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« Late for Our Own Party The RantsHow to Precisely Line Up Your Conclusions With Your Expectations »

Another Gris Gris Bites the Dust
2008.01.23 (Wed) 21:50

We're the subject of lots of idiotic verbal attacks. Many of them amount to little more than "you guys suck!" — these lame, drive-by insults, left by people who lack the ability to counter our arguments, can be found all over our site. But that's not the only category of negative comment that we receive on a regular basis.

Sometimes someone who considers himself to be rational comes to our site, and finds himself nodding at everything he reads — applauding our approaches and our conclusions on a host of subjects. Until, that is, he comes to one...particular...subject. The subject in question varies from person to person, but, in this scenario, the end result is always the same. Upon reading about how we applied the same logic and reason to this one subject that we have applied to every other subject, our heretofore staunch ally suddenly does an abrupt about-face.

Now don't get us wrong — disagreement with us is not only acceptable, it's desired. We've said on many occasions that we aren't looking for blind adherance to our positions, but rather intelligent discourse. The problem is that, in the scenario we're writing about, the reader who has consistently — just like we have — applied logic and reason to every other subject we've written about has — unlike us — abandoned these tools when it comes to his pet topic. As Penn & Teller said: "Everybody got a gris gris" — meaning that everyone has some silly belief or behavior that they cling to, regardless of their usual rational approach to topics in general. Upon reading our treatment of his own gris gris, a reader who previously applauded our logic now declares that we are irrational assholes who have set aside logic and reason in order to arrive at our opinion on this one subject. In other words, he accuses us of doing precisely what he himself has just done.

We've seen this so many times; like when readers laugh along with us at those kooks who believe in psychics...and then proclaim that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and condemn us for calling Christianity a silly belief. We've also seen it when someone agrees that, say, Reiki is an unproven, ineffective form of quackery, but then insists that applying the same label to aromatherapy is just wrong.

But to be totally honest, up until a few months back, we hadn't ever seen this "argument" coming from a pedophile.

On August 20 of last year, we received a form submission from a reader calling himself "Howard Kline," who describes himself as a "pedophile activist." Before we reprint his message and our reply, we want to point something out. Although both Howard's message and our reply originally contained links to Howard's website, we have chosen to remove those links. Our reason for this is that, if Howard's goal was to drive traffic to his website by tossing out comments like this, then we have no desire to grant him his wish. In addition, we are confident that, should anyone decide to fact check the quotes we attribute to Howard, finding his site (and the quotes in question) amounts to about two minutes of searching on Google (or, if the material is no longer there, a little more searching on the Wayback Machine). We'll warn you, though, that while Howard's site doesn't contain pictures or other media depicting pedophilia, it does contain a number of stories, musings, and accounts that, quite frankly, made us pretty fucking angry just reading them. Caveat surfer.

Here is Howard's note to us:

Name: Howard Kline

Yes, you may use my name.

Ugh! I was so hopeful that your work is founded on logic and reason until I came to this on your page on minors:-- "Statutory rape laws are a sound idea, because they correctly criminalize pedophilia." Would you please expand that page by explaining the reasons, aside from the religious conviction that sex is so harmful that children need to be protected from it, that pedophilia needs to be criminalized? Yes, children need to protected from real rape, including all forms of manipulation and exploitation, but in consensual sex-play between children and adults, the greatest harm is caused by authoritarian forces that break it up and brow-beat the kid into accepting the role of a victim.

Sheesh, I expected better from this site!

For loving free,
Howard Kline

Reference, see for example: http://XXXXXXX

PS, you may cite my website if you wish, but to prevent spam, please don't publish my e-mail address. Thank you.

Our reply, edited for formatting and to remove the links, is as follows:


You are, unfortunately, the latest in a long line of assholes who have quite inaccurately accused us of being irrational...based solely on our position on and approach to your own pet issue. It never ceases to amaze us how tight those blinders are put on — every single one of you myopic blowhards applauds our logic and reason right up until the point where we point out the flaws in your favorite bullshit arguments...and then you suddenly and unilaterally resign from the Two Percent fan club. The hypocrisy and stupidity of this is astounding, particularly when you come to understand that — as we've been saying on our website for nearly three years, and in conversations for much longer — we want people to make up their own minds on each individual subject. Anyone who agrees with another person "across the board," as it were, has some major problems — we ourselves have more than one difference of opinion within our own group, and wouldn't want it any other way. Disagreement with us is fine — all we ask is that the person disagreeing with us has applied logic and reason to arrive at their contrary position. You, however, fall quite short of that criteria.

The point being, of course, that only an utter fool would suggest that our work is suddenly not founded on logic and reason only because he disagrees with us on one topic. A fool who, of course, is completely incapable of seeing the world from a perspective other than his own, and therefore has no choice but to behave as a hypocrite. It's our obligation to inform you, Howard, that you are strikingly similar to the fundamentalist nutcases that you, as a self-declared atheist, would likely abhor being likened to. But we'll return to that further on.

For the record — and as we've had to reiterate on innumerable occasions — we firmly believe that all people have the right to speak their minds and share their opinions and beliefs in any available fora (the forum chosen, of course, may have its own rules on such expression). This includes racists and homophobes, fruity woo-believers and religious zealots, and — yes — pedophiles. (We have even specifically made this statement regarding NAMBLA.) However, our support of their right to express their positions in no way precludes our own rights to fucking despise these people for what they believe, nor does it prevent us from pointing out the erroneous thinking that we see in their assertions and conclusions.

In that light, allow us to demonstrate your unbounded hypocrisy and incredible lack of critical thinking.

We are absolutely baffled as to why — after reading portions of our site — you would would assume that our position on pedophilia has anything to do with sex. You frankly have not one indication as to our own sexual proclivities, preferences, desires, fetishes, or habits, and we're not interested in sharing them with you. But suffice it to say, prudery is just about the furthest thing from our minds — and it doesn't even enter into it when it comes time for us to reason through our positions on topics like pedophilia.

