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Deviancy defenders

Science | Advocacy group aims to lift the stigma against pedophiles

Issue: "2011 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 17, 2011

Appropriate outrage followed the allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, and Bernie Fine, an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University, had repeatedly molested boys during their years at the schools. But while prosecutors investigated those cases, activists were quietly working to eliminate the shame attached to pedophilia.

A nonprofit in Westminster, Md., called B4U-ACT has been advocating since 2003 on behalf of those it calls "minor-attracted people"-adults or adolescents who feel sexual attraction toward children. Relying on questionable psychiatric estimates, the group claims up to 8 million men in the United States experience such attractions, but feel stigmatized by society and are afraid to visit a mental health clinic.

"We see minor-attracted people as whole human beings, not as dangerous criminals or 'deviants,'" says the organization's website. The group affirms that therapists should report confessed or planned illegal activity to police, yet "we recognize that laws ... do not require the reporting of sexual feelings and desires." Further, "we are not advocating treatment to change sexual feelings."

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B4U-ACT promotes dialogue between self-identified "MAPs" and the mental health community. At a workshop last year, MAPs shared stories about growing up and self-acceptance. (One attendee called himself a "law-abiding pedophile.") Several psychiatric experts spoke at the organization's most recent conference, held in Baltimore in August to discuss changes to the pedophilia entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the authoritative handbook for psychiatrists.

To ensure the voices of pedophiles were heard, the organization even arranged a conference call last year between six MAPs and several editors of the DSM, who are currently revising the manual. (Richard Kramer, B4U-ACT's director, later said his group's recommendations were largely ignored.)

Such advocacy efforts deserve scrutiny sooner rather than later: Homosexuality shook off its status as a mental illness in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association removed its entry from the DSM. Societal acceptance wasn't far behind. Now activists are casting pedophilia as just another sexual orientation.

Climategate returns

Associated Press photo by Raphael Satter

On Nov. 22, just days before the start of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, an anonymous computer user posted online a batch of 5,200 private emails from researchers at Britain's Climatic Research Unit. The climate science group, hosted by the University of East Anglia, was the basis of the "Climategate" scandal in late 2009, when similarly leaked emails revealed the scientists' attempts to silence critics of global warming science and avoid Freedom of Information requests.

The newly disclosed correspondence gives fresh evidence of those problems: In one email, CRU director Phil Jones suggested that scientists working on the UN's climate change report "delete all emails at the end of the process" as a way of avoiding Freedom of Information requests. In another, Jones appeared to be using his position to suppress dissenting views from Roger Pielke Sr., a climate scientist from the University of Colorado.

MailOnline reported that the emails reveal a cozy relationship between BBC journalists and climate scientists at the UEA, who discouraged the reporting of skeptical views. The university spent $23,000 on seminars to teach BBC executives about global warming. -Daniel James Devine

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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