Legalise child pornography

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Legalise child pornography

Postby snowyowl » Thu May 30, 2013 3:17 am

(Useful resources: 2012 blogpost that inspired me to write this, relevant wikipedia page, previous LS discussion on the topic during the Greenwood storyline.)

The first link up there makes a surprising (and indeed shocking) claim. It says that if you were to witness a child being raped and recorded a video of the action (perhaps for use as evidence to arrest the perp with), you'd be guilty of creating, owning, and possibly distributing child pornography. Unfair, but the cynics in the audience probably saw that one coming. The surprising claim is that, in the US, people who possess and use child pornography tend to get worse sentences than actual child molesters.

This is only slightly exaggerated. There are US federal guidelines as to what a typical sentence should be for various offences, and yes, it's quite possible for someone owning pornography of a child to get twice as much jail time as someone who had sex with that same child. And leave aside for now the fact that it's explicitly not an exception if the photos you have are of yourself from before your 18th birthday. Nor if they're any kind of cartoon - which you might already know, but it's still bizarre.

I'm using US law as an example here because it's both harshly enforced and well-discussed on the Internet, but a similar absurdity exists in the UK. There, you're not allowed to have pictures of people under 18, or simulated imagery (cartoons, computer renderings, adults dressed or Photoshopped to look like children, etc.). The age of consent in the UK is 16. I'll let you picture the sorts of bizarre scenarios this permits.

And the alternative? I put my suggestion right there in the title (the better to grab your attention). Plenty of countries don't have a law against CP (including Russia, so it's not just depraved tax havens that need the publicity). And I can at least understand the logic of religious nations that ban porn in all its forms. In countries that praise freedom of speech, it's a very odd disconnect (c.f. Neil Gaiman). Consider that the existence of the Internet makes it effectively impossible to stop CP distributors without some sort of system in place for blocking websites that distribute it (and e-mails with CP attachments, that sort of thing). Consider that once that framework exists, it's very easy to sweep sites into it that are only tangentially related to CP but are embarassing for those in power (what if Wikileaks published a list of people convicted for downloading CP because their IP address was logged - and cross-referenced it with those who are known to have no password on their Wifi router?). Consider that, without anyone necessarily plotting the entire thing out (in my mind, this makes it "not a conspiracy theory"), we thus have a framework for censoring people who say bad things about government agencies / corporations / the media / anyone who's hacked into the database where the list of blocked sites is kept.

Allowing CP doesn't have to be the beginning of a slippery slope. It would help getting more of the "actual criminals" arrested. That way, if someone saw a picture of a three-year-old in S&M gear being <censored, for good taste but also because Canada and Australia ban text descriptions of child porn>, they could report it to the police and get the person who produced the porn arrested - without having to worry about retribution from the law.

In conclusion, have a photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby mendel » Thu May 30, 2013 4:54 am

snowyowl wrote:It says that if you were to witness a child being raped and recorded a video of the action (perhaps for use as evidence to arrest the perp with), you'd be guilty of creating, owning, and possibly distributing child pornography. Unfair, but the cynics in the audience probably saw that one coming.
Not unfair in any way. The video can only be used as evidence if you're there to testify to its authenticity- and if you're there to testify, then the video isn't really needed. Instead of getting your camera, get the kid some help!

Not all nudity is automatically porn - at least in my jurisdiction, it also has to be "sexualised". That's why books with sex scenes in them aren't automatically porn. Neither is your Vietnam war image.

To address one of your points, in my jurisdiction, it is also allowed to possess porn if you are in it, it was made consentually, and you were at least 14 years of age at the time. (You wouldn't be allowed to distribute it.)

Generally, I don't think it is effective to "block" child porn. Given that most web sites that offer child porn are hosted in countries that have appropriate legislation, getting these sites shut down in a timely fashion and the operators prosecuted would be an effort more worthy of pursuit than watching everyone's communications (with its accompanying downsides) in the hopes of filtering out child pornography.

Child pornography produced with real children should not be legalized, because it is inevitable that this leads to abuse of children.

