I need to have a regular weekly column on all the behaviors once thought voluntary and subject to moral judgment that people think need to be reclassified as involuntary conditions subject, not to moral judgment, but to political protection.
Enter the defenders of pedophilia.
In last Monday's New York Times, Margo Kaplan, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Law, argues, first, that pedophilia is not be a choice and that it has "neurological origins."
Recent research, while often limited to sex offenders -- because of the stigma of pedophilia -- suggests that the disorder may have neurological origins. Pedophilia could result from a failure in the brain to identify which environmental stimuli should provoke a sexual response. M.R.I.s of sex offenders with pedophilia show fewer of the neural pathways known as white matter in their brains. Men with pedophilia are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause. Some findings also suggest that disturbances in neurodevelopment in utero or early childhood increase the risk of pedophilia.And, since it is not a choice, it deserves political protection under federal anti-discrimination laws:
Our current law is inconsistent and irrational. For example, federal law and 20 states allow courts to issue a civil order committing a sex offender, particularly one with a diagnosis of pedophilia, to a mental health facility immediately after the completion of his sentence -- under standards that are much more lax than for ordinary "civil commitment" for people with mental illness. And yet, when it comes to public policies that might help people with pedophilia to come forward and seek treatment before they offend, the law omits pedophilia from protection.
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination against otherwise qualified individuals with mental disabilities, in areas such as employment, education and medical care. Congress, however, explicitly excluded pedophilia from protection under these two crucial laws.
It's time to revisit these categorical exclusions.There you go! Notice the similarities with the reasoning now being used by gay rights groups. By the same reasoning--and the same kind of evidence--according to which gays should be protected under anti-discrimination laws, so should pedophiles.
So let's queue up the angry responses that blame me for the reasoning I am actually criticizing other people for using: Three, two, one ...