Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Need Help

Identify yourself as a pedophile online and the title is certain to be one of the first things you get in response. Unfortunately, it might well be true, just not in the way the person saying it means.

Being attracted to young people is not illness, and not evil. You are absolutely not sick or wrong for having the feelings and preferences that you do. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear.

But this society is hard to live in for even the most normal, conformist members of the citizenry. Stress builds up and we are none of us immune to any number of traumatic experiences and losses. In short, everyone needs help from time to time, and that is the entire point of having the psychiatric profession in the first place.

Unfortunately, with all medical issues, trust is an absolutely essential element. Doctor-patient confidentiality exists in order to facilitate a relationship of trust with your health care provider, so you can give them enough information for them to help you solve whatever problem is troubling you. And doctor-patient confidentiality has a pretty big hole in it where our kind is concerned.

Psychiatrists are mandatory reporters. Not only is their professional ethic accepting of them violating confidentiality in cases of suspected child abuse, they are, in fact, legally required to do so. For the intelligent and sane among them, simply acknowledging your attraction to minors is not going to be enough to trigger this requirement in their minds, but unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if this individual psychiatrist is that intelligent or sane until we've already placed ourselves in his/her power.

Setting aside the risks of involuntary commitment and the unfortunate role members of this profession have in getting minors to "acknowledge" that they were abused, there is the simple, but very real threat of being forcibly outed. And the more psychiatrists you shop around for looking for one that fits, the more times you have to put your life and future in the hands of a total stranger.

There are times I really want to take my critics up on their advice to get help. The general stress of living life, combined with the added dose of living mostly closeted and constantly bombarded by negative messages about my kind, seasoned with some comparatively minor stress tied to gender role conformity, and I'd very much welcome the assistance of a competent, trained professional to help me sort out the parts that are actually a problem. I'd even be willing to keep shopping around until I find someone willing to not treat my orientation as something that needs to be cured, if I could just be assured that there is something meaningful actually holding them back from telling others what I've said. Unfortunately there isn't. At least nothing credible.

Having no one to turn to, having to deal with all of our problems ourselves, and within our own hidden, isolated internet communities is hurting us. I have zero concern I'm going to snap and rape someone in a fit of sexual frustration. I am concerned occasionally that I might be driven to self-harming behaviors or that the stress might build up in me to the point of having me snap at my friends and loved ones and isolate myself because I don't know how to deal with the stress well enough.

I care about other people, especially those suffering through the dark place of believing society's lies when they're called monsters. But even I get tired. Even I reach a point where the stress gets to a breaking point. I'm not a perfect person, and I've got plenty of unresolved issues. I may have gotten past the self-loathing that comes with the fear that society is right about me being a rapist just waiting to happen, but I'm still vulnerable to burnout and some days the constant barrage of hatred still manages to get to me even when I know it's nothing but ignorance and lies.

For those sane, competent psychiatrists out there, who feel I'm being unfair, please recognize this comes from a place of fear. Let us know you're willing to keep this particular brand of secret, and we'll come and be grateful for the opportunity to try, even if we don't click.

For everyone who's run that gauntlet themselves and found someone who knows the difference between a pedophile and a child molester (in potential or otherwise), please don't keep this person a secret from the rest of us.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reasoning or Rationalizing

There's a difference between reasoned positions and rationalizations. Most of has have both in our mental baggage, myself included.

A reasoned position is one that you take after looking at the evidence and bowing to what the evidence tells you.When you decide on a course of action based on a reasoned position, you combine the knowledge of what the likely consequences of that action are with your own fundamental principles telling you which outcomes you'd prefer to have happen.

A rationalization isn't precisely the opposite of a reasoned position, though it's often presented as such. A rationalization happens when you pick your course of action, and then look at the evidence selectively to find things that tell you that this course of action is in accord with your fundamental principles.

