'We Don't Want to Throw These Kids in Jail, but We Want Them to Think'

Another sexting-as-child-porn case, this one in Massachusetts. It involves "a boy who took a nude photo of his 13-year-old girlfriend and texted it to his friends." The six boys under investigation are 12 to 14. The boyfriend sounds like a dick, but this surely is not the sort of situation legislators had in mind when they made possession and distribution of child pornography a felony. A prosecutor in Allen County, Indiana, where a teenage boy "is facing felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his private parts to several female classmates," offers A.P. the usual rationale: We're doing these kids a favor by bringing charges, because it will encourage them to be more discreet. As he puts it, "We don't want to throw these kids in jail, but we want them to think." Refreshingly, an Ohio school principal tells A.P. "pornography charges or other felonies are not appropriate, noting that 'the laws have not caught up to technology.'"

My previous post on this issue, including links to earlier coverage, is here.

[Thanks to Phil Obbard for the tip.]

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  • ||

    I miss the days when kids' mistakes could be handled with a "a good talking to". You remember, the 80's.

  • ||

    The girl takes a naked picture of herself and it ends up on the cell phones of a bunch of guys in her class. Clearly, the way to handle it is to do what is best for her and make a federal case out of it, throw her and all her friends in jail and make sure that the entire case makes the Drudgereport. Just talking to her and the kids and the kids' parents and getting the boys to delete the photographs and perhaps explain to them what a bad idea the whole thing was and how everyone should learn a lesson, is not the way to go. That would require an adult and clearly the country has none of those left. So fuck it, throw them in jail and make a national story out of it.

  • BDB||

    This is fucking ridiculous. John is right, this could all be handled by the families involved. Is it really that hard for people to settle things privately anymore?

  • BDB||

    BTW, pretty much every person between the ages of 11 and 17 is a dick.

  • ||

    BDB, I think you mean to say between the ages of 3 and 108. Everyone is pretty much a dick.

  • BDB||

    "Nick | February 11, 2009, 11:40am | #
    BDB, I think you mean to say between the ages of 3 and 108. Everyone is pretty much a dick."

    Well, adolescents especially then.

  • Elemenope||

    Refreshingly, an Ohio school principal tells A.P. "pornography charges or other felonies are not appropriate, noting that 'the laws have not caught up to technology.'"

    This old fellow sounds too hip and reasonable.

    I predict he won't have his job for long.

  • kinnath||

    We need to escalate. Capital punishement for teens that sext each other.

  • ||

    Well, BDB, the children are our future!

  • Xeones||

    I've met some pretty dickish 2-year-olds too, Nick. John is right, but he's also making way too much sense for our current cultural narrative. Oh well.

  • BDB||

    "Xeones | February 11, 2009, 11:44am | #
    I've met some pretty dickish 2-year-olds too,"

    Yes, that's the second dickish age group next to teenagers.

  • ||

    Isn't the supposed "depravity" in child porn the difference in ages? If so, why not make possession a crime only if there is a certain difference in ages. IIRC, some statutory rape laws have such a distinction.

  • ||

    "The boyfriend sounds like a dick, but this surely is not the sort of situation legislators had in mind when they made possession and distribution of child pornography a felony."

    Wanted: For Being a Dick, and Acting All Faggy.

  • yandus yillib||

    Why isn't the FCC regulating the use of cell phones by minors?

    If only we had a cell phone czar...

    We need to create jobs! Leader Obama should spawn the CPSA Cell Phone Security Administration.

    The CPSA would be tasked with intercepting and reviewing every message sent to and from children.

    Only CPSA approved pictures with a black bar over the boobies (like in the Girls Gone Wild commercials) would be received by the children.

  • ||

    "Isn't the supposed "depravity" in child porn the difference in ages? If so, why not make possession a crime only if there is a certain difference in ages. IIRC, some statutory rape laws have such a distinction."

    You would think that wouldn't you. But that is not how it works. There seems to be this kind of magical thinking about child pornography. It started when we made possession of it a strict liability offense. By current logic, the mere act of looking at it victimizes the child even though the child may not even be alive anymore, the picture may have been taken decades ago and the child will never even know that the person looking at the picture ever did so. The act of someone innocently clicking a link and seeing a decades old picture of a stranger victimizes that child.

