Suffer Little Children

This letter, written in the aftermath of the suicide of Ryan Loskarn, Lamar Alexander’s CoS who was arrested on child pornography charges, is just heart-wrenching.

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63 replies
  1. 1
    Pogonip says:

    Tragic all around.

  2. 2
    eric says:

    is there any evidence that he touched a minor?

  3. 3
    Big R says:

    I’ve read about a phenomenon Dan Savage calls “Gold Star Pedophiles” – which are defined more or less as “people who experience sexual attraction to children, but who a) do not consume child pornography of any sort; b) make it a point not to interact with children at any time, supervised or unsupervised; and c) therefore prevent their urges from ever being acted upon and thereby causing harm to a child.” I don’t know if such people even exist; nor if there’s any sort of moral congratulations or condemnation to be offered to them if they do. Savage makes the point that people don’t have a lot of control over what type of person they’re attracted to (which is basically the argument behind referring to one’s sexual “orientation” as opposed to “preference”), and so those who are burdened with a body or mind that is attracted to children, but who exercise the control necessary to prevent that attraction from ever harming a child, are, to his mind, to be commended.

    There’s always someone who gets left on the outside. Good on Loskarn for seeing that he was a) a victim and b) a perpetrator. The two are not mutually exclusive. “Unfortunate” seems like such an inadequate word to describe someone who was so horrified by what had been done to him and for him that he had to kill himself, but it’s the only one I’ve got that doesn’t either minimize his guilt or his victimhood.

    My thoughts, to the extent that they can go beyond what’s right in front of me, go out to his family and friends tonight.

  4. 4
    Big R says:

    @eric: Why does that matter?

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    Perhaps if he hadn’t been a Republican, he could have gotten therapy.

    The letter brings up every one of their stupid slogans: how we are supposed to just “man up” and let it “make us stronger” and all that crap.

    It’s sick on many levels. He was crying out for help!

  6. 6
    eric says:

    @Big R: it does as to how i view him. looking at the pictures and fighting the remaining urges is different than giving in to all of them. it is not a victimless crime because consume this sort of pron means you have victims. still would be different to me

  7. 7
    🎂 Martin says:


    Perhaps if he hadn’t been a Republican, he could have gotten therapy.

    This. He failed his own ideology, as so many others do. But of course, the ideology isn’t to blame. It’s never to blame.

  8. 8
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    We need to let all Republicans know about the gateway danger of music piracy.

  9. 9
    Aimai says:

    Im horribly sorry for him, victimized, revictimized, shamed, and then behaving himself as an abuser by consuming the abuse of others.

  10. 10
    greennotGreen says:

    I heard an interview once (maybe it was on NPR, maybe it was a TV movie) in which a convicted child molester said, “I have a demon for a sexual preference.” So, no, Loskarn wasn’t a monster; he was someone who lost his fight with his monster.

    And yes, Werebear, if he had been the kind of person who had been a Democrat, he probably also would have been the kind of person who would have sought help.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    From his letter:

    In my life, I had only ever mentioned the abuse to three friends, and then fleetingly so. I never spoke to a mental health professional about this or any other matter until I was in the D.C. jail. I talked with a counselor there about my crime and the horrible hurt I had caused so many people. I didn’t talk to him about my past. I didn’t think it mattered because I intended to kill myself as soon as possible.

    Never sought help. Never got help. Tragic.

  12. 12
    Original Lee says:

    Wow. One of the points emphasized in child abuse prevention training is that abusers were frequently abused when younger. Unfortunate is such a mild word for what happened with Loskarn. Access to mental health resources without shame or condemnation is so essential to helping people like him, and he was embedded in a culture that denigrates seeing a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Maybe some fixes will come out of this sad situation.

  13. 13
    efgoldman says:

    @Original Lee:

    Maybe some fixes will come out of this sad situation.

    And maybe more sensible gun laws will come out of Virginia Tech…. Newtown… Gaby Giffords… aaah shit, never mind.

  14. 14
    JGabriel says:


    The State of the Union, at 9:00 pm EST, will be streamed live at:

    Also at CSPAN:

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Soonergrunt says:

    To his credit, he did not shy away from his own culpability.
    This whole mess is a terrible thing.

  17. 17
    jl says:

    Silly question, but will his GOPer associates think a bit about the letter, or just call him a bad apple and an evil doer, or just drop the episode into a bottomless pit? Or utter some empty pieties about it being in God’s hands now?

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Alas, this.

    The madness will never stop, because “it can’t happen to me!”