A careful reading of the very page to which you refer — our Score entry on minors — would demonstrate to you that our take on the rights and restrictions of minors is based largely on the issue of consent. We do not allow minors to consent to anything else, in the legal sense — therefore, we do not (and, if we wish to remain rationally consistent, cannot) accept that they have "consented" to sex (in general terms — sex between two minors is a different, though still tricky, consideration). This is not about being "unfair" to minors (or, for that matter, to pedophiles). It is about protecting young people from the fact that they often — if not invariably — make very poor decisions (and not just regarding sexual matters). For that matter, most adults make very poor decisions, but the protection of minors is a privilege rather than a "burden," and they are afforded this by virtue of their lack of age and/or experience (wisdom, understanding, comprehension — call it what you will). It's even a physiological state — they actually lack the neurological development (and therefore the psychological maturity) that will enable them to thoroughly consider their actions in later years.

"Sex-play between children and adults" is not truly our concern — our concern is that, although some small percentage of children may be aware of the reasons, motivations, consequences, and issues involved, many (if not most or, frankly, all) children are not aware of everything they need to be aware of in order to make a sound decision in this context. It is simply untenable to not protect those children (many, most, or all) from adults who don't care about the "peripheral" (to them) issues, and simply want to have sex with these kids — whether because they are rapists, or simply "love children" (in a mode we personally don't want to explore, because we don't feel that way).

Your use of the phrase "real rape" is somewhat worrisome to us. By that phrase alone, it seems as if you would agree with notorious asshat Bill Napoli, that there would be any difference between "rape" and "brutal rape." Since "rape" is simply sex without consent — honestly, elements such as violence can even be involved in some cases of consensual sex — our position remains consistent: since we do not recognize the ability of a minor to legally consent to sex (or anything else), it is automatically rape. That's what statutory rape laws are about.

As we'd guessed upon first reading your e-mail, you yourself admit the glaring problem with your line of bullshit, though you don't seem to realize it. When we read through one of the stories we found on your site ... we were not at all surprised to read the following about one of the children you have been attracted to:

He has said he is gay, but I wonder how reliable such a pronouncement can be from a fourteen-year-old boy. And even if he is gay or bisexual, this does not necessarily mean he wants to make it with me. So my first decision with regard to Gary is not to seduce him. If he expresses no sexual desire to me, we will remain apart.

That first sentence is exactly what we're getting at, Howard. Are you really so stupidly hypocritical that you can't see it? Try this:

"He has said he wants to have sex with me, an older man, but I wonder how reliable such a pronouncement can be from a fourteen-year-old boy."

Gee, suddenly it's pretty fucking obvious, huh? While you seem to recognize that a fourteen-year-old child lacks the wisdom, sexual maturity, and life experience to make such a firm declaration of sexual preference with regard to homosexuality, you conveniently strap on the blinders when we logically extend that argument to include that same child's declaration of sexual preference with regard to people ten years his senior. Logic and reason certainly are failing one of the participants in this discussion, Howard — but that finger doesn't point at us.

So, in line with our knowledge of a typical child's understanding and ability to weigh such choices, we favor criminalizing pedophilia. It has nothing to do with sex, you fucking hypocrite. It has everything to do with the lack of reasoned, coherent, competent, and legally acceptable consent when it comes to minors. Attraction to them — whether for love or for sex — simply doesn't enter into it.

We did include in our Score entry a "buffer zone" to allow romantically involved teenagers to maintain their relationships. As with any Score entry, this one is a work in progress, and may be revised as we ponder the data — we might expand, reduce, or even remove this buffer zone based on further research. But as of this writing, we think it's a fair compromise to allow those "on the fence" to engage in sexual activity without fear of any bullshit nitpicking bureaucracy.

Also note that we would quite agree that our proposed "wholesale" age of consent — seventeen — is just as arbitrary as many other numbers would be. We chose seventeen more for sociocultural reasons than purely scientific (biological) ones, but that's our very carefully considered decision. In a great number of cases, we would posit that it's actually too low! However, as with any fuzzy gray area, we draw a line that seems fair and equitable, while remaining safe and reasonable. We do the same thing with abortion: before "this line," we're confident it's okay; after "this line," it might not be, so don't do it under normal circumstances.

Now we have a question for you: do you have a "line" that you draw? Based on what we read on your site, you've been attracted to boys as young as seven, and the only thing that has prevented you from acting on these impulses has been the law. We refer to the following [excerpt from your website]:


Until I started getting to know people on here like Tootles, I thought I was just interested in older boys, like teens and above. I still think it would be more convenient to coach 18- or even 16-year-olds because if things got "interesting" with a boy, I could think about acting on our mutual desires or maybe developing a friendship with a boy that in a couple of years could blossom into a legal love affair. But 7- or 10-year-olds are a lost cause in that regard. You just can't think seriously about ever "doing" anything with them. You have to suppress all that and just enjoy being around them, their energy, their vitality, their adorable little faces, the charming, endearing way they look you in the eye when they smile. Man, oh man, what am I getting myself into here?

To us, it sounds like the law is already working quite well, if it deterred you from seducing a seven-year-old. But we digress. The law aside, it sounds like you would consider it perfectly okay to have sexual relations with a seven-year-old. How about a five-year-old? A two-year-old? An infant? If you draw a line...where do you draw it, and why? What's your limit, Howard? You seem to strive for rationalism enough that we have a feeling that you have a limit, but we don't know you, so we can't say for sure. Based on what we've read from you, our best guess is that your "age of consent" roughly matches your own desires, as in: if you're not into four-year-olds, then you've got no problem agreeing that they can't consent to sex; but hey, if you really dig that seven-year-old boy's ass, let's make the age of majority seven...right? In a logical, rational discussion, the arguments come before the conclusion, Howard — not the other way around. Make a note.

Of course, having any limit to the age of consent at all suggests that you do understand, at least in some vague way, that there is a reason for these limits. Which makes it even more confusing that you would think our position has anything at all to do with sex, rather than the myriad other factors we're dealing with on this topic.