These two modes of thinking can quite often lead one to the same conclusion, but rationalizations suffer from a serious risk that your actions will lead to a world that isn't as closely in accord with your fundamental principles than you would like. On the other hand, establishing reasoned positions is exhausting, requiring constant re-examination of your chosen courses of action, and the occasional devastating moment when you realize that you've been on the wrong path for some time, doing more harm than good, and needing to reverse course.

The saying "you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into" is about this divide between reasoning and rationalization.

I try to limit my rationalizations, even if I'm occasionally guilty of them. I try instead to keep my actions and principles in proper alignment, and often challenge others to do the same. One of the biggest rationalizations I've still got rattling around in my psyche is this one: I didn't reason my way into the position that I shouldn't have sex with kids. I adopted that conclusion then came up with rationalizations for why that is the correct course of action.

The evidence tells me that if I want to normalize adult-child sexual relationships, the most effective way to do so is for as many people as possible to engage in them. Stygma is removed by familiarity, and the world as a whole benefits from the progress made. If those of us who care, and who want compassionate, consensual, loving relationships weren't the ones avoiding relationships, we wouldn't have seceded the field to those individuals who don't care about love, consent, and compassion.

But to follow this course of action requires a sacrifice, and it isn't one I'd be making alone. My hypothetical lover would be put through the wringer along with me, and the idea of asking someone I care about to do that causes a nearly instinctual recoil.

But to shine the harsh light of reason on my rationalization once again, I hold as a principle that competent human beings have a right to make their own decisions, and the evidence tells me that young people are quite competent to do so. They certainly would for anyone I would consider entering into a consensual physical relationship with. So do not my principles demand that I let them agree or not based on their own will, rather than attempt to shield them from such a relationship out of a misguided protective impulse?

I don't have all the answers. I'm still struggling to put words to some of the questions. I know there's something wrong with my thinking on this one, and until I've got it sorted out, I'd rather not act. But isn't that just one more rationalization for what I was going to do anyway?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Religion

I implied a post about my religious affiliation in the comments of the previous post, so here it is.

As if being a pedophile wasn't bad enough, I'm an atheist. That may not be completely accurate, but it's probably the most accurate label for my religious affiliation that I've got at the moment. I'll be elaborating below, but it's actually sort of amusing that studies have put atheists as the least trusted demographic in the United States. I'm not sure what the other choices were, so it's hard to say whether I'd be more mistrusted for that or the thinking little kids are sexy.

Anyway, I grew up in a fairly nonreligious household. The only times I saw the inside of a church were weddings. Of course, it's impossible to grow up in the United States and not learn at least the fundamentals of Christianity.

I find the Problem of Evil convincing as an argument for the nonexistence of an omnimax God. The Problem of Evil is formulated as follows:

1) If God is omnipotent, He has the power to prevent evil.
2) If God is benevolent, He has the will to prevent evil.
3) Evil Exists.
4) If God is omniscient, He knows about evil.

God is either not omnipotent, not benevolent, not omniscient, or nonexistent.

I'm willing to entertain the idea of a divine figure not fitting the qualities of omnimax, mind you, but such a being is both falsible and actually demonstrated to be false by the reality we currently inhabit. I've read the apologetics purporting to resolve the Problem of Evil, but none have actually done so. I'm always willing to hear new arguments if anyone cares to present them, but at this point, it's looking pretty airtight.

Now, while I don't reject dieties who lack omnimax characteristics as strongly as I reject omnimax ones, I'll need convincing on two points before joining a religion purporting to have a genuine diety. The first is I'll need convincing of the existence and purported abilities of this diety. I'm willing to accept the evidence of my senses and interpret claims about a diety the same way I interpret claims about other human beings. If someone can meet that standard and demonstrate the existence of their chosen diety by objective standards, the second point on which I'll need convincing is that this being is worthy of my worship.

Moral superiority is not determined on the basis of might makes right, so supernatural power can't bolster the claims of such a being's demanded way of life being morally correct. I'm willing to grant that a superhumanly intelligent entity with greater access to information might make better ethical choices than I would with my more limited prospective, but there is zero reason those commandments cannot be broken down and explained to we mere mortals. Any entity who claims I can't understand why it's right is an entity I won't be voluntarily arranging my life around.

