Sunday, December 10, 2017

Don't Call Roy Moore a Pedophile (Better: Colloquial "Child Molester")

Except for the useful abbreviations i. e., e. g. and etc., 
there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases
now current in the English language. Bad writers,
and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers,
are nearly always haunted by the notion that
Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones […].
— George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language" (1946)

Don't call Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for US Senate from Alabama — by the time you read this, probably elected senator from Alabama — a pedophile; consider instead calling him a "plausibly-accused sexual predator and child molester."
            One reason for this choice of words would be the, ahem, dictum of George Orwell to avoid the pretentiousness of using Greek or Latin when English will serve. Pedophile is "From pedo- + -phile, after Ancient Greek παιδοφῐ́λης (paidophílēs) (from παῖς [paîs, boy, child] and φιλέω [philéō, 'I love'])," and my giving the etymology by itself nicely demonstrates such pretentiousness.
            More important, pedophilia is a technical term in psychology, with a specific technical definition.

Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.[1][2] Although girls typically begin the process of puberty at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12,[3] criteria for pedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13.[1] A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years old, and at least five years older than the prepubescent child, for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.[1][2] 
Pedophilia is termed pedophilic disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and the manual defines it as a paraphilia involving intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about prepubescent children that have either been acted upon or which cause the person with the attraction distress or interpersonal difficulty.[1] The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) defines it as a sexual preference for children of prepubertal or early pubertal age.[4] 
In popular usage, the word pedophilia is often applied to any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse.[5][6] This use conflates the sexual attraction to prepubescent children with the act of child sexual abuse, and fails to distinguish between attraction to prepubescent and pubescent or post-pubescent minors.[7][8] Researchers recommend that these imprecise uses be avoided because although people who commit child sexual abuse are sometimes pedophiles,[6][9] child sexual abuse offenders are not pedophiles unless they have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children,[7][10][11] and some pedophiles do not molest children.[12]

Like, a pedophile has a mental disease, and if he — usually he — seeks treatment and successfully resists his urges, he is to be pitied and perhaps even admired. Pedophilia is something one suffers, and pedophile is, in a sense, something one is, and what we are is far more problematic and far less anyone else's business than what we do.
            Roy Moore has been plausibly accused of actions that are unethical and illegal and have the more colloquial English label of "child (sexual) molesting" (although "molesting" has its French and Latin background — so does "chair"!). Aspects of his character relevant to service in the United States Senate are most immediately the concern of the voters of Alabama. The rest of us can talk about what he has done, or is accused of having done — and we can do it in plain, or plainer, English.

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