Last week I wrote a piece responding to an article I read at Salon which was titled “I’m a pedophile but not a monster.” The author of that piece, Todd Nickerson, has now written a follow up at Salon which spends several hundred words attacking what I wrote without ever linking back to my piece.
Presumably that makes it easier to convince his uninformed readers I’m a monster and part of a “vile right-wing hate machine”:
John Sexton’s article for Breitbart attempted to paint me as a terrible person, since the author apparently had no good arguments against my actual position and never bothered to ask me to clarify the points he was confused about. First off, Sexton attacks me for not narking out the people at the pro-contacter forum who were supposedly doing illegal things. This is purely a straw man attack, since I never observed anyone there doing anything illegal or admitting to illegal activity (which is actually forbidden by that forum’s rules).
As I pointed out, Nickerson spent many years on a pro-child molestation website and admits to “taking up the same pro-contacter chants.” Pro-contact is Nickerson’s euphemism for people in favor of what most of us would call child molestation. Nickerson claims no one on the site ever discussed having done anything illegal. We have only his word for that. But even if he’s right, that only proves people are wary of exposing themselves to legal trouble online. Are we supposed to believe a group of pedophiles who devote themselves to a pro-molestation website are all innocent as doves in real life? That seems counter-intuitive to say the least.
I confess to not wading through the site in question to verify Nickerson’s claims for two reasons: First, I find the idea of it visiting such a site repulsive, and second Nickerson never named the site in question. Today he offers a long justification for that choice:
Before I respond, I want to say that I considered naming the forum here. I didn’t want to, but since I’m being forced to defend myself on the grounds that I haven’t really been vigilant about my anti-contact position, with the implication that I was likely involved in immoral activities myself, I almost felt I had no choice. But ultimately, I decided it was worth weathering the accusations not to give that forum the publicity they so desperately seek. At the risk of embarrassing myself for some stupid things in the past, you can seek out my old Wikisposure page if you like; it’s still out there, doing its mischief, so it’s not hard to find the name of that site if you are truly interested.
I never accused Nickerson of violating a child or even of being a “monster.” I did suggest that it was likely some of his friends on the message board were violating children and were monsters. He says himself it was an “unhealthy” place. To the degree he sided with the pro-molestation moderators, he was part of the sickness.
Also, some of the things Nickerson says suggest he hasn’t completely separated himself from the ideas he once embraced. There’s a section of his first piece in which he describes being molested by an adult when he was seven. Nickerson first suggests this played a role in his own pedophilia and writes, “It was a one-time event in my life and not a particularly traumatic one.” Later, after he tells his grandmother what happened, he adds, “No authorities were called, and life went on as usual.” So on the one hand he’s saying this changed his life, and on the other he’s saying it wasn’t traumatic and life went on like normal. Is he describing the banality of evil, or is he suggesting, as pedophiles are known to do, that child molestation isn’t necessarily traumatic for the victim? It’s not really clear.
The point is, the site is not in the darknet. It has been operating openly for years. With respect to Sexton’s accusations, VirPed founder Ethan Edwards said it best:
“Law enforcement and vigilantes have both known about that board for the fifteen years or so it has been operating. They have apparently not had any legal grounds for shutting it down. There is no way to stop infiltrators who are on a mission. But somehow, the moral obligation falls to each and every depressed and confused pedophile to be an infiltrator and mole? Give me a break.”
Do I think a moral obligation falls on every pedophile who visits a pro-child molestation site? Not necessarily. But Nickerson wasn’t just a visitor. He was there for years, at least since 2007, when he was shamed online by a website associated with a TV show. And he was still there until last year, still “caught up in the same nonsense.” As a long-timer who, at some point, supported the group’s worst inclinations, I think he does have a moral obligation to do more than just leave and ask to be commended.
As I said earlier, I never witnessed any illegal goings-on at the forum, nor heard anyone confess to molesting kids or using child porn. What exactly does Sexton expect me to have done? I should point out here that politically, most of the forum’s membership, including its moderators, actually fall into Breitbart and Sexton’s camp: they’re raging anti-government libertarian / minarchist types who believe their oppression is largely down to a feminist conspiracy. If you don’t believe me, go ask them yourself. Anyone can sign up and post there.
Nickerson saying pedophiles are all in “Sexton’s camp” suggests he’s the one lashing out in anger. I have no doubt the pedophiles on this site he won’t name have a libertarian streak. How else can they argue against laws which seek to prevent sex between adults and minors or which outlaw child porn? Pro-drug legalization people have a similar libertarian streak when it comes to their favorite issue. And pro-choice supporters, most of whom are Democrats and otherwise fans of big government, rally against TRAP laws and any regulation of abortion clinics. Needless to say, these are not all the same people, and, more to the point, I am very much against all the libertarian things the pro-child molesting group supports. They are not in my camp, and I am certainly not in theirs. In fact, I’d like to see their camp burn to the ground.