    Given that logic, it is not surprising that the law is now being read that when the child herself takes the picture and sends it to someone, she is victimizing herself and must go to jail. The whole thing is some kind of mass hysteria.

  • BDB||

    "You would think that wouldn't you. But that is not how it works. There seems to be this kind of magical thinking about child pornography."

    It's the same kind of logic where a 21 year old that dates a 17 year old is called a "pedophile".

  • ||

    Yeah, when I don't want to throw someone in jail, the first thing I always do is file felony charges against them.

  • ||

    "It's the same kind of logic where a 21 year old that dates a 17 year old is called a "pedophile"."

    Or the same people who let thier 11 year old girls wear hot pants with juicy written accross the ass wan to put said 21 year old on a sex offender list for life.

  • Xeones||

    "Christ! What are you? 15? My God, man! You gotta be gettin' that young stuff! The young stuff is the best stuff in the world. You see, you're jail bait, they're jail bait. It's perfect. You turn eighteen and you're looking at three to five."

  • ||

    The smart, sensible reporting aside, it would be worth it to read H&R just to learn words like "sexting." Awesome.

  • Steve||

    "It's the same kind of logic where a 21 year old that dates a 17 year old is called a "pedophile"."

    And they are not, 17 is not an adult.

  • ||

    "And they are not, 17 is not an adult."

    Depends on the state. In many states they are not until they are 18.

  • ||

    I'll repeat what I always say: many adults think all the kids are gettin' it on today, way more than they ever got, and it pisses them off. So it's punishment time! Envy is an ugly emotion.

  • ||

    Dagny never sexts me no more. :-(

    She says I'm "all old and stuff."

  • Xeones||

    She just wasn't into cosplay, huh SugarFree?

  • ||

    "I'll repeat what I always say: many adults think all the kids are gettin' it on today, way more than they ever got, and it pisses them off. So it's punishment time! Envy is an ugly emotion."

    so you are telling me that the Principal in this case spent a few minutes alone in his office "reviewing the evidence"?

  • Boston||

    "We don't want to throw these kids in jail, but we want them to think."

    Insert Judge Smails joke here.

  • ||

    She just wasn't into cosplay, huh SugarFree?

    Obviously Sug's a furry. He doesn't even need one of their little outfits either! All natural, baby.

  • Former Women\'s Coach||

    Thirteen? That's still a child. Nude? That's just disgusting.

    Now fourteen on the other hand...

  • jtuf||

    Lamar | February 11, 2009, 11:49am | #

    Isn't the supposed "depravity" in child porn the difference in ages? If so, why not make possession a crime only if there is a certain difference in ages. IIRC, some statutory rape laws have such a distinction.



    My thought exactly. If I was these kids' parents, I would have a long talk with them and ground them for a weekend. Pressing charges doesn't make any sense. If the boy friend invited all those boys over and they joined him and his girlfriend for an orgy, it would be perfectly legal. In fact, the state requires sex ed in its public schools, because officials assume kids are having sex with each other. Adults watching child porn should be prosecuted, but police should let these kids' parents handle the kid's punishment.

  • ||

    many adults think all the kids are gettin' it on today, way more than they ever got, and it pisses them off.

    They're probably not having more sex, but kids today definitely have cooler toys to facilitate the process. So, these old farts should just join in the fun and start sexting each other. Problem solved!

  • ||

    I saw myself naked in a mirror when I was 6 - Oh O.

  • ||

    In fact, the state requires sex ed in its public schools, because officials assume kids are having sex with each other.

    I've always been a little mystified by the state both teaching kids how to have sex The Right Way and jailing them if they get caught doing what they've been taught to do.

  • Officer Bob||

    "I've always been a little mystified by the state both teaching kids how to have sex The Right Way and jailing them if they get caught doing what they've been taught to do."

    Kids need to learn about government entrapment as early as possible.

  • Ska||

    BTW, pretty much every person between the ages of 11 and 17 is a dick.