Now, I'm perfectly willing to accept that such a diety might not need my worship to be voluntary. I'm as vulnerable to threats and intimidation as any other human. A credible threat of Hell, for example, might well inspire me to go through the motions of Christian worship, even as I silently hate the being that's threatening me with it and look out for ways to usurp and cast down such a tyrant god. Alternately, I'm susceptible to bribery to modify my behavior if not by beliefs. Again, I evaluate gods the same way I evaluate other humans.

Now, I do have a problem with the materialist interpretations of human consciousness. Unfortunately that problem is simply that I don't like the idea of dying. Specifically, I don't like the idea of my consciousness ceasing one day, as the materialist interpretation says must happen. I very much want to believe in an immortal, immaterial soul, and I keep an eye out for information confirming that hypothesis, even knowing that that is not how you handle seeking the truth. I so very much want to not cease to be, I find myself quite often ignoring my normal requirements for standards of evidence so that I can believe there's a way out of it.

If, when I die, I find there is some diety who's been running the show and who waits to reveal itself until we die, I'm going to have a lot of questions, and whoever it is will have a lot to answer for. If the answers are good enough, we might even come to an understanding and become friends. Like I said, the same way I evaluate other humans.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Horrors of Pornography

For those who haven't been following along, I'm pro-porn. I believe in allowing people to engage with their sexualities in any way they please that doesn't harm others without the fully informed consent of those others.

Alarmist hand-wringing is nothing new. The internet didn't invent it. You need only look at the satanic ritual abuse cases of the 1980s to see how far alarmist hand-wringing can take people.

The one I'm addressing today is, as you've no doubt figured out, about pornography. Specifically the most recent alarm being sounded that because of all their exposure to pornography on the internet, men (always just men, isn't it?) are losing interest in partnered sex. The reasons cited for this are various, and not really the focus of this blog post. No, the focus of this blog post is to make lemonade.

You see, if we accept the current alarmists at their word. If we accept that they are doing real science, and that the issues they are bringing up are real. Then we come to one inescapable conclusion. All the efforts to limit access to child porn have been contributing to the molestation of children.

If all the porn that men (again with the not so subtle sexism from these alarmists) have access to in virtually limitless quantities on the internet really is "rewiring their brains" such that they're no longer interested in sex with real women, then the only morally correct thing to do is to immediately halt any and all efforts to stop or slow the distribution of child porn on the internet, and indeed start subsidizing that industry.

I realize some may object to taxpayer dollars going to support the child porn industry, but to quote an entirely different group of alarmists, "if it saves just one child."

Now, of course, I don't believe that pornography has these horrific effects on the (male) libido. I don't believe the alarmists who attach the term "addiction" as though it can damn a perfectly safe, healthy activity by pointing out that there exists some small group of people who develop addictions and compulsions associated with it. I don't believe access to porn hurts the viewer in any way.

But I figure this argument will either shut up this particular batch of pro-censorship alarmists and provide some measure of protection for free speech by using my own boogie-man status against them, or they'll stick to their guns and start lobbying for government subsidized child porn. Either way, I consider it a win.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Don't Like The Rules? Go Someplace Else.

If any of my readers is aware of a country anywhere on earth without an age of consent that has any rule of law whatsoever, please leave a note in the comments. The only places I've ever identified lacking the current arbitrary-age-line-based-on-nothing system are places that don't so much as have sufficient government to enforce the laws against murdering each other in the streets.

I mention this, because an infrequent, but still intriguing argument I occasionally face is, if we aren't happy with the law of the land as it stands, we should go someplace more in line with our legal philosophy. Or alternately, that we should all be deported to such a place.

The days of the frontier are over. There are no habitable places on earth that aren't already claimed by nation states willing to enforce their claim to those places with the military force of a standing army. The option of just finding an island somewhere and starting our own society isn't an option, no matter how tempting it might be.

