Pedophiles who never do anything are exercising a virtue that borders on the saintly

Megan McArdle in The Atlantic:

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 26 09.46 A couple of years back, I learned that an adult I had grown up around was a pedophile. He had never, to anyone's knowledge, done anything about it. Certainly he was never anything but decent to me, and I babysat his kids when I was a pretty young kid myself. Rather, a technician mucking around on his work computer had discovered a stash of child porn. He went to jail for a while. His life was destroyed.

This changed a lot of the way that I think about pedophiles. I used to use the kind of hyperbole one often hears–that people who look at child porn “should be shot” and so forth. I don't say those things any more.

Obviously, I am not going to defend the use of child porn at all; it's despicable, and jail is the appropriate sentence, because the man who purchases child pornography is encouraging its manufacture. But it made me think of them for the first time with sympathy. They didn't choose to be like this–God, who would? Sex is one of the most powerful drives we have, and as Dan Savage's columns testify every week, we have little control whether it focuses on something relatively normal, or something . . . um . . . extremely statistically unlikely.

What do you do when your sex drive is channeled towards something so utterly morally wrong–something it is socially taboo to even think about, that you can't help thinking about?

More here.