I was a boy, and I was sexually abused in my family from the age of 11 or 12 to nearly 20. As a result, I might have a different perspective on how we should deal with abusers.
Zero tolerance, as expressed in most law, is an attempt by well-meaning legislators to capture that rarity which is the full-on pedophile. In that sense I say go for it and get those people into some kind of treatment.
The problem arises in that as disgusting as kiddy porn is, it's an after-the-fact response, sometimes years or decades after. By then it's far too late to help the child in question.
Then, of course, there's nations like Thailand who nod and wink as organized child abuse is traded on to increase tourist traffic. I don't buy for an instant that authorities in Thailand don't know who is running and controlling this appalling business or are completely unable to do anything about it. Mind you, it does draw true pedophiles as well as those who have fantasies. (And no, I don't understand what might cause those fantasies but as long as they aren't acted on I see no need to hunt those people down.)
The problem, as I said, with kiddie porn is that a response to it is after-the-fact rather than preventative.
As I said in my previous post, most abusers were abused themselves as children and come from within the circle of trusted adults and then, most often, from parents. To attack this head-on means exploding the myth of the nuclear family as some sort of perfect construction for the making and raising of children. In the United States and, to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe, this is well-ingrained and very well-defended.
Of course, there are professions that DO attract pedophiles and those who are in danger of repeating what happened to them. In no particular order they tend to be caring professions such as medicine, teaching, the clergy, therapists, police, coaching and, well, I'll let the reader complete the list. Any profession or trade that brings the pedophile in to near-constant contact with children where they can establish a trusted and trusting relationship with the child and its parents.
Each profession closes ranks around offenders, or has a history of that. The most obvious, for now, being the Roman Catholic Church. They're far from the only ones, though.
And each of these professions is surrounded by a mythology all their own, created by Hollywood or by themselves as wonderful, caring people who genuinely want to help their young charges and in the vast majority of cases they are. But amongst the angels there are devils.
So it means attacking the unattackable symbols of our society/civilization and I don't know of a single politician willing to take that one on.
Sending someone with a few pictures of child porn on their hard drive to jail for 10 years is akin to sending someone to the same jail for 10 years because they have an ounce or two of pot in their possession. In the former you aren't, in all likelihood, busting a true pedophile just as much as in the latter you haven't busted a dealer.
What abusers like my father needed and still need, and this is potential and actual abusers of both genders, is caring, non-judgmental treatment for exactly the reason I stated. They are very likely to be victims of abuse themselves and know no other way of expressing great affection. Jail isn't the place for that.
The true pedophile, on the other hand, really ought to be locked away in the same place we put psychopaths and sociopaths because they're another chip off of that self same block.
And then, we ourselves, need to look on those at the lower ends of society's rungs as what they most often are the outer grown up shell of shattered children who never, ever chose the life they now lead.