This young man represented Malaysia in International Mathematical Olympiad in 2011, which means that he was one of the top students in mathematics in the country.
This young man also kept more than 30,000 child pornography images, owned a life-sized boy mannequin, and was involved in the creation and distribution of some of the images. He was sentenced to jail for five years, and is likely to be deported back to Malaysia as soon as he is released.
That seemed to be the general sentiment of most people. Condemnation flooded the social media. The fact that he is outwardly a smart guy but secretly a dirty child-loving criminal adds to the repulsiveness of the news.
Now, paedophilia has always been a topic that deeply intrigues me.
As part of the generation which grew up with the Internet, I quickly learned just how much of a taboo paedophilia is in the Western countries. I learned of the harsh penalty that awaits anyone involved in the viewing, not to mention the creation and distribution of child pornography. I learned that paedophilia is a sin worse than all others. I learned that someone who is 17 years and 364 days old cannot willingly take part in any salacious photoshoot (because that would constitute child porn), but he or she only has to wait for one more day when the curtain falls and the law no longer protects them under the magical spell against paedophilia. There is a paranoia that even googling "child porn" may bring one trouble, because that one child porn photo that appears and gets stored in your computer, may attract the police's attention and become the evidence of your "involvement" in child porn.
When my mother was visiting a museum in the US, she was sternly scolded by a school teacher because she took a photo of a group of school children. She was shocked and we had to explain why you can't just take picture of children these days.
As a society, we have decided that paedophiles are the scums of the society who need to be banished from our civilisation and locked away. They deserve shaming and heavy punishment. We publish their identity, show their photos, and register them in the sex offender registry. We give them no second chance.
All these shaming and sickly feeling we project towards paedophiles remind me of another similar "perversion" - homosexuality. Not too long ago, everything I wrote above were exactly the same things people said about gays and lesbians. Homosexuality was a sin, gays were punished, locked up and killed, and people lived their lives in secrecy and shame simply for being who they were. Before 1974, homosexuality was considered a mental illness by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standardised diagnostic system used in psychiatry. However, most societies today have accepted homosexuality as a normal variation of human sexuality, something one is born with and can't be helped or "treated".
Why is homosexuality something you are born with, but paedophilia is a mental disorder?