There has been a rising debate on the idea that pedophilia is a sexual orientation. Members of the left have begun advocating for the acceptance, and support, of the LGBT in the fight to mainstream pedophiles and the sexual orientation of pedophilia. This is probably one of the most controversial moves the left has made since the adaptation of Marxism. The idea of legalizing sex with children is certainly one of great concern, but how do we as Libertarians see this matter? After all, we are far removed from both the Right and the Left. We seem to be on our own spectrum. This is one Libertarian’s break down of this hot-button topic.

I will be running the concept through three Libertarian filters that I believe will paint a clear picture on the Libertarian position; the non-aggression principle, consent, and responsibility/accountability.

Lens 1: The N.A.P.

Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? The convenient answer would be yes. The more complicated answer is that it is not. Sexual orientation has to do with who you are, male or female, and who you are interested in having relations with, male or female. A few examples would be I am a homosexual male, or I am a straight female. The identification of your sexual orientation basically gives the bare bones of who you are and who you like.

A “-philia” is more a part of your sexuality. If you are into BDSM, then that is a part of your sexuality and not your orientation. So if someone is a self-described pedophile their orientation would still be straight, gay, or bi. However, one defining characteristic of their sexuality would be that they are aroused by children.

We cannot control what turns us on and what doesn’t. At the same time just because something turns us on does not mean that it is appropriate. Taboo sexuality like necrophilia, dendrophilia, or biastophilia all falls into a category of sexual disorders. Such disorders like biastophilia, which is the sexual arousal of sexually assaulting an unconsenting person, especially a stranger are dangerous in that they can hurt others. This is a perfect example of sexuality that is not something that should be acted upon. This also deals with the idea of consent, which we will dive into a little later.

For Libertarians, the acting out of these types of sexual disorders violates the non-aggression principle. This is the defining difference between molestation and pedophilia. The sexuality is the -philia, but the act is molestation, or rape/statutory, etc. As Libertarians, we are not for throwing people into jails or forcing them against their will into treatment, unless there has been a crime. Without the act, or attempt, there is not just cause to arrest these people. So while the argument stands that we cannot exactly control what arouses us, we do know that because something does arouse us does not make it right. To further this idea we will look at another pillar of morality in Libertarianism; consent.

Lens 2: Consent

There are many groups around the world that are advocates for the acceptance of pedophilia. In America, we have groups like North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), Childhood Sensuality Circle (CSC), along with other online groups such as the Virtuous Pedophile. These groups claim that children can consent to sex. Here is a place that I vehemently disagree. Children are not trusted to own firearms, vote, or do a number of other things, even drive. This is mainly due to the fact that they have not psychologically developed to the point of being able to have a rationale for their actions. This is part of the challenge of parenting. They are also not emotionally prepared to deal with the potential repercussions that come with sex. Children do not understand the why, how, or what involved with sex. Nor should they. Children do not engage in contractual agreements. Why? Because children cannot consent. The main point here is that since children cannot consent, then you have a violation of someone else’s person, which even to Libertarians, is a crime.

This is so far off base from the Left’s argument that if a woman has a drink then she cannot consent to sex. So let’s break this down. Two adults who both have a well-rounded idea of what sex is, the purpose, expectations, outcomes, and potential risks. One has a drink and suddenly is unable to make basic decisions. Yet, a child who has absolutely zero knowledge or mental capacity to do so can make those calls? This is just one of several places that Leftist’s logic falls apart.

Lens 3: Responsibility

The final filter I would like to run this through is the idea of personal responsibility and accountability. We must be able to take responsibility for the wants and desires we have. We must be able to recognize that these are not moral based on the previous two filters. Therefore, it is imperative that we hold ourselves accountable for our actions, or others will.

How this applies to pedophilia is that pedophiles need to be able to deal with these desires and learn to cope with the disorder. Pedophilia is not “curable” in that these people will always be sexually attracted to children. However, it does fall on them to seek out help for such issues. Psychiatric care may be needed, support groups can help, or even counseling could be required in order to deal with the issues surrounding this disorder. In the same vein if someone is not offending, and does not require care, then there is no problem there. Still, if they do hurt someone else, then they must be held accountable for their actions.

The Orwellian idea that we can legislate people through Minority Report-style policing is dangerous thinking. At the same time, it is not the government’s responsibility to make sure that everyone accepts these pedophiles. It is, however, the government’s responsibility to arrest or detain people who have hurt others. Whether it is a pedophile who has hurt a child or someone who has assaulted another for being a non-offending pedophile, the non-aggression principle has been violated.

There are a number of programs across the world that reach out to self-described pedophiles and are willing to help them deal with the struggles that they face. Many pedophiles don’t want to be attracted to children, which is why they don’t offend, but there comes a level of isolationism when they are stigmatized as child abusers. Programs like Prevention Project Dunkelfeld in Germany are actively seeking to give resources and services to non-offending male pedophiles. The aforementioned Virtuous Pedophile is an online community aimed at being a help group for pedophiles who think that sex with children is wrong.

Places like the Prevention Project are aimed to help all different walks of sexual preoccupation and addiction through the utilization of licensed clinicians. The Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention, which works in conjunction with Virtuous Pedophile, holds a number of core values described above such as an adult should never sexually interact with a child, pedophiles do not choose to be attracted to children, pedophiles can choose to refrain from acting on the attraction, and therapy does not change a person’s sexuality, but it can help a person accept his or her attraction to children without acting on it.

There have been some less hardcore advocates that are not exactly advocating for the legalization of sex with children, but promoting the idea that there should be more programs available to those who are not offending, and want help. In 2014, Elizabeth Letourneau wrote an article in support of offering services to those reaching out for help with their sexual disorder. The following year John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health published an article that posed the question “Would Project Dunkelfeld Work in the US?”

Many of these programs also require that non-offenders abstain from child pornography. As a Libertarian. This may seem like kind of a gray area. I mean if you buy a snuff film did you, therefore, kill the person? While the answer is no, I would still consider child pornography to be contraband. The same principles went into creating the content, and by you purchasing it you are endorsing the act, and creating a marketplace for the assault of children. I honestly believe that this idea is reinforced by the fact that every group out to help non-offending pedophiles encourages or requires the abstinence from child pornography. After all, the viewing of this material further perpetuates the desire to commit the act, and can even help justify the behavior. If you are a non-offending pedophile that believes that children should not be hurt, then you would agree that child pornography is just as wrong.

Closing Notes

Now I have two daughters, and I would never put them in harm’s way. I wouldn’t engage with someone who was a pedophile because of my own moral compass. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that they should be able to get help if they seek it. If they have an honest desire to not act out these fantasies, then I surely agree that there should be avenues other then sit in your house and keep it to yourself. Being a pedophile, even self-described shouldn’t be something you proud of or ashamed of, but rather recognized as a problem that you wish to address in a responsible way.

I have personally seen first hand what happens to pedophiles in jails and prisons. It is not pretty, so those that are making a conscious effort to not be one of those people I think should be able to do so freely. Now I do not think they need a parade or anything, but merely the opportunity to live as normal a life as possible. After all, that choice is up to them.

You can read more from Rocky Ferrenberg at Think Liberty here.