On “Mild Paedophilia”

The subject of pedophilia (paedophilia) is nothing to take lightly. This post isn’t defending Richard Dawkins, nor stating that I agree with him on the subject of “mild paedophilia.” Also, after much debate with myself, I have chosen to not include the name of my former professor/mentor to protect his identity (he knows who he is). The last thing I need is some bozo Googling his name and finding this post and stirring any trouble for him. Despite that we are constantly at odds, I never wish him any wrong and we always come out as friends in the end. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as he continues to teach me after all these years since the last time I sat in his class or paid him a visit to his office.

I’d also like to apologize if there are any grammatical errors or if, at times, the argument feels disjointed. I’m still recovering from a cold that has me congested and sometimes my thoughts are still cloudy. I promise to correct any error or rewrite anything that might confuse the reader.

Now we may begin.

Richard Dawkins in this episode.

I spent a good amount of time reading the Richard Dawkins article at work, after work, at home, before bed. I read the articles attacking his “mild paedophilia”statment and I read those defending him and stating they were just a poor choice of words. I wouldn’t have put myself through any of this if not for my friend and former mentor/professor.

Like most people—and let it be known I am one of these people as he and like-minded individuals always believe I exclude myself from the fallible—my friend pounced on the poorly selected words of a scholar he disagrees with. He took “mild paedophilia” [British for mild pedophilia] and ran with it like a happy dog that’s found a dirty diaper. He then turned around and used a heinous example to further his misguided argument. “Richard Dawkins would say what about this case?” he asked, linking to an Examiner article on Pedro Vicente Aguirre, who won’t be standing trial for the 14-year-old rape of a 3-year-old girl in Modesto. “Only a mild case of rape,” he adds, “and that 3 year old girl will be fine? She won’t remember a thing anyhow? You like this guy, Dawkins? Really?”

It’s the Republican habit of belittling an atrocious crime to prove their point. He pulled a similar stunt (as did all my conservative friends) with the Zimmerman case, comparing the victim to street thugs. Their logic? If a group of black, teenage kids commit crimes then it’s safe to say that Trayvon Martin was committing a crime just walking after dark. So, of course, he’d make also make the connection between Aguirre’s case and Dawkins’ “mild paedophilia.”

So is he right? Of course not. Dawkins follows the statement with, “[T]he other point is that because the most notorious cases of paedophilia involve rape or even murder, and because we attach the label ‘paedophilia’ to the same things when they’re just mild touching up, we must beware of lumping all paedphiles into the same bracket” (emphasis mine). This should lead any reader that what Dawkins is trying to say (however mistaken) that there are two types of pedophiles in the world: Those who commit violent crimes like rape and murder, and those that don’t.

Dawkins goes as far as describing what “mild paedophilia” is in his memoir, An Appetite for Wonder, as he writes about one of the masters at his public school, Oundle, who “was prone to fall in love with the prettier boys. He never, as far as we knew, went any further than to put an arm around them in class and make suggestive remarks…” Meanwhile, according to ModBee staff writer, Rosalio Ahumada, “Aguirre is charged with two counts of attempted murder, forcible aggravated sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping to commit rape, committing a forcible lewd act on a child younger than 14, burglary and child endangerment.” As you can see, in Dawkins’ eyes, Aguirre’s case falls under “the most notorious cases of paedophilia” and not “mild paedophilia,” as the master from Oundle falls under.

This all leaves a terrible taste in my mouth, and this is where my argument takes a turn. While I agree with Dawkins on some points, my friend has it in his mind that I worship the man. That I based my entire disbelief just his shoulders, where my disbelief stems from the desire to seek the truth. Do I agree with Dawkins’ idea of “mild paedophilia?” No. Do I think the master from Oundle is an okay guy just because he didn’t touch the boys in sexually aggressive way? No. But what really bothers me about the Dawkins article is that he takes upon himself to speak for others when it comes to the past “mild paedophilia” that occurred when he was in school. Just because he wasn’t affected by the teacher who shoved his hand down his pants, doesn’t mean the other victim (if there was another victim) wasn’t affected. Just because something isn’t rape, does not mean it’s not scarring. He doesn’t get to decide this, and people don’t have to believe that he does.

He instructs us to not hold the crimes of the past against those who committed them. The Spanish Inquisition? Shrug it off! It wasn’t that bad. Slavery? It was just the times, bro. In other words, we shouldn’t condemn them with our present day prejudices. I don’t agree, but condemning the crimes of the 18th and 19th century isn’t going to erase them. If anything, we can learn from them. But a 14-year-old rape is still as heinous as one that happened 14 days ago.

Dawkins cannot speak for others anymore than a converted pro-lifer whose abortion changed her stance can speak for every woman who’s had an abortion. But my friend makes a mistake, one his party tends to make often. He calls the rape of a 3-year-old a mild case of rape. Not a mild case of pedophilia. Irony or not, there is no such thing as a mild case of rape anymore than there is such a thing as “mild paedophilia.” Yet, the Republican party has defended the right to redefine rape in the eyes of the law. Some even going as far as wanting to give parental rights to rapists when the victim opts to abort. What about the judge who gave Stacey Rambold 30 days for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide? Wasn’t he asking her to shoulder some of the blame because she was years ahead of her chronological age? While all these backward conservative dickheads are forcing victims to have their rapists children and blaming children for getting raped in the first place, you’d think my friend would pay more attention to his own party. Instead, he decides to attack me for liking some of things written by Richard Dawkins.

Does Richard Dawkins’ “mild paedophilia” change the fact that I like his works? No. Not anymore than I like Lethal Weapon any less after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants, or liking Dirty Harry less after Clint Eastwood’s descent into dementia at the GOP convention. Richard Dawkins is a evolutionary biologist, not a psychologist. Because what you constantly fail to understand about science is that it is not an infallible god. Science is the quest for truth built up by theories. Theories that are fallible and can be proven wrong. It can, therefore, be assumed that scientists—no matter their greatness of their falling—are also fallible. But I’ll leave the theology and philosophy speak for a greater mind than my own.

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