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Debate Guide: Pedophiles chose their condition

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Blaming "degenerates" for their own existence has been a common strategy for zealots throughout history. While perpetuating hatred, this also makes space for a myth of redemption

Pedophilia is so evil, pedophiles must have chosen to be that way. They embraced evil, and now they are coming for our children!

Pedophilia (not sexual offending) is an immutable pattern of attraction just like any other, regardless of how much our moral intuitions beg us to see it as a bad choice. Attempts to cure pedophilia have already failed, just like earlier attempts to eliminate homosexuality. Attraction to children is a natural and adaptive human trait, regardless of how much it is loathed in modern western societies.

The argument presented here relies on the assertion that "deviant" sexuality is uniquely subject to "free will" - an idea that, if fully endorsed, represents a kind of metaphysical or religious belief. Regardless, no empirical data supports the "choice" paradigm, not even the more liberal concept of a curable "disorder", as can be seen in the links above. The comments of Fred Berlin, a man who has for many years attempted to reform pedophiles, are quite telling:

It may be no easier for a person with pedophilia to change his or her sexual orientation than it is for a homosexual or heterosexual individual to do so.[1]

There remains a wider debate about what part environment plays in the development of attractions. Should increasing importance be given to social and environmental influences outside the subject's control, this would only extend the case for granting compassion to people with an attraction to minors.

See also


  1. Berlin, Fred S. (2000). "Treatments to Change Sexual Orientation," American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, p. 838.