  19. 19
    Desert Rat says:

    Boo-fucking-hoo. Cry me a river. I was sexually abused as a child. It didn’t make me attracted to kiddie porn. I feel for his family. But FUCK HIM.

  20. 20
    BethanyAnne says:

    More and more I think back on something Hilzoy wrote several years ago. IIRC, someone asked why she was so decent to conservatives. And she said that she strived to extend to everyone more compassion than they deserved. Because, she said, she knew if she had to make it in this world on only the amount of compassion that she had earned, she’d never make it.

    I would like to be good enough to strive for that one day.

  21. 21
    efgoldman says:


    just call him a bad apple and an evil doer, or just drop the episode into a bottomless pit?

    One of these. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

  22. 22

    As a victim of childhood sexual and physical abuse, let me congratulate Mr. Loskarn on finally getting his gold star. I am glad others here can look on this situation with more compassion than I, truly, but I can only recommend to other pedophiles that they get their gold star the same way Mr. Loskarn earned his.

    And the sooner, the better. Don’t wait for us to find you out. Don’t outsource your pain to any other victims, live or Memorex, before you go for the gold. Don’t let the sun rise on your disease. You will make the world a better place for not passing it on to the future. Leave a note like Mr. Loskarn did so we know why. Suicide causes a lot of grief, but if that’s the extent of the grief you leave behind, I’ll sing at your funeral.

  23. 23
    Liberty60 says:


    will his GOPer associates think a bit about the letter, or just call him a bad apple and an evil doer, or just drop the episode into a bottomless pit? Or utter some empty pieties about it being in God’s hands now?

    If past performance is any predictor of future results, smart money says the GOP will do all three: (“bad apple”,an evildoer in their midst, flush down the memory hole), but not before muttering about how the gheys are somehow to blame (ref. RCC pedophile scandal).

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    @Desert Rat: I agree with you but not sure that makes me a better person. I just wasn’t sympathetic that he continued down the same path.

  25. 25
    SatanicPanic says:

    Wow, that was brutal

  26. 26
    sherparick says:

    “Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.” Mephistohles, Act 1, Scene 3, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe. It is so sad that he saw himself as irredeemable.

  27. 27
    pat says:

    Am I missing something? Was he an abuser or was he looking at child p whatever. There is a clear difference in my mind…

  28. 28
    Lolis says:


    I have a close friend who is a Democrat and was sexually abused by his grandfather as a child. I have known him over 13 years and he just told me in August. He told his mother and she told his father. He was not believed by the father and the mother just went along. He has never told a counselor even though he has had severe psychological problems. I have worried about him doing this kind of thing. He was a teacher and is now a high school counselor. He has contact with hundreds of kids per year. The refusal to get help is what scares me. It has nothing to do with political party.

  29. 29
    jl says:

    @pat: As far as I know, he was accused of watching c h * l d p r 0 n. Edit: and was not accused of molesting anyone.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    I can’t read it yet because I’m still at work, but I’m going to make a few predictions: conservative Christian family, always taught to obey adults no matter what, couldn’t talk to anyone about what had happened because He Had Sinned (and probably was afraid he’d caught Teh Ghey into the bargain).

    There’s probably no studies on this, but I’d be really curious to find out if the abused kids who go on to become abusers themselves ever received treatment for the initial abuse. My pulling-it-out-of-my-ass guess would be not, and that developing pedophilia is how their brains cope with having been abused, but I honestly don’t know if it’s been studied.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:


    Here’s the thing, though: if he was looking at actual kiddie pron and not just, I dunno, whacking off to the kids in the Toys R Us catalog, then he was indirectly participating in (and facilitating) their abuse. So morally he’s just as guilty for (indirectly) outsourcing it to others to do for him.

  32. 32
    BethanyAnne says:

    One of my ex’s was abused by her older brother. When, as an adult, she finally managed to tell her parents, her dad said “You need to learn to forgive him like I have, because that is the Christian thing to do.” That was his *first* fucking response.

    My offer to give said father more exercise in forgiveness, perhaps on a more personal level, wasn’t seen as helpful.

  33. 33
    gene108 says:


    The refusal to get help… has nothing to do with political party.

    Well said.

  34. 34

    @JGabriel: MSM is bored with the Obama Presidency, they want to cover the next horse race. They don’t like him, at all.

  35. 35
    greennotGreen says:

    @Lolis: I don’t mean to say that all Democrats would get help, and no Republicans would. I mean that generally Democrats are less judgmental, and that includes of themselves, and that therefore such a person might be more likely to admit the problem and seek help. I have no data to back that up.

