Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is paedophelia wrong?

How can we prove that paedophelia is wrong?

Let us look at the notion of consent. Here, paedophelia is villanised as non-consensual. When there is no consent between two parties, one is assumed to be victimised.

Are there inherent assumptions (haha, tautology!) in our idea and understanding of consent?

Are children (the "paedo"s for your "phelia") incapable of understanding consent? Or what is it about our idea of "children" that excludes them from the domain of consent?

If we looked at it historically and from a social constructionist point of view, "children" are a relatively young concept, having surfaced in the industrial period. It has not helped that religion (religious institutions) and science in the industrial period have also created a new paradigm which segregates and ascribes meanings and value to various age groups. In this view, paedophelia is also a social construct, carrying along with it its historical, cultural and socio-legal baggage. (see social construction of childhood)

Here, if industrial and post-industrial "childhood" become arbitrary, does the wrong-ness of paedophelia change?

The thing is, what or who benefits or becomes protected, validated and/or justified in the institutionalisation/criminalisation of "paedophelia" as something that is considered wrong on many fronts? Can we ever problematise the dominant discourse on "paedophelia"?

Are we perpetuating an idea that age and body size and the medico-scientific prescription that is "maturity" are possible variables for discrimination and oppression? Then, how and to what extent is the discourse on "paedophelia" ageist (for example)? Also, how and to what extent are science and medicine complicit in normalising the idea that paedophelia is wrong?

Can we not see the trivialising of childhood as a category? This category is seen as inferior to the category of adulthood, and hence need more socio-legal and economic protection.

If we talk about the imbalance of power (given the case of paedophelia) along the axes of age, body size, gender/sex, as critical to proving paedophelia is wrong, hwo do we prove that paedophelia is more wrong than acts or "crimes" committed that involve the same categories? For example, a gerontocracy that disciplines the bodies of women, or an oppressive state forcing young men into military conscription?

Any way, what is it about our attitude towards and knowledge of paedophelia that makes it seem very wrong?

Is there a deontic or consequentialist explanation for/against this?


Agagooga said...

Don't you mean a gerontocracy that "oppresses" the young?

Many laws are rules of thumb. Just because they are sometimes wrong does not mean they are always wrong, and should be abolished.

Sam Ho said...

i mean, a gerontocracy already discriminates against the young. just wanted to code it with Gender (with a capital G)

leon said...

There are two aspects to your question. Whether this is morally wrong, and whether this is legally wrong. Currently the answer to both is no, and this can be briefly explained.

Our morality is shaped by our customs and traditions. Some might argue that morality has absolutes (the sanctity of life), but it is suggested that much of these kind of normative statements are in themselves shaped by history and tradition, in this case the horrors of WW2 and the holocaust. With regard to children engaging in sexual acts, our current moral view point is very much shaped by the rise of the roman catholic church. Prior to the church, pedestry was rampant in places from greece all the way to japan. There is i think no need for a history lesson here, but suffice to say the teachings of the church on restraint and abstinence effectively put a stop to these practices.

Legally, it depends on which school of thought you believe in. If you think that law and morality are inevitably intertwined, then the answer would be that it is legally wrong because society feels that it is sufficiently morally wrong to make it illegal. Any calls of change should go to the moral instincts of what people term to be right or wrong, which it is suggest, would be nigh impossible to make people change their convictions.

If you believe that law and morality can be separate, then the answer is that because parliament as a law making institution has approved of and retained these laws in our system. Any calls for change should go to parliament, or for a change of those in power.

Agagooga said...

Great, moral relativism