If you have no limit (that is, if you actually view the act of sticking your penis into an infant as an acceptable practice), then, most sincerely: do the world a favor and go fucking kill yourself. Offense is purely intended, because we don't give a shit. We have a number of young children in our lives, and the idea of any adult invading their minds and bodies causes us to forget all about the Constitutional rights of pedophiles, with no excuses and no apologies. We've also seen, first-hand, what the consequences of pedophilia can be when the child becomes an adult. They are not positive; they are a fucking nightmare, and they ruin lives — entire lives. We're not solely referring to so-called "real rape," as you so sophomorically put it — we are also referring to cases of "consensual" pedophilia (which, as we've explained, is an oxymoron). And, despite what your rationalizations might have you believe, the damage is not limited to when someone else tries to "brow-beat the kid into accepting the role of a victim." The damage is done when an adult that the child trusts takes advantage of that trust in order to fulfill their own baser — and, in particular, sexual — needs. The studies that you cite simply show that more damage can be done down the road depending on the reaction of those around a victim of pedophilia — they in no way even pretend to say that the sexual contact itself was not damaging in the first place. But, of course, it's much more convenient for someone in your position to overlook that bit in your attempt to justify your unjustifiable behavior.

You really display your complete inability to grasp our position when you say, in your e-mail:

[Explain] the reasons, aside from the religious conviction that sex is so harmful that children need to be protected from it, that pedophilia needs to be criminalized...

Please, Howard, get your head out of your ass. It's not about protecting children from sex. It's about protecting them from adults, who are more powerful, more experienced, and very much able to coerce or cajole a child while still making the child feel that it was his/her decision. The adult may not even realize what's going on when this happens, of course. (Having only read a few of your "stories," we can't begin to guess if it registers in your mind or not.) This precise phenomenon occurs in many different contexts, not just those involving sex. For instance, premature pressure to use drugs, the indoctrination perpetuated by religion, and the brainwashing often instilled by military training — all of these, and others, spring readily to mind. (Do you think that a willingness to run into a killing field on the whim of your elders signifies a "rational" mind capable of carefully reasoned consent?) Young people are very malleable, and have a curious mix of rebellion and an eagerness to please (which likely stems from a need for validation or approval, in many cases). This makes them highly susceptible to "suggestions" from adults, whether those suggestions are made forcefully or "lovingly." (You do know how much Jesus loves you, right, Howard? That's what we keep hearing from the religiosos. We're sure the children you've fucked heard all about how much you "love" them, too.)

As with rape, we don't consider pedophilia to be about sex. It's about power, and sometimes (though not always) about violence. It's about one person's specific motivations...with no real regard to the wishes of what may or may not be an actual "victim." We criminalize pedophilia (that is, we — consistently rational critical thinkers) not because of the sex, but because of the issues surrounding it.

Frankly, your immediate leap to "You don't like pedophilia, therefore you must have issues with sex!" is remarkably parallel to the typical religious blather: "You don't like religion, therefore you must have issues with god!" Religion, to us, isn't about any "god" — it's about people foisting their own bullshit onto others. Pedophilia, to us, isn't about sex — it's about people foisting their own bullshit onto others.

And just like the religiosos, you get more and more ridiculous and hypocritical as you go. From the same page we first linked to above, we find the following comments about your would-be child lover:

He will curb his cigarette smoking while in my apartment and he will not see my marijuana.

Right, Howard. Because even though it's okay for adults, children should not smoke marijuana (a bad idea that might be enjoyable in the short term but will certainly fuck with their heads, and is at any rate currently illegal), but it's okay if they have sex with adults (a bad idea that might be enjoyable in the short term but will certainly fuck with their heads, and is at any rate currently illegal). The difference here must obviously be that children can't make any competent decisions about marijuana, but are completely cognitive of all the factors involved in sex. You are such an incredible fucking hypocrite.

You know, we agree that minors shouldn't be doing any drugs (at the very least, not without parental consent, and preferably not even then, considering typical human parenting skills). And again, this has nothing to do with an aversion to drugs (as a casual perusal of our site would indicate) — it's simply the fact that young people make notoriously bad decisions. We're protecting them from those decisions, and from people (like you) who would push them (intentionally or not) into one.

The funny thing, Howard, is that you seem to see the logic that drives our position in the case of children using drugs; but when it comes to pedophilia, you conveniently throw the very same logic out the window in order to justify your own behavior as acceptable.

Basically, it comes down to the fact that you can't admit that your advocacy of pedophilia has nothing to do with the "logical rational reasoning" that your website pretends to be about, and everything to do with your sexual attraction to children. Period. That's the bottom line, and none of your rationalizations or false justifications will change that. Smart people — and we're fairly confident that you are, in fact, somewhat intelligent — are remarkably adept at justifying and supporting their positions and behaviors, even when those positions and behaviors are wildly inaccurate and grossly flawed.

Listen, Howard: we can't control who — or what — we're attracted to. We wholly understand that. That's not our primary beef with you, though you'll likely continue to think that it is (because you think that we've targeted pedophilia because of the sex, rather than because of the larger issues of consent and social immaturity). The big problem here is that you're trying to defend this indefensible position in a legal and logical sense, and it just completely fails in that arena. You're pretending that you can defend it legally, with logic and reason, and it just won't work. You are outright ignoring the important factors that contradict your arguments, while simultaneously acknowledging those factors as relevant with regard to other, similar situations. You are, in short, proclaiming that having sex with children is just fine — because you fucking want to have sex with children.

See, this is where you slide into the frothingly maddening babble of a religioso or a woo. (They pretend that god or whatever "clearly" exists, because they fucking want it to exist — they then derive their arguments from that basic and unfounded assertion.) We understand that you really do believe what you're saying. That's not the problem, in and of itself, especially if you didn't choose to be wired the way you are. But just like the "true believers," your problems, of course, are twofold.

One: you try to defend your position with poor science, unfounded rationalism, circuitous logic, prejudiced reason, questionable research and incredibly lopsided citations. In so doing, you mock all of these real and valid methods of analyzing and supporting facts, because you have to twist them to get your arguments to seem to work...and yet, they still don't.

