Sex

Warning to Teens: "'Sexting' Will Ruin Your Life"…

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…not because of the dirty pictures themselves, but because of what the hysterical adults will do to you if they find them.

The latest case comes from Iowa, where the state's supreme court just upheld the 2005 conviction and sentence of Jorge Canal. While he was 18, a 14-year-old female friend asked Canal to send her a picture of his penis. Even the Iowa Supreme Court acknowledges that the photo was at her request, that the two weren't romantically involved, and that the whole exchange was intended to be a joke. Nevertheless, it upheld Canal's conviction and sentence, which comes with the requirement that he register as a sex offender, likely for the rest of his life.

Dr. Marty Klein of the Sexual Intelligence blog comments:

All these adults were supposedly attempting to protect Iowa's young people–by punishing this kid who was fooling around with a pal.

So let's spend a moment in the real world (which none of these adults seem to inhabit). Which is likely to hurt this 14-year-old girl more—seeing a 2-square-inch photo of a friend's erect penis, or being the reason that this friend will spend time in jail and decades as a registered sex offender? Her life is now ruined (in addition, of course, to his), because of her criminally negligent parents, criminally ambitious prosecutor, and 12 jury members who failed to protect people who needed justice but received only wrath.

For a fine example of the circular logic behind these laws, consider the defense of them Pat Trueman, counsel to a religious advocacy group called the Alliance Defense Fund, gave to a local TV station:

"This was a serious offense. He was producing obscenity and distributing obscenity, and to a minor at that,"…

"But he also has to register as a sex offender—and [he] may be on that sex offender registry for a lifetime," Trueman adds. "So if anyone had any doubts, sexting is a very serious crime —and kids better get to know that."

Sexting isn't a "serious crime" because it causes irreparable damage to the senders and recipients of nude photos. It's a serious crime because Iowa lawmakers, prosecutors, and people like Pat Trueman have decided they want to ruin the lives of kids who engage in it.

Be sure to read Nancy Rommelmann's terrific sexting article from our July 2009 issue, "Anatomy of a Child Pornographer."

UPDATE: Link to Dr. Klein's site is fixed.

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107 responses to “Warning to Teens: "'Sexting' Will Ruin Your Life"…

  1. No matter how “advanced” our society becomes, a significant portion of said society will never accept that teenagers are curious about sex or that sex is a normal part of life.

    1. simply responding? I TOTALLY AGREE WITH WHAT YOU SAID!!!!

  2. Move along folks…nothing to see here….OH MY GOD! IT’S A HORRIBLE PLANE CRASH! C’mon everybody! Get a load of this flaming wreckage! Crowd around! Don’t be shy, crowd around!

  3. If that kid could only get to France . . .

    1. This is what you could call “a crime of morals” with a straight face. If you wanted to say something so stupid, anyway.

      Can political prisoners flee seek asylum in france? Cause that’s what this kid is.

  4. Cripes, not another Polanski thread.

    1. Shut up, bitch. Quit makin’ up lies about me!

  5. “Which is likely to hurt this 14-year-old girl more?seeing a 2-square-inch photo of a friend’s erect penis”

    Who said it was erect, Dr. Marty Klein?

    1. Well, if it wasn’t, I’m not sure the girl would’ve been able to see it.

    2. that was in the judgment linked to above

  6. Texting pictures of penises? Glad neither Warty nor Xeones has my phone number.

  7. This is the sort of stuff that makes me want to cry.

  8. Don’t worry, Sweet’n’Low. No phone on earth has a display large enough to portray my junk. As for Warty, well, until someone creates a scanning electron microscope app for the iPhone, you’ve got nothing to fear from him either.

  9. Pat Trueman, counsel to a religious advocacy group called the Alliance Defense Fund

    Gay sex scandal in 3… 2…

  10. I’ve always said: “If you want to reduce crime, make fewer things against the law”

    I’ve also always said: “Make me the Emporer and I will employ a Goon Squad to enforce common (meaning my) sense.” My Goons would be all over the goons who abused their power against this young man.

  11. At what point does mooning become a sex offense?

  12. As soon as it includes the ol’ wild turkey, Abdul.

  13. The Dr. Klein link goes to the Trueman quote, not to Klein’s.

  14. It is difficult to even read about this. I will just pretend that this hasn’t happened and go about my normal life. When I get older and am less sane I may go lone wolf over something like this.

  15. …gave to a local TV station…

    OneNewsNow is actually the American Family Association’s very WND-like news site.

  16. Which is likely to hurt this 14-year-old girl more?seeing a 2-square-inch photo of a friend’s erect penis

    No, getting stuck with a 2-square inch penis would only bother the boy. The girl would just laugh.

