The nation’s tough anti-pedophilia laws are unfair to pedophiles, according to an op-ed published by The New York Times’ editors.
“One can live with pedophilia and not act on it,” says Margo Kaplan, an entrepreneurial assistant law professor at Rutgers University, and a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Tragically, the roughly 1 percent of “people who are sexually attracted to children] must hide their disorder from everyone they know — or risk losing educational and job opportunities, and face the prospect of harassment and even violence,” she wrote.
Kaplan is trying to make a legal career in the regulation of expanding sexual diversity, instead of routine and lower-status practice areas, such as torts, probate, crime or copyrights. She’s focused on “legal limitations on intimate decisions, particularly the use of criminal law in areas of health and sexuality,” according to her web page.
Kaplan says criminal law should be changed so that pedophiles are only stigmatized or denied jobs if law school graduates agree that they pose a “direct threat” to children.
That could be a bonanza for law school graduates, because they’d be paid to argue over whether the hiring of a particular pedophile for a particular job is a direct threat to particular children. “The direct-threat analysis rejects the idea that [prospective] employers can rely on generalizations; they must assess the specific case and rely on evidence, not presuppositions,” Kaplan writes.
But this shift would also be a loss for the 99 percent of non-pedophile American citizens and voters, because it would eliminate their longstanding civil right to simply and cheaply exclude pedophiles from mainstream society or from jobs near children.
That right would be handed over to the hourly-paid law school graduates, including judges, defense lawyers, arbitrators and prosecutors, if Kaplan’s career plan becomes law.
The readers’ comments about the article were generally negative.
“Once you give pedophiles legal protection as handicapped individuals, it will become too difficult to keep them from jobs in which they might come into contact with children,” said the top-ranked comment on Kaplan’s article.
“No one who has dealt with these laws in real life would suppose that such evidence is easy to establish or that it provides sufficient protection to employers, who have to consider both the vagaries of the legal system and the costs of legal action,” said commenter Josh Hill.
“I’m beginning to wonder if there is a quiet but persistent movement to normalize adult sexual contact with children,” said an anonymous commenter, Hypatia. “Trying to turn the basest of predators into victims… is repugnant to anyone with even the slightest exposure to the damage done to the victims of this toxicity.”
“When you start to say it is not a crime, when you start to sympathize with people because they can’t control perverse desires, you give them an excuse to justify their behavior,” said commenter DougalE.
But “they need to be shamed and need to be made to fear prison time… zero tolerance, tough love, and long prison terms serve to protect children and when you begin to remove, compromise or weaken those attitudes it will only serve to endanger more children,” he wrote.
Unsurprisingly, Kaplan is eager to advance what she regards as the noble new task of wiping out Americans’ ability and civil right to protect their kids from pedophiles. “The fact that pedophilia is so despised is precisely why our responses to it, in criminal justice and mental health, have been so inconsistent and counterproductive,” she wrote.
“Acknowledging that pedophiles have a mental disorder, and removing the obstacles to their coming forward and seeking help, is not only the right thing to do, but it would also advance efforts to protect children from harm,” she insisted, without providing evidence.
In the 1970s, the Catholic Church accepted the advice of many experts in the new mental-health industry, and concluded that pedophile priests could be successfully treated with private therapy. The theory was not proven correct, and it helped protect many priests as they sexually abused thousands of boys.
That was a disaster for many children and for the church, but it yielded a bonanza of lawsuits, media stories and therapy sessions for professional lawyers, reporters and psychologists.
Kaplan’s new plan could also be good for many New York Times’ readers, who include a greater-than-average number of post-grad lawyers, law-school professors, social workers, regulators, psychologists, judges, expert witnesses and therapists. Many would gain more money and social status if they — not ordinary Americans — can monopolize the inevitable disagreements between pedophiles, their lawyers, employers, victims, parents, and community members.
Kaplan is ready for that burden.
“Arguing for the rights of scorned and misunderstood groups is never popular, particularly when they are associated with real harm,” said Kaplan, whose career likely has been boosted by The New Times Times’ decision to publish and showcase her career plan.