I recently watched a video about Todd Nickerson, the self-proclaimed “virtuous pedophile.” In summary, this is a pedophile who considers himself virtuous because he doesn’t act upon his desires, encouraging others of similar persuasion to follow. A fascinating insight. However, it is the backlash I find most worthy of discussion.
Before we begin, I must say that acting upon pedophilia is not just criminal, but unethical. Children are incapable of consent, being neither psychologically nor biologically equipped for sexual congress. Nickerson admitted to the public that he was a pedophile. He founded a community for pedophiles who recognise the harm in acting upon their desires, choosing never to do so. As I’ve asserted ad nauseum, I hypothesise that every action & inclination is a product of our being pulled in directions dictated by evolution. For example, hunger is a useful survival mechanism that keeps us nourished. Lust kept the lineage of primal man alive. Our impulsivity allowed us to fight or flee as needs warranted. Every gene mutation & quirk that wasn’t weeded out remained. From imperative to impediment, these traits are now unneeded, but guide our actions all the same. We are not creatures of pure reason. Without radical modifications through the use of arcane technology, we won’t become this way either.
So what is the worth of our will overcoming inclination? Well, it is proof that we are beyond mere animal. Against all survival imperative, we are able to act in accordance with values we derive. Survival needn’t be our unconscious goal; we may strive for whatever cause we wish, however grand or small. At the expense of our lives if we so wish. Now to make the relevant connection: the will of the pedophile who bows to their desire is animalistic. Although their ‘inclination’ as with everyone else includes basic survival necessities & the full suite of emotion, theirs also includes the desire for intercourse with children. Most of the time, giving in to something like hunger also has rational benefits as well. If one is dead from malnutrition, they cannot accomplish any assigned goal, after all. In a case like continuous nourishment, both inclination & goals of the will are met, be it by coincidence or otherwise. In the case of pedophilia however, there is a divide. The pedophile’s desire is intercourse with children. However, the rational pedophile ought to also know the ethical implications of doing so. So, when the pedophile gives in to this desire, not only are they conceding to their animalistic self, but are also fully aware of the rational implications. In addition to the child being violated, the pedophile has diminished the quality that makes them human. They’ve used their will to serve inclination, rather than inclination being squashed when reason requires.
Pedophilia & ‘Virtuous’ Pedophilia
This, however, isn’t what the backlash is about. This is vitriol targeted at the self-proclaimed “virtuous” pedophile. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to believe this claim entirely. For all intents & purposes, Nickerson is a pedophile who has never acted upon his desires. Despite this, the video was covered in comments of disgust, not just disagreement. People were horrified at this alleged normalisation of pedophilia. The seething anger directed at this man was reminiscent of anti-homosexual arguments. Please note that when I make this observation, I do not imply the two are the same, or are even at all similar. I merely state that their logic was similar. For example, one popular criticism of Nickerson was that he has made an unethical choice to be a pedophile. That he ought to seek a cure. However, the video stated that he has always been this way & it’s just who he is. Of course, there is a clear difference between homosexuality & pedophilia; the former can be indulged ethically at no harm to anyone. All the same, the understandable knee-jerk reaction toward pedophilia is disgust & anger. This disdain might be warranted of convicted pedophiles who have damaged the life of an innocent. However, Nickerson is a law-abiding citizen, encouraging other would-be pedophiles to abstain from their desires. Yet, the hatred this man received is identical to that of an offending pedophile. Highlighting his story is considered by some to be glorifying it. We can now see that isn’t the case. If anything, it’s glorifying the abstention from pedophilia. This story glorifies overcoming desire in favour of rationality. However, there is an elephant in the room that science has not yet dispelled.
Is Pedophilia Inherited or Learned? Does it matter?
Nickerson stated he discovered his desires at a very early age. Knowing that he is a ‘virtuous’ pedophile, it makes little sense why he’d ‘choose’ a sexual persuasion he’s so against. Why would he choose to be a pariah? At risk of creating a false dichotomy, I’m inclined to believe this must either be a trait acquired at early childhood or at birth. Other options may include, “he’s lying & he really has acted upon his desires.” Another possibility is he’s simply not rational, adopting pedophilia with no awareness of societal implications. For now, I discount these possibilities. So, for the sake of progressing this already-verbose article, I am going to assume that pedophilia was effectively acquired at birth, ‘effectively’ meaning it was acquired at a formative age for any given reason. For instance, he was abused as a toddler; perhaps that influenced him. Perhaps pedophilia truly is a mutation in a similar vein to homosexuality. We don’t know. The point is; the acquisition of this ‘sexuality’ was not his choice & was entirely out of his control. As it stands, this is a law-abiding citizen encouraging other law-abiding citizens to act as he does. Yet, he is still thrown into the proverbial muck alongside convicted pedophiles. Surely, this cannot be just. We have all manner of desires we do not act upon. We may desire a cake without eating it, for instance; the desire itself does not make us a glutton. So too may a pedophile refrain from their desires.
Although Nickerson may not be considered ‘virtuous,’ he should not be considered a sinister criminal deserving of revilement, because he isn’t one. None of us had any control over the inclinations we were born with & learned in earliest childhood. When we grow up, we choose whether or not our inclinations rule us. As far as we know, Nickerson became this way at no fault of his own. In spite of this, he made the choice to defy his nature & instead be ethical. Demonising him is not only illogical & cruel, but cripples our ability to one day understand the reasons behind pedophilia.
Thank you for reading.