MEMBERS ONLY: Interview With A Men’s Rights Activist And Child Porn Advocate

by Justin Rosario

As a person that writes about politics and social issues and the intersection thereof, I spend a lot of time dealing with the right wing. It’s unpleasant. I talk to Tea Partiers (not so many of those anymore), Trumpers (lots of those these days, of course), “Constitutional conservatives” (people who hate Trump but won’t vote against him), white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Fox News zombies, etc. etc. 

I go to right wing websites and read the comments to see what they’re talking about among themselves. Breitbart, Stormfront, The Dailystormer (before it was kicked off the internet), and the like. If you haven’t done that, imagine swimming in a septic tank that hasn’t been cleaned in a decade. Naked. Without your skin. Unlike the Chuck Todds and Chris Cillizzas of the world who pretend that the right wing is fueled by “economic anxiety” and that “both sides” are just as extreme, I know all too well just how truly depraved and violent the right wing is.

But there’s one part of the right I’ve avoided going to like the plague: Men’s Rights Activism. I’ve only written about them once because they’re so unbelievably awful I would literally rather spend time on neo-Nazi websites reading about how they want to kill me and my children for being Jewish than deal with these freaks.

If you’re not familiar with them already, the way I think of them is the gender equivalent of white nationalism. There’s sexism, there’s misogyny, and then there’s these guys. These are the creeps that literally think women are conspiring against men to subjugate them. These are the basement dwellers that literally think rape should be legal because men want sex and women shouldn’t be allowed to say “No”. These are the sociopaths that literally think women made child pornography illegal so they could put men in jail.

Dear God in heaven I wish I had made that last one up.

Meet Eivind Berge, “a sex-positive men’s rights activist” (allegedly) from Norway that would like to be able to watch child porn without being sent to jail, thank you very much:

I wasn’t familiar with the details of Salling’s case and thought maybe this MRA douche was complaining about not being able to look at pictures of 16 or 17-year-old girls. But Salling was caught with sexually explicit pictures of children as young as 3. I wanted to know if Berge understood this and to my nauseated horror, he did:

After confirming I was in fact speaking to a person that was advocating for child pornography, I spent the rest of the day very politely getting him to explain his “beliefs” and poking holes in his claims. I did this partly to see inside the mind of a monster and partly to see how monsters respond when their carefully constructed arguments are picked apart. Mostly I did it to get you this article. See what kind of nastiness I subject myself to on your behalf, loyal Banterites?

As a pseudo-intellectual, Berge relies more on the “pseudo” than the “intellectual”. Although he tries really, really hard to come off as sophisticated, his arguments are, shall we say, less than convincing. And while he spends a lot of time arguing that he’s not a pedophile himself, his deep interest in making it legal for adult men to have sex with underage children and/or view child porn strongly suggests otherwise:

I can only assume Berge does not have children of his own, something we should probably be grateful for. If, at some future point, he manages to trick a woman into bearing his children, we can only hope she’s able to protect them from what is clearly a predator in the making.

I dropped the line of questioning into how he would allow his underage daughter to have sex with a pedophile because, frankly, he’d already told me everything I needed to know about how twisted his views on parenting are. Instead, I went back to his “intellectual” arguments for why child porn isn’t “really” a crime:

And here we get to Berge’s big argument: Child porn is no different than looking at pictures of any other illegal activity:

If you’re not sure what that word salad means, he’s suggesting that because an illegal video can be watched by thousands of people, that somehow strips the video of its criminality. This is possibly the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard in my life and I, still politely so as not to chase him off, gave him a real world example of how his logic fails on its own merits. Berge attempts to claim a moral high ground (no, seriously, he thought that would work) which I promptly kicked out from under him with another example demonstrating how poorly thought out his premise is.

I’m a smart guy but by no means a deep philosopher or hardcore intellectual and I was able to deep six Berge’s entire worldview in a few minutes while going back and forth between Twitter and writing an article on an entirely different topic. This is not a brag of how clever I am, simply a note on how insanely weak Berge’s arguments are.

Not that he accepted this, of course:

“Genocide”? Methinks someone doth protest too much. You’ll also note that he conveniently claims child porn is harmless. Harmless to whom? Obviously not the children harmed in the making but that’s not his concern, of course. But Berge is not done with his “moral” argument.

And that’s what this really comes down to. Berge is trying, and failing spectacularly, to strip the taboo from child pornography in exactly the same way NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, has been trying to legitimize pedophilia for years. NAMBLA’s hope is that by painting a veneer of respectability on their depravity, they’ll be socially accepted. Berge obviously hasn’t learned anything from their ongoing failure. I did find it amusing, however, that after accusing me of engaging in a form of genocide, I’m the one that’s “hysterical”.

Berge tries to switch tactics yet again but at this point, he’s just flailing and I let him, still politely, know it:

Crimen Exceptum is a crime so outrageous that the rule of law does not apply to it. It’s most famous use is by the Pope in 1468 when he declared witchcraft to be “crimen exceptum” so women could be tortured well beyond what the law allowed. Essentially, Berge is comparing his cause to that of the persecution of witches. Because of course he is. A key component of the MRA movement is a deep sense of persecution and oppression, why would this aspect of it be any different?

From this point on, the conversation devolves as Berge does what every right wing cretin does when they lose an argument; he starts insulting me:

“Infantile belief in the sanctity of children which has nothing to do with reality.” I don’t care how many times he denies it, those are the words of someone who sees children as prey.

This is where our conversation ended. Although other people on Twitter picked it up and kept going, I was done. Berge follows another MRA freak named Tom Grauer who believes that if he says really horrible things loudly and often enough, they will stop being horrible and become just another opinion that people will discuss. This is how Berge and Grauer think they will be able to normalize the pedophilia they appear to long for. Perhaps they think if they demand porn with 5-year-olds, society will appease them by allowing porn with 15-year-olds.

Good luck with that.

To be clear, this is not a widely held view among Men’s Rights Activists but the ground is fertile for it. The core of the MRA movement is that men should have the right to do anything they want, especially when it comes to sex, because they are entitled to it by virtue of being men. It’s perfectly natural they would also attract men who think they should have the right to have sex with children or be allowed to consume child pornography without consequence; particularly if they can convince themselves it’s a conspiracy by feminists to keep them from the object of their desire,

At the end of the day, the MRA movement is perhaps the most twisted facet of our culture. While a racist looks at minorities with loathing, MRA’s look at literally half of the population, including their mothers, their sisters, their aunts, even their own daughters, and sees the enemy. They envision a world where men can legally rape women, where women don’t dare refuse their demands for sex, where the law is never “unfair” to men.

The rage of the Men’s Rights Activist cannot be overstated. After spending a day talking to Eivind Berge, I can only say God help any little child that finds themselves in his clutches.