As a note, Howard referred us (in his first contact) to a page of research studies that he claimed suggest that "most or all harm from childhood sexual relationships is secondary, in other words, that the harm comes not from the sexual activity, but from the intervention of parents, therapists ... or police." Some of these studies seem to arise from questionable sources (including organizations who state their purpose as "a forum for people who are engaged in scholarly discussion about the understanding and emancipation of mutual relationships between children or adolescents and adults" — yes, that sounds completely unbiased), and regardless of source, all of the studies pretty clearly suggest that the secondary harm can aggravate or exacerbate the psychological trauma derived from sexual abuse. That is, they do not suggest that the secondary harm is the "sole" cause of harm (which is what Howard is trying to pass off as the "surprising truth" — though it is neither true nor, coming from Howard, surprising).

To continue with our reply:

Two: if you actually act on these feelings, then you are imposing your worldview on someone else. This someone else may be receptive to it — or maybe not. But worse yet — maybe they're not receptive, but feel that they should be, or should "pretend" to be, or perhaps they're in a vulnerable state and need something to cling to...so they'll go along with you anyway, and wind up so fucking screwed in the long run it makes us cry. And most especially when you're dealing with children — untrained, inexperienced, unwise, rebellious, longing for acceptance, misanthropic, hormones raging, stupidity reigning (even in the smart ones) — that's a majorly fucking dangerous possibility.

This is pretty fucking clear-cut, to us.

On a personal note, we find you utterly repugnant and we would rather see you dead on a slab than have you harm one more child. This isn't a threat — we have no intention of ever coming near you, let alone harming you — it is simply a statement that we would prefer to see you dead from natural causes than to have you rape a child (or "seduce" a child, as you so eloquently put it, fuckhead). Our rancor is based entirely on personal experience and our own non-sexual fondness for children, and we offer no apologies for that. You see, while we would fight for your right to express your beliefs, we feel that your right to those beliefs only extends so far as it does not interfere with another human being's right to find their own way in this world — and when it comes to children, it is our responsibility, as those who have lived through that confusing and troubling time, to steer them clear of shark-infested waters long enough for them to learn how to swim on their own, as well as they can.

In case you missed it, asshole: you're the fucking shark. And, like Roy Scheider, we'll do everything in our power to protect the children on our beach from you and your kind.

Very, very sincerely,
The Two Percent Company.

Howard did, in fact, reply to our response — and in a much more apologetic fashion than we had expected (in fact, we half-expected no response at all, judging by our history of drive-by assholes). In his reply, he mentioned that he has "not had any sexual contact with a child in over twenty-five years and [does] not anticipate doing so ever again unless there is a change in both laws and some manner of social consideration of the subject." He also granted that he does have a boundary — his own age of consent — though he did not specify it, claiming he would in his next e-mail...which, five months after the fact, has yet to appear.

Howard also mentioned the following:

* Please note that my request to you in my comment was not that you change your mind about the criminalization of pedophilia being right (as much as I'd like that), but that you explain on the site your reasons for believing in that . You have given me an extensive answer, but in a private e-mail. I understand that many, maybe most, people believe that the reasons for abhorring pedophilia are self-evident, and perhaps that's why you feel no explanation is necessary. But your e-mail has shown that your abhorrence of it is based not on self-evidence, but on a good number of reasons. Do you think it would suit the purposes of your site to say on it what those reason are, instead of letting the notion of pedophilia being "correctly criminalize[d]" stand on its own?

And we agreed with his reasoning here, as we said in our subsequent reply:

Put simply: yes, you are absolutely correct on this point. Our Score entries are, to say the least, notoriously brief, and this is far from the first entry which has attracted negative comments not because of our position, but rather because of our lack of detail or explication. It bears repeating that the Score entries, as originally published, were essentially mere "outlines" which we planned to later expand into full-fledged position papers...but that "later" never really came to pass. Instead, the Rants started to eat up more of our time and energy, and our focus shifted to them, while the Score has remained quite short on details.

That said, each time we've been questioned on a Score entry that lacks detail, we've used the resulting communications to flesh out the details of the entry. You can see examples of this if you read our Score entries on Libertarians or swearing. As such, we certainly plan to use our exchange with you to flesh out the section on minors.

Howard wrote one more quick missive, a month later, in which he explained that he was involved in other projects, and had no time to reply. He promised to return to the conversation when he got a chance, but that was the last we heard from him.

To be blunt, our encounter with Howard Kline leaves a pretty bad taste in our mouths. We're aware that people like him exist; that there are people who truly believe they have rational, justifiable logic supporting their hurtful and misguided behavior (the "GodHatesFags.com" Phelps clan springs to mind here). But to be confronted with one was quite an eye-opening experience. We have every confidence in our position on this issue, and we will firmly state our opinion that Howard's abandonment of logic in this context is due (perhaps entirely) to his own personal sexual desires. Unlike Howard, we truly have thought through this issue in a manner wholly consistent with our view of all other topics...and our conclusions, we believe, bear this out.

Here's the basic point: children are not just small adults. They lack the neurological and psychological development to weigh many of life's decisions. So while it's true that children do not have the same rights as adults, the trade-off is that they have more protection than adults, and that's a system that works quite well. Not only can a child not consent to sex, they cannot consent to anything in any legally binding way — not as a "punishment," but so they can't get entangled in something from which they might have difficulty extracting themselves. As an extension of this line of reasoning, they also can be (and, for the most part, always should be) tried in juvenile courts.

In terms of pedophilia: sex is simply not the issue here — the ability to comprehend and consent to sexual situations is. Howard's inability to grasp that point is, we're sure, based on the fact that he reached his conclusions about pedophilia (based on his inherent preferences) before constructing his arguments (loosely patched together to support those preferences).

Frankly, any rational person must admit that a child of six months lacks the ability to consent to anything. Clearly that child cannot understand any of life's decisions, and cannot consider the ramifications of making a decision one way or another. And once we agree that there is, therefore, some age below which a child cannot consent, the discussion becomes distilled down to simply figuring out where that line is. For our part, we've chosen seventeen, but we can certainly see arguments for setting the age of majority higher (and maybe very slightly lower, though we really don't agree with doing so). But someone like Howard — who sees no need for these laws protecting children — has clearly thrown logic and reason out the window (along with compassion, we might add) in order to justify his own sexual desires.

Howard came to our site hoping to find logic and reason. Well, Howard — you got your wish.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Civil Liberties  % Government & Politics  % Greatest Hits  ]

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Comments (24)

Darthcynic, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 08:41 [Link] »

Praise Jeebus!

