes and freckles, and pedophiles cannot suddenly stop being attracted to children. In the name of harm reduction, we need to demonize ONLY action, and find ways to help more and more people who have not chosen to be what they are, to make the right choice – we need to help them to not offend. Because in an environment where all they get is judgment and condemnation for something beyond their control, why would anyone open up about their struggle, knowing the possibly dire consequences that await them should one of their confidants breach confidentiality? All of this means that I need to try to put aside my visceral disgust, which is easier said than done, unfortunately. But I’m trying.

  17. lasius says


    Be careful. See @14. You can’t argue like that without being called a pedophile yourself. The visceral reaction is that strong.

  18. VolcanoMan says


    Oh, I get that. I just think it’s worth it to try and move that needle, because the end result of a more open, less judgmental discussion of this topic is less kids getting irreparably harmed. Shutting down discussions like this isn’t going to solve the problem. Societal retribution against those who have actually never done anything wrong (except exist, according to some) won’t solve it either. Many people close to me (friends, family members, even one person I dated) were abused as minors, and I have seen first-hand the struggle that they go through in adulthood to just live a normal life…eventually (if they get that far). My position on this issue is about them, and about making sure others don’t have to suffer like they did. Research needs to be done, to figure out why there are pedophiles (i.e. what biological and social forces turn kids into people attracted to kids), and what can be done to prevent them from abusing children, and frankly, the only way this happens is if people who actually are pedophiles feel they can safely self-identify as such and participate in these kinds of studies. Such research is very difficult right now, because the only population we get to study are the ones who have already harmed children. If, in a comment thread like this, people like you and I are getting called out as potential pedophiles, and told that those who ARE pedophiles are a crime against humanity, what chance do we have for actual pedophiles to be open about their attraction, so that they can be studied without fear of being outed…so that they can be understood? So that maybe there can be therapies developed that help them.

    I understand the visceral disgust, I feel it myself…but for the sake of future victims, we need to try and move past that. And if that means some dickhead on the internet calls me names, so be it.

  19. vucodlak says

    @ wzrd1, #17

    so we’ll summarily execute people entirely absent a crime of any sort, just due to a trait that would require magic to even detect?

    Yes. Then we’ll grind their bones to make our bread. It’s just a modest proposal.

    What other traits should be exercise your neo-eugenics pogrom upon?

    Hmm… how about people who make a really big deal out of saying “AN historic?” Like, okay, maybe that’s proper in Ye Merrye Olde Englande or something, but you don’t gotta be obnoxious about it.

    I’m being a wiseass, and taking the tenor of several of the comments here to their logical conclusion. Once you’ve eliminated the possibility of harm reduction, “coddling,” and the very humanity of the group in question, mass murder is pretty much the nicest place you can end up. I skipped over the whole mutilation middle-part because, frankly, it makes me too nauseous to even crack jokes about.

    If I may be serious for moment, I’d like to point out that the whole scorched-earth approach really doesn’t help anyone but those who rape children. That’s an important distinction, because not all those who rape children all pedophiles, and we don’t have a clue how many pedophiles are out there who have and will never molest or rape children.

    I doubt the latter group size is zero, and it could be helpful to try to learn why that is. But we can’t do that, because treating a psychological problem like a psychological problem to be studied and treated would be “coddling pedophilia.”

    TMI time:
    I am a person who is attracted to men, women, and non-binary adults, and I have a very active libido. Not only have I never assaulted anyone, I haven’t even really had sexual relations* with anyone. It does not, thus, seem especially implausible to me that there might be pedophiles who aren’t molesting children. This is something that needs to be studied, but that can’t happen when the attitude of most of the public is to attack them on sight.

    Too, I’d add that I don’t think the man who raped me when I was three (and most likely my friend of the same age) was a pedophile at all. Maybe he was, but I suspect he was just a sadistic rapist who was attacking the easiest victims he had access to. That’s part of why I think it’s important to draw a distinct between “pedophile,” as in someone who is sexually attracted to children, and “child rapist,” as in someone who rapes children.

    Rape is primarily about power, not sex, and learning where those two groups differ and/or overlap might actually save some children. Because the current attitude? It isn’t working. It’s just giving rapists cover by allowing them to join in the hatefest to allay suspicion.

    *I don’t count being raped at age three, supposedly receiving “manual release” while I was sleeping when I was 16, or being raped and tortured at 17.

  20. makarman says

    Hasn’t pedophilia been observed in species other than homo sapien? I know that homosexuality is present in several species other than our own. (Absolutely NOT insinuating any relation between the two).

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jaws @ # 16 – Thanks for the “clarification”, if that word can even be applied to legalese.

  22. lumipuna says

    PZ wrote:

    I don’t “rate” women, and I don’t collect pornography — it’s not that interesting. Collecting photos of random naked women is more than a little creepy.

