Convicted child pornographer promotes pedophilia in peer-reviewed academic journal

Tom O'Carroll, author of books promoting societal acceptance of adult-child sexual relations.
Tom O'Carroll, author of books promoting societal acceptance of adult-child sexual relations. | (Photo: Screengrab/

A peer-reviewed academic journal has made the controversial decision to publish a piece promoting the normalization of pedophilia.

The article, “Childhood ‘Innocence’ is Not Ideal: Virtue Ethics and Child-Adult Sex,” was written by a convicted child pornographer and will appear in the December issue of Sexuality & Culture, an interdisciplinary journal that “publishes peer-reviewed theoretical articles based on logical argumentation … and empirical articles describing the results of experiments and surveys on the ethical, cultural, psychological, social, or political implications of sexual behavior,” columnist Justin Lee noted this week in Arc Digital.

The author of the piece is Tom O'Carroll, a British man who has been jailed twice for pedophilia-related offenses.

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O'Carroll's article argues that virtue ethics — a broad term for ethical theories rooted in the thinking of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, emphasizing the importance of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than mere duty or acting in order — is not grounds for rejecting sexual acts between children and adults, and that society should allow and even celebrate them.

"The assertion that children are incapable of reciprocal sexual relations is empirically unfounded. Where is the evidence? A comparison with animals is again suggested. Dogs appear to be perfectly capable of reciprocity in loving relationships with human beings, often to the extent of being every bit as devoted and loyal in their affections toward their owners as their owners are toward them, and perhaps even more so," O'Carroll argues in the piece. 

"If even a dog can experience the requisite feelings in a reciprocal relationship of interpersonal (in all but name) character, why would a child be incapable of doing so," he continued.

Although he doesn't say it outright, Lee believes that O'Carroll's writing serves a more nefarious goal — that of encouraging children to “consent” to sexual relations with adults.

O'Carroll further argues that pedophilia is “a sexual orientation like any other,” and calls into question the concept of a child's inherent "innocence." He also uses the term “child-adult” in a linguistic attempt to portray the child as the one who initiates sexual relations with adults, and attempts to link his case to feminist distaste for "patriarchy," laying the blame for the suppression of children's sexuality at the feet of "patriarchal societies."

The rape of children is repeatedly minimized throughout the article as a kind of “play,” a type of "affectionate rough-housing between parent and child," Lee notes.

In 2006, O'Carroll was convicted of making and distributing child pornography through his pedophile advocacy organization, the International Paedophile Child Emancipation Group, and its subsidiary, Gentlemen with an Interesting Name.

Authorities uncovered a library of child porn that O'Carroll had helped run from his home which featured children — some of whom were boys as young as 6 years old — who had been filmed and photographed being tortured and raped, the Irish Times reported.

O'Carroll saw the groups as a base for an "international secret society" of "academic" child abusers, police said at the time. O'Carroll is also the author of the 1980 book Paedophilia: The Radical Case and Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons, published in 2010.

Author and Christian thought leader Rod Dreher commented on his blog at The American Conservative this week that the article is further evidence that "[t]he destructuring of human relations under the guise of liberating desire is the goal of these people, whether they realize it or not."

"Without God, or some other binding source of sacred order, there is only nihilism. If you will not have God, prepare to make room for Tom O’Carroll and his celebration of diversity," he said.

The publication of O'Carroll's piece isn't the first time academics have entertained viewpoints supportive of pedophilia.

The Christian Post reported in August 2016 that SUNY-Fredonia philosophy professor Steven Kershnar had published a philosophical "analysis" of sexual relationships between children and adults. In his 168-page book, titled Adult-Child Sex: An Analysis, Kershnar calls into question pedophilia's moral status and compares the revulsion people experience at the thought of adults and kids having sex to the disgust some experience viewing images of obese people having sex.

Sociologist Mark Regnerus noted that the climate today is less hostile toward these kinds of arguments and that while most still respond with disgust at the mention of pedophilia, much is happening under the radar.

The Archives of Sexual Behavior journal published in the past year two studies by psychologist Bruce Rind, both of which argued that "minor-adult sex tends not to be reported as a bad experience, as unwanted, or as one with longstanding negative consequences," he claimed in September 2017.

Rind wrote in a 1998 issue of Psychological Bulletin that the long-term destructive effects of child abuse are overestimated, a claim the American Psychological Association and both Houses of Congress rejected publicly. Yet last year both the APA and the federal government said nothing.

Regnerus added: "What Congress readily condemned in 1999 has become something Congress ignores, or is unaware of, in 2017. Scholars with misgivings about the wisdom of any sexual standard beyond consent sense little space in which to operate today. Meanwhile, a liberative science of sex and sexuality has exploded in popularity in the past decade, with the help of empathetic foundations — I'm thinking of Gill, Ford, and Arcus, among others — and even the indirect complicity of the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation." 

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