Britain has a paedophilia problem, and it's time it was dealt with. And that problem is Britain's attitude to paedophiles, which is that we should incarcerate them all. Well wake up, Britain: there are anywhere from 250,000 to 1.1 million paedophiles living in Britain, of whom it is estimated that only 10% have been convicted, and only 2% of those are in jail. You can't lock up paedophiles, there are too many of them. They are your rock stars, your TV presenters, doctors, teachers, business men and of course your priests, over and over again. Even some of the police officers investigating paedophiles are themselves paedophiles. This is not a situation Britain can continue to ignore as long as public reaction is so violent to the discovery of "paedophiles in the neighbourhood".
The issue is being forced, thanks to 1,300 arrests out of 6000 suspects provided to Operation Ore in the UK by the much larger Operation Candyman in the US, which found the names and addresses of 250,000 child-porn suspects by the simple method of tracing the credit-card numbers they had submitted to a pay-per-view site. (So interestingly, these are clearly the 250,000 dumbest paedophiles ever. All the smart ones are still online, anonymously.)
I'm not a fan of paedophiles, or a defender of paedophilia. And in particular I resent the frequent association of paedophilia with gay men. But there is a parallel to be drawn on the legal side of things: homosexuals were also prosecuted by the law and persecuted by the public until they fought for their rights. Paedophiles being a much smaller minority, it will take them longer to organize the will and the courage to protest at their oppression, but don't doubt that it will happen, and what will you do when there are 50,000 kiddie-lovers marching down the street? "Paedo-pride" is just a matter of time. And then what will you do?
I consider paedophilia to be a mental disorder, conscious as I do so that I am a gay man, and that homosexuality was once considered a treatable mental disorder. I don't consider paedophilia treatable: these poor souls are hard-wired to find sexually attractive a class of person who cannot consent to sex with them, and are almost universally damaged, physically and psychologically, by sex with them. You can't let paedophiles have sex with kids, but you can't ignore them or lock them up either, or change their minds about who they want to have sex with (they tried that with gay men too, remember? And caused more damage than they fixed, such as the infamous suicide of Alan Turing).
Criminalizing and persecuting paedophiles drives them to act in secret, often exacerbating the damage caused. Telling paedophiles "tell us who we are, so we can stop you having sex for the rest of your life" is not going to encourage many to come forward, although it did encourage some to attend an experimental paedophila treatment clinic in the UK, which had an 80% success rate (as measured by patients not re-offending) until it was shut down thanks to hysterical protests. Paedophilia can be controlled by therapy aimed at ensuring sexual impulses remain at the level of fantasy and go no further, or as this enlightening lecture somewhat surprisingly advocates, paedophiles reluctant to change their behaviour can move house to countries where paedophilia is not so frowned upon.
Neither of these sounds like much of a solution to me, but both sound better than locking up thousands of people whose only crime is to have been born different. And don't for a second think that this is anything more than the majority persecuting a minority they find morally and socially unacceptable. That's all it ever is.