There is little public sympathy for collectors of child pornography. Yet across the country, an increasing number of federal judges have come to their defense, criticizing changes to sentencing laws that have effectively quadrupled their average prison term over the last decade.

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a 20-year child pornography sentence by ruling that the sentencing guidelines for such cases, “unless applied with great care, can lead to unreasonable sentences.”

The New York Times, May 21, 2010

I am alone in struggling with the logic of the phrase “unreasonable sentences”? While I respect the commitment to civil rights on the part of the judges discussed in A. G. Sulzberger’s article, I wish these judges would first demonstrate the same commitment to understanding pedophillia and addiction.

My understanding of pedophillia comes from 21 years of gradually understanding why, among other abuses, my parents used me in child pornography. It is not that I don’t hold them accountable for their actions. I do. Running alongside, however, is the understanding that sex addicts are no different than alcoholics, drug addicts, or the eating disordered. Some addicts use chemicals, some use food or the denial of it, some use sex.

The problem, of course, is that sex addicts who orient toward children hurt children.

Like every other addiction, sex addiction exists on a continuum. Sex addiction doesn’t start or stop as much as it progresses. Therefore, sex addicts will always progress along the spectrum. Not all sex addicts will progress to pedophilia. However, as long as he or she remains untreated, the pedophile who “only” watches child pornography is increasingly likely to sexually abuse a child.

Collectors of child pornography are the end-users of a multi-million dollar industry that hurts children. They hurt children as much as do the profiteering pedophiles who provide their drug.

You can read A. G. Sulzberger’s full article here.

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