Disturbing Images

December 29, 2006

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

The case of James Perry has all the signs of a tremendous miscarriage of justice.

  • The defendant, Perry, evokes suspicion: A single, 31-year-old male kindergarten teacher in Oakland County, Michigan.
  • The accusation: The “heinous” crime of forcing two boys, 4 and 5 years old, to perform oral sex on him.
  • Suggestions that Perry’s attorney did a poor job of representing his client.
  • Statements from the boys that were initially conflicting on several points (including the rather key point as to whether the boys were alone or together when the alleged assaults took place) that later coalesced in to a more coherent story after repeated questioning of the boys, over the course of weeks, by their mothers.
  • After Perry’s conviction, information came to light that other teachers, who were never interviewed by the police before the trial, were in the room where the assaults allegedly occurred, at the time the assaults allegedly occurred.

While the information presented above is interesting, and points to a real travesty of justice, it is outside the scope of CP Explosion. No, what really concerns CP Explosion are the photos and videos that the police seized from Perry’s home after his arrest. The prosecutors wanted to show these images to the jury as evidence that Perry was a pedophile, but their request was denied by a judge who deemed the images irrelevant to the case. What was shown in the photos and videos seized from Perry’s home? Certainly not child porn. The photos were mostly of Perry’s half brothers and of Perry’s students at school and on school field trips. Perry was apparently the unofficial photographer for school events and field trips. The videos, and this is where it gets real juicy, were of such children’s staples as The Lion King, Harry Potter, and Little House on the Prairie. The prosecution has stated that the last, Little House on the Prairie, constitutes “non-pornographic erotica” for pedophiles. Better check your collection of old video tapes lest ye too be accused of being a pedophile…

An Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor, Andrea Dean, reportedly described these images as “very disturbing”. I wonder what she would think of the images she would find in my home… I wonder what she would think of the images she would find in your home…

In the Perry case, the prosecution wanted to present innocent photos and videos as evidence of the accused being a pedophile. In cases where a person is charged with possessing child porn, the jury typically doesn’t get to see the images in question. Only the police, prosecutor, and judge are free to leer at those “terrible” images. The jurors instead must rely on evaluations of the images by the investigators. When we have prosecutors labeling Little House on the Prairie as “non-pornographic erotica” and declaring that innocent images are “very disturbing”, it makes me wonder how many baby-in-bathtub photos have been described to juries as child porn…

My source for information about the Perry case was the Detroit Free Press.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn, Sec. 297

The current working definition of child porn in the USA is both absurd and hopelessly vague. I believe that any rational policy for dealing with child porn must incorporate the following principles

  1. If an activity is itself legal, then photos or video of that act, made with the consent of the participants or their legal representatives, must also be legal. One of the great absurdities in the child porn hysteria is the fact that two seventeen year olds can legally have sex with each other, yet if they setup a video camera across the room to record the ‘action’ they have just become child pornographers. Children take baths. Pictures of children taking baths should therefore be legal. See this Salon essay for examples parents being harrassed or arrested for innocent bath tub photos.
  2. If an original photo or video is itself legal, then manipulations or edits of those images must also be legal. The idea that a photo could be legal, but that an edited version of that same photo could be child porn is rediculous, but in the eyes of the government it is true.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. – George Orwell

To have a rational conversation about child porn, it is necessary to understand the different visual materials that can serve those with an erotic interest in children. Some of these materials include

  1. Depictions of children subjected to sadistic abuse, torture, violence, or severe pain.
  2. Depictions of children engaged in anal or vaginal intercourse.
  3. Depictions of children engaged in oral sex or masturbation.
  4. Depictions of children made by children who photograph or film themselves and possibly their peers having sex or masturbating.
  5. Depictions of children combined with the lascivious exhibition of someone’s genitals or pubic area.
  6. Child erotica such as that from child modeling websites, Japanese Junior Idols (e.g., Mayumi Yoshizawa), Brazilian beaches videos, etc.
  7. Pictures and videos featuring nudists or naturists.
  8. Anime variants like Lolicon and Shotacon.
  9. Mainstream products such as children’s toy and clothing catalogs, and bathtub photos from photo sharing sites.

This list is not intended to be comprehensive. It’s merely to give an overview of the enormous range of materials that might interest those who are erotically attracted to children. I hesitated to even include #1 in this list. I wonder if someone who is “aroused” by material such as that described in item 1 is actually erotically attracted to children at all. They may just be sadists who hate children. For now I’ll leave item 1 in the list since occasionally a news report of a child porn bust will describe some of the materials seized as violent or sadistic. Of course, the story writer is only repeating what the law enforcement agency told him, as he would never be allowed to actually see that material that was seized.

Items 1-5 clearly fall into the definition of child porn under U.S. Code Title 18 ยง 2256. Item 6 is a gray area that while generally legal, has occasionally been the subject of prosecutions in the USA. A number of “news” organizations (MSNBC) have taken to calling these materials “legal child porn”. Items 7-9 are almost always legal in the USA, though that hasn’t stopped a few idiotic local prosecutors from harassing innocent citizens over these materials.

The $20 Billion Lie

December 5, 2006

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

It’s nice to start on a positive note. One of the most absurd numerical figures ever floated in the child porn discussion was the idea that child porn amounted to a $20 billion business. Yes, $20 billion is such an easy figure to throw around… it’s nice and round… and totally bogus.

Imagine if the market for Child porn really was $20 billion. That might break down as one million customers each spending $20,000 per year on child porn… that’s a lot of wealthy customers. It could be ten million customers each spending $2,000 per year. That’s still a lot of people with a lot of money to spare. Well, it could be one hundred million customers each averaging $200 per year on child porn. That’s a more realistic dollar figure, but also a whole lot of people interested in child porn… If that’s not enough, as recently as March 2006, The Christian Science Monitor was quoting Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as saying the child porn was a $20 to $30 billion business and that the use of child porn was “absolutely exploding”.

Finally, in April, 2006, two writers who actually seem to care about practicing journalism, Daniel Radosh and The Wall Street Journal’s Carl Bialik, looked into the source of the $20 billion figure. Both these articles provide a refreshing antidote to the otherwise pathetic state of journalism when the topic is child porn. The trail of the $20 billion figure leads to the NCMEC, then to a consulting firm McKinsey & Co, then to the FBI. When questioned on this, however, an FBI spokesman replied that, “the FBI has not stated the $20 billion figure.”

At the same time Radosh and Bialik were following the dead-end trail of the $20 billion figure, Representative Joe Barton, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce was stating here that, “child pornography is apparently a multibillion, my staff analysis says $20 billion-a-year business.” One is led to wonder exactly what type of “analysis” Rep. Barton’s staff performed to arrive at that figure… Perhaps his staff’s idea of analysis consists of parroting the same unsubstantiated figures that everyone else was reporting… some “analysis” that is.

Even though the $20 billion figure was thoroughly discredited in April, 2006, fully five months later, on September 19, 2006, U.S. Senator Wayne Allard saw fit to issue a press release tooting his own horn and noting that, “child pornography is a $20 billion industry worldwide”. Senator Allard issued more that 40 press releases in September 2006 alone. Perhaps Senator Allard’s constituents (and the truth) would be better served if Allard’s staff dedicated more time to verifying the accuracy of his press releases, and less time cranking out mindless drivel.

I wonder how many more lies we are being fed by those with a vested interest in exaggerating the child pornography “problem”.