Sometimes I read or hear something so outrageous that after my initial emotional reaction, I tend to dismiss it. However, when I hear essentially the same thing from a second person, I give it more notice. I’m sorry to say that many of these outrageous things come from professors. (I’m retired, but I used to be one.)
A few months ago, I heard about an Old Dominion University professor named Allyn Walker, who has called for us to use the euphemistic term “minor-attracted persons” to refer to people who are “preferentially attracted to minors.” Such people have historically been referred to as pedophiles, but Walker says that this term unfairly stigmatizes such persons, particularly if they are “non-offending,” meaning that they have not acted on such attraction–or at least, I might add, they have not been caught. Thankfully, although there were those who defended Walker, the outcry against him was so great that he was pressured into resigning at the end of this academic year.
More recently, I heard about another academic like Walker, this time at SUNY Fredonia; his name is Stephen Kershnar, and he takes things several steps further. Some of the things he has said are so vile that I don’t want to repeat them here, but here’s a telling statement: “I don’t think it’s blanket wrong at any age.” To justify his position about adult-child sex, he chillingly says we make children do other things they don’t want to do, like going to church or their sister’s ballet recital. SUNY Fredonia has suspended Kershnar, but it’s not over yet; his lawyer is arguing that Kershnar has a first-amendment right to say and teach what he wants.
As I write this, Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is in her third day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the things she is being grilled on is her sentencing of child porn offenders. To understand her pattern of sentencing, I think it’s instructive to take note of what she said back in law school in the 1990s: she spoke against the “current climate of fear, hatred, and revenge associated with the release of convicted sex offenders.” Jackson criticized sex-offender registries, which allow people to know where any convicted sex offenders are living in their community; she argued that such registries unfairly continue to punish such people. Jumping ahead to 2012: when Jackson was on the Sentencing Commission, she supported eliminating the child porn mandatory-minimum sentence. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Judge Jackson has consistently given child porn offenders sentences well below the congressionally endorsed Sentencing Guidelines recommendations, as well as below what the prosecutors were requesting. In the most egregious example, U.S. vs. Hawkins in 2013, Sentencing Guidelines recommended an 8-to-10-year sentence; Judge Jackson sentenced the perpetrator to a mere three months.
One thing I want to make clear: this is not about politics, race, or gender; if Jackson were a Republican white male, I would still be writing this. Unfortunately, many on the left are criticizing those who dare to question Jackson’s remarkably consistent sentencing pattern of child porn offenders. Another thing I want to make clear: I am not accusing Jackson of being a pedophile or a child porn offender. I am saying that her comparatively light sentencing of child porn offenders reflects misplaced priorities; I think she should be more concerned about the victims and less about the offenders.
Here’s what Proverbs 31:8-9 in the Bible says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I realize that the context is about those who are poor; however, our children are also “those who cannot speak for themselves.”
In summary, academics like Allyn Walker and Stephen Kershnar reflect a disturbing trend to attempt to normalize the evil of pedophilia. Regarding Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will almost certainly be confirmed as our next Supreme Court Justice: her lenient sentencing of child porn offenders does not bode well for the safety of our children going forward. Frankly, prisons were made for people like pedophiles, in order to protect the most vulnerable in society: our children.