Fears Grow Over Academic Efforts to Normalize Pedophilia

Steve Brown | July 7, 2008 | 8:04pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - Cultural experts who agree with claims that the Supreme Court may have opened the door to legalizing pedophilia in its Lawrence v. Texas decision on private homosexual behavior point to the growing movement within academia to de-stigmatize pedophilia.

Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America (CWA), a Washington D.C.-based women's public policy group, noted Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the decision "has nothing to do with minors."

"We should hold (the Court) to that and anyone who tries to pervert the ruling even more than it is already by saying that it does protect pedophilia," LaRue told CNSNews.com. "However, the likes of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and other pedophiles will certainly use it to seek legitimization for their behavior."

On its website, NAMBLA Director David Thorstad claims: "Pederasty, like homosexuality, has existed, and exists, in all societies that have ever been studied. Homoeroticism is a ubiquitous feature of human experience, as even efforts to repress it confirm. Men and youths have always been attracted to each other, and, like homosexuality in general, their love is irrepressible."

Potential trouble on the Supreme Court

However, restraining the Court may prove more difficult than expected. Responding to criticism aimed at Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) over his conclusions that the Lawrence decision could lead to legalized pedophilia and other sexual acts, the Catholic Family Association of America (CFAA) pointed to a potential pedophilia advocate on the Court itself.

"Given that homosexual advocates are in a full court press to lower the age of consent as low as it can go, and pro-pedophile sitting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 's documented advocacy of lowering the age of consent to 12 years old, parents should be horrified that there are so few politicians, like Sen. Santorum, actually defending the family," Timothy Chichester, CFAA president, said April 23.

Chichester was referring to a paper authored by Ginsburg entitled "Sex Bias in the U.S. Code," which was prepared for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in April 1977

The allegation was further substantiated by Robert Knight, director of CWA's Culture Institute, in "Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia," an article he co-authored with the Family Research Council's Frank York.

"When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an attorney for the ACLU, she co-authored a report recommending that the age of consent for sexual acts be lowered to 12 years of age," the article points out.

Knight and York's footnoted documentation on this is as follows: "Sex Bias in the U.S. Code," Report for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, April 1977, p. 102, quoted in "Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Feminist World View," The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Vol. 26, No. 12, Section 1, p. 3. The paragraph (from the Ginsburg report) reads as follows: "'Eliminate the phrase "carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife, who has not attained the age of 16 years" and substitute a federal, sex-neutral definition of the offense. ... A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person. ... [and] the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old.'"

LaRue said pedophiles may co-opt language used in the Lawrence decision regarding homosexuals; that laws against their behavior are a discriminatory attempt to harm them as a persecuted minority. And they will be supported, she claimed, by academia.

Reclassifying pedophilia already subject to debate

During its annual convention in May, the American Psychiatric Association hosted a symposium discussing the removal of pedophilia along with other categories of mental illness (collectively known as paraphilia) from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

After much criticism following CNSNews.com coverage of the symposium, the APA issued a statement reiterating its position on pedophilia.

But in his 1999 article "Harming the Little Ones: The Effects of Pedophilia on Children," Timothy Dailey, senior analyst for cultural studies with the Family Research Council, chronicled the APA's treatment of pedophilia in the DSM and compares it to the APA evolution of homosexuality.

In DSM revisions, Dailey explained that APA "adds a subjective qualification similar to that which appeared with regard to homosexuality: The individual must be 'markedly distressed' by his own pedophilic activity to be considered needful of therapy," Dailey wrote, adding that in the latest revision, pedophilia "is to be considered a paraphilia when the behavior causes 'clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.'"

Mary Eberstadt, research fellow at the Hoover Institute, told CNSNews.com: "The evidence is plain: there is indeed an ongoing attempt from within the psychiatric and psychological communities to de-stigmatize pedophilia by de-classifying it as a paraphilia in the first place."

Academic efforts to normalize pedophilia draw fire, praise

For further evidence, Eberstadt points to "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples," a study published in the July 1998 Psychological Bulletin of the American Psychological Association.

It contended that "negative effects (of child sexual abuse) were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women." It further stipulated that children's feelings about sexual encounters with adults should be taken into effect and that "a willing encounter with positive reactions would be labeled simply adult-child sex."

Publication of the report resulted in a formal denunciation in the House of Representatives, which voted 355-0 to condemn the essay.

In 1999, after being rejected by several publishing houses, the University of Minnesota Press published Harmful to Minors by journalist Judith Levine, including a foreword by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who was asked to resign by President Bill Clinton after she endorsed making masturbation part of the public school curriculum.

In the book, Levine contends that pedophiles are "myths" and faults the government for making pedophilia illegal.

"Pedophiles are not generally violent, if there is such thing as pedophiles at all," Levin wrote. "More important, sexual contact with a child does not a pedophile make."

After a flurry of controversy ensued, the University of Minnesota Press issued a press release defending its publication of the work.

"Neither the University Press nor the University of Minnesota endorses the theses of authors it publishes, including that of Ms. Levine. In fact, some within the university may vehemently disagree," said Christine Maziar, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school in the release. "University presses by their nature will publish work on controversial subjects; it's our responsibility to ensure that the procedures and processes of the press foster both academic freedom and quality publications."

Eberstadt, LaRue and others have pointed out that Levine's assertions in the book rest solely on pro-pedophilia sources such as the NAMBLA Bulletin, and Levine's work earned her a book prize from the Los Angeles Times.

The roots of de-stigmatizing pedophilia in contemporary society

Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council director of Marriage and Family Studies, told CNSNews.com that the movement to de-stigmatize pedophilia within academia can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey in 1948.

Knight provided further explanation saying: "This view, argued on the fringe by pedophile authors over the past century, gained enormous respect when Alfred C. Kinsey published his books on male and female sexuality in 1948 and 1953, known collectively as the Kinsey Report.

"Kinsey worked to lower penalties for sex offenders and said he couldn't understand why children were harmed by being sexually touched by adults," Knight continued. "He based this on a series of sex experiments on children as young as 2 months of age. A chapter in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male reports on the molestation of hundreds of boys, with Kinsey concluding that the victims enjoyed the activity."

Sprigg said it was "inevitable" that redefining pedophilia as not being a mental disorder would pave the way for greater social and legal acceptance of that behavior.

But Linda Nicolosi, publications director for the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality, warned that the concept of mental illness "is not and cannot" be a strictly "scientific" matter, such as a broken leg.

"No one would argue that a broken leg isn't a physical illness," Nicolosi explained to CNSNews.com. "But mental illness is a much more controversial matter; no one has ever come up with a universal definition of mental illness that is consistent across cultures and throughout time."

Nicolosi argued that "as society changes, the definition of mental illness is likely to change along with it. Therefore, as our society comes increasingly to value sexual liberation and children's autonomy, pressure increases on the psychiatric establishment to stop pathologizing things like childhood sexual expression, gender variance and homosexuality."

"The danger arises when the public gives psychiatry too much power; when the layman assumes that psychiatry 'knows something' about sexuality that the moral ethicist does not," Nicolosi said. "Psychiatry cannot tell the layman that homosexuality, or pedophilia, or sado-masochistic sex are 'healthy' because science has no concept of 'healthy sex' that is not values-laden."

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