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Apr. 13 2010 - 10:42 am | 472 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Pedophilia and homosexuality are not the same thing

Julian Sanchez has a rousing rebuke to this nonsense at the American Spectator. Daniel Oliver resuscitates the tired old and much scorned notion that homosexuality and pedophilia are somehow linked, and ponders why – in all the reporting over the sexual abuse in the church recently – nobody has made any mention of homosexuality. “That is the curious incident in this story,” Oliver writes. He goes on to say that while some experts may believe there is no link between homosexuality and pedophilia

other experts –and probably most Americans — would disagree. Besides, that’s not exactly the issue. The issue is whether there’s a connection between the homosexuality of the priests and the molestation of the boys.

To which Julian replies:

If by “male homosexuality” we mean a general sexual attraction to other men, then pedophiles—including the abusive priests Oliver discusses—are not homosexual. Research shows that men who molest young boys overwhelmingly either have no sexual interest in adults, or are heterosexual in their adult orientation. So consistent is this finding that one group of researchers posited that “homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia may be mutually exclusive.” Evey now and again, a phony “study” purports to “discover” a link between homosexuality and pedophilia, and invariably these “studies” proceed by simply classifying male abusers of male children as “homosexual” without inquiring into any adult attraction. So when Oliver asks “Are most child molesters in the Catholic Church homosexuals?”—the correct answer, if you have the first notion what you’re talking about, is that probably few or none of them are. […]

So there are two possibilities. The first is that Oliver is miraculously innocent of this point, because he did not do even this minimal sort of research, and nobody at the Spectator saw fit to exercise a scintilla of editorial oversight before running the piece. The second possibility is that Oliver is aware of this scientific consensus that same-sex pedophiles typically lack any adult same-sex attraction, but that he and the Spectator are sufficiently contemptuous of both their readers’ intelligence and basic journalistic standards that it seemed safe to simply refuse to mention this fact—let alone make any substantive attempt to address it—lest it get in the way of some gay-bashing, Times-bashing red meat. I leave it to the reader to decide which alternative is more embarrassing.

Of course, this is the American Spectator we’re talking about, a magazine which not too long ago published Ben Stein – yes, Ben Stein of Ben Stein’s Money fame – ripping president Obama to shreds over his purported socialistic policies and anti-American chutzpa.

Sanchez is spot-on in his dismemberment of this particular piece of propagandistic garbage.

However, this brings me to a second point: While the link between homosexuality and pedophilia is obviously one of gross error, often the very same people who point this out are the ones simultaneously arguing that if only priests were not forced into celibacy this whole scandal would never have occurred. But just like homosexuals are not attracted to young boys, pedophiles are not attracted to adult women. Or if they are, this attraction in no way diminishes their attraction to children. I fail to see how celibacy would take care of the problem with pedophilia any more than banning gays from ministry would. The problems are not correlated. Sexual abuse happens in many other social institutions that have no celibacy rules whatsoever. Fr. Marcial Maciel was a pedophile priest who also started two families. He was anything but celibate.

Really the problem is one of power and abuse of trust. Almost all abuse occurs within relationships of trust – whether familial or in school settings or within a church setting and so forth. There is likely little we can ever do to completely stamp out abuse because of this. So the real issue is finding ways to uncover abuse quickly and see that the perpetrators are properly punished and prevented from doing any more harm. This is why the cover-up in the church abuse story is far more important in many ways than the horrific abuse stories themselves. This is also why it is important not just to go looking for heads to lop off – or to call for meaningless resignations from church officials – but to really push for strong reforms within the Catholic church which will help rid the institution of the sort of silence and cover-ups that have been rotting beneath the surface for so long now.

This is happening under the current pope. Hopefully it continues under his successor.


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  1. collapse expand

    Lest you repeat it elsewhere, I thought I’d point out that Ben Stein isn’t merely a gameshow host … he’s a long-time and storied political actor:


    So while his ideas may lack merit, his resumé does not.

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