Yet, there is something worth noting. As I've mentioned previously, population studies of male pedophiles indicate we make up about one fifth of the population, and barring evidence that there's a reason for a gender split, I'm going to just use that number. That's actually one of the biggest minorities in the United States.

That's enough that, if concentrated in one geographic area and voting as a block, could eliminate the age of consent laws of twenty states, even with every nonpedophile in the same jurisdiction voting against.

Now, there are major problems with any such plan. First and foremost, the fact that we're an invisible minority and secretive for our own survival means that it's very difficult to coordinate. Second, of course, we all have different opinions on how things should be. Just because you think prepubescents are hot doesn't mean you're interested in changing the laws that say you go to jail for having sex with them. And that's not to mention the fact that even among pedophiles, there's always a subgroup willing to look down its nose at the people they visualize as less socially acceptable than themselves.

And of course, the worst problem with such a plan is that voluntarily concentrating ourselves and taking decisive political action like that means mass outing ourselves and potentially staring down the barrels of a tank battalion when the rest of the nation decides now is the time for the federal government to standardize age of consent laws constitutionality of such an act be damned.

Still, the fact remains that there actually are subtle forces causing us to concentrate in certain geographic areas even now. As states compete with one another to be the least friendly to us in order to cleanse their populations, the losers of those fights get the refugees. The tricky part will be recognizing when that critical mass has been reached that we can act from a position of power within those states, and mustering the courage to do so.

Yes, it's a pipe dream. But there has to be something useful that can be done with our numbers to effect change. Any other potential hickups with that plan are of course, welcome in the comments, as are alternate proposals.

How Are People This Stupid?

I've made a shocking realization recently. Apparently I'm an optimist.

Only an optimist would continue to be surprised when people don't respond to reasoned argument, when people don't take the time to think through their positions, and when people uncritically repeat talking points as though they fundamentally represent their own worldview.

Intellectually, I know the tendency to look critically at one's own biases and viewpoints in the world is rare, and the willingness to face up to the mutually contradictory ideas you might be holding on to rarer still. But I keep getting blindsided when people keep acting like this.

You may have noticed I don't post particularly often. This isn't because I lack passion, or because I'm fundamentally pressed for time. It's because every time I go to put proverbial pen to paper, I talk myself out of a hundred subjects because the points that I could speak on are so basic, so axiomic, that I feel like I'm insulting my audience's intelligence when I try to take such a simple idea and break it down into something even simpler to explain it.

Most of the things I talk about seem so basic that, ironically, the fact that my opposition doesn't seem to get them makes me worry about whether they're capable of providing meaningful consent themselves.

And yet I keep assuming people will do the work necessary to keep their worldviews self-consistent. That people will be bothered by the presence of those inconsistencies when they're pointed out, and work to find out which of their beliefs needs to go. I keep being shocked when instead they build elaborate justifications because they actually care more about avoiding the work of reevaluating how they've been living their lives than they do about making sure the lives they live after this point are more faithful to what their fundamental core ethics are.

I keep expecting people to overlook typos and poor word choice, and accept clarifications in order to get at the meat of an argument, rather than using any excuse they can muster to decide not to listen to someone with views opposing their own. Because I value the argument, I keep expecting other people to behave the same.

And I know this is something people do. I recognize that people defend their preconceptions with more vigor than they'll question them. I know the very fact that I'm in the minority position in a debate means that the vast majority of people out there haven't thought through the issue. (Yes, I do believe that anyone who's thought through their position sufficiently will agree with me. Of course, I cheat. When someone comes up with a better argument, I change my position and suddenly they agree with me again.)

Yet knowing all this, I keep staring at shock when I see news articles, blog posts, forum conversations, and even in-person conversations with friends where these same factors keep coming up. I keep expecting reason and self-consistency to win the day, when I know people respond better to fallacious emotional argument.