On Tuesday night a video went viral on social networks in which a professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) appears to normalize pedophilia, claiming that to him, “it’s not obvious” that it’s wrong for an adult to want to have sex with a preteen girl.
“Imagine that an adult male wants to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. Imagine that she’s a willing participant,” says Professor Stephen Kershnar in what appears to be a video lecture. “A very standard, very widely held view is there’s something deeply wrong about this. And it’s wrong independent of it being criminalized.”
Kershnar continues, “It’s not obvious to me that is in fact wrong. I think this is a mistake. And I think that exploring why it’s a mistake will tell us not only things about adult-child sex and statutory rape, but also about fundamental principles of morality.”
The professor goes on to say that some adult-child sex is permissible, and even goes so far as to assert that “the notion” that having sex with one-year-olds is condemnable is “not quite obvious” to him.
Later, Kershnar makes a comparison between a child agreeing to have sex with an adult and one agreeing to take kickball lessons, and says that there is a difference between consent and willingness to have sex.
His comments on pedophilia go on to state that “if we don’t know whether willing sex with 15-year-olds is going to have net good or bad consequences,” it should not be criminalized or condemned.
Kershnar further states that pedophilia has its advantages, comparing historical facts from other cultures and taking into consideration the genetic similarity between humans and bonobos, which are the only primates that have been observed having sex for pleasure.
Kershnar participated a year ago in a podcast titled Unregistered with Thadeuss Russell, in which he was seen jokingly chatting with the driver, comparing pedophilia to taking children to church, school or the dentist, and go so far as to assert that “coercion is everything in a child’s life.”
But Kershnar’s story is not new. The professor has been writing books of “philosophical analysis” on pedophilia for years. His bibliography also includes an analysis of “Why Americans Should Not Be Very Grateful to Veterans.”
Amid the controversy, SUNY Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison issued a statement Tuesday night setting Kershnar’s claims apart from the college’s values and indicating that “the matter is being reviewed.”