Sexual Misconduct: A Pandemic

The only way to combat a pandemic tolerance of sexual misconduct, Paul Gagne writes, is asking the tough questions, holding accountability, and being vigilant.

Disgust and devastation. These are natural reactions to an incident where an adult in a position of power and trust forces children to engage in sexual acts. Both in 2000 and 2002 Pennsylvania State University employees reported witnessing sexual assaults on campus to their supervisors. Like many, I am furious that, despite knowledge of these assaults, the school allowed former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky University-owned field space to continue to run the Second Mile football camps that he used to prey on his victims until 2008.

The one emotion in the public’s reaction that I do not share is shock. I am not shocked that, once again, a man in power used abused his station over the powerless. I am also not shocked that his supervisors deemed serious consequences unnecessary. For me this is simply another example of outdated ideals about fraternity: the fraternity that, from some arcane sense of loyalty, led to the systematic protection of a child molester. This happened in the Catholic Church when known molesters were simply moved from church to church by Vatican officials. It happened in USA swimming where insufficient background checks enabled coaches suspected of inappropriate behavior to move from club to club, victimizing their swimmers at every stop. Once again, now at Penn State, protecting the reputation of an institution and taking care of a former devoted employee were deemed more valuable than protecting innocent children from a monster.

When will we as men stop being surprised and start being vigilant? As we have seen in the Catholic Church, USA swimming, and now one of the most respected and legendary programs in all of the NCAA, a lack of vigilance—whether it be active cover-ups, lazy background checks, or ignored reporting—leads to more victims. The failure of men in power to take action has lead to more young lives being horribly and irrevocably changed. We cannot continue to dismiss these incidences as rare occurrences or the actions of a few sick people. If the administrators at Penn State had not been so quick to dismiss the information of these demented acts as unimaginable maybe they would all still have their jobs, and Sandusky wouldn’t have been able to victimize children for eight subsequent years.


As the son of a sexual assault victim advocate, I was raised with much more knowledge and awareness of the prevalence of molestation than most people. Even so, when I was 16, I was still shocked when sexual assault charges were brought against one of my high school math teachers. Before the incident came to light, I had heard talk of his “creepy” and “inappropriate” behavior, but had always dismissed it as a harmless guy being awkward. However, when I heard he had actually touched girls during class, on their breasts or behinds, and was in possession of child pornography, I was shaken to the core. I could not understand how a teacher could violate his students in such a fundamental way and I was wracked with guilt that I had so readily dismissed his prior behavior.

I could not believe I had been so blind. My blindness was made easy because we live in a culture that encourages us to believe the this-could-never-happen-to-us myth of sexual abuse. I allowed myself to excuse the inappropriate behavior I saw as harmless actions that were understandable for any man. I quickly brushed off his flirty exchanges with my female classmates as an awkward guy talking to pretty girls—I would have felt awkward, why shouldn’t he?

It was not until later that I realized that because the girls were 14 and 15 they were not just pretty girls to him like they were to me. They were children, and worse, his trusting students. He had crossed a clear moral boundary by viewing children as sexual objects and, by crossing it, he had transformed from teacher to predator. After these allegations against my teacher came out, I realized that flirting with children has nothing to do with being a man; it only has to do with being a pedophile. I was lucky in some ways because I was able to see the falsehood of the myth when I was 16 and that has led me to be vigilant in any situation where children are vulnerable. Clearly much of the country has yet to figure this out.

The revelation about the systematic molestation that thrived in the Catholic Church should have been the incident that snapped the country out of comfortable blindness and made us all come to grips with the reality that pedophilia is a prevalent, non-discriminating occurrence. In my very Catholic extended family, everyone knew someone who was a victim of clergy abuse. I thought such a fact would be the wake-up call that we all needed to start taking child predators more seriously. But yet again, USA swimming’s lax background checks allowed several suspected coaches to move from club to club collecting victims. Here we are again. An all-male hierarchy covered up the actions of a sexual predator, slapped him on the wrist, and allowed him to continue abusing children. The Catholic Church, USA swimming, and Penn State failed to protect members or guests of their communities who trusted the institution and its affiliated educators.