Glad to see yis back and with a sizable rant to enjoy.

Alas I am at work so I shall peruse it later.


Tom S. Fox, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 09:55 [Link] »

Yay, a new rant at last!

Infophile, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 11:23 [Link] »

A while back, Ebonmuse over at Daylight Atheism had a similar experience with a pedophile who e-mailed him. He didn't mention the name there, but I wonder if it might actually be the same guy.

In any case, I think your response is quite appropriate for people of this sort. It's not too surprising you didn't get any real response back to your e-mail; I can't imagine what he could say to excuse himself. Leaving the debate was his only option, really. (Well, and giving in, but you know how often that happens.)

euclids child, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 12:10 [Link] »

Nice to see you back with a new post. I find myself in that group continually nodding in agreement with your logical arguments. I look forward to your post that contradicts my special bias so you can put me in my place.

"the list of things about which we must remain completly agnostic does not stop with tooth fairies and celestial teapots"

TimmyAnn, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 15:25 [Link] »

I am glad that you say we have no control over who or what we are attracted to. I have tried to explain this to people in regard to a fictional character in a story I was writing (it never got finished). He couldn't help it that he was attracted to children, but he would never, ever act upon those feelings (and not just because of the laws against it) . To me, that meant he wasn't a bad guy. To some people he was just automatically a horrible person and that made no sense to me.

Anyway, I am glad to see a new rant! It's been a while and it's nice to see something other than SPAM on here!

Ford, 2008.01.24 (Thu) 17:25 [Link] »

Come on now, everybody knows the equation...
Your age/2+7.

Ford, 2008.01.25 (Fri) 14:45 [Link] »

Well, I killed the hell outta these comments.

Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2008.01.26 (Sat) 03:53 [Link] »

Sorry about that, Ford — just a bit busy. But yeah, I've always thought that was a pretty accurate equation. If you do the math, it actually works out to a pretty nice result for all involved. Except, of course, for folks like the subject of our Rant.

Tom S. Fox, 2008.01.27 (Sun) 11:59 [Link] »

What is you gris gris, by the way?

Ford, 2008.01.28 (Mon) 11:08 [Link] »

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that you should cater to my whim. I was merely noting the (somewhat humorous) fact that people were posting fairly regularly up until I commented and suddenly the room cleared.

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2008.01.28 (Mon) 14:42 [Link] »

If you are asking us, Tom, then the answer is: we haven't found one yet. As a group, we have the benefit of overcoming any individual biases by way of group discussion before we post a Rant. Of course, one of the purposes of this site is to put our opinions on the table so that other intelligent people can review them and, if necessary, point out the flaws in our thinking. If we do have a gris gris, that's likely to be the way we unearth it.

That said, personally I have been known to put on the blinders when it comes to sports. I may, for example, yell about a flagrant foul that wasn't called, then, when I see on the replay that the contact was unintentional, I may not immediately acknowledge my error, instead sticking to my biased and demonstrably incorrect hypothesis. Damned refs.

RC, 2008.01.30 (Wed) 16:15 [Link] »

Since, as you have said, that a child cannot give consent because they do not have the physical/psychological components necessary, do you feel that his/her parent/guardian who does have the legal authority to act for the child can give consent? In this case, let's say it is for a 15 year old daughter to have "consensual" sex with her 18 year old boyfriend?
hmmmm....strangely enough, that works into the age/2+7 formula!
I guess what I am asking is, does the parent have the right to let sex go on if they deem it correct?

Richard, 2008.01.31 (Thu) 00:32 [Link] »

RC: Your math is out.

9+7 is 16, not 15. OK. So not a long way out.

Oddities crop up on this issue. In some places it is possible to marry at quite a young age, but it would be statutory rape for that marriage to be consumated. In that case parental consent is needed to allow the marriage, but there is no way to consent to SOMEONE ELSE having sex. In my mind it is only one step short of renting your children to pedophiles. Sure it is lucrative (and free market friendly) but in effect you are taking your obligations of protection - and replacing them with rights of ownership.

The question becomes - when you consent to your daughter being raped do you judge who the rapist can be by how nice they are to you? Whether they might be good for a short term loan perhaps?

Tom Foss, 2008.01.31 (Thu) 01:02 [Link] »

I would think that a 15/18 relationship might fall into that "buffer zone" that the 2%-ers mentioned in their post. Such a relationship wouldn't be that uncommon; it's a Senior and a Freshman or Sophomore, by the usual ages of American High School students. I was in a similar situation when my girlfriend and I started dating--I a senior, she a freshman. Obviously I didn't go seeking her parents' permission to engage in sexual activity; on the contrary, I had the frank and open discussion early on that any movements on that front would be up to her, determined by when she was ready.

And that's a system that worked out pretty well, I think. Neither of us ended up screwed up, we moved fairly slowly, no one got arrested, and we're still together five and a half years on.

Akusai, 2008.01.31 (Thu) 13:19 [Link] »

Of course, regardless of the legal side of things, it is always within the parents' power to allow such a situation, or a worse one, if they so desire.

Case in point: a somewhat creepy 22-year old I knew a few years back took it upon himself to date a 15-year-old girl. A few months into the relationship, it became sexual (not her first, if I remember correctly). A few months after that, daddy walked in on them.

Daddy wasn't happy, but he offered creepy 22-year-old a plea bargain: get the fuck out now, and if I never see your face again, I won't call the cops and report your for statutory.

He is now dating someone his own age, thank God.

The point is, if a parent honestly believes that his/her son/daughter is mature enough to make such a decision for him/herself, and they actually happen to find out about the sexual activity, it is fully within their power to not report the older member of the relationship to the cops.

jess, 2008.02.04 (Mon) 12:23 [Link] »

Lol, age/2 +7, I had never heard of that before, it's brilliant. So was this rant! Gawd. Can I hire you to spit rational venom into the eyes of all those who oppose me? I'm imagining a sort of human water pistol...