    Well, it is more than a little creepy if the photos are sourced without the subject’s consent. That usually includes, but isn’t limited to photos that depict genuine violence and abuse, which is a separate, even more grave matter.

    In itself, I don’t think collecting porn is necessarily creepy. People don’t do it much nowadays because it’s so easy to access archives of legal porn online – unless you count browser bookmarks and such as a porn collection. Even men who turn porn watching into a Serious Hobby (which is arguably a red flag, even if the porn itself isn’t particularly creepy) are more likely to collect subscriptions than actual copies.

    That easy access might not be the case with illegal child porn, or creepshots and such, even if they’re distributed online. Hence, I can see how there’s an association between creeps and the concept of “collecting photos of random naked women”.

  23. vucodlak says

    RE: collecting porn

    I collect porn, because it’s hard to find good porn werewolf, dragons, demons, and eldritch “horrors” made by people who understand that the fantasy for some of us is not that these things are scary, but that they’re not really scary once you get to know them. The appeal, for me, is in these entities that look “monstrous,” but are actually decent people who you’d want to spend some quality time* with given the opportunity.

    This is something I’ve been fantasizing about since before I knew what porn was. When I was a kid I used to sit around and fantasize about friendship, romance, and sex** with fantastical alien beings, in part because I was terrified of them. It was my coping mechanism for dealing with my fear to imagine that such beings weren’t that different on the inside.

    Naturally, when I found out that other people are into the same thing (people with artistic skills, at that), I was drawn to their work. Sure, I write stories about hooking up with cosmic horror entities (who are really just lonely because most people either run away screaming, go insane, or try to kill them), but it’s really neat to see pictures and the occasional animation.

    Now, unfortunately, there’s a lot of rapey stuff in that vein, which I don’t like. My fantasy is strictly consensual werewolf-style. And, when it comes to dragons, I’m not a fan of mammaries on flying, fire-breathing reptilian people. Demons gotta have horns, sharp claws, and pointy teeth. Abominations from beyond the stars must be suitably alien. I also like more mundane furry stuff, because I’m into claws, muscles, and entities bigger than me. I especially like that last thing- relatively few humans are larger than me, and for just once in my life I’d like to be held in the arms of someone bigger and stronger than me and feel safe and loved. Doesn’t even have to be a sex thing.

    I have particular tastes, is what I’m saying, so when I find things that tickle my fancy I collect them.

    PZ says porn is “not that interesting.” Okay, to each their own, but I think that really depends on your tastes. As to whether my collection is “creepy” or not… I really don’t know. I’m never going to meet a werewolf, much less by topped by one, or cuddle with a dragon, so it doesn’t really affect my relationships. Trauma affects my relationships, as does the fact that practically every human who has expressed any interest in dating me expects me to be the strong take-charge type when that’s the opposite of who I am, and my collection is a safe way for me to feel something other than miserably alone.

    *Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, and so forth.

    **Just to be clear, we were always able to communicate clearly in my fantasies, be it through spoken/written language, or some kind of telepathy, or whatever.

  24. Tethys says

    Research needs to be done, to figure out why there are pedophiles

    Pedophiles are created by our society not doing anything about rapists. This research has been done. The vast majority of ALL criminal abuse is perpetrated by the 7% of the population that likes raping. Sexual predators don’t limit themselves to just raping women. Any helpless creature will do.

    The only solution is to kill the rapists and pedophiles so they stop reinfecting their societies with rape trauma. Like rabies, there is no cure.

  25. VolcanoMan says

    @26 Umm…no. I don’t mean to be difficult, but you’re 100% wrong. Research has been done, but these questions have yet to be answered. As per this 2022 article from Psychology Today (

    “The causes of pedophilia are not well known.

    “Physiological models are investigating the potential relationship between hormones and behavior, particularly the role of aggression and male sexual hormones. Early research is underway exploring possible neurological causes.

    “There is some evidence that pedophilia may run in families, though it is unclear whether this stems from genetics or learned behavior.

    “A history of childhood sexual abuse is another potential factor in the development of pedophilia, although this has not been proven. Behavioral learning models suggest that a child who is the victim or observer of inappropriate sexual behaviors may become conditioned to imitate these same behaviors. These individuals, deprived of normal social and sexual contacts, may seek gratification through less socially acceptable means.

    “Pedophilia may be a lifelong condition, but pedophilic disorder includes elements that can change over time, including distress, psychosocial impairment, and an individual’s tendency to act on urges.”

    And on the question of whether this is nature or nurture (also from the Psychology Today article linked above):

    “This question remains an area of study. Pedophilic urges develop before or during adolescence, around the time one’s sexuality would emerge.

    “There is some evidence that people with pedophillic disorder have a higher rate of childhood trauma, including childhood sexual trauma, than average.

    “There is also some evidence that links people with pedophilic disorder with traumatic brain injuries in childhood. One study showed that those with pedophilic disorder sustained traumatic brain injuries as children at twice the average rate.

