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Pedophiles: The Harsh Reality

By Bob Riedel
Editorial originally published in the Genesee Country Express, April 10, 1998.


The arrest last week of a Dansville man for allegedly having a houseful of kiddie porn in his possession, along with the additional possibility that he may have coerced local youngsters into his seamy pastime, set my teeth on edge—to put it mildly. I have received more than a few reassurances that I'm not alone in my reaction.

One of the prerequisites to writing a coherent editorial is having a cool head—something I ain't really got right now, at least where this subject's concerned. A healthy empathetic mind tends to reel when trying to confront actions so sinister they have the capacity of destroying innocent souls.

So I defer to a source I've consulted in the past about similar matters. It's not that Andrew Vachss isn't angry; it's more, I'd judge, that he's trained himself to turn that anger cold and redirect it toward the victimizers of children. Vachss, a New York attorney, has been working tirelessly for years as a legal advocate for abused children, and a crusader against the sexual abuse of children worldwide.

At a news conference last week, someone asked State Police Investigator John Hibsch whether child pornography was all over the Internet. Hibsch replied that while he wouldn't say it was "all over" the Net, it was certainly prevalent.

I did a little digging, and found a statement Vachss made to an interviewer in 1990—before the current explosion of Internet users—that might shed some light on why there's such a volume of child pornography on the Net, where it comes from and who it goes to.

When asked the question "How widespread is child pornography?" Vachss replied, "To understand that question, I have to determine if you understand the difference between width and depth. When people ask that question, they want the usual nonsensical statistics. That doesn't help. Let me explain why.

"Crime chases dollars. Those people in a position to produce child pornography have determined, and rightly so, that every pedophile is an inexhaustible well, so that one pedophile would, if he could, possess all the kiddie pornography in the world. You find that the well is being filled, and that product is created to fill it.

"How many kiddie porn buyers are there? Nobody could know, but those that do exist are consumers with a voracity that you can't imagine..."

It was Vachss, too, from whom I learned some years ago the fallacy of using the adjective "sick" to describe sexual predators and other sociopaths. Sick people deserve care and treatment; sick people are those with whose plight I can sympathize. Nowadays, when referring to those who prey upon the young and weak, I prefer the term "evil."

Living in this world and knowing that some members of my species are taking pleasure in annihilating the lives of innocents even as I write these lines is difficult to come to terms with; knowing there are a few fighters like Andrew Vachss out there makes it a bit easier, and shows me the way.



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