Breitbart ran an article yesterday trying to get Twitter to ban pedophiles, and without any regard even for what we actually say. As a result, the virpeds Twitter account has gotten a flood of notifications in the past day. Of course Twitter is not a place to resolve much of anything in the brief messages allowed. So I'll try to make sense of the parts I've read.

First, the off-the-deep-end pedophiles who say sex with kids is just fine. From a distance, pedophile haters might see this as part of what "all those pedophiles" want. It isn't, and it's a vital distinction. The vast majority of the pro-pedophile people making tweets are completely clear that we do not seek to legalize or normalize having sex with kids. We're often just as horrified by the consequences of child sex abuse as anyone else.

Next, the off-the-deep-end anti-pedophiles who say all pedophiles should be killed. Child sex abuse naturally enrages people, and I'm sure it feels good to say we should all be killed, especially if you don't understand the distinction above. I think more moderate anti-pedophile voices recognize you can't actually go around killing people who may well never do anything wrong.

So the next anti-pedophile message is, "You're disgusting, so be quiet!" This is an understandable reaction. We were all raised with the idea of sexual attraction to children is disgusting. Many non-offending pedophiles feel the same way, and we hate ourselves deeply. Contemplating suicide isn't exactly universal, but it is very common. Some of the anti-pedophiles get to the point of grudgingly accepting our existence as long as we hate ourselves and empty our lives of any goal other than making sure we don't offend. We accept that the need not to offend is the keystone on which everything else depends, but with that firmly in place we do have lives to live.

Another reaction is, "Stop being that way! Go see a therapist and fix yourselves -- make your attraction to children go away!" Here the vast majority of scientists will agree that it can't be done. Highly motivated child sex offenders have been working with highly motivated therapists for decades now, and the fundamental attraction does not go away. In this one respect it is like homosexuality -- it is set early in life and can't be changed.

Another reason offered for keeping quiet is to not "recruit" pedophiles. No one wants people saying, "Hey, pedophilia -- that sounds new and edgy -- I think I'll try that identity on for size. Thanks for showing me a new option!" If it's ever happened I've never heard of it, and it must be extraordinarily rare. Sexual and romantic attraction is a powerful force, and around puberty all people become aware of who they are attracted to: straight men and women, gays, lesbians, and pedophiles too. All but the most extreme social conservatives recognize that sex education is not the cause of kids thinking about sex. They also know that gay men and lesbians are not recruited by publicity about the existence of gays and lesbians -- but they might recognize what has always been there and feel great relief and empowerment.

One main hope we have is that pedophiles will similarly hear a Virtuous Pedophiles message, recognize themselves and that they are not alone, and feel relief and empowerment. Email to VP reveals this every day. It is not the empowerment to have sex with children -- for many that is a rock our lives are built on, far more certain than who we discover we're attracted to. Instead it's the empowerment to recognize our attractions, recognize that others feel them too, and learn from others how to live a decent life.

Scientists and clinicians have observed that pedophiles are likely to offend for the first time when they are desperate, isolated, and feel they have nothing to lose. Loud, angry anti-pedophile voices suggest society will despise them for finding kids attractive. There is no room left for being further despised if they molest children, so why not give in to temptation? Protecting children requires that pedophiles know society does care -- that they are accepted if they do not molest children, and condemned if they do.

Pedophilia is a condition that is never chosen and that cannot be changed; that is beyond our control. But we do have control over our actions, and take in dead earnest our obligation never to offend against children. But then we also have lives to live, and a path out of self-hatred is a good start.

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