We need to stop turning a blind eye to this horrible epidemic just because it is too awful to think about. We need talk about child predators, acknowledge their prevalence, and do everything we can to stop them. As a registered USA swimming coach and an employee of an NCAA affiliated athletic department, I want answers from the institutions as to what steps they are actively taking to ensure that negligence in addressing sexual assault and pedophilia no longer occur. Many will accept the firing of four Penn State administrators, including the winningest football coach in NCAA history, as resolution to the institutional failure. It will be easy to move on, forgetting the story once again, dismissing the possibility that it could affect them. Most will not see how the failures at Penn State are not unique, that this is a problem facing all organizations that work with children.

How many more times will sports and other fraternities choose to protect their own at the cost of protecting the innocent? When will we stop turning a blind eye to the most disgraceful and demented of our gender’s capabilities? Until we do, sexual offenders can continue to seek out positions where they can rely on protection from their acts.

—Photo breahn/Flickr

About Paul Gagne

Paul Foley Gagne is life-long football fan from Milwaukee, WI. He is currently working for the Grinnell College Athletic Department, coordinating the NCAA Division III Indoor Track Championships. Paul is a 2010 alum of Grinnell College, where he was captain of the varsity swim team, team manager, and later student assistant coach. He is also a USA Swimming registered coach.


  1. Peter Houlihan says:

    “I was shaken to the core. I could not understand how a teacher could violate his students in such a fundamental way and I was wracked with guilt that I had so readily dismissed his prior behavior.

    Why did you feel guilty? Because you didn’t jump to conclusions? The reason that penn state went on as long as it did wasn’t because people didn’t begin a witch hunt based on flimsy or no evidence, its because they didn’t act even when they had clear evidence of child abuse. You didn’t go into very much detail, but from the sounds of what you wrote you really need to stop blaming yourself.

    “When will we as men stop being surprised and start being vigilant?”

    Its not a man thing, its the whole of society. I see no evidence that women are less likely to cover stuff like this up or more likely to whistleblow.

  2. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    The rate of true sexual misconduct is probably the same as it’s always been. There are more people now, and we live in a media-created global village, so there may be the appearance of a pandemic, but it’s actyually a moral panic. We need the rationality about sex you find in some of the European countries. As usual, I find myself in 100% agreement with Julie G. Sex is going to be the usual diversion from worse social problems like the economy. People like Sandusky need intensive treatmenty and intensive supervision, but we don’t need to return to Victoriana.

  3. superstarjackie says:

    We have to work together to stop this evil.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    I think the “pandemic” metaphor is a problematic for another reason besides the one that MediaHound mentioned. The word suggests that this is some sort of recent development, that sexual misconduct has someone “broken out” from its earlier existence and is now more common. I’m not convinced that what we’re seeing exposed today is really much more common than it was before. If this is a pandemic, it’s been going on for a few thousand years at least. I think much of what we’re seeing is just greater awareness of behavior that used to be hushed up or accepted more than it is today. If you see the play/movie “The History Boys,” you’ll see a very old boarding school culture that has winked at the sexual assault of boys for centuries upon centuries.

    I just find it hard to believe that this is the first century in which political leaders raped children, priests molested boys, or teachers molested students. I’m not saying this is acceptable because “it’s always been there,” just that the whole “epidemic” rhetoric is a little overblown. I’m totally in favor of putting a stop to the rape of children. Just because previous societies did not find this to be a big deal does not mean we should ignore it. But, let’s not pretend this is brand new territory, pining for the good old days when these things never happened.

    You won’t get as much attention or as much funding or sell as many books if you don’t label it as an out-of-control new phenomenon. Maybe the rates of child molestation have skyrocketed, who knows – how would you get good stats on that when it was covered up so much more in earlier eras?

    The “epidemic” mindset also makes it much more likely to assume that every allegation about sexual misconduct must be true. It’s so common, and it’s so hushed up, that we have to believe that it’s true, right? I find it a little alarming that such news ravaged Penn State, forced resignations and firings, ended careers, and all of college athletics go into a deep night of the soul, even before anyone is put on trial, much less convicted. I’m not saying the allegations aren’t true, I’m just a little alarmed that there’s all this purging and damage control even before there’s any real due process. I researched quite a bit about the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, and I’m seeing some very spooky similarities here. Thank goodness we have come so far as a society and would never be so paranoid as to believe every accusation….