    “Some research indicates physical differences in the brains and hormones of those with pedophilic disorder, but more research is needed to corroborate and understand these initial findings.”

    “The study of the brains of those with pedophilic disorder is an ongoing process with no conclusions. Evidence from some studies indicates that certain abnormalities in various sections of the brain correlate with pedophilic urges. These findings broadly focus on differences in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which may contribute to a lower inhibition of sexual behavior or a dysfunction in the processing sexual urges. More study is required.

    “Pedophilic disorder seems to have a small heritable component. A Finnish study of nearly 4,000 male twins found that genetic influences explained only about 15 percent of variance from the general population when it comes to sexual interest, fantasies, or activity with prepubescent children. In contrast, psychiatric conditions as a whole have an average variance rate of 30 percent, with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder ranging as high as 70-80 percent. The evidence for heritability is not strong.”

    That is the state of the science right now. Given that we lack free will, nothing in an individual’s personality or behavior is chosen by them. Everything is, instead, determined by the environment in which the individual grew up, their specific biology (mostly, but not exclusively the brain and endocrine system), and the interactions between both. People don’t just become pedophiles due to some decision they made, and pedophiles themselves will not necessarily become rapists, so to “kill the…pedophiles” as you suggest would be to kill possibly millions of people who have committed no crime at all (except perhaps a thought-crime, and of course, we don’t have laws against those). And even killing someone who HAS committed sexual crimes against real people is to punish them for something over which they had no control. Nobody chooses to be a rapist (see the aforementioned point about humans lacking free will). Consequentialism dictates that it is still appropriate to take action to protect society from those who have harmed others, as the outcome of doing so is less people being harmed, but protecting society does not require executing people (the death penalty has a whole host of issues that make me against it, not least of which is, again, nobody chooses to be the kind of person who is capable of capital crimes). But ultimately, the best way to protect society is to understand how pedophiles become pedophiles, and rapists become rapists, because in understanding, we will be better able to help people to not harm others.

  26. vucodlak says

    @ VolcanoMan, #27

    Nobody chooses to be a rapist (see the aforementioned point about humans lacking free will).

    While I agree with you that the necessary research hasn’t been done, and appreciate the links you’ve shared, this is just plain wrong. Of course people choose to become rapists. A person doesn’t choose their inborn proclivities, they don’t choose the way their brain is wired, they don’t choose to have a traumatic past or terrible role models, but they do choose their actions and, to a significant extent, their behavior.

    Our actions are not dictated solely by our genes, our upbringing, or our culture. We have the power to choose. If a person chooses not to rape, then they aren’t a rapist, whatever their history or feelings. A rapist chooses to become a rapist the moment they choose to rape someone. And, whatever a person’s history, it is their fault for choosing to take that last step and rape someone.

    It’s ludicrous to suggest that we don’t have free will just because no one can make decisions in a vacuum.

  27. VolcanoMan says


    I dunno…I used to go back and forth on this, but over the last few years, I’ve settled as a hard determinist. I don’t believe our “choices” are choices at all. We are the way we are, we interact with the world as we do because of who we are, and we could not do otherwise. Every decision I ever make was either predestined at the Big Bang, or some quantum weirdness makes it so that it wasn’t necessarily pre-destined…but it certainly wasn’t anything that I can call “mine” either. The brain I have makes those decisions, but it does so because of my genetics which created it to be the way it is, and everything it has become due to my upbringing/environment. If I had a brain tumor that caused certain hormones to be released into my body, ramping up my aggression and causing me to treat every slight against me like a life-or-death conflict, resulting in violence, that violence would be blamed on the tumor, not on me. But all the tumor does is throw things out of whack a bit, to a horrific end. Our brains still behave the way they do, and ultimately, we have zero control.

    Whatever, I didn’t mean to derail this conversation with a discourse arguing against free will, as the majority of my position does not rely on this. I’m just saying that we need to treat crime as a systemic problem rather than an individual one, and understand that by changing people’s environments, we can impact their behavior. This can be achieved by actually changing people’s physical environments, such as removing tetraethyl lead from gasoline (there is persuasive evidence that a major upswing in violent crime in the 1960s to 1990s was at least partially due to the effects of childhood lead exposure, because the kids who had been exposed as car ownership spiked in the mid-20th century had neurological damage from that exposure that resulted in an increase in crime a couple decades later), the phase-out of which resulted in >50% decrease in violent crime beginning in the mid-1990s; and by changing their social environment (such as by reducing poverty). Even if one believes that we have freedom of choice, it is obvious that people don’t just become rapists JUST because one day they chose to rape. The way we raise our kids, the values we instill in them, has an awful lot of impact here, as does the personalities intrinsic to individuals (for example, some people just cannot feel empathy…that’s not a choice, it’s not a crime…it’s just who they are).