A writer for The Atlantic, Megan McArdle, did a piece on non-offending pedophiles. She dragged child porn into the piece, and demonstrates a limited and simplistic understanding of the subject, stating “because the man who purchases child pornography is encouraging its manufacture”. The unstated premise of that statement is that child porn is typically purchased, which is completely unsubstantiated.

In a brief follow up, she publishes an e-mail she received from an anonymous prosecutor. Part of the prosecutor’s e-mail says:

I have seen a good number of men go to prison for child pornography that is found on their computers, and I must say that I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. During my first few years as a prosecutor I wanted them locked up for as long as possible for two obvious reasons: first, they may very likely act out on their desires and victimize a child (who will of course be likely to victimize another child when they reach adult age). Second, as a way to deter the manufacturing of child pornography by removing the possible market. I’ve come to realize that the second reason is about as hopeless as thinking that by locking up drug users I can stop drug dealers. The market will always be there.

The prosecutor’s first reason is really outside the scope of CP Explosion, so I’ll only say that I’m unaware of any study purporting to show a link between child porn viewing and sexual crimes against children that isn’t crippled by sample bias. The second reason though is eerily reminiscent of the position held by LEAP regarding drugs.

There are no scientific studies I’m aware of, but all the anecdotal evidence suggests that no “penalty” will discourage people from seeking out child porn. A combination of factors including long prison sentences, extreme ostracism, and a feeling that there’s little hope of even getting a fair trail if accused have completely failed to deter people from seeking out child porn. I don’t think that even implementing capital punishment for child porn possession would make more than a minor impact on the child porn trade. The use of the term “trade” rather than “market” is intentional and almost certainly more accurate.

Stasi Officer: “Sit Down. Hands under your thighs, palms down. What do you have to tell us?”
East Germany citizen: “I’ve done nothing. I know nothing.”
Stasi Officer: “You’ve done nothing, know nothing… You think we imprison people on a whim?”
East German citizen: “No…”
Stasi Officer: “If you think our humanistic system capable of such a thing, that alone would justify your arrest.”
-The opening scene of The Lives of Others

One of my passions is film. I especially enjoy Indie and Arthouse films, and also old European classics. In the past year I’ve seen many films that would be a little interest to the average American moviegoer. But two of the films I’ve seen are surprisingly relevant to the media discussion of child porn. The first being Pier Giuseppe Murgia’s 1977 film Spielen wir Liebe (aka Maladolescenza, aka Adolescent Malice) and the other Dusan Makavejev’s 1974 film Sweet Movie.

Spielen wir Liebe has a cast of just three, Laura Wendel, Eva Ionesco, and Martin Loeb. The cast members would have been about 13, 13, and 18 years old respectively when the film was released. One review of Spielen wir Liebe begins

Children aren’t always as innocent as they seem if Maladolescenza is anything to go by, in many ways a discomforting drama from 1977 that undoubtedly has to be among the most controversial and scandalous movies ever to come out of Italy. With a cast consisting of no more than three it takes the form of a tense chamber play whose plot is played out in a pictorial forest where the two adolescents Fabrizio (Martin Loeb) and Laura (Lara Wendel) are meeting every day in their summer holidays – just like they’ve been doing for the past few years. Laura is deeply in love with the somewhat older Fabrizio, even though he constantly makes fun of and teases her with it. He wouldn’t, however, mind sleeping with her but she’s not ready to go all the way like he wants her to. Enter the chilly, pretty Sylvia (Eva Ionesco) – a little, manipulative blonde and quite a bit of a seductress. She doesn’t hesitate to seduce the lustful Fabrizio with her willingness and easily manages to twist him around her little finger, which ignites a cruel ménage à trois with a dramatic and fatal outcome.

Sweet Movie comes second only to Salo as the most visually shocking film I’ve ever seen. A reviewer at the IMDB says

First reaction to this challenging and astonishing film might be to pronounce it depraved or that the director is but then there is no suggestion that one will come away from this unique film a less moral person and so the accusation fails. Certainly I would like to think that for everybody there will be at least some part of this they find hard to take, indeed I don’t think I would like to sit too closely to anyone who lapped up every frame. Excess of all kind on display here plus a really difficult striptease among young children. And yet, I think despite some of the more flip and seeming silliness, Makavejev is screaming out for the individual to rediscover his private and public freedom. The Soviet Union comes in for most of the kicking, but then why wouldn’t it in 1974 when they were still presiding over the director’s birthplace and still denying the massacre of Poles so distressingly shown in original b/w footage.