    • Paul Gagne says:

      I do feel the need to point out that I don’t think this is a new phenomenon nor do I think my article made that point. While I did not write the headline I don’t disagree with pandemic entirely. The pandemic is not the sexual abuse itself but the tolerance through negligence that we see in all these cases. That being said “It’s so common, and it’s so hushed up” is true. We don’t have believe all accusations but the fact is that the National Center for Victims of Crime say “It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse while younger than 18 years. The numbers of boys affected may be falsely low because of reporting techniques (Botash, Ann, MD, Pediatric Annual, May, 1997). ” Those numbers are startling but until we start to accept them, then we won’t be vigilant enough. Rick Reilly from has done some incredible work with this. Read this article , while keeping the statistics in mind and then think about whether or not we are being too paranoid.

      • Dang, another author whose message is subverted by the editors’ choice of (attention-grabbing) title. Sorry that you’re in the club, Paul.

  5. No mention of the covering up of child abuse by the feminist movement though.

    • WOW Ron!

      That is a left field play!

      So, is that The Whole Feminist Movement, Some Groups within The Feminist Movement, Some Individuals within The Feminist Movement – or even some individuals who use The Feminist Movement as a hiding place whilst really having little interest in Feminism or Movement?

      Your comment needs clarification – and I’d like it – as a man!

      You may need to consider that the author is male and as such unlikely to be a member of the feminist movement. Why would he mention a subject that he is unlikely to be qualified to comment on?

      If you are qualified to make comment, to further the views you have expressed – I’m sure that many will be interested.

  6. Impressed by your writing my dear friend…

  7. I don’t know where this allegedly ‘blind eye’ theme is coming from… it seems to me that EVERY accusation of child abuse or molestation gets TONS of media attention, round the clock and nonstop.

    Now, the institutions involved try to cover it up, of course. Just like a murder defendant claims he’s been framed. No one’s denying that. But to claim that our society as a whole is pretending that child abuse doesn’t exist is so far removed from reality as to be laughable.

    What’s needed is LESS hysteria, not more. More thoughtful analysis and more practical proposals to address the issue, and fewer one-upsmanship “conversations” about who can dream up the most brutal revenge-scenarios for alleged abusers.

    • Here ! Here !

      “A relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and possibly the ultimate propellant behind the current culture war which is dividing America today.” – D Brin.

      It would seem that some are addicted to indignation – and they love to spread it about until everyone hurts! My concern is for the (how I hate this word) victims, and not others! Analysis is good, and anger and other forms of aggression not so good. With 90% of abuse victims never revealing what has happened, that Aggression motivates many to stay silent. They have already been subject to aggression at least once and they don’t want to deal with more.

      Aggression also makes it clear that what the Victim has been involved in is bad. Why would they want to be made to feel worse by being the cause of yet more aggression? Why would they want to be linked to bad things?

  8. Lydie Phillips says:

    PEDOPHILES ARE PSYCHOPATHS read the article below. Sandusky fits the profile exactly.
    Pathological Systems: A Look at Penn State by Sandra L. Brown, MA Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    It took a system, not just an individual, to cover up 15 years of rape. It took the camaraderie of people who collectively had reduced empathy and conscience to hide the fact that little boys were penetrated, and kids were trafficked to psychopathic benefactors. Now there are allegations that the rape and assault of little boys were used as perks to pedophile benefactors. It’s called human trafficking.

    This did not happen in a vacuum as most trafficking, extended abuse, and cover up normally doesn’t. It takes individual and corporate pathology to create an environment of longevity and invisibility to perpetrate 15 years of rape. It takes pathology on many levels from being the pedophile to being a silent accessory to the crime to allow over a decade of soul destroying abuse in a psychopathic fraternity of football narcissism.

    Systemic pathology has been seen through the years in the church, in the military, in the white house, in the FBI—in any large system. How did thousands come to believe that the holocaust was the right thing to do? It happened when one pathological in a system created a systemic belief system and brought into that system at high management levels other persons whose own pathology shared the basic core belief systems and those beliefs found their home and their spark with the pathological leader.

  9. Paul – I find you piece moving and on point! Language is very useful, but it can also be very limiting.

    I think that the word Pandemic is wrong and misleading. It promotes the idea that there is some form of magic bullet or medicine that some other person has to come up with.

    I was also struck when you said “I quickly brushed off…”.

    As I read, I was reminded of one woman who spoke about how she survived 9/11.

    She worked in the World Trade Center and she was absolutely clear why she survived. She survived because of Rick Rescorla – Security Manager.

    Rescorla was a person who imagined the unimaginable. He spent a great deal of time training people who worked in the World Trade Center to listen to their gut and go with it – if they had a Hunch that something was wrong – Act On It – Get Out.

