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Posts Tagged ‘child pornography’

I feel strange involving myself in the topic of Child Pornography, partly because it’s not the type of thing I usually write about, but also because I didn’t realize that a number of people still feel that it’s not really such a big deal.

But this recent case of Ross Brown has brought comments that I just don’t feel I can ignore.  Evil happens when good people do nothing, and good people do nothing when they start rationalizing the evil as “not that bad”.  And pedophiles who are hoping to de-criminalize child pornography must be pleased at the surprising level of understanding that Brown has received from some Winnipeggers.  One example of this is a letter in the Winnipeg Free Press that compares child pornography to extreme pornography and likens the addiction to child pornography to an addiction to any type of pornography.

Note: not all pedophiles are criminals, as pedophilia is the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children.  The criminal acts related to pedophilia are the sexual abuse of children and the production, distribution, or possession of child pornography.

There are three tricks in the child abuser’s playbook when it comes to rationalizing child porn:

1.    I didn’t commit the abuse, so it doesn’t hurt anyone for me to view and enjoy it.
2.    It’s just like other extreme pornography, such as rape and incest porn.
3.    It’s simply an addiction and an illness, and anyone can catch it.

So I’ve decided to take some time out of my day to respond to these three lies, because I don’t think these lies can be refuted enough:

Lie #1:  I didn’t commit the abuse, so it doesn’t hurt anyone for me to view and enjoy it.

There is no question that child sexual abuse is a crime.  It is a crime with no statute of limitations, so even if it happened seventy years ago, it’s still a crime that is punishable.  In order to take photographs or record videos of children being sexually abused, the abuse has to take place.  In addition, the resulting photographs and video are evidence of the abuse.  If an individual within Canada’s borders knowingly views the photographs and videos and does not report them to the police, that person becomes an accomplice after the fact.  They may not have been a party to the initial abuse, but they are responsible for allowing that abuse to be unpunished.  In addition, they profit from the abuse, whether through sexual gratification or through financial gain from selling the materials.  Even if the original abuser has been prosecuted and convicted of the crime (which is rare), any viewers of the resulting child pornography are still accomplices to anyone who distributed the pornography, and they are still in possession of materials created without the consent of the child.

The truth is: every time a pedophile views child pornography, they are hurting the abused child, and the child’s family, and any current and future victims by allowing the creators and distributors of the material to go unpunished.

Lie #2: It’s just like other extreme pornography, such as rape and incest porn.

Extreme pornography is pornography created by consenting participants (guaranteed through legally-accepted release forms), and is generally considered obscene and therefore illegal by the Criminal Code of Canada.  However, this type of pornography is legal in other countries (such as the United States of America), and enforcement of the ban in Canada is lax due to a lack of resources and a lack of public interest.  The creation of obscene materials is not considered abuse of any kind as long as the participants are consenting.  Only legal adults can consent to being included in pornographic materials, and in Canada that is a higher minimum age of consent than for sexual activity with an adult, which is now set at 16 years of age.  Child pornography is non-consensual pornography that records child sexual abuse.  That is completely different from consenting pornography, whether it is deemed obscene or not by Canadian law.

Lie #3: It’s an addiction, an illness, and anyone can catch it

It can easily be argued that pedophilia itself is an illness; however, the decision to abuse a child or to possess materials involving the abuse of a child is a crime.  Many people have rage problems, and fantasize about violent revenge on the objects of their rage; the crime occurs if they act out on that desire.  The rage is the illness, but any resulting assault or murder is a crime.

As far as being an addiction, I do agree that pornography can be addictive, and that child pornography is probably also addictive.  However, the crime is committed before the addiction begins, as a viewer of child porn cannot be addicted to child porn before they have come into possession of child porn.  At that point, offenders make the criminal decision to build an addiction to an activity which was already illegal, so the addiction itself cannot justify the initial crime.

The other piece of this lie is the insinuation that child pornography is so addictive and contagious that anyone could catch it, whether they want to or not.  But child pornography, at least from the Canadian cases where people have been prosecuted, isn’t based on people who mistakenly bought underage Traci Lords porn when she lied about being 18.  Child pornography cases in Canada have consistently involved young children (often as young as toddlers) being forced into sex acts.  No one who is not a pedophile would enjoy watching child pornography involving toddlers, so there’s very little chance that a person who does not have a sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children is going to amass a collection of child abuse recordings.  The only other possibility would be someone whose only motive is to profit from the distribution of child pornography, but it’s unlikely that anyone who is not a pedophile would be involved in such an activity.

Possession of multiple items of child pornography is not an unfortunate accident; it is an individual making the decision that their own sexual gratification is more important than the well-being of children.

What do we do about child pornography?

I believe that law enforcement and the justice system are generally taking the right approach to dealing with child pornography, however, some sentences do seem far too light.  It may not seem realistic to sentence based on the number of items of child pornography, but it might send a strong message that we’re fighting the willful collecting of images and videos of child abuse, and not just one image of a person who might be a year shy of eighteen.  I am not a big believer in draconian sentences, but I believe that we are downplaying the severity of this crime, of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children.

That being said, I do believe that as a nation we should investigate the idea of a limited amnesty program for people who come forward as possessors of child pornography and who are willing to submit to computer inspection and mandatory counseling.  If a pedophile is willing to seek assistance in breaking their addiction to child pornography, is not guilty of distribution, and is willing to aid in the investigation of how they came into possession of the materials, I think that such an individual should be encouraged to do so.

We are facing a battle of good vs. an evil that is trying it’s best to seem less evil.  This battle doesn’t just include the fight against the abuse itself; it’s also a fight against a gradual erosion of outrage at child pornography.  Too many Canadians (myself included) have been silent about the issue of child pornography, and that silence is starting to be taken by too many offenders as acceptance.

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