I posted an entry yesterday about the Bernie Ward case. Gary responded with a comment. Normally, I briefly address comments in the comments section, but today I want to do something a little different. I want to post substantial passages from Gary's comments and respond to them in this entry. I want to do this because I believe that the subject is important and because I believe that Gary's thinking on this issue is shared by many, and I disagree with most of it. Gary's comments are in italics; my responses aren't.
Pedophilia is a sickness that is true, but it is a sickness that can not be treated.
I think you're right that pedophilic desires can't be cured, but I think there are treatments that can stop or prevent some people from acting them out. But let's be clear about Bernie Ward. He was not indicted for child molestation, and, indeed, after a thorough investigation, he was allowed to stay in the home with his children. He was indicted for possessing and distributing a few sexually oriented photos involving minors. Having and even distributing a few such images doesn't necessarily mean that someone is a pedophile, much less a dangerous one who must be removed from society for the rest of his life.
Now I'm aware of the recent Dan Noyes report alleging that Bernie came on to a couple of teenage girls years ago when he was a priest. But these are only allegations. He was never convicted of sexual harassment or molestation of children or anyone else. What's more, even if the allegations are true, as bad as it would be for him to have acted as alleged, being attracted to pubescent high school girls is not pedophila. If it were, most adult males would be pedophiles. Pedophila is attraction to prepubescent children.
It truly is sad that these people do what they do. If you could put them up in a condo complex where they could live and work(without ever leaving the premises of course) I would be all for that. But they can never be allowed out in society. The harm they do is extraordinary.
I agree that child molestation can be extraordinarily harmful and that a case could be made for locking away for life anyone who has shown a pattern of child molestation suggesting that he or she can't prevent himself from continuing to molest children. However, I agree with you that these people are mentally ill and do not deserve the punishment of a life sentence in federal prison for their actions. They need to be placed in another kind of more humane facility, and they should not be blamed and held in contempt for their illness or its manifestations. But, once again, Bernie was not indicted for child molestation.
You also have to remember that most pedophiles do not think they are doing harm. They honestly believe that they love the children and that they are not harming them. How do you treat someone who has those beliefs?
Doesn't your preceding statement imply the answer to your question? If someone molests children because they don't understand the harm it causes to their victims and they can be made to understand it, they won't molest anymore.
I truly feel sorry for Bernies family and friends(especially his childrens friends) but for Bernie I feel nothing but contempt for he of all people should know exactly what his actions will do.
I don't understand this statement in light of what you said previously. You believe that Bernie is a pedophile (even though there's no proof I'm aware of that he is), and you say that pedophilia is a sickness; yet, you feel "nothing but contempt" for him. Do you also feel "nothing but contempt" for someone who breaks out with a rash as a result of having chicken pox? Isn't acting out one's pedophilic desires analogous to breaking out with chicken pox? We may need to isolate a contagious individual until he no longer poses a threat to the public, but we don't hold him in contempt for being sick. Why should we hold Bernie in contempt? If he really knew "exactly what his actions would do," don't you think he must have been awfully sick to go ahead and commit them anyway? And if he didn't know exactly what they would do, then why scorn him? Because "ignorance is no excuse"? Why isn't it? If not an excuse, then at least a mitigating factor?
You also need to do a little research on the case. Bernie actually was storing the images in cyber space on his AOL account and was in possession of at least 30 images.
Thank you for that additional information. But have you seen the images or read detailed descriptions of them? This touches upon an issue I raised in yesterday's post. Not all pornographic images are of equivalent severity, and this should be taken into account. What's more, no matter how extreme these images may have been, Bernie was not indicted for nor did he plead guilty to playing any role in creating these images. I don't believe that someone should spend years in federal prison for merely possessing or even distributing a few such images to consenting adults. He should face some legal sanctions, and, indeed, he already has, along with numerous social ones. But not prison.
He harmed children, some grievously(just imagine his children reading the transcripts of what he was saying to Sexfairy about them and their friends) even if he did not do the actions he describes, the mere fact that he could come up with these alleged "fantasies" should outrage you!
I believe that what he wrote about his own children and their friends was actually far worse than the pictures from a "moral" standpoint and from the standpoint of what is likely to have done the most psychological harm. But this was not illegal and he was not indicted for it. What's more, I don't feel "outrage" over this; I feel great perplexity over why he did it, and I feel great sadness for him and his family that he did it and for the fact that they all are now having to deal with the consequences.
I have a 2 year old daughter and you know what I have never had a thought like that, EVER!
I have suggested, although I don't claim to know for sure, that maybe Bernie posted those things not because he really wanted to do them for real but because he wanted to shock his "mistress" with his naughtiness. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that he really did entertain those fantasies. Now I think it's wonderful that you don't entertain similar ones. But what if you or someone close to you did? It's easy to condemn other people for desiring bad things you're fortunate enough not to desire. But suppose you had these desires. Would you believe that you should be condemned for them? And how do you know that you could control them any better than Bernie did with his online sex chat?
Have you actually sat down and thought about what he did in a logical non emotional way? Unclouded by your personal feelings for the man?
Yes, I think I have done precisely this. Have you? Or are you the one who has let his reason be clouded by emotion and "personal feelings"?
Imagine how outraged you would be if you found out it was Dick Cheney who was doing these things.
I think Dick Cheney has done far, far worse than Bernie Ward. I think he has contributed more than his share to the deaths of countless thousands of people who didn't deserve to die and to the misery of countless millions of others. Compared to that, Bernie Ward's actions are an infinitesimal blip on the radar. Nevertheless, if Dick Cheney had done what Bernie has, I truly believe that I would feel the same way about his having done it than I feel about Bernie having done it.
That's the difference between conservatives and liberals(I am a rational anarchist) a conservative when presented with evidence like this demands punishment for the person involved regardless of political party.
What is a "rational anarchist," and just how "rational" could such a stance be? Beyond that, I mildly agree with part of what you say. A conservative is likely to urge punishment (although I suspect that he's likely to be more punitive toward a liberal than toward a fellow conservative) than is a liberal. And I think this is because so-called conservatives tend to have a more simplistic and false understanding of human nature and behavior than do many liberals who better understand that cultural and social conditions interact with our genes to shape who we are and how we behave and that unadulterated "punishment" is not necessarily the answer to all misbehavior.
Liberals refuse to believe that their people are really bad and make all kinds of excuses for them.
Again, I think, or would like to think, that liberals are more likely to understand the complex concatenation of factors that go into shaping a person's character and conduct and that just blaming and punishing people for "bad" character and behavior is neither fair nor effective.
Or more laughable of all they claim some "government conspiracy" has brought there person down. I mean come on....when are you folks going to grow up?
You folks? When have I said that I believed the legal action taken against Bernie was the result of some "government conspiracy." But I do submit this question for your consideration. If Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Prager had done what Bernie did and the government became aware of it, are you altogether certain that it would have responded as severely as it did to Bernie?
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