Rocky, 2008.02.07 (Thu) 06:26 [Link] »

Richard, above, points out the flaw in the otherwise brilliant rant (I loved its reasoning). In every situation where an individual is deemed incapable of making legal decisions some sort of guardian is in place to make those decisions. The hole in the rant is what if the guardian allows the oontact or, worse, is the perpetrator of the contact? Once I also found this flaw it bothered me for a few days because I love the idea of law being grounded in reality and not in some nebulous appeal to spurious "authority". For the longest time I could not think of a way out, but eventually I thought of this: a presumption of coersion in the absence of "perfect knowledge". We do not allow such contact because we have no way of knowing someone's true intent. Is the guardian truly responding to the child's wishes or are they responding to their own and forcing the child to respond? To protect a child (or an invalid for that matter) we go a little farther than normal, but only in this or similar cases.

The Two Percent Company, 2008.02.08 (Fri) 21:07 [Link] »

Sorry, busy week. RC asks:

Since, as you have said, that a child cannot give consent because they do not have the physical/psychological components necessary, do you feel that his/her parent/guardian who does have the legal authority to act for the child can give consent? In this case, let's say it is for a 15 year old daughter to have "consensual" sex with her 18 year old boyfriend?

As Tom Foss pointed out, the 15/18 relationship that you mentioned does, in fact, fit within the buffer zone we favor (and also dovetails with the Age / 2 + 7 equation!). It's also important to note that this age range fits neatly into the buffer zones adopted in some states, but that it isn't a universal distinction. Various states have different buffers — and some, it seems, have none at all. Sorting out the state laws on the age of consent for sex is a difficult task — we ourselves found several sources with several different sets of data, so if you're really interested, the best bet is to go to the source: the state government of the state you are wondering about.

But those ages really weren't the crux of your point. We get what you're asking: should a parent be legally able to consent to sex on behalf of their minor child?

Our own opinion on the matter: a firm no. Parents do not and should not have the right to give universal consent — consent for just any legal issue — on behalf of their children. For example, parents cannot consent to allow their kids to be murdered or sold into slavery. So we already have a system in which parents are not the sole and final decision makers for their children in every possible context. The question then becomes one of where to draw the parental consent line.

As we said in our Rant (and in our Score entry on minors), children are granted less rights and more protections because they are, on average, physically and psychologically unable to handle some situations that adults are (again, on average) equipped to handle. We believe that sex is one of the situations that children are not equipped to handle; and, as a very relevant second point, we also believe that marriage is a situation that children are not equipped to handle — partly, but not entirely, due to the sexual relationship implied (though, we admit, not necessarily dictated) by a marital arrangement.

As such, we don't think parents should be allowed to give consent for under-age children to marry any more than we think they should be able to give consent for their children to have sex. The whole point of taking away the ability to consent from children is to protect them from situations they cannot deal with. The clear issue, to us, is that such situations could also include having parents who are utter morons or who simply don't give a shit about their kids.

We apologize to Rocky for leaving an apparent flaw in our reasoning — it was simply an issue we didn't address in the Rant itself. This response should clarify our position.

In the case of a minor who wishes to marry, we would suggest that the following steps should be required. First, the child must agree. No, their consent is not enough to make it so, but their lack of consent (even without a firm refusal) should set off enough alarms to put a halt to the process. Second, the child's guardian(s) must consent. And third, said guardian(s) must obtain a court order. We're pretty confident that this system would do a good job of weeding out both moronic parents, who are happy to thrust their children into bad situations, and the dishonest parents, who might wish to use their children for their own personal benefit (the practice of using children as a kind of barter is something to be wary of), while still allowing reasonable requests to be honored. Basically, it addresses Rocky's suggestion of a presumption of coercion in the absence of perfect knowledge by having a third party review the situation.

And before anyone tells us that this sounds too much like a nanny state, we have to point out that the reason we are against nanny states is because they nanny adults. Children, on the other hand, should be "nannied," to an extent.

Akusai brings up another question:

The point is, if a parent honestly believes that his/her son/daughter is mature enough to make such a decision for him/herself, and they actually happen to find out about the sexual activity, it is fully within their power to not report the older member of the relationship to the cops.

Here the answer is pretty straight forward. A parent, like any person, is always able to simply not report a crime, but that doesn't make it any less illegal. In the same way that a person could witness a murder then decide not to report it, that same person could witness their twelve-year-old son having sex with his thirty-year-old teacher and just walk away. The act is still a crime, though, and it isn't up to the parent to deem it legally acceptable. In most states, the state can press charges for statutory rape even if the victim and the victim's guardians ask them not to do so. In short, you don't need a cooperating witness in order to file charges for statutory rape — it just makes it much harder to prove your case without one (though, of course, a bun in the oven could make pretty easy to win even without cooperation).

All in all, we believe that parents should have a good deal of unfettered influence over the lives of their children, but we also believe that protecting children certainly includes protecting them from their own parents, if that might be where danger could lie in a given situation.

John, 2008.02.11 (Mon) 14:28 [Link] »

Another nice logical analysis. I keep coming back because you folks do such a good job at laying out the REASONING, not the knee-jerks. Even if I don't completely agree with the conclusions, I find that I have to hone my arguments more carefully.

AS for this:
"And before anyone tells us that this sounds too much like a nanny state, we have to point out that the reason we are against nanny states is because they nanny adults. Children, on the other hand, should be "nannied," to an extent."

I've been trying to say this for years. Thanks for putting it so succinctly.

John Beaty

BethanytheMartian, 2008.03.03 (Mon) 13:38 [Link] »

Finally, a new Rant! And a good one at that. I was wondering if y'all have seen the 'atheist on pedophilia' video that's been cycling around. A European kid with A LOT of facial piercings and dread locks talking about Pedo-Sexuals (like changing the word used somehow makes the situation different).

This young man brings up the argument of historical context, not mentioning that in the past, there was no right to consent. The reason we must protect children from their notoriously poor decisions is that humans are born with underdeveloped brains. The brain hasn't fully developed until late teens/early twenties, if memory serves.

I am glad to find you guys back in action, and hope to see more in the near future.

jmars, 2008.03.04 (Tue) 19:39 [Link] »

I love how people can continue to make arguments that completely ignore the moral Zeitgeist. As society progresses, we tend to weed out things like juvenile/adult relationships and marriages as we come to new understandings through the advancements of Science and other disciplines.

