Debate:What should be RationalWiki's policy on child sexual abuse advocacy?

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Background: There seem to be some unwritten rules about child sexual abuse advocacy on RationalWiki, but thus far users haven't been given fair notice about what they are. Maybe it's time to change that. Normally, cranks and dissidents of all sorts are given an opportunity to engage in argumentation on RationalWiki, even if they are ridiculed and dismissed impatiently. That general practice is not applied to child sexual abuse advocacy.[1] The reason for this probably has little to do with protecting child users of RationalWiki from predation by these users (as was ostensibly the case with Wikipedia's child protection policy). It also probably has little to do with worries about child sexual abuse advocacy creeping into articles, since these edits would be easy to revert. It probably has more to do with the fact that there's a cultural expectation that known child sexual abuse advocates be banned from any respectable/reputable organization or website, and also because tolerating these advocates' presence would enrage other users and cause them to leave the site.

It's necessary to (1) define what is child sexual abuse advocacy and (2) state the punishment. A large minority of people (about a quarter of the population) favors reducing the age of consent from 17, and public health experts sometimes say a reduction in the age of consent from 16 to 15 would be helpful, so probably a prohibition on advocacy of letting teenagers have sex with adults won't fly. However, there's much less support for letting prepubescent children have sex with adults.

The scope of the proposed rule, then, having been narrowed to prepubescent children, what is to be considered child sexual abuse advocacy? There appear to be different grades of it, with differing punishments. If you argue in mitigation of the severity of the offense, e.g. saying that studies show that child sexual abuse isn't always as harmful as public opinion believes, then normally the reaction is that the edit will be reverted, or the comments will be archived. To explicitly argue that children should be allowed to have sex with adults usually brings an immediate ban. Even if it's a temporary ban, for all practical purposes it may as well be permanent because everyone is going to hate that user from that point onward. Thus far, these situations have been pretty black-or-white; users haven't been able to get their bans lifted early by promising not to engage in that advocacy anymore, because for one thing, they've usually had their user talk pages blocked.

Some content pertaining to the rights of alleged or even convicted child sexual abusers could also be considered mission relevant. For example, one could argue that prohibitions on child sexual abuse have been applied in ways that erode Fourth Amendment rights and rights not to be held accountable under ex post facto laws, such as when magistrates hand out subpoenas and search warrants like candy to law enforcement officers wanting to gather people's online data in child sexual abuse investigations; or when new sex offender registration requirements or civil commitment laws are imposed after the crime has been committed. This could be considered mission relevant as it relates to authoritarianism. Giving government unlimited powers to trample constitutional rights would eventually lead to worse outcomes for society even if it protected children better, because the false positives would begin to outweigh the false negatives. For one thing, children are sometimes the ones who are accused of child sexual abuse. These discussions have thus far been tolerated on RationalWiki, even though they might make some users uncomfortable or angry.

Proposal: If we want to codify existing practice (which is usually how policy creation on wikis works, unless some supreme authority such as the RationalMedia Foundation board or the moderators wants to promulgate a new rule), we would say (1) that content and dialog that downplays the harmfulness of child sexual abuse will result in removal of the offensive material or remarks, and (2) that (a) explicitly advocating legalization of child sexual abuse,[2] or (b) saying that child sexual abuse isn't harmful at all to children, or (c) outright encouraging child sexual abuse (no one has done this yet, but we'd just be covering our bases), would result in an immediate ban. The length of the ban would be irrelevant because it would be de facto permanent.

  1. "Child sexual abuse advocacy" should not be called "pedophilia advocacy" for the same reasons that "bestiality advocacy" should not be called "zoophilia advocacy".
  2. (Actually, arguing for legalization is different from advocating that people actually do what one proposes should be legalized. But some of the same arguments, e.g. about harmfulness of the proscribed behavior, would arise in both kinds of discussions.)

