Tom Flanagan in his own defense.
My latest letter to the editor and that of my friend Dr Margaret Somerville.
We all rightly abhor the profound evil of child pornography, including, I’m sure, Tom Flanagan. And I disagree with him that further viewing of the pornography is not a harm to children – it is to both the children involved and children, in general. And it’s a harm to society.
But, I would have understood Professor Flanagan to say only that he was not sure that jail was the best way to deal with people who viewed child pornography, but did not produce it, a view we can debate. The most important consideration in such a debate would be whether jailing those people is among the best ways to prevent and eliminate this horrible abuse of children and protect them from it. We might or might not agree on that issue.
I know how easy it is to say something in a way that communicates a message the speaker would never want to deliver — I fear this may have happened to Prof. Flanagan. At the least, he should have been given the benefit of the doubt in this regard, especially before he was treated in the extremely harsh ways in which he has been with respect to his professional activities.
Margaret Somerville, Montreal.
I despise child molesters. I have long been an advocate for harsher penalties for crimes against children. I also have known Tom Flanagan for many years. I am quite certain that he finds child abuse despicable. He shouldn’t have said what he did and he apologized. The left wants to use his comments to try and smear conservatives. That partly explains the explosion of reaction.
Tom Flanagan is a brilliant man and I still consider him a friend. One does not abandon friends in time of crisis.
Roy Eappen, Montreal.