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