  36. 36
    Karen in GA says:

    Sorry to ask this, because I know it’ll make me sound like a poor man’s birther or something, but are we sure he really wrote this?

    (Ugh. It’s like I’m asking “where’s the real suicide note” — does that make me a deather?)

  37. 37
    Thomas F says:

    @Mnemosyne: None of what you predicted is reflected in that article or anything about his upbringing. Sounds like you’re simply projecting your personal and political insecurities onto a strawman. Quite educating to watch live.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:


    It doesn’t have much to do with political party, but it can become really endemic in conservative religious communities where children are expected to obey adults — any adult — without question. There have been some really horrifying stories from Orthodox Jewish communities in New York where young boys were being abused by a rabbi and the families that tried to report it were shunned by everyone else.

    I do think that a huge amount of damage is done not just by the abuse itself, but when family members deny it or try to cover it up or, worst of all, are complicit in it. You can eventually work through the abuse itself, but the scars of being called a liar or being told to doubt your own experience hang on for a long time.

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    @greennotGreen: It’s that Republicans come right out and disparage any kind of mental help, or understanding. Insight, self-reflection, self-awareness; they regard it all as wimpy liberal mollycoddling.

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Thomas F:

    Oh, look, the troll is trying to talk to me. Hello, little troll.

    So, since I can’t read the article yet, why don’t you explain to me what his background was. Liberal hippie atheist parents? Lived in a commune?

    ETA: I can’t imagine what would make me think of conservative religious backgrounds and abuse. Everyone knows that never happens, especially in places like the Catholic Church, right?

  41. 41
    cynn says:

    I don’t think you mean “written in the aftermath”.

  42. 42
    Elizabelle says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    And we don’t like them. (MSM)

    Re the late Mr. Roskarn’s letter: suspect it’s equal parts heartbreaking and comforting to his family and loved ones. It was written by the fine and perceptive person they knew, and will forever miss.

    No one is ever just the most vile thing they have ever done, and it’s best to remember that, and wish him some peace. Tragedy begetting tragedy.

    It’s an eloquent letter, far more than anyone ever wrote in penitence for starting an insane war that killed thousands upon thousands in recent memory in this country.

    Maybe his letter will spur someone else to seek counseling. (Which, hopefully, Obamacare will make more accessible.)

    He hung himself while confined to his parents’ home. His family found him. What else do you want?

  43. 43
    ellennelle says:

    @Desert Rat:

    interesting response, d.rat; you managed to make yourself even more despicable than he felt.

  44. 44
    greennotGreen says:

    @ellennelle: I suspect D. rat is speaking out of his or her own pain. There’s a lot of tragedy to go around.

  45. 45
    WaterGirl says:

    @ellennelle: Judging someone who has gone through something like this doesn’t appear to be a shining moment in your life.

  46. 46
    geg6 says:


    Why? The pron he indulged in was a product of child abuse. No child abuse, no child pron. Sorry, but he was a predator just like any other. It’s sad that he was abused himself but he had a choice as to whether to perpetuate the crime. He chose wrong.

    I don’t understand how anyone sees any difference between child sexual abuse and child pron.

  47. 47
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Joseph Nobles: From the letter it isn’t clear that he *was* a pedophile. He says that he found chil pr0n accidentally and was drawn to it because he couldn’t stop imagining himself in the position of the child. Based on what he writes there isn’t any desire to do anything at all to children. His problem was that he couldn’t stop being one.

    I have no idea how accurate Loskarn’s self-assessment was or how honest he is in the letter. There are all sorts of ways that he could have lied either to himself, to us or both. But taking his words on their own merit how someone can read that and feel nothing but condemnation is beyond me.

    It’s sad and horrible but, again, based upon what he wrote I feel compassion for him. And deciding that the proper response is to blame his ideology is repulsive, particularly for a group that is usually hypersensitive to blaming the victim.

  48. 48
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @WaterGirl: The funny thing is that your statement applies just as much to the comment she was responding to as her own.

  49. 49
    ET says:

    Still the cowards way out no matter how nicely written.

    I have a coworker who was convicted of possession of child porn and sentenced to 10 years and he didn’t kill himself. This overprivledged but damaged man took the easy way out. He hurt his family twice. My sympathy for the boy he was doesn’t extend so far to the man who caved to his deamons.

  50. 50
    WereBear says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): It’s sad and horrible but, again, based upon what he wrote I feel compassion for him. And deciding that the proper response is to blame his ideology is repulsive, particularly for a group that is usually hypersensitive to blaming the victim.

    I can blame Republicans for promulgating the indefensible stance that no one should seek mental counseling. And I do.

