The Article: Paedophilia: Bringing Dark Desires to Light
The Source: The Guardian
The Author: Jon Henley
The Gist: Academic and psychological experts disagree about what causes pedophilia, how much harm it causes, and whether it should be more tolerated by society.
There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Two eminent researchers testified to that effect to a Canadian parliamentary commission last year, and the Harvard Mental Health Letter of July 2010 stated baldly that paedophilia "is a sexual orientation" and therefore "unlikely to change".
[. . .]
Even now there is no academic consensus on that fundamental question - as Goode found. Some academics do not dispute the view of Tom O'Carroll, a former chairman of PIE and tireless paedophilia advocate with a conviction for distributing indecent photographs of children following a sting operation, that society's outrage at paedophilic relationships is essentially emotional, irrational, and not justified by science. "It is the quality of the relationship that matters," O'Carroll insists. "If there's no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power, if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily ... the evidence shows there need be no harm."
The Bottom Line: In the mid-1990s, the late Joseph P. Overton, proposed the "Overton Window" which describes a "window" in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse. All issues fall somewhere along this policy continuum, which can be roughly outlined as: Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible, Popular, Policy. When the window moves or expands, ideas can accordingly become more or less politically acceptable.
In the summer of 2011, I wrote an article for First Things explaining how the Overton model developed to explain adjustments in the political climate and later applied it to how pedophilia would be normalized. The first step---from Unthinkable to Radical---usually occurs when the topic of an academic symposium. We passed this stage several years ago.
The second step---from Radical to Acceptable---often requires the creation and employment of euphemism, such as referring to pedophiles as "minor-attracted persons", and connecting it to an issue that has already become acceptable, such as the acceptance of wide variety of sexual orientations. As Henley says in his article,
The reclassification of paedophilia as a sexual orientation would, however, play into what [Sarah Goode, a senior lecturer at the University of Winchester] calls "the sexual liberation discourse", which has existed since the 1970s. "There are a lot of people," she says, "who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong. Perhaps we're wrong about paedophilia."
We're still a long way from pedophilia reaching the "sensible," "popular," and "policy" stages. But we've already slid further down the slippery-slope of normalizing this crime than most Christians realize.