Landmartian (talk) 17:21, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

What the hell?[edit]

This is not something that needs rule lawyering. The scientific evidence, whatever individuals may personally think of it, is pretty one sided on the existence and substantiveness of harm that results. We don't need to lay down a specific guideline that says "Don't advocate for a middle ground against the preponderance of scientific evidence, particularly when people are negatively affected" for each flavor of denialism, because that general point is fundamental to the wiki. My position on this debate is that the debate itself is unwarranted. We have pretty similar reactions to holocaust denial and other genocide advocacy, and I don't really see the need to formalize it. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 17:50, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Preach it, o my brother. --Castaigne (talk) 17:54, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Tactics note: you should really keep in mind who you are arguing with when writing your responses. (Sorry, can't get more detailed than this at the moment.)--ZooGuard (talk) 18:00, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Is that true? Are Holocaust deniers summarily banned? Why would we then not have a policy saying that Holocaust denial will result in a ban? Normally, the stuff that you can be blocked for is written down in rules so that people know what behavior is expected of them. Social scientists will always debate exactly how much harm results from child sexual abuse, even if they agree the answer is "a lot". It's only if that debate crosses a certain line that people tend to get banned from here. Landmartian (talk) 18:01, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
The mobocracy does not require written policies for everything; this is not Wikipedia. Wikilawyering will not avail you here. You start advocating for pedorape, genocide, Holocaust denial, it will not go well for you. I think you should take certain hints and, as said previously, govern yourself accordingly. --Castaigne (talk) 18:05, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not exactly with Castaigne here. I appreciate a sense of restraint, but it's still always going to be personal and subjective. Suffice it to say if your contributions are consistently problematic, and weighted towards supporting something shitty, there's not a lot of reason to go back and find a strictly rule-based reason to ban you. Like, take Chrimony who took months of tenditious behavior to be banned because the tendentiousness in question didn't quite fall into the "unforgivably terrible" apologism the worse stuff does. Being subjective doesn't mean being arbitrary, and looking for a specific rule that sets out exactly what you want isn't always going to be possible (or necessary). If rationalwiki had an editor base the size of wikipedia's, yeah, we'd have to bureaucratically manage everything, because there's no way to take an honest personal approach. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:12, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Did we actually ban Chrimony? I missed that; I thought we let him stay because he was amusing.
As for our fellow editor LandMartian, this is the 2nd time he has come to my attention for less than savory reasons. --Castaigne (talk) 18:17, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Chrimony still isn't banned. But even the rejection of a proposed policy is sort of like a policy creation in and of itself. It's a policy that we're not going to have a policy. It's a policy that says, "We have an unwritten rule, and we also have a rule that says we're not going to write the rule down and thereby crystallize it." It's like when judges write unpublished decisions. By doing that, they're saying "We reserve the right to do whatever we want in the future and not be bound by this as any kind of precedent, but on the other hand, you can, by looking at our unpublished decisions, get a rough idea of what we're likely to do." Landmartian (talk) 18:19, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

How About No[edit]

  1. What Ikanreed said.
  2. Pedophilia advocacy, child sexual abuse advocacy - on this particular issue, that's a tomayto/tomahto distinction, so let's drop it.
  3. If you want to know why we have the stance on such advocates here, regardless of what you want to call them, go to the Coop and search for Tisane.
  4. This is not something you wish to discuss or debate. Govern yourself accordingly after reading the Tisane history. --Castaigne (talk) 17:53, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
The distinction between pedophilia advocacy and child sexual abuse advocacy is actually quite important. One of them actually occurs, and the other doesn't, as was pointed out at the Saloon Bar. To accuse someone of pedophilia advocacy is usually a straw man argument. Landmartian (talk) 18:01, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
I do not give a shit about the distinction between the two and if I see either advocated I will act accordingly. --Castaigne (talk) 18:07, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
So basically child sexual abuse advocacy is similar to obscenity. "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it". Landmartian (talk) 18:21, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
No, I didn't say that. I said I do not personally give a shit about the distinction and regard both as the same and if I see advocacy for either I will act accordingly. Do not push me on this; I do not care what wikilawyering you pull on pedorape advocacy. --Castaigne (talk) 18:24, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
How do you wikilawyer when there's no rule in place to wikilawyer about/over? This is more like an attempt at wikilegislation. It's not a big deal. You can reject the wikilegislation and then we are left with the status quo, except that the record of the debate will perhaps be of interest when people want to see where the leaders and other editors of RationalWiki stand on the issue. Whatever the outcome, something of value has been produced. Also, I think "do not push me on this" here basically means "don't irritate me". Landmartian (talk) 18:35, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's put it this way: what harm do you imagine arose from banning the one user who precipitated this conversation? ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:38, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Not much harm, because he only had a handful of edits and can easily come back under a new account, with a changed pattern of behavior, and avoid the ill will he would have attracted because of those first few edits. Banning him was sort of like aborting an unborn child with Down's syndrome. Sometimes it's best to cut your losses and start over. Landmartian (talk) 18:59, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
@Landmartian - RW has a long, long history of Mobocracy. The mob, quite literally, rules. There are no leaders except in as much as those who have earned respect have gained respect. And yes, this means we make it us as we go along. If we, the mob, decide that a user should be banned then banned he is. End of. Doxys Midnight Runner (talk) 18:42, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, even mobs have leaders. Also, the defining characteristic of a mobocracy is not that it makes everything up as it goes along, because republics do the same thing. The legislatures make new rules constantly, the courts make new judgments about how to interpret those rules, and even the cops and prosecutors make decisions about whom to let off with a warning or what to turn a blind eye to, so in either system it can be hard to tell what's going to happen if you engage in a certain behavior. In the wiki world, rules are usually descriptive, not prescriptive, and that's what this proposal was aimed at doing: creating a rule that could be ignored if the mob wished, but that would give users fair warning of what they could likely expect, without guaranteeing anything. Creating rules is not necessarily an invitation to wikilawyering. Landmartian (talk) 18:59, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── What you're missing here is that the rule you're proposing seems completely superfluous. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 19:08, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

