Feature

United Kingdom: Pedophilia wasn’t always so reviled

It may sound shocking today, but in the 1970s, even pedophiles were demanding their rights.

Sam LeithEvening Standard

It may sound shocking today, said Sam Leith, but in the 1970s, even pedophiles were demanding their rights. Harriet Harman, the deputy head of the Labor Party, is now being widely denounced for having worked for the National Council of Civil Liberties back when it was affiliated with Pedophile Information Exchange, a pro-sex-with-children group. We’re all acting as if PIE’s activities were “so unthinkable, so self-evidently wicked,” that any decent person would have refused to be associated with them. PIE, however, was not “some covert criminal organization,” but a real advocacy group that published periodicals and received public money. The context here is the 1970s, when so many social norms were being challenged—mostly for the good. Civil rights groups were challenging the status quo that had marginalized women, gays, children, racial minorities, and other groups. Pedophiles asked to be liberated, too, amid all the challenges to conventional morality at the time. Of course, sex with children ended up being one area where conventional morality had it right all along. But that was strangely far from obvious then. As uncomfortable as it may be to admit, “our morals are culturally conditioned.”

Recommended

Taliban foreign minister asks to address the United Nations
Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
seeking legitimacy

Taliban foreign minister asks to address the United Nations

Xi Jinping may have just signaled the end of international coal financing
Xi Jinping.
climate change

Xi Jinping may have just signaled the end of international coal financing

French still unhappy with Biden, but Boris Johnson stays positive
Boris Johnson.
'breath of fresh air'

French still unhappy with Biden, but Boris Johnson stays positive

Biden: U.S. isn't 'seeking a new Cold War'
Joe Biden
'rigid blocks'

Biden: U.S. isn't 'seeking a new Cold War'

Most Popular

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Former FDA commissioner questions whether researchers should continue to publish sequences of novel viruses
Scott Gottlieb.
sunday shows

Former FDA commissioner questions whether researchers should continue to publish sequences of novel viruses