Forgive me if I am restating something, as I read this thread while at work, but it is convenient to link one or two studies that trivialize the effects of sex on minors while ignoring the mountain of evidence that shows it to cause irreparable damage to said minors. Just like the Creationist that uses the "Science has been wrong before" argument when presented with the evidence of Evolution, yet would jump on the soapbox and shout it to the world if Science actually proved their moronic and baseless theory.

Zab Abbey (non de plume), 2008.08.03 (Sun) 14:25 [Link] »

Interesting discussion. I want to add a few other important ideas in the mix which you seem to have omitted in the discussion. The first question is that nowhere have you discussed the importance of whether the sex between the child and adult was "good" or "bad". By "good" sex, I mean mutually enjoyable, done with care and feeling, and, dare I say it, love (although most westerners might question if it is actually physically possible for this to occur between a child and adult involving a sexual relationship.) And by "bad" I mean rape, physical discomfort of any kind to any of the parties involved, and any feelings of revulsion occurring during or around the sexual experience. The second question you have not discussed is the "why" of how sex that occurred in childhood has such been shown in studies to have done such documented and lasting psychological harm to those studied. When Arthur Clarke died not that long ago, I did a bit of research on the web about why he lived in Sri Lanka - I always wondered about that. It turned out that he very likely was a pedophile, and that got me really wanting to research the subject more, because I seriously enjoyed many of his books, and that of course means in a way I had shared his world view somewhat by being carried along with his narratives. What I found was that children in Sri Lanka are regarded as sexual beings, and many are involved in sexual relationships with adults. These relationships are expected to follow the guidelines and morals of "good" relationships ie loving, caring, and mutually pleasurable, and that these children have happy and "normal" relationships as adults with no ill effects observed. Which had me wondering about why so many children in the western world who had experienced sexual relationships had such a hard time of it, and showed so many pathologies. And then the difference struck me - in Sri Lanka, the sexual experience in childhood is regarded with fondness and NO SHAME as it is accepted by the society the children grow to live in as adults, but in our western society, these kids are exposed as damaged freaks who have been ABUSED as children. Even those children fortunate, or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, of actually having only "good" sexual experiences would in the west, from my armchair intellectual perspective anyway, be actually MORE likely to suffer lasting harm as a result of the experience in adulthood, because they will always associate any good sex they have as adults with what they have been told over and over are abusive relationships they had as children. Likewise, any intimacy these poor kids as adults would be curtailed by the shame they feel, and would make it very difficult for them to fully open up to adult sexual partners. So I think we have a chicken and egg situation here. Clearly, children having sexual experiences in western societies very probably set them up for lasting damage later in their lives, so it should be avoided at all costs, but on the other hand, the REASON for the damage is very likely not within the experience itself, but how the society regards the experience - ie criminalizing, vilifying, and discouraging "good" sexual experiences involving minors actually is a self fulfilling environment for making those experiences harmful, whereas in Sri Lanka, where they are regarded as normal healthy expression of human love and sexual growth, no damage to the children as adults occurs, because the damage is caused by the society's shame, which of course you have continued here with your views expressed on the subject.

Rape and "bad" sex of course remains socially unacceptable in BOTH cultures I also observe, and rightly so. With all that said, I totally agree with your point that minors need protection from the exploitation of adults, and I note in Sri Lanka, there are still very strict controls over the who and the how of sexual experiences with minors (I am no expert on it, but I think it is a very interesting area for study.)

As a parent of kids myself, I keep their experiences of sexuality as minimal as possible while still allowing them to be connected to our internet savvy, media driven sex-obsessed western society, in keeping with the prevailing moral views here that shaming those who have sexual experiences as children is the way to go, but my observations of my kids behavior leaves me no doubt because off their connection to a world of friends and media that they are very well aware (at nine and a half years and eleven) of the mechanics, and even some of the emotional politics of sexuality. Simply criminalizing sexual activity of any kind involving children strikes me now as completely unrealistic and ridiculous - it needs to be somehow more sophisticated. AS to HOW the law and mores need to change, not even sure I know, but I think there is something wrong with the extreme criminalization of it. I think what happens in Sri Lanka and other non-western societies warrants further study by us whiteys - my gut feeling is there is something very wrong with our societies attitudes to sex, especially involving children. Clearly there are physical limitations to sex between adults and children, but they would fall in the category of "bad" sex, and everybody is horrified with thoughts of young children's bodies being physically abused with painful sex, but what about "good" sexual contact - mutually enjoyable - between children and adults. As a westerner, I must admit I am pretty horrified with the thought, but I am seeing now I think that reaction is a result of my own conditioning and education, and not based on anything more real than that. And what's more, I see that attitude itself very probably is the very thing that produces the feelings of hurt and shame amongst any western adult unlucky enough to have had a pleasurable sexual experience as a child....

The Two Percent Company, 2008.09.03 (Wed) 13:40 [Link] »

There's an old joke, Zab, that goes like this:

Guy walks into a bar and sees a beautiful woman having a drink. "Hey," he says, "would you fuck me for five million dollars?"

The woman shrugs, "Fuck, yeah," she says.

The guy pulls out a ten-dollar bill. "How about for ten bucks?"

The woman glares angrily. "What do you think I am, some kind of whore?"

The guy smiles and says: "We've already established that, sweetheart. Now we're just haggling."

Our first and most basic response here, Zab, is that once you've said a firm "Yes" or "No" to anything that lies on an easily demarcated scale — like "Yes" to sex at the very high end of the financial scale, or "No" to sex at the very low end of the age scale — then you've agreed to a very basic premise, such as "I'm a whore," or "Don't have sex with young children." From there, it simply becomes a matter of figuring out where you draw your line.

If you don't think that infants are fair game for sticking a cock into (and we're reasonably sure you don't), then you've already agreed to our basic premise...which means that, now, we're just haggling.

As we've already made clear, any line you draw is going to have some ragged edges. There are surely a number of rare, well-adjusted fifteen-year-olds out there who can handle a complex, adult, emotional and sexual relationship, and — by the same token — a number of troubled twenty-year-olds (or even older) who are not adept at handling such relationships (we know some of them ourselves). Therefore, in practice, the idea is to draw a line in a "safe zone" that will give you the least amount of trouble — you can address odd and unusual scenarios as they arise, but drawing a "smart" line will lower the number of odd and unusual scenarios that can arise.

