Paine wrote:There is a difference, however unclear, between that which is wrong and that which is dangerous. Take the example of getting drunk, for instance. There is absolutely nothing morally wrong with becoming drunk, but it puts you in a dangerous position from which you are far more likely to commit a crime or harm another person, actions over which you would have far more restraint in a sober state.
However dangerous an attraction toward children may be, I don't believe it is "wrong" in a moral sense.
I agree there is a difference between that which is dangerous and that which is offensive to society. Some cultures would take great offense at getting drunk, or even having a single taste of alcohol. The same cultures would perhaps think it very normal for a 40 year old man with two wives to court a 12-year-old girl to be his third wife. I have an idea which society is preferable but that view is necessarily biased.
I define morality to be the classification of actions which are offensive to society. In our western society, we have a liberal allowance for freedom of thought. It's our strength. It drives innovation and discovery, artistic expression, social progressiveness, and is a key element of liberty. Freedom of thought comes with the responsibility to have self-control over our thoughts. If personal restraint is relaxed then our liberties are at risk, because there will be social backlash against excesses and indulgence. So while it's not immoral per se to have perverse fantasies, I do think that expressing these fantasies in any way, be it words, art, or action, is offensive to our society. The difficulty, of course, is to decide which expressions cross the line. Even more difficult is deciding when the line can move, which is why today we struggle so mightily with homosexual rights and freedoms. Here in Oregon, the line just moved substantially, as we've just passed our Civil Union law.