I decided to make this page after realizing that I'm quite fortunate to be a normal heterosexual male. Just think... what if I were gay? I'd have to worry about discrimination from most Christians, the KKK, neo-Nazis, Muslims, and a bunch of other groups, and I'd have to deal with the high rate of HIV infection in the gay community. Quite bad to be sure, but being gay is nothing compared to being a pedophile.
I don't know any pedophiles nor have I had any conversations with them, so the following thoughts are all based on my common sense.
When the average person hears "pedophile", they think of a man who sexually abuses or molests children. This is because the only time we ever hear of pedophiles is when they're mentioned in the media and they've done something horrible to a child. The impression people get is that all pedophiles are unethical, bad people who sexually abuse children. I don't think that's correct and I'll explain why, but first let's define the term:
pedophile: (noun) 1. An adult who is sexually attracted to children.
Note that the definition says nothing about actually doing anything. That means pedophiles can be divided into two groups: Virtuous and unethical.
Unethical pedophiles leave little room for debate. They act on their desires and end up raping or sexually abusing children. They are a parent's worst nightmare. In my opinion, they should be quarantined from society via incarceration or possibly even killed depending on the severity of their crime.
Virtuous pedophiles are people who understand that sexual contact with a child may emotionally traumatize that child for life. For this reason, they live out their entire lives without ever sexually touching a child. They certainly want to, but because they're moral people, they don't. If a virtuous pedophile were to publicly confess to being what he is, most people would want him locked up even though he did nothing wrong. Most people would say "Eventually he'll molest a child, it's only a matter of time. Let's put him away now while we have the chance!"
I disagree. An virtuous heterosexual man will not "eventually" rape a woman, no matter how badly he wants to have sex. Why? Because he understands that rape is immoral and no amount of horniness will change that. Similarly, a virtuous pedophile will not eventually molest a child because he understands that it is immoral. Such a pedophile is not a bad person. He's no more of a threat to children than a virtuous heterosexual man is a threat to women.
The average person condemns all pedophiles, but condemning someone merely for wanting something is not rational because we generally can't control what we want. Our brains are wired to cause sexual arousal when we see whatever it is that turns us on. We can only choose whether to act or not act on our sexual urges, but we certainly can't choose what sexual urges to have.
Edit April 22, 2012: I initially wrote on this page that virtuous pedophiles must go through life without ever being sexually satisfied, but I received an email from a pedophile who said that this is not necessarily the case. You can read his email here. I agree with his reasons. Note that the definition of "pedophile" does not say "An adult who is only sexually attracted to children." This means it's possible for a pedophile to be attracted to both children and adults. Such ethical pedophiles obviously never act on their attraction to children, but they certainly do get satisfied from sexual activity with other consenting adults.
Closing Notes: Some people can't imagine why I would defend a group of individuals unless I was part of that group. For example, if I support gay rights, they think it's because I'm gay. If I support drug legalization, they assume it's because I want to do drugs. If I argue in favor of legalizing prostitution, they assume it's because I want a prostitute. The reason they assume these things is because they themselves are selfish, narrow-minded people who only defend things they like. They cannot imagine defending something on pure principle. The problem is, they assume everyone thinks just as they do. If I say "Not all pedophiles are bad" they immediately assume that I am one. "You wouldn't be defending pedophiles unless you were one yourself!"
I sincerely hope that you, the reader, are not one of the aforementioned people.