A self-admitted pedophile has removed from his Web site a family photo of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, his wife and two daughters after receiving a cease and desist order from the presidential candidate's attorney.
Proud pedophile Lindsay Ashford, who runs Puellula Web site based in Panama, said despite the request from Obama attorney Robert F. Bauer, he is keeping up a link to the senator's presidential campaign site, in part because he considers it a tribute.
"I have no intention of removing references to Senator Obama and his family from my website. Whatever anybody thinks of my opinions, they are not defamatory. If anything, my comments are laudatory. Furthermore, my right to express my opinion is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," he wrote in a letter to Bauer.
Ashford's response came after Bauer wrote on behalf of Obama ordering the family photo to be removed.
"The image you use on your Web site is used without the express permission of the copyright owner, and constitutes copyright infringement. Your willful and unauthorized copying of this copyrighted picture subjects you to substantial criminal and civil damages and penalties," Bauer wrote.
Bauer also wrote that Obama's family photo on the site leaves a misimpression among those who would read Ashford's blog.
"Pedophilia — sex with under-age children — is illegal in the United States and many countries of the world. Your inclusion of a pictures associated with Senator Obama personally and Obama for America on your website creates two highly misleading and untrue impressions: first, that Senator Obama and/or Obama for America share your views, and second, that Senator Obama and/or Obama for America have authorized or sponsored your site, or are affiliated or associated with you in any way. Your actions are overtly defamatory of Senator Obama and Obama for America, infringe upon the rights of publicity of Senator Obama and his family, and have the potential to cause serious and irremediable harm.
"Your actions are particularly objectionable — if not outright dangerous — because you have included a picture of Senator Obama's young daughters on a site advocating pedophilia with young girls, heightening the risk they face. This is not simply defamatory, but is a criminal act," Bauer wrote in the letter dated Feb. 26. Calls placed to Obama and Bauer's offices were not immediately returned.
Ashford, who is brazen enough to post his photo on his site along with a long biography that reveals he has a daughter, wrote Bauer to say that pedophilia itself is not the same as child molestation and is not illegal on its face.
"Pedophilia, according to the definition of the American Psychiatric Association is a sexual attraction to children. It does not imply any action whatsoever upon that attraction. ... Whilst I agree that under the laws of many nations, sexual contact with children is illegal, my website does not encourage anybody to break the law. In fact, it clearly discourages illegal activity. It does support using democratic means to encourage dialogue and reconsider such statutes," Ashford wrote.
The APA notes (pdf) that pedophilia is a mental disorder that can be treated with drugs and cognitive-behavioral therapy but prospects for successful treatment and rehabilitation are "guarded." The APA also states that "an adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act and this is never considered normal or socially acceptable behavior."
The site Puellula, the Latin diminutive of girl, is a forum not only for Ashford to describe his fascination with "girllove" and describe himself as "somebody who is physically and romantically attracted to young girls," it offers advice for living as a pedophile and for individuals coping with learning that a partner is a pedophile.
Aside from the adoration of young girls, Ashford also uses the site to rail against the United States, which he calls "the Evil Empire," and post anti-Israel commentary, among other topics.
Ashford apparently first predicted last April that the winner of the 2008 presidential contest would be the person who had the cutest daughters. Writing that an opponent of his wrote the candidates to ask them to take action, no one did anything until last week, when he received the letter from Obama's attorney. Obama entered the presidential race in December.
Ashford said despite the content of his site, he would hope that Obama would appreciate the democratic flavor of his site.
"I certainly hope that Senator Obama would agree that debate and public discourse are important facets of any democratic society, irrespective of how distasteful some may find particular issues," he said.