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Hypocrisy on Pedophilia
Judith Levine and the LA Times

by James Hitchcock
May 10, 2003

IF THE CATHOLIC SCANDALS of the past few years have done anything, they have made people aware of the evils of child molestation, one of the few sexual activities which "enlightened" opinion still thinks is wrong. Some Catholics charge that the media campaign is motivated by anti-Catholicism, and I have no doubt that some of it is. But it is also a legitimate exposure of  real abuses.

It is odd that "enlightened" opinion condemns child molestation, since for many years "progressives" have been repudiating one after another of traditional sexual "taboos", to the point where almost anything can be rationalized.

There has long been a movement, just barely out of public sight, agitating for sexual relations between children and adults, a movement institutionalized in the North American Man-Boy Love Association, the existence of which has been noticed mainly by the people whom enlightened opinion dismisses as "the religious right". The movement has stayed out of sight because the media realize how damaging it would be to the cause of sexual "freedom" if such groups were known to exist.

For groups like NAMBLA the clerical scandals were a severe blow, making it almost impossible to push their agenda. But, like other people preaching "liberation", they have to move boldly to assert their legitimacy. With media cooperation, they are now doing so.

The Los Angeles Times, one of the country's leading newspapers, has given its annual book award to Judith Levine, a psychologist whose work is titled Harmful to Minors: the Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. The book has additional enlightened endorsement in that it was published by a respectable university press (Minnesota).

Not that Levine advocates child molestation -- heaven forbid! What she advocates is "consensual" sex between adults and children as young as twelve, as well as primary schools where children can engage in sexual activity with one another. Is there anything of which she disapproves? Certainly -- education for chastity. Shielding children from sexual experience is what really does them  harm!

This is, of course, the exact opposite of what enlightened opinion, including the Times, has been saying about pedophilia over the past several years. "But", the editors would no doubt protest, "we are talking about consensual sex. Don't you see the difference?"

Except in, shall we say?, esoteric circles, this is an invisible difference. The whole point of setting a minimum age for sexual activity is the realization that children, and most minors, are highly vulnerable to pressure, manipulation, and seduction which they do not fully understand. Even if young people think they are acting consensually, they often suffer severe traumas from such experiences, traumas which may haunt them for the rest of their lives. All this has now been defined away by Levine and the Los Angeles Times.

Levine proves her case by citing the "research" of several psychologists who are open advocates of pedophilia, including the work of a man who published an article in Playboy called "The Child-Porn Myth" and has himself been arrested on child-pornography charges. Levine also cites a psychologist named John Money, who is now famous mainly for a bizarre incident in which he attempted to turn a boy into a girl, an effort which wrecked the boy's life. (Money also founded the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University with Fred Berlin, a consultant to the US Bishops' Committee on Sexual Abuse since its foundation who was a featured "sex-expert" for the media at the US Bishops' conference in Dallas last year.)

I happened to have the television on when Levine was receiving her award. She has enemies, she warned -- the "Neo-Nazis" are out to get her! As far as I could see, the audience was heavily composed of grey-haired people, many of them in sweat clothes, who looked like grandparents ready for a mall walk. They applauded her enthusiastically.

Misconduct within the Church deserves exposure and censure. But cynicism can scarcely go farther than the media's condemnation of priests for conduct considered laudable when engaged in by appropriately "progressive" people.

James Hitchcock,
professor of history at St. Louis University, writes and lectures on contemporary Church matters. His column appears in the diocesan press. His two-volume book on religion and the Supreme Court has just been published by Princeton University Press. E-Mail: Dr. James Hitchcock

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