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Child Pornography is Bad, but …

reading-2%20toddlers%20together.jpgThe Bush Administration is urging the Supreme Court to uphold a provision in a law that makes it a crime to talk about illegal images, possess innocent materials that someone else might believe is pornography, or produce movies that depict adolescent sex. The offense is punishable by up to five years.

Great, right? Child porn should be outlawed, and those who peddle in child pornography should be prosecuted. But, if you read the above paragraph a little more closely, you’ll realize that this law doesn’t actually prosecute child pornographers. It prosecutes people who produce images or movies that aren’t technically child porn, but materials that people might think are child porn. In more obvious terms, the provision of the Protect Act would apply to smut dealers who film skin flicks featuring of age participants who are advertised as underage (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just check your email spam folder).

Now, granted, I think child-porn dealers of all stripe should be taken out behind the woodshed and beat with a bag of switches within an inch of heir life, but this law not only infringes the First Amendment on its face, but think of the slippery slope: If someone thinks photos of your grandchildren in their swimming trunks is pornographic, then you could be held criminally liable. What’s more: Movies like Lolita and American Beauty depict adolescents having sex, but there aren’t any adolescents actually having sex — you’re just made to believe they are by the power of film! Sure, the Bush Administration claims that this provision wouldn’t apply to movies like that, but then again, it allows a court to make the distinction between what’s appropriate and what is not when the subject material is imaginary child pornography. All we have to go on, in fact, is the U.S. Solicitor’s statement that “the law is not meant to cover movies like ‘Lolita,’ ‘Traffic,’ ‘American Beauty’ or ‘Titanic.’” Is it because those were good movies? If Lolita was directed by, say, Ron Jeremy, would it be covered then? What about Bret Ratner? Where, exactly, is the distinction? And what if some sick bastard found the above photograph titillating? Does that then make it pornographic? Will the parent who took the photo be prosecuted? What if the parent sent the same photo with the caption, “Good pics with kids canoodling?” Will the parent be prosecuted for suggesting a perfectly innocent photo is lascivious?

This provision is kind of stupid.

Anyway, the 11th Circuit appropriately struck down the law. I just hope, for the sake of the First Amendment, that the Supreme Court follows suit.

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Comments

I think that this law only has any validity if we think kiddie porn laws exist to protect the creepos from themselves rather than to protect the children. I mean, who's harmed by fake teen porn? Mind you, when I was an 18-year-old video store clerk I didnt much like renting "barely legal" porn out to sketchy middle-aged men, but they weren't hurting anyone. Unless they started flirting with me. If they did it more than once the manager closed their account :-)

While reading the description, I immediately thought of Zeferelli's Romeo and Juliet, in which the kids were actually 14. Actually, now I think about it, could Shakespeare be banned from American classrooms because Romeo and Juliet get it on?

Kat, I think he has been, several times.

You mean, you don't trust the "I know it when I see it" standard?

Don't worry your pretty little heads about what a law *says* it gives the government authority to do. Just trust that our wonderful government officials won't abuse that power, and will only go after the truly heinous cases. Is a little unfounded blind faith too much to ask of you people?? Geez!

So--under this law, otakus with their anime collections would be prosecuted for possession of _cartoon_ child porn? All parents out there with photos of their nekkid newborn babies better get cracking--lest some busybody accuse them of being child pornographers. So stooopid (but totally typical of the Great Leader).