(LifeSiteNews) — Over the past few months, there appears to have been a rise in people attempting to start a conversation about “destigmatizing” pedophilia. A couple of months ago, we covered the story of a transgender-identifying professor seeking to “destigmatize” pedophilia in her book The Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. Alyn Walker wants people to use the term “minor-attracted people” (MAPs) rather than the term “pedophile” because it has fewer negative connotations and makes the case that sexuality is fluid while avoiding addressing the question of whether she considers pedophilia to be simply another sexual orientation.
In January, USA Today chimed in with an article by reporter Alia Dastagir on pedophilia with a similar perspective, advocating for “destigmatizing the attraction” and making the case that it is “among the most misunderstood,” noting that “[r]esearchers who study pedophilia say the term describes an attraction, not an action, and using it interchangeably with ‘abuse’ fuels misperceptions about pedophiles.” The paper deleted a series of tweets after facing a backlash.
Now, it may be true that the microphone of social media is simply drawing our attention to these individual instances, and rather than a trend we’re just seeing academics who would have usually flown under the radar having their work exposed in public. But with the Netflix film Cuties; the phenomenon of “drag kids” (which has been cited by a pedophilia advocate as beneficial to his cause); and the ongoing sexualization of children in entertainment — not to mention the belief that sexualized performers such as drag queens are appropriate as entertainment for children — it all seems ominously disturbing.
Another viral instance of this has now surfaced. Dr. Stephen Kershnar, a SUNY Fredonia professor, has been suspended after an investigation into video of Kershnar asserting that opposition to pedophilia is “a mistake” and that there are “evolutionary advantages to child/adult sex.” Kershnar teaches libertarian philosophy (no surprise) and applied ethics (you’ve got to be kidding me). His comments provoked a massive backlash from students that contributed to his suspension.
Kerhsnar actually believes that sexual relationships between children an adults can be a good thing. Here are his views, in his own words:
Imagine that an adult male wants to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. Imagine that she’s a willing participant. A very standard, very widely held view is that there’s something deeply wrong about this. It’s wrong independent of it being criminalized.
It’s not obvious to me that it’s in fact wrong. I think this is a mistake. And I think exploring that why it’s a mistake will tell us not only things about adult/sex and statutory rape and also fundamental principles of morality … The notion that it’s wrong even with a one-year-old is not quite obvious to me.
To defend this horrifying promotion of pedophilia, Kershnar claimed that there are cultures in which grandmothers allegedly perform oral sex on infant boys to pacify them, noting: “It’s hard to see what would be wrong with it.” Despite admitting that children “can’t understand” sexual activity, Kershnar claimed that this argument is negated by the fact that children often participate in activities that they do not fully understand, including sports or religious ceremonies.
It is difficult to exaggerate the vileness of Kershnar’s remarks. “[Attraction to minors is] fairly widespread among young men, particularly young men in our society,” Kershnar stated. There could, he averred, be “evolutionary advantages” to permitting this, and noted that in his view, it is society’s reaction to pedophilia that is problematic rather than pedophilia itself. He does, however, state that he still thinks pedophilia should be illegal, although is not entirely clear how this correlates with his other views.
It is not the fact that a professor holds such repulsive views that concerns me the most. He is not, of course, the first. Kershnar is an intellectual descendant of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, and it was recently revealed that the founder of “wokeness” Dr. Michel Foucault was likely a pedophile rapist. It is the fact that he has been publicly defended by 153 other professors, who noted that while they might disagree with Kershnar’s conclusions, his academic freedom should allow him to explore this subject. One of the signatories of an open letter defending Kershnar, incidentally, is philosopher Peter Singer, who has advocated for infanticide on the grounds that a human infant is no more valuable than a piglet.
Should any views be beyond the pale? Should a defense of pedophilia reside in the realm of academic freedom, especially in our post-sexual revolution cultural context of liquid modernity and relativism? I’m not fan of cancel culture, but if anything should be considered unacceptable, defending the sexual abuse of children has to be it.