Dallas author Rod Downey treads shaky ground with new novel about older man and young boy
BOOKS - The dangerous topic of pederast
By Arnold Wayne Jones, Features Writer, 2002
As I read about the ideas espoused by Rod Downey in preparation for our interview, I felt an increasing sense of discomfort about the areas we would certainly be discussing. Downey has written an independently published book, The Moralist, that tracks the “loving and nurturing” relationship (his words) between Red, a 50-year-old pederast, and Jonathan, a 12-year-old grammar school student. This is not easy stuff to talk about.
Although he backs away from the label pedophile — “That word is completely corrupted and has almost no meaning whatsoever. It is usually used in the context of name-calling” he says — Downey defends what he believes to be the moral rightness of a sexual relationship between older men and younger boys, though, he says, “I don’t feel the need to label it.”
It seems that society has done that for him, and the judgment has been a harsh one. Downey acknowledges the unpopularity of his beliefs, but whatever epithets you could throw his way wouldn’t surprise or discourage him. Even outraged characters in his own book ask the protagonist whether he considers himself a child molester and worry whether he may be arrested. But Downey, like his alter ego, says they are just on a witch-hunt.
As much as a work of fiction, he admits, The Moralist is also his personal manifesto. As such, it necessarily follows a certain pattern of propaganda. Like-minded proponents of any belief, cause or activity tend to toe the company line, and the arguments and defenses become familiar if not outright stale.
The “blurbists” quoted on Downey’s book jacket, and on his Web site, are a who’s who of international pedophiles, dressed up with words like “educator” and “doctor.” On talk shows and in monographs, they beat the same drum:
Downey endorses many of these as by rote.
From Downey’s point of view, Red is not an abuser but a mentor. He notes that the relationship between the two primary characters remains non-sexual for the first year-and-a-half and only progresses once, as he puts it, the boy makes the conscious decision to go further. But how well informed can the decision by a 13-year-old be?
He refers to a Dutch perspective that has allowed the child’s family to decide whether the relationship was in the best interests of the boy and not marking all such intimacies as a crime.
He also propounds the idea that there is a perverse kind of morality to be discovered in pedophilia.
Up to and including sex with young boys.
One obvious danger involved with defending such relationships is the stigma gay men continue to fight whereby the general public equates homosexuality with pedophilia. Does Downey feel his vocal stance can do more harm than good?
Downey is not a member of NAMBLA, the controversial North American Man-Boy Love Association.
And Downey jokes about his political affiliations.
Society, it seems, simply has no convenient place for people like Downey, which is fine with him.
Rod Downey reads from The Moralist at Crossroads Market Bookstore & Café, 3930 Cedar Springs Rd. on Nov. 7, 7 p.m.