Writing in the L.A. Times, Rosa Brooks considers infant beauty pageants, JonBenet's corpse, and John Mark Karr's confession, and fingers the real culprit: Hello Kitty.

In a culture in which the sexualization of childhood is big business -- mainstream mega-corporations such as Disney earn billions by marketing sexy products to children too young to understand their significance -- is it any wonder that pedophiles feel emboldened to claim that they shouldn't be ostracized for wanting sex with children? On an Internet bulletin board, one self-avowed "girl lover" offered a critique of this week's New York Times series on pedophilia: "They fail, of course, to mention the hypocrisy of Hollywood selling little girls to millions of people in a highly sexualized way." I hate to say it, but the pedophiles have a point here....

We should worry a whole lot more about good old-fashioned American capitalism, which is busy serving our children up to pedophiles on a corporate platter.

Brooks manages to make her point sound far more absurd than it actually is, and she can't be faulted for consistency. The author apparently can't stop herself from buying her daughter a "Hello Kitty makeup kit" she deems sexualizing, so how can we expect pedophiles not to respond to New York Minute by going a little Humbert Humbert on us?

There may well be something disturbing (though presumably not pedophilia-inducing) about mini-makeup kits and Teen Barbie (Math class is tough!). But to suggest that the girl-aspires-to-sex-object concept is new -- generated by corporations rather than culture -- seems contrary to, say, human history. Disney doesn't invent most of the storylines it sells; it just repackages and bowdlerizes myths. Reading Brooks, you get the impression that before Hello Kitty came along, all 6-year-old girls spent their time wrapped in burqas and buried in math workbooks.