The Big Lie

January 22, 2007

All this was inspired by the principle – which is quite true in itself – that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes. – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (James Murphy translation, page 134)

The law enforcement agencies responsible for “fighting” child porn seem to have taken ol’ Adolf’s words to heart. Some of the biggest lies coming from the government and law enforcement today concern child porn. I suspect that only the “war on terror” generates more examples of the Big Lie than the war on child porn.

I’ll first cite a few examples of the Big Lie in use, then I’ll try to state it succinctly.

Example #1

In Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis, 4th edition, by Kenneth V. Lanning, Former Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI, we get this statement: “Child pornography, by itself, represents an act of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child and, by itself, does harm to that child.”

Example #2

On November 8, 2006, The Penn State Daily Collegian quoted Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira as saying about child porn, “what we are trying to get people to understand is that when you possess these pictures, you are abusing children.”

Example #3

On September 29, 2006, The Buffalo News ran a story “12 men face federal child porn charges”. (This story is now only available in their paid archive, which is no loss since the story had little redeeming value anyway.) The story contained the following paragraph:

U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn said Internet child pornography is a continuing act of child abuse committed by those who not only produce the images but also possess and exchange them. “[The children] are being abused time and time and time again because the picture is not destroyed,” he said.

Example #4

From the website of a Toronto TV station, we get the following snippets:

He sexually abused the young girl for years and took photos which are still being exchanged on the Internet…

“The absolute worse thing about everything that happened to me was that Matthew put my pictures on the Internet. He traded them with other people like baseball cards,” Allen’s statement read.

The young girl added that her “virtual abuse” will not end because the images are available online.

The “Allen” referred to is Masha Allen, and I do not in anyway condone what her so called “father” did to her. I hope to say more on Masha’s situation in a future post.

OK, I can see how someone just skimming these stories or only half paying attention to the evening news could think these statements were reasonable and plausible. But with deeper examination it’s clear that these statements fall somewhere between utterly ridiculous and absolutely false.

The Big Lie:

All child pornography documents the sexual abuse and exploitation of a child. Viewing child pornography, or even possessing child pornography, is tantamount to committing the abuse yourself. The abuse of the child continues each time the images are viewed or exchanged. Indeed, children are now being harmed by “virtual” abuse.


Mr. Lanning seems to be saying that the mere existence of child porn indicates that a child has been sexually abused or exploited. Remember, he writes, “child pornography, by itself, represents an act of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child and, by itself, does harm to that child”. Well, in the USA, any sexually explicit image of a person under 18 years of age is legally child porn. Consider this: Two 17-year-olds decide to partake in oral sex. The sex is consensual, and both enjoy the experience. In fact, during their fun, these two 17-year-olds had the audacity to place a camcorder on a nearby table to record the action for posterity. The tape, clearly showing sexually explicit activity by 17-year-olds, is unquestionably child porn. While the average parent probably wishes that their 17-year-old would refrain from such activity, how many parents would say that their 17-year-old son, having participated in this activity, was sexual abused or exploited? How many parents would say that their 17-year-old son, having participated in this activity, has sexual abused or exploited his partner? How many parents would want their 17-year-old son, having participated in this activity, to go to prison as a child pornographer?

I’d like to ask Mr. Madeira the following: If some Trojan or spyware is secretly downloading child porn to my computer, am I still abusing the children in those pictures? You said, Mr. Madeira, “…when you possess these pictures, you are abusing children.” Mr. Madeira, how can law enforcement agencies justify the retention (i.e., the possession) of child porn images given that such retention constitutes the abuse of children?

Mr. Flynn, are there any peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that children are aware of and suffer abuse each time someone looks at or exchanges an image of child porn? If what you say is true, it would appear to provide near-conclusive evidence that extrasensory perception is in fact real. Furthermore, Mr. Flynn, has the FBI (or any other law enforcement agency) studied the harm that is done to the children depicted in child porn when law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and judges view the “evidence” in child porn prosecutions? Could it be that less harm would be done if we simply did not prosecute child porn cases and thus could avoid all those extra sets of eyes gawking at the child porn and thus abusing the children yet again?

Finally, if I understand this correctly, Ms. Allen is still being “virtually abused” because images of her are still available. Now I’m wondering if all images of holocaust victims should be destroyed in order to end the “virtual genocide” that apparently continues to this very day.


We in the United States (along with much of the Western world) have lost our collective minds concerning the subject of child porn. The blind acceptance of government and law enforcement rhetoric, no matter how ridiculous and unsubstantiated it is, smacks more of McCarthyism, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials than of a democracy where free thought and debate are the rule.