These are serious films, enjoyed by aficionados who see film as art, who see film as a vehicle for social change, who see film as a means to strike out at those responsible for repression and injustice. These are not chick-flicks. These are not films you screen for your significant other on Valentine’s Day.

These films, Spielen wir Liebe and Sweet Movie are ART. These films are also considered by some to be child pornography.

In Spielen wir Liebe there’s a scene where Laura lies on her back, naked on the ground. Fabrizio, also naked, is shown briefly caressing her breasts. He’s then shown with his head at her pubic region, and Laura says “I feels warm, but it is not bad.” Soon he mounts her in the missionary position, and his naked body is briefly shown atop hers. This scene is not explicit sex like you would find in an adult pornographic film. It’s comparable to a sex scene in one of today’s R-rated movies. Further into the film, Fabrizio and Sylvia are naked, with Fabrizio appearing to perform oral sex on Sylvia. Shortly after he’s shown atop Sylvia and moving as if they are having intercourse, though their genitals are not visible. Fabrizio and Sylvia are shown naked several more times and in additional sexual encounters. As I was writing this I checked and found Spielen wir Liebe for sale on eBay.

The striptease in Sweet Movie involves a woman, barely dressed to begin with, who performs for four (?) boys in a bizarre candy shop. The boys seem to be eating candy and appear to be about 9 years old. The woman’s breast is shown about a foot from one boy’s face. She slowly unzips another boys pants. She kisses two of the boys and wraps some of her discarded clothing around their heads and necks. One boy lightly touches her bare stomach and slightly touches her bare ass. Near the end, the woman’s crotch, almost completely exposed, is within 6 inches of another boy’s face. You can rent Sweet Movie from Netflix and see it for yourself.

Now remember the case of the Pennsylvania Grandmother, Donna Dull, arrested on child pornography charges (dropped 15 months later) for a picture of “A little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder.”

Now consider this statement (source) by Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Child pornography is misnamed and misunderstood. It is not pornography. It is not protected speech. It is not victimless crime. These are crime scene photos, images of the sexual abuse of a child. They are contraband, direct evidence of the sexual victimization of a child.

A little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder. Crime scene photo. Direct evidence of the sexual victimization of a child. I don’t see the connection. Former York County District Attorney H. Stanley Rebert apparently did.

Something doesn’t add up. I notice this in most everything I read and hear about child pornography.

I don’t think the war on child porn is something those waging it ever plan on winning. Too much is at stake. The war on child porn is a proxy for other things. Like establishing government monitoring of the Internet. Like finding something to replace the war on drugs in case the war on drugs should continue to lose favor with the public. Like controlling the sexual thoughts of the public. Like restricting the work of artists, who have a nasty habit of challenging authority.

For now, the government doesn’t dare go after films like Spielen wir Liebe and Sweet Movie. But the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time. Better see them while you still can.

P.S. Eva Ionesco was a very attractive thirteen year old girl. If you’re a man and watch Spielen wir Liebe when you’re alone you–on second thought, I probably shouldn’t say that. Eva Ionesco is supposedly the youngest person to pose nude for Playboy (in the Italian edition, October 1976) when she was eleven. I haven’t seen this issue, so I can’t say what the images show. But I’d like to see it. Even better, I’d like to hear what Ernie Allen has to say about Eva Ionesco’s Playboy pictorial. Is it child porn, Ernie, or is it art? What about Spielen wir Liebe, Ernie, is it child porn or is it art? Looking at Eva Ionesco’s filmography at the IMDB, it doesn’t appear that the Playboy pictorial or Spielen wir Liebe has hurt her career.

Recently another case appeared highlighting the vast chasm between what government, law, and their media puppets would like us to believe:

Child pornography is now seen as ‘the visual record of the sexual abuse of a child, either by adults, other children or which involves bestiality’. (Source)

and the reality:

Rebert said in Dull’s case, “What made them offensive was their graphic nature. A little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder.

“It’s a difficult distinction to make. What’s a cute butt and what’s pornographic? (Source)

Rebert is the York County, PA, district attorney. I’m not a district attorney, but I know the difference between a cute butt and pornography. Someone who can’t make that distinction has no business overseeing child pornography charges against a 56 year old grandmother.

The best piece I’ve found on this case is at Reason.

What makes this case extra interesting is the treatment given the grandmother when she was arrested for a picture of “a little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder”.

Dull maintains she was handcuffed “tightly in a rough, vigorous and aggressive manner” and slammed into a parked car with enough force that her head bounced off the vehicle, resulting in injuries to her back. (Source)

Why is it that the police felt it was OK to treat a 56 year old grandmother this way? Most likely it was the idea of crimen exceptum.

