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By prospect   September 2007

Paedophilia and thought crimes

The recent conviction of the actor Chris Langham was marked by an almost complete absence—with the honourable exception of Mary Warnock—of voices pointing out that, however serious his crime (and downloading images of child rape is serious), it was not morally equivalent to the abuse of children. In the understandable revulsion many in our society feel for paedophiles, important distinctions can be lost: in particular between having lustful thoughts towards children (which may be a moral failing, but isn’t and shouldn’t be a crime) and physically abusing them. The Langham case inhabited a complex middle ground:…

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