Whether fictional child pornography aids child abuse or prevents it, i.e. whether it encourages pedophiles to act out their inclinations or provides a harmless outlet for those urges, has probably been a matter of study already. If you want a reasoned debate on this topic, seek out these studies.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby Globus » Thu May 30, 2013 4:54 am

This is... The OP makes perfect sense, really, it does, and it avoids giving governments the chance to censor the Internet (unlike snowyowl, I am a conspiracy theorist, think about me what you will), but it doesn't sound right. I will have to think about this one carefully.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby snowyowl » Thu May 30, 2013 5:34 am

mendel wrote:
snowyowl wrote:It says that if you were to witness a child being raped and recorded a video of the action (perhaps for use as evidence to arrest the perp with), you'd be guilty of creating, owning, and possibly distributing child pornography. Unfair, but the cynics in the audience probably saw that one coming.
Not unfair in any way. The video can only be used as evidence if you're there to testify to its authenticity- and if you're there to testify, then the video isn't really needed. Instead of getting your camera, get the kid some help!
Eyewitness testimony is unreliable, and you might misremember details (remembering the act to be worse than it was, or not as bad). A good lawyer would get wiggle room with eyewitness testimony that he wouldn't have with video. (And of course you should help the poor kid if you have that option, that wasn't my point.)

mendel wrote:Generally, I don't think it is effective to "block" child porn. Given that most web sites that offer child porn are hosted in countries that have appropriate legislation, getting these sites shut down in a timely fashion and the operators prosecuted would be an effort more worthy of pursuit than watching everyone's communications (with its accompanying downsides) in the hopes of filtering out child pornography.
How long do you think it takes to set up a new website, if you have a backup copy of all the content? About an hour? How long do you think it takes to shut down a website (requiring some degree of coordination with ISPs, domain name registrars, and web hosts), and track down all the people who may have downloaded the content? (Remember, they're criminals too.)

It's a worthwhile pursuit to track down the people who produce child porn, but there's no point in wasting resources trying to kill the websites that host them (unless they're also guilty of credit card fraud or something like that). It wastes everyone's time and doesn't solve the underlying problem.

mendel wrote:Child pornography produced with real children should not be legalized, because it is inevitable that this leads to abuse of children.
In the sense that children have to be abused as part of the process that creates CP? Yes, I agree. But that's child abuse or rape, and still highly illegal even if the CP itself is not.

mendel wrote:Not all nudity is automatically porn - at least in my jurisdiction, it also has to be "sexualised". That's why books with sex scenes in them aren't automatically porn. Neither is your Vietnam war image.
In my experience, people have very different opinions about where the boundary of "sexualised" lies. If Nipplegate (half a second of Janet Jackson's right nipple on television, probably accidental) can provoke a half-million-dollar fine for indecency, anything with actual genitals shown would get some very dark stares indeed.

Globus wrote: I will have to think about this one carefully.
Please do! Regardless of whether you agree with me, people don't tend to think about topics that make them squeamish. Which is very bad when the squeamish topic is this important - I mean, one way or the other, CP ruins lives (respectively, the lives of the children involved, and the lives of people who are imprisoned on trumped-up charges).
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby Bramble.Chappell » Fri May 31, 2013 6:47 pm

I'm sure I'm not alone in the opinion that child pornography is in and of itself a form of child abuse (on top of the sexual abuse that is prerequisite to its creation), or at the very least an extreme violation of privacy. I have a very negative opinion of pornography in the first place (I feel that sexual objectification of human beings is a very serious problem in society) but I think my position is more than just bias. A person (in this case, the child) has every right to make the decision not to have images of themselves, especially pornographic images, propagated through the internet or any other medium, and I feel the same principle ought to apply in such a case as in actual sexual activity- a person under the age of consent should not be able to give legally meaningful consent to it.

Please forgive my brevity and simplicity. If there is any serious objection to what I've said, I'll try to respond more adequately- I'm really just dropping in my two cents right now. I will not pretend this is not an emotionally inflaming topic for me. (I hope no one will suggest that strong emotions toward subjects surrounding child abuse is "squeamishness".) This touches on personal issues that I and close friends of mine have dealt with, and so it can be emotionally exhausting for me.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby Alex Starkiller » Fri May 31, 2013 10:02 pm

Bramble.Chappell wrote:I have a very negative opinion of pornography in the first place (I feel that sexual objectification of human beings is a very serious problem in society)

Prude. That is all.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby Globus » Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:36 am

Alex Starkiller wrote:Prude. That is all.

Thank you for your helpful and thought-evoking post. You will either delete it or expand it with at least seven lines of your thoughts on the matter. Your contribution to the topic so far is way less then Bramble.Chappell's.
[hr]
Well, I kinda promised I'd be back with what I got by now, so here goes. I'll be breaking it up to the distinct cases.

