FILED IN: Child Abuse

Gawker: Editor causes firestorm after advocating for pedophiles

Cord Jefferson accused of tabloid journalism after he pens "Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex with Children"

Does Cord Jefferson’s pedophile advocacy piece rightfully deserve the ‘pedo-bear’ meme?

A firestorm has erupted over an editorial published on Friday an editor of Gawker, advocating for pedophiles and suggesting that pedophile challenges are a civil rights issue. Its author, Cord Jefferson, fully acknowledged the article’s agenda, tweeting on Friday, “I wrote this big piece about trying to find sympathy and new treatments for pedophiles. Check it out, maybe.”

Journalists on both sides of the political spectrum came out over the weekend to condemn the piece which compares the challenges facing pedophiles to that of the plight of the gay and minority communities. The author, Cord Jefferson, seeks to paint pedophiles as an oppressed group of people, fearing for their safety and living out their days lonely and without a partner to love because adult/child “sex” is so frowned upon.

Jefferson offers his readers suggestions on the concept of decriminalizing pedophilia, writing:

“And if pedophilia is a sexual orientation, that also means it’s futile to send pedophiles to prison in an effort to alter their attractions.”

Jefferson later states, “Imagine a world in which admitting your attraction to busty women or tall men led to alienation, jail time, or your murder. Older gay men can probably remember such an era, but nowadays most sexual appetites have been mainstreamed to the point of banality. Pedophiles, for obvious reasons, don’t enjoy the same kind of tolerance, and thus it seems as if they may be locked forever in a sexual prison from the moment they’re born.”

Perhaps the most disturbing and criticized part of his editorial however, is the opening lede which gives an admitted pedophile named Terry the opportunity to describe how he raped his 7-year-old niece, suggesting that it was not only consensual, but that the 7-year-old enjoyed and welcomed it. Jefferson also refrained from calling the rape “rape”, but opted instead for describing the rape “sex” and the abuse, a “relationship”.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor for The Atlantic, says this about the editorial:

“A vague rape apologia runs through this piece–the implication of “men who have sex with children” as an oppressed group, the equation of pedophilia with other sexual orientations, and little to no consideration of victims.”

“It’s poor journalism, and an insensitive attempt at being edgy.”

Kirsten Powers, columnist for the New York Post and a Fox News Democratic pundit, tweeted this on Saturday:

“@cordjefferson A man can not “fall” for his 7 yr old niece.. Your article implies a child seduced a grown man, ” and, “@cordjefferson Also, a man having sex with a 7-yr old girl is not a ‘sexual relationship” — it’s rape and molestation.”

Jefferson ends his call for pedophilia tolerance by writing this:

“As a self-professed “progressive,” when I think of the world I’d like to live in, I like to imagine that one day I’d be OK with a man like Terry moving next door to me and my children. I like to think that I could welcome him in for dinner, break bread with him, and offer him the same blessings he’s offered me time and again. And what hurts to admit, even knowing all I know now, is that I’m not positive I could do that.”

Dianna E. Anderson, a violent crime and feminist blogger also rejects Jefferson’s pedophilia advocacy, writing this on her blog:

“[H]e wrote an article that minimizes the crimes of child rapists, erases their victims almost entirely, and produces utterly fallacious analogies ( a pedophile is not like an alcoholic – if an alcoholic relapses, he doesn’t RAPE CHILDREN). It proposes that child rapists face an intolerance for their “sexual orientation,” and that having a “taboo” on their thoughts is part of the problem.

There’s a reason some things are taboo and should remain so – the urge to rape children is not one that needs to be legitimized.”

When Jefferson was questioned by many readers as to why he didn’t preface the article with a trigger warning, something that is standard protocol for most reputable journalists, Jefferson pleads ignorance, writing this in response to The Atlantic critique:

“This is the first time I’ve ever written about rape, and I absolutely wasn’t aware how important having a TW was for some people. I suppose what makes me especially wish I included it is that it seems like a lot of people are focusing on that and the “sex” vs. “rape” language now and not the real content of the piece, which I think doesn’t seek to apologize for pedophiles at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, as I think this quote is the meat of it for me: ”You are not guilty because of your sexual desire, but you are responsible for your sexual behavior. There is help.”

Even the explanation has readers perplexed as they wonder why the request for the trigger warning elicited sadness from Jefferson instead of a correction as he claimed all the requests for a trigger warning deflected from his original point — to draw attention to the struggles of pedophiles and how society can help them instead of isolate them.

More fallout is likely on the horizon, with commentaries such as Twitchy Media’s echoing many on the blogosphere. They call the piece “morally bankrupt” and “revolting”.

Gawker has  not yet made an official comment on the piece or its fallout.