    It did not matter what other’s said, colleagues, managers even your significant other. Know how to get out – Know what to do – and if at any time, no matter what is going on, your gut says go – get out!

    Rescorla was also very clear that no-one would ever be criticized or punished for following their gut.

    Some were even critical of Rescorla, his planning and his insistence on individual autonomy based upon a Hunch. They also thought his insistence on training for all employees every three months was a waste of time and resources – and even a bit fanatical. You have a Hunch – you don’t feel safe – your gut says go – GET OUT!

    Many people’s Guts said get out as soon as the first plane hit the North Tower – even though they were in other parts of the World Trade Center. Some went to windows to see what was happening – other’s got up and followed their gut. That action also prompted the window watchers to also get out.

    What struck me about this woman’s story was that she was the only person in her office – she was alone and had no-one to react to. She admitted she was unsure of what was happening. There was no fire alarm – no evacuation order – no real alarm. She had work to do and deadlines to meet and she was a good employee seeking promotion. And then, she had this inkling in her gut, and she knew what to do.

    On 9/11 that advice and insight saved many!

    Rescorla died as he went through the building doing his job. Many are very clear that due to Rescorla’s insight the loss of life was massively reduced. Many have focused upon many visible hero’s from 9/11. Rescorla is known about, but his legacy is often little understood.

    Maybe the idea of Pandemic will mislead people – and they should see the situation as A Disaster!

    Pandemic is likened to flu – Disaster brings out the real nature of the damage and it allows Heros to be born!

    Maybe. we need to use insights to both events and people – just as Rescorla did.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      Pandemic also implies that this is something new and spreading. Sexual misconduct has been around since there has been sex, I seriously doubt that its some basic fault of our culture that can be fixed. Of course we can try to limit it and deal with it, but if you think its not going away because we’re just not trying hard enough you’re in for a rough ride. Its like trying to “cure” violence.

  10. Then why, Eric, was sex abuse happening in the Church during times of no sex ed, no encouragement of consensual explorations etc i.e. the 50’s?

    I don’t think sexual misconduct has one whits worth to do with safe sex information, sex ed, or creative sexual play (no matter how distasteful you find it, and yes we know you find it distasteful).

    What is being discussed and dismantled are paradigms that allowed for people to treat each other badly, like animals really, either men on women or men on men or women on men or women. Bullying, in other words, whether it’s sexually based or other wise.

    But keep on blaming those old dynamics on current issues.

    • It’s not safe sex “information.” It’s the message that sex is an urgent and involuntary bodily initiative that simply can’t be controlled. (so why bother to try?) And even children should do whatever, whenever, however, and with whomever. As long as they wear a condom. Sex is just a game like any other, nothing special.

      I don’t believe that as that view of sex has become more pervasive, it has made people more respectful and shown more restraint. I’m not saying that those are the only issues but they, IMO, certainly are a contributor.

      • Actually here in Texas, sex is taught to be something relatively dirty, with completely inaccurate information giving to sexually active teens. Our rate of second pregnancies in teens is one of the highest in the nation, even though they tout their abstinence only policies, True Love Waits “father daughter dances” (weirdly there are no mother son dances isn’t that interesting) and promise rings that go out the window when they decide they don’t want to wait. So, instead of having safe non pregnant making sex in their teens, they have intercourse in a fit of cover up and shame, without protection and get knocked up. Crazytown.
        Safe sex means keeping your body safe from STD’s and pregnancy. It does not mean throwing caution to the wind. It means, actually, thinking about your actions. Choosing them rationally and with forethought, with a partner that you discuss things with. Maybe even with your parents.
        My mother discussed birth control with me. Guess what? I never got pregnant out of wedlock, never got HIV or stds when I became sexually active (my freshman year in college after yes, waiting cause I wanted to) and was able to successfully plan my pregnancies with my husband.
        Safe. Sex.
        Planfull, rational, thoughtful.

        • “Actually here in Texas, sex is taught to be something relatively dirty, with completely inaccurate information giving to sexually active teens. “

          Both extremes, IMO, are unhealthy and result in warped behaviour. Sex is neither dirty nor just a game to be played.

          I’m glad things worked out for you but the evidence is clear that our society increasingly has no filter or barriers when it comes to sex, that it’s “play”, even for children, as long as they don’t get pregnant or an STD.

