In one of the interminable threads that devolved into endless discussions of pedophilia a couple of months ago, I raised an academic question about whether those who were commenting could come up with a reason why pedophilia was "wrong" without relying on a Judeo-Christian cultural context.   The history, I argued, was that in Greece and to a lesser extent in Rome, pedophilia in some forms was culturally acceptable; only those pesky Christians managed to radically change the culture.

For me it was just an academic speculation, but apparently I was much closer than I had ever considered possible.

In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”

Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.


Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.


I'm just curious what people think?   Even in the midst of the groping, fondling, and raping of kids, and hiding/covering up of the crimes which occurred among clergy of my faith, it was exceptionally rare that anyone actually tried to condone it as being harmless. 

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Well no I dont really think that Mike is a pedo but the beliefs kind of give me that - yuk you just crossed a line feeling.

and maybe I crossed a line too by my remarks.

Yeah, let's do that --

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From an article:

"In other words, just because some people have come through sexual abuse with no more injuries than an “extremely unpleasant” memory doesn’t mean that childhood sexual abuse should be taken lightly. This isn’t simply a matter of a shifting moral climate that may well shift back again. We also know the damage isn’t just to the victim. While Dawkins was still at school, the master who molested him committed suicide."

I put way too much of my life out on this website, but since I have engaged in accusatory speech towards Catholics and clergy in general, I feel obligated to pass along  a situation that underlines the fact that pedophilia is not restricted to that population. I fear that it is even more common an occurance in the world than anyone would be comfortable with.

My uncle (on my mothers side) was just arrested yesterday in California for child molestation of his step-grandkids in Kansas. He is not affiliated with any religion that I know of, but tended so much towards hate speech in his online presence that I blocked him on my email and facebook several years ago.

Apparently the charge is inappropriate touching of 3 children (boys and a girl) between the ages of 8 and 14. He has admitted to the acts, but cites that the childrens parents "did not give them enough love. I gave them love". He is being extradited to Kansas sometime soon, and his offenses carry a possible life sentence. He is 68 years old.

Obviously, my family is in turmoil. This uncle was mostly distant from me. I never met his wife or her kids or grandkids. I do know him well enough to be shocked by all of this though. I would have never imagined that his eccentricity would take this type of a turn. Although I was active in the discussions on TA that Bob refers to in his Original Post over the last couple of months, I was totally unaware of this situation until yesterday.

My uncle moved in with my mom about 6 months ago because he was getting a divorce. (Apparently he also told my mom that he had molested his stepgrandkids, but she decided to keep it from the rest of the family) So that was why he was in California.

I, like most of you, probably would never think of a pedophiles life as being of interest, but since I am related to this one, I know lots about him. Some of it is weird.

  • He was born a hermaphrodite, but did not find out until about 5 years ago, when he was in a severe car accident and ended up in a hospital. The doctor asked his wife why he had suture marks between his anus and his scrotum. That is when he found out, his wife was the one who told him that he was born that way.
  • Like me, he grew up as a Christian Scientist. So he was not born in a hospital, and whoever did the surgery of his lady parts, It would have certainly been against church doctrine.
  • He worked for King Cash Register back in the 70's and 80's and was in charge of the working group that developed the scanning technology that is in wide use today at every grocery store.
  • He earned grants for solar technology inventions, and has several patents.
  • He is a cranky, republican asshole. 
  • He is otherwise a normal looking guy, although he sports really long hair for an older guy. He was also way into motorcycles and rarely owned a car in his life.
  • He wrote an inappropriate love letter to my sister (his neice) when she was 17. That was the only incident we knew of regarding his attraction to young people. And much of the reason I kept my distance from him all these years, as did much of the rest of my family.
  • His wife was a high school sweetheart, he went to prom with her. They lived long lives with other people and only reconnected about 8 years ago, and then married shortly after.

Regarding his actions, I feel sorrow for his wife and her family. It hurts my heart that I am related to someone who molested children. He deserves whatever punishment he gets, including whatever the prison population dishes out to him in Kansas. I think he is also probably mentally unstable or defective, but is still culpable for his crimes since he has been shown to be fully intelligent in so many other ways. He must have known what he was doing was wrong.

And for me, this was an indirect hit. I am far removed from the situation, just know of it more than anything else. I am one step closer than a person who would read about it in the newspaper.  I am disgusted, shocked, especially by his statements, and trying to be as much a support for the rest of my family as I can be from several states away. 

Thanks for listening/reading. A last reminder that pedophiles can be indistinguishable from everyone else. Teach your children to pay attention to their own radar. If someone seems strange to them, they should feel enpowered to be able to tell a trusted adult.


Thank you. Edifying. I have one point of disagreement - your final paragraph. No one should assume that a pedophyle will "seem strange". The one point I've offered on TA previously is this: Whatever is going on, the time for a young person to start telling a trusted adult is when an adult says, "don't tell anyone about this".

I don't think you are disagreeing, Mike, it looks more like fine-tuning to me, and a very good piece of advice indeed :)

A last reminder that pedophiles can be indistinguishable from everyone else. Teach your children to pay attention to their own radar. If someone seems strange to them, they should feel enpowered to be able to tell a trusted adult.

You're right. Many pedophiles adopt the camouflage of ultra-normality. As for the second sentence, kids need to be told that if anyone seems to want to do something strange with them, to say, "I will ask my parents if this is okay first" and then to be sure to ask. The pedo is likely to say "Oh, he/she misunderstood me," but at least parents can thenceforth be on guard.

It's just sad that hiding among those who really do love children are people with ulterior motives, and sometimes we need the children themselves to identify them.

I, for one, am grateful that you have bared so much of yourself here.

While we can work on perfecting the system, and should, the system won't ever be 100% perfect. Any system will have gaps and cracks that both some abused children and some wrongly suspected adults will slip through. It's no different from anything else, like protecting children from traffic accidents.

@Belle - you're right, we have to remember that every abuser has been abused, and every bully has been bullied.  I think this idea is a gateway to correct humane treatment and breaking a cycle. 


I'm also interested to learn why do a lot of children who were raised in violence never repeat the behaviour as adults.


Unfortunately, I think it will probably lie in differences in the children more than outside forces. I say unfortunately, because that doesn't suggest a potential "handle" on the problem.

I have no stats at my fingertips, but I've read of a study that indicated that when tested for brain wave activity, psychopaths showed none in the area believed to be responsible for empathy, when shown an eclectic variety of photographs - it was as though they had no idea as to what others felt.


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