  51. 51
    Keith G says:

    @Desert Rat: Good for you and so what? Humans respond to all manner of both good and bad differently. There are so many variables that separate one from another.

    As a society, we seem to be so interested in punishing crime of all sorts that we are easily distracted from the honorable deed of helping to intervene with those damaged neighbors who are often the more statistically likely to injure others. I am glad for your self assurance. I wish for the Ryan Loskarns among our neighbors a way to find help the addresses their damage.

  52. 52
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @WereBear: Your first post could be best described as “tone deaf”.

  53. 53
    greennotGreen says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I can’t speak for others, but I’m not blaming his ideology. What I’m saying is that the same things that caused him to be a conservative may have inhibited him from seeking help. See research that suggests conservatives are more fearful than liberals. Perhaps that fear was caused by his early sexual abuse that changed the way his brain developed. Saying that conservatives are more fearful should not be interpreted to mean that every conservative is more fearful than every liberal, or that no conservative would seek help for mental health issues and every liberal would.

  54. 54
    Keith G says:

    @WaterGirl: Rat has put his opinions out on a public forum for evaluation. Along with them are his motivations for them. Ellennelle did nothing out of bounds.

  55. 55
    WaterGirl says:

    @Keith G: Rat Ellennelle has put his her opinions out on a public forum for evaluation. Ellennelle WaterGIrl did nothing out of bounds.

  56. 56
    WereBear says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Why?

    We have a lot better track record helping five year olds with such problems than we do for forty five year olds. What’s wrong with identifying counter-productive mental patterns?

    I feel for the five year old, dammit.

  57. 57
    Keith G says:

    @WaterGirl: Except be redundant/derivative

  58. 58
  59. 59
    gian says:


    this is a common enough thought, and is a distinction that does matter.
    However, child porn is something that people often under-think the horrors of.

    think of a video of a three year old crying in shock, terror, and lack of understanding while being raped. It’s the kind of thing that gives nightmares to the cops juries and lawyers who end up having to see it. yeah there’s stuff less horrific than that, but

    that’s child porn. Not when some parent thinks the two year old looks so cute with the rubber ducky in the tub and snaps a photo. It’s also not some 17 year old with a fake ID who poses for playboy

    I think the media kinda glosses over just how graphic the stuff is, because describing it induces something in between murderous rage and projectile vomiting.
    Basically if there’s something willing adults have filmed, someone has forced a little kid to do it and filmed it.

    as for the suicide, I wish he’d gotten treatment when a kid, and the treatment worked. being a market for child porn is like being a market for the products of the Mexican drug cartels. your purchase of whatever in some small way has helped finance an atrocity.

  60. 60
    Aimai says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): he borh bought and circulated it. If hed kept to the level of personal fantasy he would not have been caught.

  61. 61
    JenJen says:

    “I didn’t think it mattered because I intended to kill myself as soon as possible.”

    That just rips my heart out. If you’ve ever been affected by suicide, it probably ripped you up too, just thinking back to those final conversations where only one of you knew what the future held.

  62. 62
    JR in WV says:

    I was part of a grand jury that handled child abuse and child porn cases – in one there were photos of the perp’s own child. In another a young man would take mentally deficient young girls into the nearby woods to have sex with them. He seemed to be a sociopath, he was in jail and looked to stay there.

    I had been on petit juries for capital murder cases which took weeks. The grand jury was one long day with a couple dozen cases. It was terrible actually. I couldn’t look at all the pictures in evidence, after about a dozen I had seen too many and passed the evidence pack to the next juror.

    Terrible. I don’t know how the authorities deal with it for most of a career.

  63. 63
    RodeoBob says:

    Reading that letter is morbidly fascinating. It keeps leaning towards self-awareness before awkwardly lurching away.

    Loskarn was a victim, but it was utterly intolerable for him to identify as a victim. He suffered as a powerless 5-year-old, and in response, sought to avoid feelings of powerlessness at any cost. Over & over in the letter you can see the themes of control and power. Unable to prevent the memories of abuse, he began to re-imagine the abuse as consensual in order to create the sense of control.

    In that light, it’s not surprising he choose to kill himself. Being powerless and being unable to control what happens next are things he associated with his abuse. Being arrested, having information about his past revealed and having people react to him based on that, facing imprisonment, all fed into feelings of powerlessness. And suicide attempts can be (in part) an effort to exert control over one’s life.

    He was a victim, and his upbringing and culture so stigmatized asking for help as being “weak” or “unable to control yourself” that on some level he likely associated the very help he needed with the abuse he suffered.

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