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In her December 2009 essay ” How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool ,” Mary Eberstadt explained how the sometimes gleeful attacks on the Catholic Church during the sexual abuse crisis had made it more difficult for the Church’s critics to wink at pederasty and pedophilia:

After all, one could either point to the grave moral wrong of what the offending priests had done—  or  one could minimize the suffering of the victims, as apologists for pedophilia had been doing before the scandals broke. But one could not plausibly do both any more, at least not in public. And so, in a way that could not have been predicted, but that is obviously all to the good, the priest scandals made it impossible to take that kinder, gentler look at the question of sex with youngsters that some  salonistes  of a few years back had been venturing.

But Mark Shea notes that a new TV series — following in the wake of ground-breaking dramas like “Will and Grace” and “Big Love” — will offer a sympathetic depiction of yet another little-understood sexual minority. Shea quotes actor John Barrowman’s explanation:
It isn’t going to be watered down. It’s actually going to be darker, bigger and bolder, and more dramatic. I mean, for goodness’ sake, we’ve got a main character [played by Bill Pullman] who’s a pedophile! The interesting thing about that is that the audience is going to be torn, because they’re going to not like him for what he’s done — but they’re gonna like him.

Shea argues — and here I’d like to see Eberstadt weigh in — that the Church’s detractors will have little trouble promoting sex between adults and minors while attacking the church for priestly abuse:
The amazing thing will be when the day comes that our Chattering Classes and Manufacturers of Culture simultaneously celebrate pedophiles, condemn the Church for not protecting children from pedophiles, *and* condemn the Church for condemning pedophilia. The Church, actually having a body of moral teaching its members can betray, can always be arraigned because its members are sinners. That’s easy peasy. The really amazing thing is how the world, having no principles beyond expedience, can simultaneously celebrate and condemn moral acts depending on how useful it is in attacking the Church

Of course, this hardly will be the first time that the charge of “hypocrisy” is wielded by the unprincipled against the principled. Nor will it be the last.

Update:  Reader “Jamie r” suggests that the depiction is much less sympathetic than this interview suggests:

I’ve only seen the first episode of this season, but from what I saw the character in question was clearly a villain, or at most an antihero. I’m pretty sure Barrowman meant “liked” the same way people like Daleks or the Master on Torchwood’s parent show, Doctor Who. (I could be wrong, since I haven’t seen the rest of the current season, and maybe after the first episode he turns into a likeable hero rather than the unsympathetic creep he was in the first episode).

Without more of how Pullman’s character is presented in Torchwood, Shea may be jumping the gun here a little. It’s actually really annoying and a little dishonest to quote a month old interview without following up on whether the show (which is now a month into its season) actually does glorify pedophilia.


I can’t speak for Shea, but I certainly have not seen the show and will happily defer to those who actually know what this character is like.

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