The Normalization Fallacy

I’ve probably already created a thread discussing this, but I feel it’s necessary to bring it up again.

We seriously need to have an open discussion addressing the merits (or lack thereof) regarding a common claim I’ve been seeing be spewed from antis, prudes, and otherwise censorship-friendly communities and pundits with regard to pedophilic erotic fiction and child sex dolls.

I’m talking specifically about the “normalization” fallacy.
The claim that simply allowing the idea that pedophilia, be it depictions or descriptions of it which cast it in a positive or neutral light whether it’s for narrative or erotic purposes in art and literature will “normalize”, or breed a culture which “normalizes” and enables these attitudes, beliefs, or tastes friendly to or welcoming to these ideals, and by extension, causing or driving people to commit hands-on CSA offenses or trade CSAM.

I can (and probably already have) written up multi-paragraph essays criticizing or attacking this dubious claim.

My usual criticisms are:

  • It is a biased, pessimistic assumption with no facts, statistics, scientific, historical, or otherwise empirical accounts to support it

  • It assumes that people can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy with respect to undesirable, unsavory, offensive tastes or ideas

  • Materials that stimulate one’s sexual preferences and desire, like most things, can be and are routinely compartmentalized and consumed on a ‘reality vs fiction’ approach in much the same way that we compartmentalize other kinds of stimulating or entertaining material
    (eg. “it’s not real and we know it’s not real, so why act like it’s real?”)

  • There is zero evidence, empirical or otherwise, to suggest that this will occur or has already occurred outside of the limited the context of fictional artwork and erotic material

  • It trivializes and undermines the rule of law with respect to crimes involving CSAM and other CSA-related offenses (such as grooming) by incorrectly painting all pedophilic persons who consume legal, victimless fictional media as inevitable CSA offenders or CSAM collectors

  • Though conflicted, the broad scientific concensus acknowledges a correlation, also acknowledges there is no causal link between the consumption of pornography and the commission of sex offenses, including adult rapes and CSA offenses

  • Even studies which entertain some level of causality will admit that pornography use alone isn’t even considered a variable outside of more pronounced preconditions that predispose people to aggress or commit CSA (such as social or mental impairments) and even then, its role as a causal variable is admittedly weak and heavily debated among other meta analyses and studies

  • We’ve seen sex crime statistics go down as pornography, violent or otherwise, became more readily available

  • The proliferation of violent media, specifically the types which visually and literally depict and glorify graphic, extreme violence, both realistic and fantastical has not coincided with increased aggression or assumed up-ticks in violent crime, nor have they harmfully desensitized the public to real-world violence and aggression

  • Much like similar claims made against violent media and LGBT+ culture, it undermines and subverts the free speech principle by exploiting fear, prejudice, hatred, and irrationality to justify censorship and criminalization of fictional child pornography and sex dolls

  • People with pedophilic tastes or desires for this type of fiction are likely already accustomed to what it is they’re consuming, thereby negating the “normalization” effect that consumption claims to have

  • It attempts to split responsibility for sex offenses from the offender and the material they consumed, despite the material not designed to (and arguably being incapable of) inciting of causing said crime, thereby serving as a scapegoat, which undermines just about everything else of importance when deciding and evaluating guilt

  • Pedophilia was de-pathologized in the DSM-5 and ICD-11, delineating pedophilic disorder from a mere pedophilic “sexual orientation/interest”, which is recognized by the DSM-5

  • More “normal” people seem to be caught misbehaving around minors than non-offending pedophiles and MAPs, but that requires more evidence to prove

I want to get a dialog going amongst forum users to try and challenge these false notions. It’s not enough to simply deny it and say that “they don’t normalize real life crimes, they normalize fiction” and compare it to violent media.

We need to challenge this problematic, fallacious, and downright false claim that works of fiction could “normalize” anything other than more fiction.

If there is anything else people would like to add, say, or critique, please do so. I’ll be linking studies to back up the more “empirical” claims I’ve made in a bit.

I understand you, but discussing with people who already agree with you is kinda boring ^^"

well that’s the thing. A lot of people seem to fall for the “normalization” fallacy with regard to erotic fiction. I want us to craft a fool-proof argument that’s better worded, more convincing, and just overall better.

I honestly don’t believe that foolproof arguments exist, because in the end, people are not convinced by arguments, people just believe in whatever is more convenient for them.
But if you want to hear my argument, it’s quite simple. Pedophilia itself should be normalized, because nobody is to blame for being a pedophile and nobody deserves to be marginalized because of that. And to say that normalizing pedophilia would somehow make child abuse more frequent, is a allegation based on… nothing :confused: Actually, I can only see potential for the opposite to happen. So ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I think a better term would be destigmatized, rather than “normalized”.

I think there’s a difference between thoughts or desires and actions. I think it’s perfectly fine to want to do these things in fiction, just not in reality since CSA is unacceptable.
I think the stigma needs to be refocused on CSA, rather than pedophilia if there isn’t a “real” element of intent to abuse a child.

I use these terms as synonyms, because they pretty much are.

I disagree. something can still be abnormal but still be relieved of stigma. I don’t think pedophilia should be destigmatized entirely, but I do think an exception ought to be made for the “non-offenders” who consume legal, fantasy pornographic material.

Which brings me back to my previous point. How can my thesis be improved, modified, or whatever to sound more convincing?

As I said, you won’t find any argument that will convince EVERYONE. And of course, I’m not talking only about this topic, that is true for all conceivable ideas in the world. But anyway, MAYBE you can find arguments that will make a specific type of person to listen to what you want to say and think about it. But I confess that I’m not sure what this argument will be for this specific case. Although, if you want people to be listen to what you say, there is somethings you can do that will help with that. First you should write your arguments in a way that appear they don’t directly contradict what those persons believe, and obviously you can’t offend them or provoke them in any way. Like, if you start an aggressive speech, your audience will see it as a challenge to their ideology, and it will probably make them even more willing to defend their point of view. In other words it will have the opposite effect that you want. Anyway, generally speaking, I believe this is the best you can do about it.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT FAKE CP WILL REDUCE CRIME.

There is still much more research to be done guys. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Once we know the true effects, we can debate about legalization. But so far, no credible evidence suggests it increases NOR DECREASES crime. So what’s the fucking point in legalizing it? If your worry is prosecuting people for creating it, you should be aware just how fucking rare obscenity is prosecuted for. (fake cartoon CP is classified under obscenity, child pornography law in general relates specifically to real minors.)

Obscenity laws, in and of themselves, should be abolished. In all contexts.

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We know that it does not increase it, as is the case with adult pornography.
Studies are being done as we speak.

Well, the fact that it doesn’t increase crime rates and the fact that obscenity prosecutions are entirely fallacious and believably unconstitutional on their face, since they seek to enforce and punish over violation of a mere content preference, rather than a legitimately grounded interest in public welfare or safety.
The right to freedom of speech comes before heavy-handed censorship.
They’re antithetical to the First Amendment and simply aren’t justified, regardless of how rare they are. They shouldn’t even be happening.

This is also applies to adult pornography. Many states allow certain types of toys or genres of porn available.

The only exception to this would be obscenity as to minors, in that children shouldn’t be exposed to lewd or pornographic media by strangers.

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Well, the fact that it doesn’t increase crime rates and the fact that obscenity prosecutions are entirely fallacious and believably unconstitutional on their face, since they seek to enforce and punish over violation of a mere content preference,

Maybe so, but the general public would not support such a move. About 80% of Americans support obscenity law. Just encourage prosecutors to use prosecutorial discretion and focus on actual crimes in which real children are being exploited rather than cartoons will fix the problem. No need to “legalize it”.

This is also applies to adult pornography. Many states allow certain types of toys or genres of porn available.

Only in the most extreme forms of adult pornography. Most obscenity prosecutions in recent history have been aimed at revenge porn offenders. Like the woman who shared ex-bf’s dick pics. Of course I’d rather have a federal revenge porn law. But for the moment, prosecutors are more likely to use obscenity law to go after revenge porn offenders.

The only exception to this would be obscenity as to minors, in that children shouldn’t be exposed to lewd or pornographic media by strangers.

Don’t abolish obscenity law. Use prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors should leave you alone UNLESS 1) you share it with minors or real minors were involved in any way. or 2) the obscenity was NOT consensual. If two adults agree to consent to porn that is “obscene”, prosecutors should use discretion to avoid bothering them. If an ex shared revenge porn, prosecutors should go after them.

What’s the point in criminalising it?

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You have not answered my question: What is the point in legalizing it? Why should we waste limited resources in changing the law that is almost never enforced? If there were 1000 victimless prosecutions every year, yes the law should be changed. But what we see is an average of around 0.3-1.5 prosecutions every year and dropping. Why should we worry about such a tiny number of people?

I don’t know where you got those numbers from, but the average American doesn’t know anything about the obscenity doctrine. They just assume that so long as it’s not imposed upon an unwilling audience. They usually have no idea how awful these laws truly are.
They say the same thing about abortions and other things, you should have seen how unpopular desegregation was, especially in the South. We shouldn’t have to worry about prosecutorial discretion when the very doctrine in question is akin to Constitutional cancer.

Not always true. Many states still vicariously go after people for selling/buying movies that depict certain types of functions, like ejaculation or other bodily fluids.
Revenge porn laws are still up for debate, though I agree with their premise, I don’t believe they should be (or could reasonably be enforced) unless they were taken without consent, which is already a crime distinct from the obscenity doctrine.

