Letter from New York Times columnist Elizabeth Bruenig

We received this letter from Elizabeth Bruenig of the New York Times. Read more about the context of this letter in our next newsletter.

Mr. Malcolm,

I do not start at the Times until January 13th, so I am technically not employed at the moment. But I welcome your discussion with my future editor.

I link our conversation here. Having done quite a bit of reporting on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, it is my view that convicted sex offenders and “minor-attracted persons,” as you call them in your FAQ and publications, should not be involved with children in any capacity, whether in an “allyship” role, “protection” role, or any other role. I link here the blog post you published, in which you argue the following:

Individually, the stigmatized groups that the establishment wishes to exclude (sex workers, adult performers, registered citizens , and so on) do have advocacy groups of their own—we work with many of them, and include some of them on our Advisory Council. But before Prostasia Foundation was formed, these groups were seen as unqualified to be talking about child sexual abuse prevention within their own communities, because unless they simply capitulated to what the church-linked groups were saying, they were perceived as promoting their own self-interest.

The emphasis is mine. I believe that convicted sex offenders should not have any role in any allyship or advocacy for children, nor in any other capacity that might put them in proximity to children. I also strongly disagree with the conflation of sex workers and adult performers with convicted sex offenders. Adult sex workers and their adult clients, as well as adult pornographic performers and their adult viewers, have an entirely different relationship than that between sex offenders and their minor (or adult) victims, and the three groups are not ‘stigmatized’ for remotely similar reasons.

I also disagree with the member of your organization who analogized pedophilia to gay sexuality. (I have, of course, preserved screencaps for posterity.) I do not believe pedophilia is in any sense legally or ethically similar to same sex attraction, which has many legal expressions. Pedophiliac sexual compulsions have no legal or ethical expressions, in my view.

I lastly disagree in the strongest possible terms with the brief you submitted to the UN, linked here, wherein you argue that computer generated and drawn portrayals of child sexual abuse constitute “representation of children’s sexuality,” as opposed to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Whether images of child sex abuse are photographs of actual sex abuse or simply simulations of that abuse, they still represent one thing: the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It is not possible to represent a consensual sexual encounter with a child, because such a thing does not exist. Any attempt, artistically or otherwise, to suggest that consensual sex with children does exist represents not only an error but a danger.

I am an opinion writer, and the above, which are only expansions on my tweets, are my opinions. I believe that efforts to ‘destigmatize’ sexual compulsions toward children are deeply misguided and dangerous, and I find several aspects of your organization’s rhetoric extremely disturbing. (For instance, in what sense is sexual kink even relevant to ‘child protection’? Why should conversations about the protection of children from sexual abuse even involve the sexual kinks of the adults who are protecting them? What is the relationship between an adult’s sexual predilections and the protection of children? I have taken courses on children’s safety as a Sunday School teacher and tutor, and never in either of those contexts was my sexuality even distantly germane to the practices that keep children safe.)

I note that you have made an allegation of slander; it is simply the case that none of what I have said comes near meeting any legal standard for slander or defamation. I further note that you have implied you will be contacting me again. I would ask that you do not contact me further. I have blocked you on twitter, and I don’t desire any further engagement with you.


Elizabeth Bruenig

The conversation on twitter is gone. You really should use website archival services in the future, people on mainstream websites are quick to delete their posts and then write again untrue statements about what happened.

How droll. She isn’t helping by ignoring our pleas, correct? This doesn’t bode well for the NY Times. What happened to authenticity?

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Because she directly mentions me…

She’s taking my comment way out of context. I don’t think she read that entire thread at all. She’s more than welcome to disagree but she might be better off removing emotions from her journalistic perspective.


My sixth sense did say someone would make a stink out of some controversial articles. Kind of inevitable.

Words are clearly being put in mouths in that tweet. The point is that most people have no problems not raping or molesting women (or men, if that is how they swing) and that it shouldn’t be a problem in this case either.

So, in truth, it is comparing it to sexuality in general, and not any particular sort of sexuality. Something which should be abundantly obvious, if engaged in with an unbiased mindset and not one quite obviously intending to stir up trouble.

It isn’t a problem for heterosexual men not to rape or sexually harass women, even if they haven’t had anything in the way of a relationship, whether due to an inability to socialize or other factors. Neither is it the case they would rape men.

She also apparently has failed to do adequate research into the fact that many “minor attracted people” as some people refer to it as, have perfectly fruitful adult relationships which further moots her logic in many cases.

She also ignores Vice’s article that a significant portion of child molesters are not even necessarily truly pedophilic in nature, but opportunists who think they can get away with it, although gauging exact numbers is extremely difficult.

One would assume she would take the time to do such research before running her mouth and writing this flawed text, but it seems that hysteria trumps all else.

She also on multiple occasions uses the inaccurate term “convicted sex offender”, to slander a large group of people, which would imply that said entire group has committed said sex crimes which she implies. I am not aware of the author of such articles being such an individual either, as implied by her although there was one problematic one who was supposedly removed after giving a misrepresentation of their prior history to the foundation.

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This journalist is disheartening. It must be easy, or at least less painful, to live a blatant lie of shallow protection rather than ascertain the soul crushing truth. I once believed potentially insecure sexual deviants were but a plague, but after an insightful conversation with a user here regarding the nature of those with sexual inadequacies(of the mind, namely), I opted to believe in the often difficult to swallow, hidden side of reality. I might be perfect at this, but I’m still learning, and it has been quite the engaging experience. Also, welcome back, Lolishadow. I’m glad you didn’t seriously take yourself up on that harrowing offer.

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Sadly, unfortunately, this is what the NYT, which I admire on their investigative journalist side (different department than opinion), consider a “quality intellectual.” Of course, Elizabeth will continue to perpetuate pseudoscientific myths containing neat little categories so as not to upset her readers.

I’m a proud member of this organization and I am also a Times’ subscriber—so I look forward to challenging this writer in letters to the editor should the opportunity ever arise.