Letters to the Editor

From the issue of October 26, 2000

I am now 36 and have a 4-year-old daughter who is the epitome of God-given beauty, intelligence, and strength. I am a somewhat quiet mother, choosing to raise her in peace and love. But I must fight not to become obsessive in my protection of her. She has no idea how I silently watch over her, and although I have provided a safe environment with an open forum for discussion, I still find it extremely difficult to release her into the hands of teachers and others who come into her life under normal circumstances.

My sole purpose for writing this letter is to thank you for the endless hours of research, dedication, and perseverance in reporting this story. I believe it was the truth, and the truth can be difficult to admit. Sometimes it can be even harder to discover -- that I know as well as Lisa Hamilton. Through this story all of us have discovered that even the most intelligent people in the world can be the greatest cowards.

My deepest gratitude to all of you.

Name Withheld by Request
via the Internet

McIntire: Mentally Ill but Not Necessarily Evil
The way he chose to die was revealing: Pedophilia is a compulsion that can be more difficult to control than smoking, obesity, anorexia, heroin addiction, or alcoholism. Try as they might, many people can't stop smoking, overeating, undereating, or abusing drugs even if their lives, or the lives of others, depended on it.

Each person has different strengths and weaknesses, varying degrees of self-control, and various desires of varying intensities. At some level of intensity, a desire becomes a compulsion, which is manageable to a different degree in each individual. While it is true that compulsive smoking, overeating, anorexia, and drug abuse do not cause the devastation that pedophilia causes, even if they were as destructive as pedophilia, most people with those compulsions would not commit suicide, nor would they be able to completely control their behavior without a great deal of help.

Hundreds of pedophiles have voluntarily chosen castration to help them control their sexual compulsion. European studies have repeatedly shown less than a five percent recidivism rate among such pedophiles -- proving that pedophiles are not immoral monsters whose goal in life is the destruction of innocent children but rather ordinary humans who have a damnable compulsion they did not select for themselves.

Most people who have compulsions experience denial to one degree or another. Even though anorexics look in a mirror and see they are underweight, most do not perceive themselves as being underweight. People with compulsions often have a distorted view of reality that is not consciously of their own making and often fail to see the negative effects of their conduct as others do. If anorexics cannot see they are underweight when looking at their skeleton in a mirror, it is conceivable that a pedophile might not fully understand how “pleasuring” a child actually hurts a child. Humans possess infinite capacity to deceive themselves.

No one can know the degree of anguish Alex McIntire inwardly suffered, but his final act speaks volumes. He was certainly smart enough to have chosen a painless way to die. Instead he chose a terrifying, horrific, hellish way to die, which demonstrates to me that he hated himself for his conduct. Moreover, there is great anguish when a person comes to realize that suicide is his best option. This is especially true for someone as gifted as Alex McIntire.

People asked, “How could someone as smart as Bill Clinton have been so stupid?” How can someone in line to be the next police chief of Miami have (allegedly) solicited a street prostitute? How could Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman) have been so foolish as to masturbate in a public theater? How could Jimmy Swaggart and company have acted so contrary to their faith? How could so many bright, talented people have knowingly exposed themselves to the AIDS virus and still do? The answer is that for many individuals sexual desire can be overwhelming at times. In some people the sex drive can be stronger than the will to live.

To Lisa Hamilton I would like to say this: You may never realize how much inward pain and anguish Alex McIntire felt for the suffering and emotional damage he caused you. You may think he never perceived the betrayal a child feels when someone she loves and trusts betrays her in the worst possible way. But it is quite possible that at some point he understood to a meaningful degree how much distress he caused you.

Pedophiles are sick. They need compassion as much as they need to be put away or castrated for the safety of our children. The best way to eliminate evil is to understand it. If our intent is to reduce the number of children sexually abused, we need to enlist the cooperation of pedophiles by appealing to their conscience and persuading them to get help before they hurt others.

I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting lighter prison sentences for convicted pedophiles, only understanding and compassion for individuals plagued with an awful mental illness. I suspect a good number of the people reading this will deliberately choose to ignore that previous sentence.

Name Withheld by Request

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