No, what he's missing is that he wants to JAQ off over this, as he's done previously on pedorape, and he doesn't understand why we're not interested in playing this game with him. --Castaigne (talk) 19:51, 10 March 2015 (UTC)


Just no. |₹Λ¥$€₦₦ Red rose 02.svg I'll take you right into the Danger Zone 18:00, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

I dont have a problem if someone wants to put the viewpoint that sexually abusing anyone, child or adult is a good thing. Its absolute bullshit and easily refuted. Hamster (talk) 19:54, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
(EC) Basically, we ban sex-with-children advocates because the things they post create a gigantic shitstorm. It's just too emotive a subject, and it's usually the case that people posting such stuff aren't interested in having a reasonable, level-headed discussion, but rather in getting our articles on the subject to say sex with children is OK. The sole exception is User:Abd, who seems to like laywering on behalf of User:Tisane/Leucosticte. BicyclewheelModerator 19:58, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

It's unacceptable when people advocate for child sexual abuse / pedophilia / whatever. But if someone comes to an article's talkpage with actionable objections to its content and solid references, then we should revise the article. It's the same as Holocaust denial or any other horrible position -- it should be attacked, but if our attacks aren't true then they need to be changed. (That said, effectively none of the edits from editors holding these views have been anything approaching well-sourced objections to specific content.) FU22YC47P07470 (talk/stalk) 21:24, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

An argument is sound if and only if the argument is valid and all of its premises are true. To prove an argument invalid doesn't require evidence; you simply have to point out the logical fallacy. Evidence would only be needed if you wanted to prove the premises false. So, for example, you don't need a citation to anywhere outside RationalWiki to point out "this article contradicts itself" or "this article tries to prove its point by an appeal to authority." Landmartian (talk) 21:31, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
I think that definitely falls under "actionable objection", and also definitely hasn't happened on this issue. FᴜᴢᴢʏCᴀᴛPᴏᴛᴀᴛᴏ﹐ Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk) 22:05, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

I say we close this "debate"[edit]

For one, this isn't a debate in the sense of anything this space is meant for (it should be on a forum if we have it at all). For two, the mob seems pretty ok with banning a user pushing for pedophillia/CSA (with the major precedence of Tisane), so we don't really need to make a rule for it. --Miekal 19:51, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Seconded. --Castaigne (talk) 19:52, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
thirded Hamster (talk) 19:56, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. This is uncomfortably close to JAQing off or playing devil's advocate for the sake of being a general arsehole. Queexchthonic murmurings 19:57, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Like I said up above, 2nd time he has come to my attention for less than savory reasons. --Castaigne (talk) 20:33, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
It's come up many times, on such unsavoury topics as "flattering aspects of rape" and "beneficial outcomes of child sexual abuse". The less everyone indulges his sealioning the better. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:00, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Mmmm. Should he come to my attention again, I would suggest more strenuous actions would be merited. Or perhaps they should be skipped to. --Castaigne (talk) 21:08, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Especially as digging seems to show that Landmartian is either a) a friend of Tisane/Leucosticte or b) is Tisane/Leucosticte himself. --Castaigne (talk) 21:12, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Really, is there any kind of abuse that we advocate? CorruptUser (talk) 21:19, 10 March 2015 (UTC)