The clear relationship between the elements that make up the police state, including the inevitable ‘legislative creep’ that makes it possible can be seen from the above. A key sub-element in the doctrines and dogmas is the crimen exceptum, the designated crime for which normal law and the processes of justice are suspended – heresy, witchcraft, being a Jew in Nazi Germany, child sex abuse, child porn, and so on. Note how child porn has been used to transform the Internet into a tool of repression and fear and a powerful device for the police and prosecution state. (Source)

I’ve started a new category I call The Reality of Child Porn inspired by three blog posts I found on another WordPress blog. The author of this blog made three detailed posts in 2007 and 2008. There’s no use in my summarizing them here. It’s better for you to read them for yourself. The author does great work and I wish he’d continue. Lord knows there’s dozen of more examples of the government and law enforcement lying, abusing their power, and using child porn as an excuse to curtail civil liberties. Links to the individual posts are below with their full titles.

Gonzales, Mueller, McDade and Eichenwald: Did They Violate 18 USC 2252A?

Alleged Child Porn Victims Identified—As Adults. Prosecutor Ignores Evidence, Insists They Are Pre-Teens, And Proceeds With Prosecution.

Defendant Charged With Thought Crime After Alleged Child Porn Revealed To Be Adult Porn

I tip my hat to the author of these posts.

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. suggests in a recent column that “maybe we should legalize drugs.” I suggest maybe we should legalize child pornography.

Then there’s the collateral damage. ”When somebody gets arrested,” says Cole, ”it’s not only that person whose life is crippled. It drags down their whole family.” This, because the conviction makes it nearly impossible to get a job, go to college, even rent an apartment.

With child porn, the collateral damage also affects whole families. Increasingly, the child porn witch hunt is ensnaring the very people the anti-child porn laws are supposedly meant to protect.

If the girls are charged and convicted of child pornography violations, the plaintiffs contend, they would have a felony record and could be subjected to state Megan’s Law provisions, which would require them to register as convicted sex offenders.

What warrants such punishment? The rape of a child? No. The sexual abuse of an infant? No. How about:

The first image shows two teenage girls lying side by side in their bras. One of them is talking on a phone, while the other makes a peace sign.

In another picture, a third girl is seen just as she emerged from a shower, wrapped by a towel but with her breasts exposed.

There’s more on this case at a Wall Street journal blog post. That is what the child porn witch hunt has come to. I’m sure some hard core child porn does exist, but over-zealous police and prosecutors and lawmakers are no longer content to go after those responsible for the real abuse of children. Now children themselves are the targets.

Pitts writes more:

And for what? This ”War” has been an exercise in futility. In 1970, says Cole, about 2 percent of the population over the age of 12 had at some point or another used an illegal drug. As of 2003, he says, that number stood at 46, an increase of 2,300 percent — yet we’ve spent over a trillion dollars and imprisoned more people per capita than any country in the world in order to reduce drug use?

The laughable “war” on child porn follows the same trajectory. More police, more resources, more prosecutions, more time in prison, more sacrifices of our civil liberties, and what do we get for our efforts? A problem that is “exploding”.

How many hundreds of billions of dollars will we spend, how many hundreds of thousands of men will we imprison for decades before we realize the uncanny similarities between the “war” on drugs and the “war” on child porn? How long before we realize that when there is a demand, and when there are people (suppliers) able and willing to meet that demand, the demand will be met?

I’m Back

March 10, 2009

After a long hiatus from posting I’ll be making more frequent posts. I’m returning by quoting a paragraph from an online book by John Robin Sharpe, who is the subject of a child porn case that reached the Canadian Supreme Court. The bold text is my doing, not Sharpe’s.

The metaphor of “sending messages” is a favourite of those who advocate harsh penalties including judges. Somehow it is assumed that the intent of the message sent is identical with the meaning of the one received. But what message do harsher penalties send to those who engage or are tempted to engage in prohibited activities? It is true that some, the more timid and less aggressive potential offenders may be dissuaded. Harsher penalties are an escalation of social conflict and lead to violence, murders and more resources and “glamour” for the police. The adjustments to more restrictive laws and harsher penalties favour organized crime, corruption of our police and justice industry, and the use of weapons. We have seen this happen in the case of drugs where the police, courts and corrections, as well as the legal profession are as dependent on our drug laws as any junkie is on heroin. With high taxes we know we can create a similar situation with respect to cigarettes and smuggling. A few centuries ago during a crime hysteria much like the present one hanging was introduced by the “Reform Party” minded of the day for crimes such as theft and robbery. While some would be robbers may have been discouraged others took the logical step of eliminating witnesses to their crime. As a result murders increased. Because of a “tough on crime” attitude it was centuries, and thousands of unnecessary murders and executions later before the penalties were “softened”. Eventually juries and judges often refused to convict despite overwhelming evidence of guilt. The popular theory promoted by politicians, the media and advocate/activist groups is that harsher penalties, with a dollop of “education” will solve problems of crime. It is seen as a sign of moral weakness to acknowledge that the severity of penalties feed back into the type and nature of crimes committed.

