Derryn Hinch's Justice Party was recently voted into Australian federal parliament. This came after an election campaign promising to "stand up for what is right and just, no matter the cost." As anyone familiar with media personality and politician Derryn Hinch knows, this means an unwavering dedication to naming convicted paedophiles. Since the mid-80s, Derryn has served several stints in jail for contempt of court, including two weeks of solitary confinement in 2014. Say what you want about Derryn, the guy is tenacious.
So what fuels these beliefs? Derryn's fight against sex offenders is so relentless that much of his maiden speech to the Senate was spent calling out "the human vermin," as he described them. To many the justification for his plight is self evident, but we still thought it was worth asking: why are you so obsessed with paedophiles?
VICE: Hey Derryn, why do you feel so strongly about this particular issue?
Derryn Hinch: It came about in 70s. I was doing an interview with a talkback caller on 3AW, and this woman admitted to being sexually abused as a child. Clumsily, I remember saying, "You can have a successful life. I was molested when I was a child and I got on with my life."
Can you tell me about your experience?
No, but all the magazines picked it up at the time. It's all out there if you want. But this woman was talking about this paedophile priest. I went on air and named him, then received a charge of contempt for court. From there on I became a lightning rod for any victims of sexual abuse as a child.
Do you think you'd care so deeply about this issue if it hadn't affected you personally?
Yes, I do. And after I went to jail, it became even more of a cause for me. Since then, we've also had our "Jail For Justice" walk and had hundreds of people walk with us. That's what became the catalyst for the Justice Party, which we formed only a year ago.
But there are so many important issues out there, some of which likely also affect you. What is it about this one?
Well look, I'm not an anti-paedophile candidate. We went to the election with seven major issues, including voluntary euthanasia, domestic violence, same-sex marriage, and animal cruelty. It may appear that I spend all of my time talking about and fighting paedophiles, but that's just not true.
Sure, but I guess what I'm trying to do is explore how you view paedophiles, to understand what's driving you. Now, there's an argument that these people can't stop themselves, and they are born that way. How do you feel about that?
I can't get inside their heads, but I think that some of them do believe in the expression "child lover" and experience a genuine affection for the child. Maybe they believe that it's what the children want, or that's at least how they justify it. I also think that power comes into it. Insecurities and not being able to handle adult relationships, I don't know. I'm not an expert on that.
So what do you want people who are attracted to children to do? Do you have a message for them?
Just don't act on your impulses.
You don't actually believe these people are inherently evil? It's just a case of self-control?
It can be evil. Michael Glennon was evil. He was the priest I first went to jail over. The stalking, the grooming, and the calculated cunningness of it all is extraordinary. The secrecy and the guilt they put on their victims. "Don't tell mummy, don't tell daddy." You know? I have no compassion for them at all.
But what do you say to those who manage self-control?
If they exhibited complete self-control, then we'd never know about them. They would never be charged and they would have no victims, would they?
I'm wondering more specifically though, can you be angry and disgusted by this mindset if it produces no victims?
If they haven't committed a crime, then they haven't committed a crime. But I would be very surprised if the people that you're hypothetically describing were not involved with child pornography in some manner or form.
Absolutely. I guess I'm trying to establish where you view the line between a crime and a psychological phenomenon.
Well it's not Animal Farm. It's not a crime to think something. To me, that doesn't involve me and doesn't fuss me, because if you're just thinking something, then there's no child being physically hurt. But as soon as you cross the line and you start to act on those thoughts then I'll come after you.
If you're someday remembered as "the Anti-Paedophile Campaigner," how would you feel?
I hope that I'm remembered for a lot more than that, but if that's the case, then that's the case. When I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, all I want on my tombstone are two words which say, "He tried."
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