There exists a device known as a "penile plethysmograph." A lot of confusion seems to exist about what it is and what it does. In reading about sex offenders, it may be mentioned but not properly explained, and that is the purpose of this page.
The penile plethysmograph is a tool used to measure male sexual arousal. The theory goes like this: you put a clamp-like device around the penis, and the clamp measures how hard it gets. If it gets harder while looking at photos of nine-year-old girls in one-piece swimsuits, this is supposed to mean that you're sexually aroused by nine-year-old girls in swimsuits, which means that you're a freaking nasty pedophile who should be castrated if the Internet Lynch Mob That Knows Everything About Sex Offenders Despite Reading Zero Real Research is to be believed. It surely sounds like a simple tool with a simple goal; certainly not a fallible thing, by any means, because how hard the penis gets directly correlates to sexual arousal, right?
Taking the most damning quote from this site on the subject: "In one court case, Dr. Michael Tyson, a clinical and forensic psychologist specializing in the field of sexual criminal behavior, testified that "the vast majority of individuals who commit sexual offenses against children are not sexually aroused by stimulus material involving children." His expert adversary in that case, Dr. Gullick, claimed that "the plethysmograph has been extensively studied and recently shown to be ninety-five percent accurate in discriminating between individuals who had committed sexual offenses against children and a control group that was randomly drawn from the population." Other experts have claimed that there are "studies in which the devices have failed to detect nearly one out of three known sex offenders tested." The reliability of the device have been argued in court and penile plethysmographic evidence has been declared inadmissible because of its "questionable reliability."
In other words, while these things do successfully detect a good chunk of accurate sexual arousals towards children, they have a very nasty error percentage--so nasty, in fact, that they're not admissible in court. So if they are bad enough at this that they aren't admissible in court, why are they used at all? I honestly don't know, but the sinister side of things rears its ugly head when you consider the idea of testing EVERYONE with one of these things to determine sexual attraction to children. Here's how it would be sold to you by the politicians:
If you could find the majority of future child predators before they ever actually molested a child, why wouldn't you be 100% for it? If we make a yearly penile plethysmograph exam mandatory for all male Americans (including children as low as age five, since we all know five-year-old children can be sexual predators like anyone else) and any male who becomes too erect while viewing photos of children in swimsuits is locked up until next year's test, we won't have to find these evil child predators AFTER they violate an innocent child! Think about how many children will not be raped and murdered!
Sadly, I think that America is heading in this direction. It's a stretch, but with more and more irresponsible parents falling back on sex offender laws and bad publicity for MySpace to protect their kids, we'll make it there eventually, and there's only one thing I'd like for you to think about while we're marching down that path:
Are you willing to entrust your freedom, the one thing that is valuable beyond all other things in existence, to a machine with a wildly unpredictable error rate? Come on, man, think of the CHILDREN here. (After all, who gives a shit about freedom if it means that children might be endangered, right? RIGHT?!)
In closing, here's some pictures of a penile plethysmograph for you to look at and stew over for a bit. Wouldn't you love to wrap your penis in this beast for thirty minutes while looking at suggestive pictures of sexually immature girls in their underpants?
Questions? Comments? E-mail the Offender and let him know what you think!
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