Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Oh no! The libertarians are angry with me! It's a crisis alright - scowly, geriatric teenagers are closing in from all sides!

First up, it's ShortBusRider. He's heard the old line about how bad arguments should be refuted not just named, but he thought it was all a statist trick. God knows what his point actually is, so I'll make it real easy for him, and boil it down to one question: would Zuzanna Zommer be alive today if we'd been less concerned about the rights of a known predator? Yes or no?

But that's just a warm-up. Uber Libertarian Tom Paine - after complaining that I called him a liberal (check the title of the post here) wheels out the Sarler (non-)paradox, but still avoids the central absurdity. Drunken Duncan may have chalked up a hatrick of DUIs because he's an alcoholic, or it may just be that he's a tool, but either way that doesn't change the fact he's still a danger to other road users.

This is what so revealing about these people. They're all about the criminal. Surely the natural starting point is the protection of law-abiding members of the public? Yes, the courts should consider whether Duncan would benefit from doing the 12 step program or not, but not to the point of compromising public safety (and again, I still haven't heard any cases of paedophiles so driven by their condition that they strike in the presence of uniformed police officers).

But that's not even the best of it. He complains about me criticising paedophiles thus:
Take the word "paedophile" and replace it with "murderer", "racist", "homophobe" or (in an earlier age) "homosexual" and the passage works just as well as demagoguery.
Yes, and if we change 'War on Terror' to 'War on Cute Puppies', that proves Bush hates dogs.


Words have meaning. In particular, 'paedophiles' means people with at least one - and usually multiple - convictions for victimising vulnerable young people. That's why this next sentence is just bizarre:
Everyone should have the same legal rights as everyone else unless and until convicted by due process of law.
Again: huh?

Is there any evidence of a sizeable body of opinion in favour of victimising the innocent? Really, am I missing something here? For the record let me make clear I'm against persecuting the innocent. Also: carpet bombing, genocide and dropping anthrax spores in the water supply.

Now, back to stuff people are actually saying.
Those rights should then only be removed (or rather suspended) until the expiry of the sentence passed by an indpendent court in accordance with the law.
You mean when Drunken Duncan gets released he can drive himself home? Bet he can't. Plus, I'm guessing his cell mate Phil the Phraud might have a bit of trouble working in finance or becoming a company director. Meanwhile, banning orders preventing foreign travel - the very thing that these people are so steamed about - have been in place for football hooliganism for years.

Hey, this is all settled law. Just who's getting thrown in a tailspin by S-E-X again?

Then there's this:
It is not libertarianism which is leading to "clamping down on the rights of the non-depraved," it is such addled, tabloid emotionalism as this.

The witch-hunters cannot have it both ways. However much they may describe any attempt at rational thought as "...near-lunatic ranting..." If they are allowed to get away with their afternoon-TV, chav sentimentalism, what next?
And thus was refuted the claim that their position was driven by snobbery and elitism.

Meanwhile, a night time trip around our nation's town centres will confirm just how successful breakfast Radio 4 pretentious ninnyism has been in bringing order to our land.
Yes, paedophile sex is a vile assault. It is a repulsive attack upon innocence. So are many other kinds of assault on the weak and defenceless.
Yes, and you people never pen long articles complaining that we're all being too tough on the Mad Axeman, or defending the right of wife beaters to own shotguns. Some sauce for that goose?

Anyway, wasn't it these folks who were just jabbering about how it could all be a sickness? Even those of us on the right will agree there's a compulsive element to all this - we just don't think it rises to the level of an 'irresistible impulse' as it were (or, at least, not till we get a positive result to the 'within sight of a policeman' test). On the other hand, we're all supposed to hate those Southern US churches that claim to 'pray out the gay' even as we're told that all it takes is a bit of psychic WD-40 and a slice of therapy and suddenly the, as it were, paedosexuals with multiple convictions for crimes against children will never look at a child again.

Two of the most significant characteristics of predators is that they're likely to reoffend, and they escalate the degree of offending as time goes on (you know, sort of like a guy with convictions for child pr0n who goes on to get convicted of child rape, to choose an example completely at random). Put it this way: the evidence for those two propositions is at least as strong as the evidence for the effectiveness of rehab. This is why we think paedophiles should be treated differently to those who indulge in merely instrumental violence, like muggers or bank robbers.

Hey, even if you buy into the whole Ferapee Nation 'the illness made them do it' deal, you have to see benefits from leading them not into temptation, right? Meanwhile, the rest of us get the same benefits from restricting the liberty of convicted paedophiles as we get from ensuring that wife beaters don't have guns in the house. We might not stop them reoffending, but we sure can make it harder for them and make it more likely they'll be stopped before they can inflict serious damage.

But even that's not it. The real question is this: is there a moral equivalence between convicted felons and innocent citizens, and should we be required to balance the interests of the two? To ask the question is to answer it - but not if your main interest is adolescent rebel posturing.

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