          • What are you talking about for children??? Under 16? 15? 10?
            I don’t know of any sex educator that would tell a teen that sex is like fast food, or whatever whenever. And I know more than my fair share of sex educators.
            What I tell my own kids is that their bodies belong to them, that they need to treat them with caution and respect and pay the same caution to others, but that sex can be a beautiful and amazing part of their lives. That they have years to explore and figure it out.
            I damn well want them to know how their bodies work. How pregnancy works. How germ theory works. How condoms can help keep them alive and child free when and if they decide it’s time. That’s just good sense.
            Your posts often seem really reactionary to me, Eric. I’d love to see cites about where children under the age of 15 are told to have sex whenever they want.
            I do think sexual exploration is a long term process, actually, that kids begin thinking and exploring. There is no one “talk” for instance.

            • “What are you talking about for children??? Under 16? 15? 10?”

              The age where they are taught that sex for them is wrong and immoral. There is no age for that, is there?

              I am not criticizing sex education per se. It’s the concept/attitude/viewpoint that sex is simply a bodily function, and that it is near impossible or impossible to not have sex. (so, why try?). That there is no right and wrong when it comes to sex.

              “Your posts often seem really reactionary to me, Eric. I’d love to see cites about where children under the age of 15 are told to have sex whenever they want.”

              It’s too bad you get that impression because you’re wrong there. I have reflected on these issues for a long time, have studied the data, and feel very confident in my conclusions.

              It is hard to dispute that there is a lot of sexual misconduct going on. It’s clear to me that if people considered sex something special (not just a bodily function) and tried their very best to hold to a high standard, many of these issues simply would be less severe. People would still be far from perfect but they would at least by trying.

          • Also, I think things “worked out” for me, because I had a mother who was rational and pragmatic about sex ed. I knew exactly how my body worked in terms of pregnancy, periods etc and prevention of pregnancy. I dated, but didn’t have sex until I was good and ready, and I was well prepared to make choices for myself to avoid pregnancy, disease etc. My first lover and I were clear on birth control and all of it.
            The world didn’t end because my mother gave me accurate age appropriate information. In fact, I was able to fall in love, have a meaningful long term relationship that included sex, but that didn’t include pregnancy or disease.
            I’d say that’s the ultimate goal for sex ed, personally.

            • BTW, what you mistake for reactionary is clarity. That is why I take clear positions on issues. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about or discussed them. As compared to being wish-washy, murky, everything-is-a-gray-area.

              • I don’t doubt you’ve thought about them Eric, that’s not what I mean. Your opinions are quite clear, and it isn’t that I actually disagree with some of them (boys are being under-served in education) but your way of describing the problem is reactionary (no one cares about boys). The “no one” is completely inaccurate and designed to provoke. You obviously care. I care. There are women and men who care, Eric. There are books written about the subject.

                That’s what I mean about reactionary.

                Your post about “It’s the message that sex is an urgent and involuntary bodily initiative that simply can’t be controlled. (so why bother to try?) And even children should do whatever, whenever, however, and with whomever. ”

                Are there really people out there literally teaching 10 year olds to start having sex whenever and where-ever, Eric. Are there sex ed programs that teach kids that the body must be obeyed at all costs? If they are, please send me the links to those educational policies.

                That seems reactionary to me. What is it a reaction to? What policy in what school is teaching that? Are their actual PSAs on tv that tell you this?

                My experience with the schools and how teens are given information about sex is completely the opposite. It’s that sex is something to be tightly controlled, marriage is the only place sex can happen and wait until marriage etc

                My experience culturally and with schools in Texas and in a relatively conservative time and place (compared to the 70’s for instance) paints a picture where sex is quite repressive (and yes there are tons of sexually images on television, but the actual act is considered no ok for kids), where kids wind up lying about their feelings rather than able to discuss honestly with parents what their bodies are feeling, and where they risk pregnancy rather than being able to talk about BC and be planful with their boy or girlfriends.

                Having strong opinions is a great thing Eric. I have plenty of them. But I also value the ability to see nuance, because there is a hell of a lot of gray out there. Our kids are dealing with that gray area all the time. Opinions changing doesn’t mean wishy washy, Eric. It means being able to adapt to new information and not being so stuck on a position that you refuse to look at that new information and such.

                Anyway, I’m off for an insanely busy day, so if I don’t respond to anything else you say, it’s due to that.

                • “ . . . but your way of describing the problem is reactionary (no one cares about boys). The “no one” is completely inaccurate and designed to provoke. You obviously care. I care.”