For starters, children are incapable of informed consent, therefore producing CP with real children is illegal anyway. As it should be.
Viewing CP material should, of course, be legal, if a pop-up comes up at a website, one shouldn't immediately be a criminal.
Owning CP... this is where the detractors' points come up that (if I understand correctly) they think viewing CP makes one pedophile, or at least more likely to act on it. We have all seen it with video games already and let me tell you, playing all those Tetris games doesn't make me stack my boxes neatly. It is my opinion that owning CP shouldn't make one a criminal (just as owning any media really, I don't believe in banned books, etc. either)
After all the above, I've lost all logical grounds to call producing CP without real children (cartoons, text-only, etc.) criminal either. The artists don't commit any crimes, and the owner doesn't either, so that's about it.
Distributing CP helps criminals. The distributors usually have key data on them, or they might help them profit. As such, it should be illegal, but with far lesser punishment - I'd say, a fine (or is the right phrase "penalty payment"? The dictionary program brings both up) should be enough, maybe even lessened according to their degree of cooperation with the police. Also, the correct way to fight them shouldn't be IP blocking, but starting an investigation, and learning about the people actually abusing children. IMO, it is way more important that those children be saved than preventing the makers of the child pornography to earn some money in the meanwhile. I don't think people are in this for the money, as there are easier and safer ways to make it, not to mention that one does not simply make another a pedophile.

In closing, I still appear to agree with the OP. Legalise child pornography, it shouldn't lead to the legalisation of child abuse. Keep the distributors liable, as accomplices of criminals at most.
Last edited by Globus on Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby snowyowl » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:25 am

Bramble.Chappell wrote:at the very least an extreme violation of privacy.
Can you expand on this? It's not something I'd really thought about before, but it makes sense that nekkedpix of a private individual should be afforded the same protection as other personal information - e.g. email addresses. Only to a much higher degree, of course. If you agreed to sell your pictures (and implicitly agreed that the general public is allowed to see them) then that's one thing, but like you said children can't legally agree to such things.

On reflection, I quite like this idea, because I can't exactly see Big Data monitoring our e-mails and websites in the name of "privacy".
Bramble.Chappell wrote:I feel that sexual objectification of human beings is a very serious problem in society
Yeah, porn is bad, but it's bad in the way that alcohol is - self-destructive and unhealthy to you with minimal effect on the people around you. The law admits your freedom to abuse your body/mind as long as nobody else complains.
Globus wrote: I'll be breaking it up to the distinct cases.
[...]
Producing CP with real children
Producing CP without real children
Distributing CP
Owning CP
Viewing CP
Ooooh, I love this topic.

No argument on the first two, it's pretty unambiguous what is meant by "Producing CP" and "real children". But it's not necessarily clear in this day and age what is meant by "Distributing", "Owning" and "Viewing".

If you view an image, and a logging or caching system decides to save a copy of it without telling you, are you now owning that image? If you buy software from someone and the license agreement says "you do not own this software, you own a license to use it for the purposes it was designed for on 1 or more computers", is that owning it?

I've heard people have been in trouble for "distributing" copyrighted material when they were only intending to download it. They used the BitTorrent protocol, which reduces the amount of time and bandwidth used to download a file by grabbing fragments of it from other people who have already (partially) downloaded it, and in return makes fragments of one's own copy accessible in the same way. It's a very good way of sharing large files. Is this "distributing" the data? (Legally, it's still not entirely clear today, and BitTorrent has been around since 2001.)

Edit: I guess it depends if "distributing CP is illegal" is meant to be prescriptive or descriptive. Are we arresting CP distributors simply because they're CP distributors, or because we've investigated them and found them to be funding CP production and child abuse?
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby Alex Starkiller » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:43 am

Globus wrote:
Alex Starkiller wrote:Prude. That is all.

Thank you for your helpful and thought-evoking post. You will either delete it or expand it with at least seven lines of your thoughts on the matter. Your contribution to the topic so far is way less then Bramble.Chappell's.

Quit your bellyaching. Honestly, it's like you think that's a good idea or something. Too bad levity's not your thing, but that's not my problem. [belligerent]
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Re: Legalise child pornography

Postby snowyowl » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:23 pm

What's your opinion on this matter, Alex? You haven't said.
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