Which of these would you favor as a husband for your beloved daughter?
‘The slick fella, too handsome for his own good, whose shifty eyes furtively appraised the family silver,’ or, ‘the well-dressed, good-looking young man whose frank curiosity about the family heirlooms showed an appreciation for life’s finer things.’
Word choice makes all the difference. Some words are so emotionally laden with either positive or negative connotations that just using them automatically produces the corresponding emotion in the reader or hearer. Producers of media know this and often choose emotionally loaded language to sway the readers to their way of thinking. This is fine for editorials and opinion pieces, but the purveyors of news pieces bear the responsibility of using neutral language, of presenting the facts, the “plain, unvarnished truth,” and allowing readers to form their own conclusions.
These are the facts about the term pedophilia. It is a medical term, not a legal one. There are no laws or statutes criminalizing pedophilia. Depression might cause a person to shoplift, but the criminal act is shoplifting, not having depression. Not everyone who shoplifts has depression, and not all with depression shoplift.
The same is true with pedophilia. Not everyone who molests a child has pedophilia – in fact, research suggests the percentage is low – and not everyone with pedophilia has engaged in any criminal conduct, including molesting a child. And certainly, not all registrants are pedophiles. Sexual convictions run the gamut from public exposure to violent rape.