    Except the kids who aren't. They're just pussies.

  • ||

    So, these old farts should just join in the fun and start sexting each other. Problem solved!

    Encouraging fat, old people to be nude is a bad, bad idea, dude.

  • Elemenope||

    Encouraging fat, old people to be nude is a bad, bad idea, dude.

    It would be like a virus, infecting all corners of the Internet. A more terrible fate cannot be imagined.

  • Tyler||

    I'm imagining a couple of kids saying "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" when a SWAT team kicks down the door and shoots their dog.

  • ||

    Encouraging fat, old people to be nude is a bad, bad idea, dude.

    Good point. I had this crazy idea that if those on the front lines of the War on Sex were fucking each other more, they'd have less free time to fuck with everyone else. Naive and potentially very unappealing if/when the pix are made public.

  • ||

    In the next round of legislation you can go to jail for looking at your own wang or hoo-hah if you're under 18. FORBIDDEN!!!!

  • ||

    "We're doing these kids a favor by bringing charges, because it will encourage them to be more discreet. As he puts it, "We don't want to throw these kids in jail, but we want them to think."

    Jesus Christ, protect our children from predators like that!

  • ||

    Randolph Carter,

    It will be the Shower In The Dark Bill.

  • Angered||

    How absurd! This is none of the government's business. The power-hungry government

  • Angered Again||

    ^THATS what we need to be protected from

  • Tacos mmm...||

    You would think that wouldn't you. But that is not how it works. There seems to be this kind of magical thinking about child pornography. It started when we made possession of it a strict liability offense. By current logic, the mere act of looking at it victimizes the child even though the child may not even be alive anymore, the picture may have been taken decades ago and the child will never even know that the person looking at the picture ever did so. The act of someone innocently clicking a link and seeing a decades old picture of a stranger victimizes that child.



    That's not the logic. The logic is that anyone who looks at a porongraphic image involving a child is a pedophile, and needs to be locked up, whether they have actually committed acts against children or not. And if they haven't, all the better, because you're getting them before they can.

    And once they get out of prison, they need to be forced to live far, far away from any other inhabitted location. For the children.

    It's essentially a thought-crime.

  • anarch in sociological inquiry||

    The whole thing is some kind of mass hysteria.



    Anyone willing to explain why the hysteria takes this form?

  • Robert||

    "pornography charges or other felonies are not appropriate, noting that 'the laws have not caught up to technology.'"

    No, no, NO! That's not the point at all. It wouldn't matter what the technology was, the issue would be the same, and just as nuts. And I don't even see why the parents should be involved, let alone the law.

  • anarch||

    Robert, please explain what seems obvious to you. At the moment, I can imagine only 4 logical possibilities on which to base what you've written at 6:01 pm:

    1) Sexual modesty, shame, whatever you want to call it, is a superstition radically irrelevant or detrimental to social life, and the it is sooner eradicated by making nudity and the like ubiquitous, the better.

    2) Sexting is among the choices kids should be free to commit and possibly later regret.

    3) It is not a school's role to aid in bringing these incidents to parents' attention.

    4) The schools should discreetly - that is, without involving the parents - educate the students to refrain from sexting and similar behavior.

    Or?

  • anarch||

    s/b "the sooner it is eradicated"

  • ||

    anarch-

    Robert is right. What is the problem?

  • anarch||

    libertymike, I asked my question in order to learn the foundation for his rightness. I'm not doubting that he's right. I simply don't yet know. This may be one of the situations in which my habits of thought have not yet adjusted to the unconventional libertarian approach. Just as many people cannot imagine a world functioning without certain government controls that we're used to, I'm trying to imagine what Robert, and apparently you because you immediately understand what he is saying, proposes are the limits of teachers' or parents' responsibilities toward kids who do what these kids did. So I offered a few conceivable rationales for Robert's being right that occurred possible to me, and am asking him, or perhaps you, to tell me, as I said, what must be obvious to you and is not yet obvious, or even visible, to me. I'm not disputing; I'm inquiring.

  • peter t||

    It's my belief these incidents are the equivilant to playing doctor in the back yard.

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