I’m sorry but this is not up for debate. This cancerous, decrepit, unconstitutional, precedent needs to go. Obscenity cases generate extreme emotional and opinionated questions, none of which belong in the court of law.
The goal they seek to achieve is fundamentally incompatible with the First, Fourth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. They are deliberately vague, overbroad, chilling, and irrational.

They need to go. And I hope to see all possible arguments and measures taken to ensure their demise.

Because it shouldn’t be law in the first place. They seek to enforce and punish speech simply for the viewpoints and content they contain without respect for the fact that there is no justifiable harm, or rationale consistent with the free speech ideal.
There could be limited prosecutions, there could be none. It’s still bad law founded upon bad precedent.
No amount of resources spent on striking down bad law can equate to justice and freedom. Arguing that its easier to not enforce bad law than to strike it down is fallacious reasoning because it undermines the validity of our constitutional protections.

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you should have seen how unpopular desegregation was, especially in the South.

Support for segregation as well as a prohibition of interracial marriage never rose above 40% among the overall population in states like Alabama and Florida. The myth was that the south of america was full of racists, in reality, it was usually the elite that were racist. If you went back to 1890 on a vacation, what you will find is that most people don’t really have a problem with blacks, but the elite do as well as a sizable MINORITY of racists. Yes, 39% is still far higher than the 2-3% of today, but most americans were never racist. As far as a study? I can’t remember who conducted the study, but it was a fringe religious moralist group that conducted it. 80% does not appear that abnormal. Up until the 2000s, more than half of Americans want a blanket ban on ALL porn. Now the number is around 35% so this is why 70 or even 80% should not be a surprise for extreme porn.

Not always true. Many states still vicariously go after people for selling/buying movies that depict certain types of functions, like ejaculation or other bodily fluids.
Revenge porn laws are still up for debate, though I agree with their premise, I don’t believe they should be (or could reasonably be enforced) unless they were taken without consent, which is already a crime distinct from the obscenity doctrine.

They exists in some states, but not federal. If prosecutorial discretion were to be used wisely, obscenity law could be used to address revenge porn offenders in federal jurisdiction. On the state level, they sometimes will prosecute victimless crimes, but that is part of the price to pay for strong states rights. I for one support states rights.

My ideal porn law would be my state narrow obscenity law to only revenge/retribution porn cases and have CP laws address sexual images of minors. However, the situation I want can be achieved through wise prosecutorial guidelines that tell who should be and who ought to be ignored. No need to change the law. I’d rather have elected officials debate on more important matters. If there is a dry period than maybe… I’d be in favor of changing the letter of the law. But realistically, proper prosecutorial guidelines should achieve whatever is needed. However, if a state wants to prosecute victimless porn, and it’s not my state, should it really be our business?

Maybe you are specifically talking about federal law. But federal prosecutions under obscenity doctrine is even rarer than states, and the proportion of prosecutions under the federal codes that are victimless is even lower than the states. I’m a big fan of states rights so sure, you people want it thrown out, I’m for it, but 1) throw out a ton of OTHER federal laws and give power back to the states. 2) IF a state wants to prosecute obscenity in whatever ways they want, let them.

If we are going to throw out federal obscenity law, I would only be in favor of it if it was done in a session that involved picking out obsolete or counter productive federal laws and repealing them in mass. I don’t want congress to spend a specific lengthy period debating and discussing this one single law that effects 0.5 people a year.

See. In America, we can and should err on the side of freedom. Obscenity law is antithetical to the land of the free.

You’d have to cite a source for that one.

These can and are all usually addressed without imposing obscenity law. We have a "harmful to minors’ doctrine, in which speech that wouldn’t be obscene to an adult would be proscribable if shown to or displayed to a minor. We have the child pornography exception, in which sexual or erotic images of real children are banned under any and all circumstances.

Yeah, as Americans it is your business. It’s somebody’s rights and freedoms being taken away from them over emotionally-charged thought-crimes.

There is nothing salvageable from this putrid, cancerous tumor we call the obscenity doctrine. It is a blatant perversion of our Constitutional rights to free speech, a pox on the minds and freedoms of our people.

The 5-Justice Conservative majority that Nixon appointed to the Supreme Court was wrong. The mere fact that no dissenters conceded in following cases, but doubled down on their dissent should be proof that it was wrong.
Such behavior from the Court is not normal and is indicative of bad precedent.

We intend to see their dissents brought back.

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@terminus

Do you have anything to add to this argument? I’ve been reading into the philosophy behind banning child dolls and fantasy material. and all of their arguments circle back to the prospect of social, moral, or cultural harm.

How would you respond to that logic?

Well usually they cloak this in concern that it will lead to direct sexual abuse. So first, we need to prove that this is bullshit, so that they can’t shield their true intentions this way. That’s what we’re doing by funding independent scientific research into whether sexual outlets are harmful or not. Until that question is answered, most of the discourse on this topic is redundant.

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