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Even Guardian readers are outraged by the paper’s massive error of judgment over paedophilia

By Tim Stanley, Telegraph

Even Guardian readers are outraged by the paper's massive error of judgment over paedophilia

There’s been a lot of comment in the past 24 hours about Jon Henley’s article on paedophilia. Published by The Guardian under the headline, “Bringing Dark Desires to Light”, it posed as a balanced consideration of what makes paedophiles tick.
 
The problem was less with content than with tone. Henley tried to bring “objectivity” to an issue – the potential or literal abuse of children – about which there is no reason to be objective. Tom Watson MP points out that Henley failed to quote the victims of abuse, preferring instead to interview experts and even a perpetrator – one Tom O’Carroll, described as “a former chairman of PIE and tireless paedophilia advocate with a conviction for distributing indecent photographs of children following a sting operation.”
 
Such a collection of sources might be appropriate for a peer-reviewed study distributed among cloistered psychiatrists, but for a newspaper report available to millions of non-experts it was stunningly tone deaf. When writing about something that is so morally outrageous in a national newspaper, any effort at balance actually advantages minority opinions – because a) it gives them a platform they would otherwise not enjoy and b) it allows them a degree of equality of authority that they don’t deserve. It would be like writing an article about the origins of the Holocaust and peppering it with quotes by David Irving claiming that it never happened. Not only would Irving be thrilled at the publicity (and for the freaks of society, any publicity is good publicity) but it would also encourage other anti-Semites to feel that their opinions are worthy of wider publication.
 
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