In general, putting that line somewhat after the raging hormones of puberty are held (slightly) more in check seems like a pretty decent idea to us. More importantly — and this is where we get into our entire freaking point — we simply don't allow kids below this general line to enter into any binding agreements or potentially dangerous situations without assistance or guardianship in some fashion...so we don't see a valid, legitimate reason to change our tune when it comes to sexual relationships with adults.

Listen, we could get into all sorts of problems we have with your analysis. We don't entirely believe that children involved in sexual relationships with adults in Sri Lanka are all just fine and dandy — we'd really need to see some more in-depth studies on that, and you didn't provide any. Based on a cursory search around the web, we've found widely differing accounts of the situation in Sri Lanka. Some accounts paint a picture like the one you describe — an atmosphere of "mentoring," "sentimental," "consensual" sex — while others say quite clearly that these children are often forced into lives of prostitution as a result of either poverty or misguided religious beliefs held by their parents. We've also seen some reports that indicate that sex with children under 16 (regardless of the intent) constitutes criminal statutory rape in Sri Lanka, and that the reason it is a haven for pedophiles has more to do with lax enforcement than it does with lacking legislation. Hell, the fact that Sri Lanka has a National Child Protection Authority would seem to indicate that children are being exploited sexually in that country, and that the picture may not be as rosy as some would have us believe. To sum up: as we said, we'd have to see a lot more detailed information before we agreed that the Sri Lankans have a system in place that is substantially different from ours, let alone worth considering as an alternative.

Further, and more to the point: it's not about "consent" with these children — "consent" is not enough in a sensible, rational world. Informed consent is what is required, and we simply don't have much confidence in the ability of children to weed through the information required to come to an informed decision (in most contexts, not just this one). Hell, plenty of adults have problems, there — but the aim of civilization is to help those who might need help, and children absolutely, unequivocally qualify in that regard. The restrictions aren't punishments — they're safety measures. Any competent parent can understand that, and plenty of us who aren't parents have a firm grasp of the concept as well.

As another point — before puberty, these kids simply aren't physically prepared for a real sexual relationship. So let's carefully, carefully examine just who is getting what out of these relationships.

Keep in mind that we agree that sex between two minors shouldn't be criminalized, and we've specified this many times. But that's something we'd look at on a case-by-case basis: a fourteen-year-old having sex with a six-year-old would be highly suspect, to say the least. This is why we would advocate a kind of "buffer" zone to take the edge off of our own well-thought-out but still subjective line.

However, when you get to actual adults — physical, legal adults — having sexual relationships with children, it's a whole new game. And it comes back, once again, to our opinions on the subject of consent.

The point is this: we don't trust a child's judgment in most cases, and well we shouldn't. They simply aren't ready to make the majority of decisions, for a variety of physical, emotional, mental, and sociocultural reasons — and we shouldn't make them responsible for making decisions they aren't equipped to handle. At the same time, we don't trust the pedophiles to make these decisions — not because of their specific proclivities, but because, like anybody indulging in romantic and/or sexual desire, that desire far outweighs their "critical thinking" on any specifically related subject. And a perfectly illustrated example of this would be Howard himself — witness his completely disparate opinions on his young guest smoking pot, and having sex with him. This doesn't make Howard an idiot — it makes him human. Similarly, his preference to have sex with children doesn't make him a bad person — his acting on it does. Desires that would harm others but that are kept to yourself simply aren't bad (or "evil"), because no one will be hurt by them. (We agree with TimmyAnn on this one, in defense of her fictional protagonist.) We, of course, are completely consistent with our "believe what you want to believe" tenet by advocating this viewpoint — as usual, from us, it's rock on with your bad self, just don't fuck anybody else over in the process.

So it comes down to the fact that we can't trust anybody involved in pedophelia to make a sound decision — the kids, because they usually can't, and the adults, because they're biased by their desire. Therefore, we need to go with a more general approach to the issue: that approach being, of course, don't let adults fuck kids, period.

You certainly seem to be exercising your brain, and we appreciate that. But be careful not to fall into the trap that Howard, and other advocates of pedophelia, seem to be falling into (or setting, actually) — for us, this issue has zero to do with "shame." We have made it absolutely clear that we don't care about the issue in that way. We're obviously not fucking Christians, and we're obviously not fucking prudes...shame isn't something that enters into our considerations.

To be sure, our society seems to load the shame on quite heavily, and perhaps that influences the general perception of pedophelia. We, however — with no shame biasing our considerations on the issue — still believe that it's bullshit to allow adult/child sexual relationships. Therefore, there are certainly far too many other factors involved that have nothing to do with shame, traditions, or ambiguous sexual mores.

None of this is about "good" sex or "bad" sex, despite your opening statements, because it's not about sex at all. Neither is rape, nor pedophelia, for that matter. Rape is about power and/or violence; pedophelia is about power and/or solipsism (the pedophile's desires, and the rationale stemming from them, are projected outwards as the only existing, or at least relevant, factor — no matter what the victim's feelings on the matter may be). Sex is wholly peripheral to either of these matters. If you forget that, and start down this indefensible path, you open yourself up to Howard's (and sexist asshat Bill Napoli's) "rape" and "bad rape" bullshit.

Taking away all the frills — because we certainly have a large tapestry of concepts that influence the way we think, just like most intelligent people do — our opinion on this matter comes down to two simple facts:

  1. Kids can't make great decisions about the majority of important topics.
  2. Adults who want to have kids (and not in the Paul Anka "Having My Baby" sense) can't be expected to make sound decisions on this particular topic.

It's pretty simple.

Maronan, 2009.01.27 (Tue) 20:46 [Link] »

Hm, can't comment on a "Score," so I guess this is the next best place.

How about´┐Ż instead of establishing an age of consent at 17, statutory rape laws should say that in any relationship where one person is under 18, the other must obey the XKCD Standard Creepiness Rule, which would serve the triple function of protecting minors, solving the problem of how to deal with relationships between minors and allow me to reference xkcd in connection to something even remotely serious.

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