A recent TEDx Talk at the University of Würzburg has come under fire for its unusual stance on pedophilia.
On May 5, medical student Mirjam Heine spoke at an independently organized TEDx Talk event at the University of Würzburg in Germany. In a description of the event, the TED Talk website explained that Heine’s would focus on her belief that pedophilia is a natural, unchangeable sexual orientation.
“Let me be clear here, abusing children is wrong without any doubt. But a pedophile who does not abuse children has not done anything wrong,” Heine said in her lecture.
Heine’s lecture suffers from her own confusion on the topic. “Scientific studies indicate that one of the strongest indicators of child sex abuse committed pedophiles is social isolation. People who can’t tell anyone that they are pedophiles can’t get any help,” she states. “For example, they can’t tell their friends that they can’t go the beach because children will be there as well.”
The TED Talk organization immediately took down the video in response to a massive online backlash against the talk.
If we embrace the notion that pedophilia is a fixed and unchangeable sexual orientation, how does that explain why a pedophile couldn’t be around children on the beach? Straight and gay people are often around people they find attractive. Heine seems to suggest that pedophilia, to her, is not just a sexual orientation. It’s a mindset that involves the inability to resist one’s own sexual urges, even at the expense of a child’s basic right to not be violated.
In a statement, the organization suggested that they weren’t aware of Heine’s lecture prior to the independently organized event. The TED Talk organization claims they are working to take down any “illegal” copies of the talk that have been posted online.
An independently organized TEDx event recently posted, and subsequently removed, a talk from the TEDx YouTube channel that the event organizer titled: “Why our perception of pedophilia has to change.”
In the TEDx talk, a speaker described pedophilia as a condition some people are born with, and suggested that if we recognize it as such, we can do more to prevent those people from acting on their instincts.
TEDx events are organized independently from the main annual TED conference, with some 3,500 events held every year in more than 100 countries. Our nonprofit TED organization does not control TEDx events’ content.
This talk and its removal was recently brought to our attention. After reviewing the talk, we believe it cites research in ways that are open to serious misinterpretation. This led some viewers to interpret the talk as an argument in favor of an illegal and harmful practice.
Furthermore, after contacting the organizer to understand why it had been taken down, we learned that the speaker herself requested it be removed from the internet because she had serious concerns about her own safety in its wake.
Our policy is and always has been to remove speakers’ talks when they request we do so. That is why we support this TEDx organizer’s decision to respect this speaker’s wishes and keep the talk offline.
We will continue to take down any illegal copies of the talk posted on the Internet.