Another accusation of Sexton’s is that, because I pointed out in my article that I was still posting at that place (“still caught up in the same nonsense at the pro-contacter forum” as I put it) just over a year ago, before I joined VirPed, that must mean I was still repeating the pro-contacter BS. All I meant by that was that I was still there, butting heads with them over those issues, trying to belong but also arguing with them—sometimes for days on end—over the contact issue. Trust me, they have all of their debate points well thought out. It was incredibly frustrating to argue with them, but I held out hope that I could convince some of them to see the light. I couldn’t. I used every argument at my disposal to try to win them over. When that failed, I begged them, cajoled them, even attacked them for making these ridiculous claims from behind their anonymous nicks. Nothing worked. They behaved more like a cult than a supportive community. If you didn’t tow the pro-contacter line, they harangued you constantly.
It’s “toe the line” not “tow the line.”
They embraced anyone who endorsed their position, including a self-confessed Nazi sympathizer, until even they could no longer tolerate his drivel. And they only continued to countenance me because I’d been there for so long and had once been in their camp. They knew I had nowhere else to go, and they figured if they badgered me long enough I would eventually break. Luckily, Ethan came along and offered me an alternative, and the rest is history.
So pro-molestation pedophiles tolerated a Nazi sympathizer? And, right until you told me that, I thought child molesters were such good people. Nickerson now claims to have fought tooth and nail against the pro-child molesters running the site. That’s quite a bit different from how he described things in his first piece:
I found myself taking up the same pro-contacter chants, if only to feel like I belonged somewhere. At the time it was all that was available in terms of an actual pedophile community, and I had nothing left to lose by joining the cause, misguided though it was, and even decided to out myself on that forum. Over the ensuing years, though, I was often at odds with the pro-contacters and flitted in and out of their clique; I wanted desperately to be friends with people who shared my sexual orientation, even if they held crazy beliefs, but I could never quite reconcile with their viewpoint.
In the first version, Nickerson was flitting in and out of the clique and “often” (but not always) at odds. He wasn’t doing constant battle with a cult in the first telling; it was more of a struggle to “reconcile with their viewpoint.”
But according to Sexton, I somehow supported the pro-contacters simply by hanging out there.
He’s already admitted to doing more than “hanging out there.” He supported the pro-child molester moderators for some undefined period of time. And Nickerson said he joined because it gave him a like-minded community. Surely others joined for the same reason? And for many years his presence helped provide that community for others, some of whom undoubtedly are monsters abusing children or creating a market for their abuse. I’ll let Nickerson make the point for me:
Remember, I originally joined because there was nowhere else for me to get the support I longed for and talk to others who knew what it felt like to have this sexuality. That continued to be the case until VirPed came along, which I only became aware of because Ethan was scoping the place out just for people like me. Was Ethan also supporting the pro-contact stance by his mere presence? By this logic, Jesus must’ve been a sinner and criminal for deigning to hang out with sinners and criminals.
No, Ethan was not supporting the pro-child molestation stance by his relatively brief presence. He didn’t join the community or take up their chants. If you want to make this about Jesus, Nickerson didn’t dine with the sinners, he moved in and joined in their sin. He wasn’t ministering to the lost, he was the lost.
Sexton goes on to say that, with my article, I was “literally saying that not being a child rapist deserves special commendation.” I was not literally saying that. If I was literally saying that, I would’ve said that. Exactly. (Mr. Sexton needs to brush up on his dictionary.) Nor did I imply it.
Here’s what Nickerson wrote, “Those individuals who have the courage to come forward and lay claim to this affliction with the understanding that they only want to use their pedo powers for good should be commended…” Again, he actually said that.
I used my article to give people a better understanding of where I was coming from, and to ask them to try to be more tolerant and open-minded about pedophilia as a condition. That’s it. Moreover, his point was based on the straw man argument that the community I belonged to was doing vile and illegal things in front of me and I simply looked the other way. Never happened. I feel I must stress this point again, but that discussion board has operated fully in the open for about fifteen years; anyone could join at any time and still can, including law enforcement folks. If there was any cause to swoop in and arrest its members, that would’ve happened long before now.
The community he belonged to was doing vile things. Nickerson doesn’t seem to understand that most people think pushing for the legalization of sex with children is not moral behavior, even if it was all just talk. It’s vile.
And that brings us to the crux of the issue. Even if Nickerson didn’t see illegal things happening on the site, he surely knew they were going on just out of his sight. It was a community of pro-child molestation pedophiles! Surely he isn’t asking us to believe none of these people were acting on their stated beliefs. He can’t possibly think no one ever was encouraged to illegal behavior by what they read there. It’s an absurd and illogical position.
But Nickerson refuses to admit it. He’s like a married man who spent 10 years on Ashley Madison and later claims he never saw any affairs: “By the way, I’m a virtuous husband because I didn’t cheat, I just hung out with a pro-cheating crowd!” Like the wives of the men whose information was released, children abused by members of Nickerson’s former community would probably find his claims of virtue a stretch.