Confusing, conflating, …

I have introduced the term “conflate” to my family recently with my understanding that it means combining two separate ideas and mistaking the result with one of the originals (perhaps both).  A quick look up finds that the usage of conflate is either “combine and make a new thing,” or “confuse.”  Sounds like I was (recursively) conflating the definition of conflate with confuse.

But I feel confident about the idea of mistaking one thing for another similar, perhaps related thing, with adverse consequences.  Here is the most recent one that caught my attention, and it involves the Boy Scouts of America.  It appears that a very capable scoutmaster has been relieved from his duties.  Not by the church where these activities are conducted, they know him personally and stand by his performance.  No, it is the BSA itself because they have a policy/compromise of permitting scouts who are gay, but of not supporting scoutmasters/adults who are gay.  Seems a classic “conflating” of gay and inappropriate behavior towards children, often captured by the term “pedophile.”  Gay and pedophile, or the behavior attributed to the term “pedophile,” are often conflated.

I am looking for the right analogy … it is like saying “red is a separate idea from car.”  Red is a color, car is a mode of transportation. This separateness holds even though there exist red cars.  Red and car are both examples of separate ways of thinking about the world.

And that is the case with gay and “pedophile,” each is an example of separate ways of thinking about the world.

I thought the confusion comes from the observation that, just like there are red cars, there are pedophiles who are also gay.  However, it is not that simple. Gay is a sexual orientation.  In the DSM V, pedophila is defined as a sexual orientation as well.  Seriously — so are gay and pedophile two examples of the same idea?  Maybe, or at least according to my reading of the most recent DSM.  

At the same time, the DSM V distinguishes pedophilia from pedophilic disorder, which is “a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality.”  Oh, there it is — people are confusing gay (a sexual orientation) with pedophila (a different sexual orientation), and then extending the “confusion chain” to include pediphilic disorder, an action with the same word from the one before in the title, but can be applied to the action if performed by people of any sexual orientation. This is very problematic, it seems that even though the DSM V is cited by Wikipedia, pedophilic disorder is simply a term equivalent to pedophilia.

Wow, a little research, and some learning for me.  I have not confirmed this conclusion with any expert, but it does make the case that the BSA is conflating being something with acting someway.  My kids have many people in their lives, and I know a few identify as gay; their actions are kind and supportive to kids.  I do not care about their sexual orientation save  the extreme of pedophilia even though it is also not a choice, but sounds more like an affliction in need of support and treatment (as well as a sexual orientation).

What the BSA should eliminate from their ranks are people with pedophillic disorder, as well as pedophiles to be safe.  Yes, this is a tough distinction to make, but really important for the kids and for the adults involved.

In the meantime, good role models are losing opportunities, and kids are losing chances to interact with these good people; in fact, by definition it decreases the diversity of the experiences for the kids.

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