It sounds like a joke, although sadly it’s not: The nonprofit group TED is apologizing after a speaker at a local event said we needed to “overcome our negative feelings” regarding pedophilia.
The speech was given at a TEDx event at the University of Würzburg in Germany, the Daily Dot reported.
During the May 5 talk, medical student Mirjam Heine said that “pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation.”
“No one can choose to be a pedophile. No one can cease being one,” Heine said. “The difference between pedophilia and other sexual orientations is that living out this sexual orientation will end in a disaster.”
You don’t say.
Here is the full talk; we must warn you that it contains disturbing material. Reader discretion is advised.
Heine made it clear she wasn’t promoting abuse — which is a low bar to clear, but at least there was that. However, she insisted we needed to stop feeling so negatively about people who are sexually attracted to children.
“Just like pedophiles, we are not responsible for our feelings,” she said. “We do not choose them … but it is our responsibility to … overcome our negative feelings about pedophiles and to treat them with the same respect we treat other people with.”
While the event was organized by TED, the foundation didn’t pick the speaker and it isn’t the usual TED event most people are familiar with.
However, the foundation made it clear it wasn’t particularly happy with the talk, announcing that it was under review.
“An independently organized TEDx event recently posted, and subsequently removed, a talk from the TEDx YouTube channel that the event organizer titled: ‘Why our perception of pedophilia has to change,'” a statement from the group released on June 19 read.
“After reviewing the talk, we believe it cites research in ways that are open to serious misinterpretation. This led some viewers to interpret the talk as an argument in favor of an illegal and harmful practice. TED would like to make clear that it does not promote pedophilia.
“In the TEDx talk, a speaker described pedophilia as a condition some people are born with, and suggested that if we recognize it as such, we can do more to prevent those people from acting on their instincts and harming children. This field of science is developing, and the definition of the condition is just one of many points that are in debate across the global scientific community (and even in standard reference works).”
The idea that pedophiles are “born this way” is a deeply problematic thing if just because, far from offering prevention, what it actually does is help normalize a deep, dangerous sickness in the name of political correctness and toleration.
“Anyone could be born a pedophile,” Heine says.
Neither she nor science offers any definitive answers in this department. She also offers no definitive evidence that this would help prevent children from being molested.
Common sense seems to differ: To the extent that we pretend pedophilia is a kind of sexual orientation, we actually make the task of prevention more difficult. After all, if you’re born as a pedophile, why bother getting help? You can’t change it and if this is what nature made you, why should you? Nobody says this about other sexual orientations, after all.
According to the TED statement, Heine apparently asked to have the talk removed over concerns for her safety and TED is aggressively pursuing those who repost it online. While I understand the reasoning behind both, I think it should be left up.
Heine certainly isn’t the only individual who’s sought to normalize pedophilia. It’s not a common opinion, but it’s a line of thinking that’s certainly out there. Given that, I think Heine’s speech it’s worth seeing.
It may be rebarbative, but it’s something we need to be aware of before it’s too late.
There’s no reason for us to “overcome our negative feelings about pedophiles.” Indeed, those “negative feelings” are exactly what helps keep our children safe by ensuring society treats child molesters with the scorn they deserve.
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