"What the public keeps getting wrong about pedophilia"; this is the title of a health and wellness article published last Monday on USA Today, triggering a massive online backlash.
The article written by USA Today's national correspondent Alia E. Dastagir explores research findings that were perceived by readers "as an attempt to defend pedophilia and sexual abuse of children."
USA Today acted promptly to defend their decision to run the story, arguing that "readers misunderstood its premise and took [it]out of context," attributing "the misunderstanding" to a paywall that hid most of the article before it was open to the public.
The initial thread lacked the context that was within the story and we made the decision the pull down the entire thread.— USA TODAY Life (@usatodaylife) January 11, 2022
However, readers still heavily attacked the American publication and the writer of the story, saying they are "disturbing beliefs that should be kept far away from the society." Despite a series of tweets by USA Today to calm their readers down, online people continued to label the story as "vile" and "supportive of raping kids," demanding "the immediate firing of the journalist."
Alia E. Dastagir should be immediately fired for writing this vile article and thread which normalizes the rape of children. People who hold these disturbing beliefs should be kept far away from polite society pic.twitter.com/S7MQCyvXkL— Romanian Social Democrats🌹🇷🇴 (@rosocdem) January 11, 2022
The article that was made public to the open after removing the paywall cited by the publication, used findings of research conducted to argue that "pedophilia is the mere sexual attraction to kids, but it doesn't necessarily suggest they act on it or abuse children sexually."
Alia E. Dastagir cited clinical psychologist, sex researcher, and former editor-in-chief of "Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment" James Cantor who said that "pedophilia is inborn and neurological."
This isn't a psychology or medical journal, it's a trashy news rag you can pick up at a gas station or magazine stand. The only reason to discuss this through this type of medium is to begin the long process of normalization and acceptance of the absolute worst human behavior— Greer Poplin (@GreerPoplin) January 12, 2022
She also highlighted a statement by the forensic research director of Canada-based Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, Michael Seto, who claimed that "MRI research is showing how sexual interests develop in the brain," saying "it's not something people choose."
The article continued to cite other research findings that have been interpreted as "attempts to justify and normalize pedophilia."
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