                  Not reactionary at all. Relatively speaking, NO ONE cares. The evidence is that NOTHING, literally, is being done to stem the tide. Yeah, somebody’s mother cares but there are no major programs, policies, initiatives, well funded 501(3)c’s.

                  Do this: Google “girls education” and count the number of hits and .orgs that have advocacy programs or whose entire mission is dedicated to that cause. Write it down. Then, Google “boys education” and do a comparison. You will see that relatively speaking, NO ONE cares. It’s not being dramatic, it’s facing facts.

                  If there was care, there would be action. There is no action; thus, there is no evidence of caring.

                  “Are there really people out there literally teaching 10 year olds to start having sex whenever and where-ever, Eric.”

                  Are there people out there telling 10 years old that sex for them is wrong and immoral and that they therefore shouldn’t even toy with it? Or, are they being given a mixed message, that the main reason to not have sex is because of pregnancy and STDs? That there is no right or wrong when it comes to sex. It’s their choice.

                  From what I know of most sex ed programs, they are about education. How to use a condom, why to use a condom, what STD’s are, etc. I have heard hundreds of times that kids ARE going to have sex anyway, have you not? So, equip them for it.

                  This is not reactionary; this is reality. There are PSA’s on safe sex. Yes, have sex but do it safely is the overarching message, as I have heard it.

                  I have always lived in blue areas. Texas is apparently a different story.

                  • Texas has a high rate of poverty compared to other states. Teen pregnancy is just one of many higher risk factors of being poor. It has little to do with sex-ed. Look at Chicago. LOTS of sex-ed in public schools, and yet a high rate of pregnant teens because there is so much poverty among inner-city families.

                  • Texas is an abstinence only state. There are copious amounts of programs that promote no sex until marriage. At all. True Love Waits. Your rose will lose all it’s petals if you let a man sniff it etc etc.
                    So yeah, Eric, Texas is basically telling kids, DON”T DO IT AT ALL.
                    That’s not working all that well, and yes Luckey is right, there are issues connected to class, income etc with that too. Also how religion plays a part in school educations in Texas and other red states.
                    I’d also guess (not bet money) that males are focused on more in rural areas of red state Texas than girls, and that in ole librul Austin, you get a bit of both/and.

                    Anyway. Not gonna argue with you anymore

        • “(weirdly there are no mother son dances isn’t that interesting)”

          Not really – it just blinds people to the fact that abusers can be women. It also just reveals the blind spot to sons being the target of abuse! Daddy is the big protector – and Daddy’s girl needs protecting. Daddy’s little soldier is rough and tough – a pseudo man, just like Daddy. Mommy is a saint in the kitchen. Apple Pie abounds.

          SEX is supposed to be an adult thing! Adults know best ( oh boy ) so none adults are ignorant, even when they are sexual beings. There is more than just gender bias at play.

  11. When you have a society that claims that men who don’t want to subject themselves to anal sex are homophobic, encourages “safe sex” among the youngest of children, and where no consensual sex act or activity is considered categorically immoral, you get what you get.

    • I’m really not sure how any of this is related to the above piece but thanks for the share. I’ve never heard anyone express the first two paranoid fantasies you mention; as for the third, yes, whatever two consenting adults want to do with each other is their business… hence “consent” being at the core of many of these issues (and children, of course, can’t consent.) Why don’t you tell us what consensual sex you believe to be immoral and why?

      • The fact that you fail to see the connection illustrates part of the problem. The “paranoid fantasies” you claim were expressed clearly in a piece here, agreed with, and defended by quite a few. According to the evidence, it’s not paranoia at all.

    • Can you see where there might be problems with teaching kids that, say, driving or voting or working or joining the military is immoral? But we still manage to teach kids that they shouldn’t do those things until they’re adults or close to it (of course there is some transgression of the age requirement, some benign, some dangerous.) You can teach that only adults should engage in a given activity without it having to be branded wrong or immoral.

    • Wrong. Why is it that the institution that most vociferously champions the “categorical” immorality of certain sex acts begets clergy abuse?

      Maybe it’s because the teaching is contrary to the realities of human nature. Totalitarians. often pass laws and make rules that everyone breaks. If we’re all criminals then universal surveillance is justified and anyone can be criminalized at the whim of the ruler.

      A fearful population is easiest to rule after all and shame is an effective motivator.

      As for safe sex education for younger folk – shouldn’t they know what we can teach them before they start doing what comes naturally?

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