An SUNY Fredonia professor, Stephen Kershnar, was exposed on social media for making the argument that pedophilia may not be as wrong as society deems it, questioning the deeply held societal understanding that it’s wrong for adults to have sex with children.
Kershnar, who teaches libertarian philosophy and applied ethics at the university, made an argument for pedophilia, the professor, who teaches philosophy at the state-funded university, argued: “Imagine that an adult male wants to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. Imagine that she’s a willing participant. A very standard, very widely held view is that there’s something deeply wrong about this. It’s wrong independent of it being criminalized.”
“It’s not obvious to me that it’s in fact wrong,” he continued. “I think this is a mistake. And I think exploring that why it’s a mistake will tell us not only things about adult/sex and statutory rape and also fundamental principles of morality.”
“There’s a couple of things to say here,” he continued. “One is even if you are looking for a threshold. Let’s say there’s a threshold. I’m making this number up, but let’s say it’s at age 8. Still, that tells you that some adult/sex is permissible. Second, the notion that it’s wrong even with a one-year-old is not quite obvious to me.”
“There are reports in some cultures of grandmas fellating their baby boys to calm them down if they’re colicky,” he said. “I don’t know if this is true but this is sort of widely reported as occurring in at least a foreign culture – and it working, that the grandmas believe that this actually works. If this were to be true, and again, I don’t know it to be true, if this were to be true it’s hard to see what would be wrong with it.”
“So no, I don’t think there’s a blanket period beyond which this is permissible. If we’re interested in willing participation which is the way I structured it, then yeah, there’s a point below where there are unwilling participants in anything because they don’t have the intentions or the sort of mental states that allow for willing participation – but yeah I don’t think there’s a blanket wrong in any age.”
“They might think that children can’t be willing things in general. It’s an odd view in that they seem to will things all the time. They will participation in kickball. They will showing up and participating in bar mitzvah lessons, bat mitzvah lessons. There’s all sorts of things that they will,” the professor continued.
“You might think that well maybe there’s something distinct about sex that they can’t really understand it. It’s not clear to me that what they’re not getting at is consent. I suspect that what they want to say is that they’re willing participants, they’re voluntary participants. They have some understanding of what is going on. Not the understanding we do, but some understanding. But they haven’t consented. Perhaps that’s so, but that’s a different claim from them being unwilling. There’s a lot of activities that children engage in that they don’t understand all that well. For example when you first show up to participate in judo tournament or when you prepare for your bar mitzvah. You have a rough idea but it’s not clear how much you fully understand it.”
Elsewhere in the call, Kershnar argued that there are “evolutionary advantages to child/adult sex.”
“It’s not obvious to me that there aren’t evolutionary advantages and here’s the reasons to think there are evolutionary advantages,” he said, noting that a “surprising number of college age males” show an attraction to pre-pubescent children, stating that when one uses the “true test” of penile responses, college-age males confirm their sexual attraction to kids.
“So it’s fairly widespread among young men particularly young men in our society,” he insisted, before highlighting the sexual relationships of hunter gatherers with children in primitive cultures.
The Fredonia professor’s remarks quickly went viral on social media, sparking calls for the university to fire him. As detailed by LibsofTiktok on Twitter, the professor even penned a paper arguing against the notion that pedophilic sexual relationships are wrong.
Kershnar's bio on the Fredonia school website lists him as having "written one hundred articles and book chapters on such diverse topics as abortion, adult-child sex, hell, most valuable player, pornography, punishment, sexual fantasies, slavery, and torture."
UPDATE: It gets worse.