by Dan Savage
on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM
A pedophile is outed—and prosecuted—after he purchases some not-quite-kiddie-porn-but-damn-close with his own credit card:
For almost 20 years, I spent virtually every night of my life in the same manner: Sitting in front of my computer and either trawling the Internet for child pornography or looking at the pictures and videos that were already a part of my collection. No matter how many images I found and regardless of how sleep deprived I felt, nothing would stop me from continuing this perverse pursuit. It was my own carelessness that finally got me arrested, when I used my credit card to order some films that had images of naked boys, although none of these movies were of a sexual nature. One police officer later told me he thought I had gotten caught on purpose, because, subliminally, it was the only way I would stop. He was right about the latter, but not the former. No one who is a pedophile wants to get caught and have their horrifying secret revealed to the world.
In fact, there were some nights—but not too many—when I would dare to sit in my chair after my computer was turned off and imagine how it would feel to get arrested. Would I fall to the ground in the fetal position, would I throw up, burst into tears or perhaps even have a heart attack? When that day finally came for me, I did none of those. After the lead detective read me my rights and asked several questions regarding my computer, a strange calm washed over me. I knew my job as a local newspaper editor and my hobby coaching baseball had both come to an end. Yet the overriding thoughts in my head were not of my past, but more of my future. I knew that I was in a unique position to help others understand the bewildering life of a pedophile. I had never asked to be cursed with this sexual attraction, and I had never hurt a child. In fact, I was always a good role model as a coach, and an upstanding citizen throughout my days. It was the nights that were a problem.
Over the months that followed my arrest, my journalistic instincts took over.
Go read the whole thing. In a companion piece, Alice Dreger talks with James Cantor, Ph.D., an international expert on pedophilia and a frequent guest expert in the column and on the "Savage Lovecast," about what we know about pedophilia, what we should do about it, and what we shouldn't do about it:
What do we know about where pedophilia comes from?
The best current evidence suggests that pedophilia results from atypical wiring in the brain. This field of research is still very new, but it appears that there exists what could be considered a “cross-wiring” in the brain anatomy that is responsible for controlling natural social instincts or behavior. Although learning happens after birth, humans are pre-wired to recognize and respond to certain stimuli. It seems, from research conducted thus far, that stimuli that usually elicits nurturing and protective responses in most adults are instead eliciting sexual responses in pedophiles.
So are pedophiles “born that way”?
In studies, pedophiles show signs that their sexual interests are related to brain structure and that at least some differences existed in their brains before birth. For example, pedophiles show greatly elevated rates of non-right-handedness and minor physical anomalies. Thus, although pedophilia should never be confused with homosexuality, pedophilia can be meaningfully described as a sexual orientation. Scientists have more specifically called it an “age orientation.” Caution has to be used, however, so as not to confuse the scientific use of the phrase “sexual orientation” with its use in law. Because the phrase “sexual orientation” has been used as shorthand (or as a euphemism) for homosexuality, there exist laws and policies barring discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation.” These were not likely intended to refer to pedophilia.