Pedophiles and the Death Penalty

In the vast spectrum of human behavior, few acts are as universally reviled and reprehensible as pedophilia.  Pedophiles are thought to be so sub-human that even inside the cold concrete walls of prisons, they are the prey of choice for other criminals.  Since even hardened thieves and cold-blooded murderers look down at pedophiles, these child molesters and rapists must surely be the scum of the Earth, right? 

Not so fast.

While most of us unquestionably support the execution of convicted pedophiles, the problem is that very few of us understand what goes on inside the dark recesses of a pedophile’s mind.  While we can all agree that sexually abusing a child is sick, very few of us seem willing to submit to the possibility that pedophilia is a sickness, not unlike a drug addiction, nymphomania, kleptomania, or schizophrenia.

Yet very few of us would be willing to send a person with a mental illness to death row.  Why, then, do we violate our own conscience by deeming it acceptable to put child molesters and child rapists to death?

I believe the answer is peer pressure.  Yes, the same peer pressure which has hounded us since grade school, the same type of peer pressure which leads us to drink our first beer or smoke our first cigarette.  Humans, like wolves, are pack animals and therefore share the pack mentality.  In the case of pedophilia, the pack mentality is “Those low-life degenerates don’t deserve to live.”

So what if the “pack mentality” shifted just a little bit?  The physically handicapped are a drain on society, those low-life creeps should be executed.  Alcoholics are a danger to themselves and others, so let’s put all of them to death before they get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone we love.  And don’t even get me started on those cancer patients, or the mentally challenged!

See how insensitive that sounds?  See how faulty that logic is?

The same level of empathy and understanding which governs how we treat those with physical or mental handicaps should also govern how we treat those who suffer from pedophilia.  It is our duty as an enlightened and intelligent society to put down our prejudices and hatred, to step outside of the wolfish pack, and to think rationally when it comes to deciding the fate of those found guilty of being a child molester or kiddie pornographer.  While it alright to hate the act of pedophilia, it is not alright to hate the pedophile.  He or she is a living, breathing human being with an inner demon to overcome, just like the rest of us.

In life, we all have our demons to overcome.  For some, it is drug addiction.  For others, it may be a gambling addiction or an eating disorder or a drinking problem.  A just and empathetic society would not for one second contemplate the execution of a woman whose “crime” was anorexia, or a man whose “crime” was having an unhealthy obsession his X-box or Playstation.  Likewise, a just and empathetic society should never contemplate the execution of anyone who suffers the demons of deviant sexual behavior.