The United States seems in the midst of a artificially constructed child porn panic designed to strip its citizens of liberties and funnel money to its law enforcement agencies. All this comes at the expense of its taxpayers, of men who look at legal adult porn featuring youthful looking women, and even of teenagers who make risque pictures with their cell phone cameras. Will child porn become the next vice on which the police, the courts, the prison system, and the legal profession become dependent?

The decades of the war on drugs, which physically exist and must be physically transported from producers to consumers, has been a disaster. Almost all child porn trade would seem to now take place in the virtual world, were it traverses the globe in seconds. We can’t keep drugs, a physical item, out of our prisons, yet people think we can keep JPEGs and MPEGs off the computers of people who want them?

The more I read about the anti-child porn efforts, the more I see similarities between the war on drugs and the war on child porn. We’re throwing more and more money at the child porn problem, characterizing teenagers and comic book collectors as child pornographers, and opening the door to government surveillance of the Internet. And what do we get for all the money, damaged lives, and curtailed liberties? We get a problem that isn’t getting any better, but is getting worse, possibly as a result of our misguided efforts to fight child porn in the first place.

Even someone who recognizes how the scope of materials considered child pornography continues to grow may find such materials repugnant. But repugnant as it may be, do we really want to have control over the production and distribution of such materials left to a criminal underworld, or would we be better off with a legal but tightly regulated marketplace for child porn and child erotica (they’re not the same thing)?

Miscellanea

October 24, 2008

Innocent images update

The Innocent Images Project was delayed because I couldn’t get myself registered with the Pirate Bay’s blogging service. They are new to the game, so maybe they are still working out the bugs. But I’ve had success in using their image hosting service. For now the Innocent Images Project will have it’s text hosted here but the images whose links you’ll have to affirmatively click in order to see will be hosted on Bayimg. The subject of the first Innocent Images post will be Robert Mapplethorpe’s Rosie.

Where I’ve been visiting

A fact of life in child porn blogging is getting called a pedophile and accused of surfing for child porn just because you question the government’s claims about child porn. On that note I’ve discovered sites online where self declared pedophiles visit and post messages. Not surprisingly, they sometimes talk about child porn. In fairness to these self declared pedophiles, I’ll say that child porn represents only a very small percentage of their postings. Most messages there don’t have anything to do with child porn, and those that do usually involve efforts to criminalize artistic representations of children, or teens being charged as child pornographers for photographing themselves. I respect the intelligence of my readers, so I won’t insult your intelligence by protecting you from seeing legal sites that I’ve seen. I’ve seen nothing on either site that in my non-lawyerly opinion could be construed as illegal in the United States. These sites were interesting because there I saw intelligent discussion of child porn, not hysterical over reaction and blind acceptance of government rhetoric. Despite my non pedophile status, I was allowed to register at both sites. In the second week of October, I posted an introduction at both. As a follow up to my introductions, one poster told me that “pornography is really a side issue here”. From what I’ve seen he’s right, and that got me to consider why I blog about child porn. Eventually I wrote back to him.

You know, I don’t really see what I’m doing as being about child porn. I just use child porn as a focal point. It’s really about abuse of authority, thought policing, the government’s desire to work around the constitution to censor the public, the prison industrial complex, and more. The parallels between the war on child porn and the war on drugs are frightening.

The sites are called Girl Chat and Boy Chat. Both are primitive message forums where you read posts without having to register. Read if you wish. My name there is the same as here, CP Explosion. I’d suggest not leaving these sites up on your screen for your boss or significant other to see. He/she might wonder what you’re up to.

What this blog is not about, but still a link

I never intended this blog to be about sex offenders. But the issue of sex offenders is very complex and is fraught many of the same issues as child porn. But I’ve decided to post one link to an essay dealing with sex offenders. Why? Well, for two reasons. One reason is that in the United States, and I think in Britain also, those convicted of viewing child porn are considered sex offenders and are subject to enrollment in sex offender registries. I find it weird that people who look at pictures are cast into the same bin with people who forcibly rape real people. The other reason is that this essay’s anonymous author also uses a quote I’ve used before.

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

Please think to read Does America Really Need Its Own Holocaust?

Coming soon

Chatter, and a chapter by chapter book review.