A Tale of Two Images

March 24, 2010

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way
–Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

What would you feel if I told you I was going to show you an image of a naked, crying, terrified, 9-year-old girl, who’d just had something horrible done to her?

What would you feel if I told you I was going to show you an image of a naked, healthy, 9-year-old boy, who appears to be masturbating?

The first image I can show you. It’s at Wikipedia, it won a Pulitzer Prize, it was the World Press Photo of the Year in 1972.

The second image I can’t show you. I don’t have the image, haven’t seen the image, and merely possessing or distributing such an image could land you in a Federal penitentiary for five years since it meets the Federal definition of child pornography. But there’s ample evidence that such images do exist.

The President of NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children), Ernie Allen, says that images of child pornography are “are crime scene photos, images of the sexual abuse of a child. They are contraband, direct evidence of the sexual victimization of a child.”

I’d say the first image, Nick Ut’s famous photo showing the horrors of the Vietnam War is a crime scene photo. It’s evidence of what I would call a war crime or even a crime against humanity–the dropping of napalm on civilians.

I’d like to hear Ernie Allen’s explanation of what crime is being shown in the second image. Is the boy sexually abusing himself? Is it a crime for a nine year old boy to masturbate? I remember fondling myself at age nine and the wonderful tingling sensations it caused. Was I sexually victimizing myself? If so, I didn’t notice it then, and I don’t regret it now.

So why the great disparity in the treatment of these two images? I can think of a lot of reasons, but I don’t think the real reason has anything to do with sexual victimization, or with one or the other or image being a crime scene photo. Maybe, just maybe, the real reason is that a small minority of people actually enjoy looking at photos like the the second photo.

4 Responses to “A Tale of Two Images”

  1. Dee Says:

    The problem with a picture of a little boy maturbating is not in what the boy is doing. The problem is that someone is taking pictures of the act. There is a big difference between an adolescent touching their own body in private and an adolescent in the room with an adult who has coerced them into touching themselves for the purpose of photos to be taken so that people like you can become sexually aroused. Paedophiles such as yourself often say that what you do is harmless because the children YOU are looking at seem to be happy and to be enjoying themselves. This is absurd, and is your way of tricking yourself into thinking that what you are doing isn’t hurting anyone. When an adult coaches and grooms a child to perform sex acts, it is interfering with the natural sexual,sociological, and pshychological development of the child. The author of this blog has basically stated that he was traumatized after law enforcement agents knocked loudly on his door when they came to serve a warrant. Poor baby. Maybe the children in the photos that you like to masturbate to are traumatized from being taken advantage of. Maybe they are afraid of sexual or emotional intimacy as they grown into adulthood. Perhaps they have a difficult time understanding what normal sexuality is about. The photos you speak of are indeed crime scene photos simply because it is illegal to photograph children when they are of a sexual nature. An 8 year old, naked, in a spread eagle position cannot be compared to the photo of the naked, crying child photographed during the Vietnam War. That photo was designed to bring the horror of the war into focus.
    Anyone who becomes sexually aroused from looking at photos of children are paedophiles. It is as simple as that.

    • cpexplosion Says:

      My first reaction to your comment was ‘What planet is she from?’

      Your cliche-filled comment references two of my posts, and confuses me, the author of this blog, with the person who wrote their story and chose the title “A child porn offender, this is my story”. That’s not my story, it’s the story of another person. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were truly confused.

      I don’t know if the children in child porn images appear happy and enjoying themselves or not. Neither I assume do you. It would be great if we could sit down together and look at them and have a serious discussion, but we can’t. Why can’t we? Well, are told that each time a child porn image is viewed the child is somehow re-abused, or some other nonsense like that. Somehow when the police and Ernie Allen see these images the child mysteriously escapes further abuse. It must be magic.

      You’ve focused on one small area of child porn, that involving coercion and actual sex acts. But what is considered child porn is much more expansive. And the government is constantly trying to expand the scope of what is considered child porn. Into stuff like a Grandmother’s photo of “a little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder.” The definition of child porn is already far too broad. I think it should be narrowed. So does Philip Jenkins, as I will point out in my critique of his book.

      I do not, have not, and never will advocate that children should be forced or coerced into making child porn.

      As for your comment that “anyone who becomes sexually aroused from looking at photos of children are paedophiles” I’d say you are flat out wrong.

    • Alison Newton Says:

      Dee, I think you are confused. You are assuming – like many people do – that anything sexual between a child and someone older is harmful and traumatic to the child. For that you need evidence, not just an assertion. There are several independent studies which show that, in many instances, the trauma is caused by what happens when the act is discovered and the adult prosecuted.

      You also assume that the older person must have manipulated the child into that sexual act. Have you met any children? Can you remember your childhood? Please don’t patronise young people by assuming they have no will or desires of their own.

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