Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Over the past few years, David Frum has developed an infamous reputation for being the type of “conservative” that believes that true conservatism requires embracing progressive issues such as abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and the carbon tax. “We all have our vices,” wrote Frum, “and yes, I have always had a tendency toward deviationism.”

Although an accurate self-assessment, it should be noted that Frum’s favored form of deviancy takes a political form. But one of the contributors to his humbly named FrumForum has a tendency toward a different form of deviationism: ephebophilia, a sexual preference for pubescent and adolescent boys.

Alex Knepper is a young libertarian writer who has been published by Big Hollywood NewsBusters , the  Daily Caller , and the FrumForum . Until this summer he also wrote for David Horowitz’s NewsRealBlog but was fired because, as the site’s managing editor says, Knepper was a “an intemperate, unmanageable, perverted, impulsive, narcissistic child.”

Last week the site’s editors added additional claims by highlighting excerpts from Knepper’s writings on a forum for gay teens. (Note: I’ve moved the link to the bottom of this post.)

Most of the websites that had previously published Knepper work have wisely chosen to quietly distanced themselves from him. But David Frum chose a peculiar—though not entirely unexpected—tactic: He attacks those who exposed Knepper’s pro-pedophilic views .

For some months, we have been occasionally publishing here at FrumForum the work of an American University undergraduate named Alex Knepper. Alex Knepper is an outspoken young libertarian, a brave and brainy writer of real promise . . . .

Alex had at one time been on very confidential terms with the editor of NewsRealBlog, David Swindle. Swindle somehow discovered that Alex had posted many pieces under a pseudonym on a chat site for gay teens. NewsRealBlog cracked Alex’s alias, and rummaged through his many personal posts in search of damaging material.

They found it.

Alex had not disclosed the existence of this material to me. My first encounter with it was on Saturday morning, when I read the material on the NewsRealBlog site.

NewsRealBlog’s behavior in this case was vicious, invasive and outrageous. I wonder what would remain of the reputations of NewsRealBlog’s editors if their expectations of privacy were ripped away, if their private emails were published, their sexual fantasies and peculiarities exposed to public view.

The material was not written in private emails but was posted on a public internet forum. How is reposting those entries “vicious, invasive, and outrageous?” I realize that Frum’s moral compass is skewed, but is entirely broken?

Frum claims that the “NewsRealBlog’s editors have fused high school cyber-bullying and New Left character assassination” and describes the twenty year old college student as “only months out of his own adolescence.” Although Kepper has admitted to exploiting minors for sex, Frum’s primary concern is that his protege, fresh from adolescence, may have a hard time finding a job among people who think that having sex with young boys is, you know, wrong :

They have sought to destroy a career in the midst of the worst job market for young journalists since the 1930s, all to settle a private score.

Eventually, though, Frum gets around to distancing himself from Knepper. Well, sorta:
I took a long weekend to think through the right response to this material. I consulted widely and communicated repeatedly and at length to Alex himself. Alex has expressed to me his regret and remorse for the offensive material.

Within the limits of my own prejudice and ignorance, I tried to make allowance for the extra difficulties that Alex has encountered on his route to adulthood. I tried too to keep my focus on the person Alex is now, not the person he was two or three years ago when he wrote many of the most offensive of the items.

Yet in the end, there was a gap that could not be closed. A website functions as a community. If agreement cannot be reached on the moral and ethical standards that should govern that community, then the members of the community must part ways.

I sincerely wish Alex well, and I hope and trust he will grow in wisdom and human sympathy. Until then, however, you will have to look elsewhere than this site for his byline.

Notice what is not said: Frum never says he was morally outraged by what Knepper’s wrote. Having spent his moral outrage on the people who exposed the young pervert, the most Frum muster is to call the writings “offensive” (a gross understatement) and make some strange claims about members of a community who can’t agree must part ways. Is that it? He’s agreeing to disagree about the morality of having sex with teen boys?

Frum is a skilled wordsmith and a powerful writer. He has published a handful of valuable books, including one of the best cultural histories of the 1970s ever written. He is a man who chooses his words carefully. He is signaling that because of his heterosexual “prejudice and ignorance” he is unable to fully grasp such things as why a grown man would have a sexual fascination with Justin Bieber. He is making it clear that he is expressing a disagreement, not issuing a condemnation. His refusal to offend certain sectors of the homosexual community by making a strong, declarative denouncement of sex with minor boys is disappointing but revelatory.

To make the decision to dump Knepper, Frum shouldn’t have needed to consult with anyone; he needed only to consult his own conscience. He also didn’t need to provide a finger-pointing, throat-clearing, Marc Antony-style “Come to bury Caesar” diversion before taking two politically-expedient steps away from his “brave and brainy” apprentice. He should have had the courage to simply say that Knepper’s sexual proclivities are not the type of thing that moral people can condone.

(Note: Please do not list any of the writings by Knepper in the comments section. I will not approve any comments with that material. Anyone that wishes to see what he said can follow the links in this post. The material in question can be found here. The text is highly disturbing and contains a single image of two youngish boys without clothes embracing.)

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles