Apples, Teachers, and Serpents

  Last March, Penn State University made headlines for another sexually explicit event held on the campus. The keynote speaker for Penn States' Conference on Women's Health and Wellness was Patrick Califia-Rice, an outspoken advocate of pedophilia and sadomasochism. Just how radical is this self-described "transgendered bisexual person"? NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, features this quote from Califia-Rice on its website: "Boy-lovers and the lesbians who have young lovers . . . are not child molesters. The child abusers are priests, teachers, therapists, cops, and parents who force their stale morality onto the young people in their custody. Instead of condemning pedophiles for their involvement with lesbian and gay youth, we should be supporting them." Shocking? Indeed. Rare? No. The academic world is becoming increasingly brazen in its attempts to legitimize sex between adults and children. A few months ago I reported on a book called Harmful to Minors, published by the University of Minnesota Press. In it, author Judith Levine supports loosening restrictions against sex between adults and minors. While conservatives were rightly outraged, many so-called sexually liberated folks favorably reviewed the book. Levine's book seems to have become a beacon to others trying to jump-start public debate about children's sexuality. One such scholar is Jorja Prover of the University of California at Los Angeles. She explained to the Chicago Tribune, "What we've been talking about in academic circles for a decade has been brought to public attention in a dramatic way." And Levine is not alone in exploring these taboos. Earlier this year, University of Missouri professor Harris Mirkin ignited a firestorm when it was learned that he published an article in the Journal of Homosexuality that dismissed fears surrounding child sexual abuse. He wrote: "Like homosexuality, the concept of child molestation is a culture- and class-specific modern creation." Mirkin also wrote, "Though Americans consider intergenerational sex" -- note what they call it -- "to be evil, it has been permissible or obligatory in many cultures and periods of history." As the Wall Street Journal responded, human sacrifice was considered normal and obligatory in other cultures and time periods, but that doesn't mean we should embrace it now. One good thing about Mirkin and Levine is that they're revealing the ugly face of extreme sexual liberation that is all too common on college campuses. This worldview claims that the pursuit of sexual gratification need not recognize any social norms: laws, age, species -- nothing. And unfortunately, what is being whispered among academics today has a way of infecting our culture tomorrow. To their credit, Missouri lawmakers loudly denounced Mirkin's writings and re-appropriated $100,000 from the university's budget to the state's Crime Victim's Compensation Fund. As one legislator put it, "Let Mirkin say what he wants to, but my taxpayer dollars should not go to justify his research" -- indeed. Whether in fashion, court decisions, TV, or academics, when children are being harmed by a dangerous view of sexuality, Christians need to forcefully oppose it. As the wise statesman Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Let that not be said of us. For further reading: Michael and Diane Medved, Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence (HarperCollins, 1999). BreakPoint commentary no. 020429, "Sex and Worldview: What's Really 'Harmful To Minors.'" Lynn Franey, "Many criticize professor's writings on pedophilia," Kansas City Star, 1 April 2002. Jason Pierce, "Missouri House Votes to Eliminate Controversial Professor's Salary,", 8 April 2002. Jodi Wilgoren, "Scholar's Pedophilia Essay Stirs Outrage and Revenge," New York Times, 30 April 2002 (free registration required). Edward M. Eveld, "Behind the uproar: UMKC professor's experiences in Peace Corps and beyond led to controversial writings" Kansas City Star, 23 June 2002 (archived article: $2.95 to retrieve). Stephanie Simon, "Some claim culture plays it too safe with sex," Chicago Tribune, 14 July 2002 (archived article: $2.95 to retrieve). Robert Stacy McCain, "Porn lawyer charged in Brazil girls case," Washington Times, 24 July 2002.


Chuck Colson


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