    Wait, you mean the size of the screen?

    1. Penises should never have units of area. L^3, L, L/T, or L/T^2 are all acceptable.

  17. If you think this story is somehow outrageous to normal people, you are probably wrong.

    1. I think I see where you’re coming from, but WTF do you mean by “normal people?” Warped assholes who adhere to the letter of the law at the expense of sense, decency, and compassion?

      1. Didn’t you know? Normal is whatever the largest number of people think it is! That’s fuckin’ American democracy, man!

  18. With all this zero tolerance, it’s well past the point where if you catch your kids sexting, using pot, etc. the best response, despite the lesson taught, is to help them get away with it.

    1. DESPITE the lesson? I think that’s the most important part.

      “This is fine, just dont let the nutjobs find out about it.”

    2. I’m pretty sure that I will tell my kids to not answer any question or even talk to any government authority without a lawyer present.

  19. oddly, faxing crudely done line drawings of your penis is not a crime.

    1. You write that as if you learned that from personal experience.

      1. I’m tracing mine right now.

  20. So what if you post a picture of your (or, I dunno, another person’s) cock online, and a minor happens to see it? What’s the fucking difference?

    1. I am sure Mr. Trueman would want to send you to jail. These clowns are no different than MADD. They are using “protecting minors” as a way to back door prohibition against pornography.

      1. Then that sucks even worse. They know they can’t win a fight to ban porn from the internet. There’s literally thousands of pictures of dicks online that any eight-year-old can find on Google, so they fight to ruin a teenager’s life and brand him a pervert for all eternity. It’s sickening.

    2. What if you sent a picture of underage junk (how you get the pic is between you and your favorite deity) to Mr. Trueman’s phone?

      Would he be in trouble for possession of child porn?

      I love the idea of flooding Trueman’s phone with pics of underage genitalia.

      1. Holy. Fucking. Shit.

        Believe it or not, this might actually be a good idea. Give this stupid asshole a taste of his own black-and-white medicine.

      2. Mr.Trueman would probably like it,don’t you think?

  21. If you think this story is somehow outrageous to normal people, you are probably wrong.

    Good point. If congress passed a law sending all Hispanics to concentration camps, you’d tens of millions of non-lonewackos actually applauding such legislation. And there is precedent: Korematsu and Hirabayahi. And given how unflinchingly (I mean not one fucking iota of a gag reflex) and uncritically SCOTUS sucks at the cock of stari decisis, I have no qualms that they’d go along with it. So yeah, this is a good point on really how fucked up millions of people are.

    1. Sending hispanics to a camp would cause an uproar, once everyone got citations from the county because their lawns are unkempt.

  22. So what if you post a picture of your (or, I dunno, another person’s) cock online, and a minor happens to see it? What’s the fucking difference?

    Puuulleeeeezzze. Don’t expect modern courts to apply critical thought. These stupid cocksuckers that make it to the bench can barely tie their own shoelaces. But you can expect them to apply “legal reasoning” which is something oxymoronic akin to a finely produced General Motors product. “Legal Reasoning”…. That sounds just as fucking stupid as the “Legal Laws of Physics.”

    1. How many years is it going to take before the legal system catches up to technology, then?

      Shit, I’m glad it’s afternoon here, so I can drink beer.

      1. Its always afternoon somewhere. Not that i need even that excuse anymore.

        I just crack a beer open when i pull up Reason in the morning.

        1. Radley’s posts do that to me, too.

          1. I cant pull up the agitator till at least beer #3.

      2. How many years is it going to take before the legal system catches up to technology, then?

        All of them, I think.

  23. I’m so glad that none of this technology existed when I was a dumb, sex-crazed teen.

    1. I was fortunate to have been a teen when this technology existed but before they passed dumb ass laws about it.

      As a sixteen to eighteen year old with raging hormones, it was a really really awesome period of time.

    2. Well the technology exists now, and I’m a dumb, sex-crazed forty (mumble) year old.

  24. Her life is now ruined

    How so? She isn’t going to jail, nor will she be required to register as a sex offender. Besides, we all know that if the the roles were reversed, she wouldn’t have been prosecuted in the first place.

    1. You’re right. They probably would’ve found a way to blame the kid for that too.

      Fucking sadists.

    2. I think the point was to show that she’s more of a victim because of the government than because of the boy, which is true regardless of whether she’s the one actually being punished.

    3. If your pal’s life was ruined due to y’all goofin’ round, wouldn’t you feel pretty bad too? Yeah, she’s not going on a registry, but she’s either got a murderous stalker to worry about in a few years, or a friend she now has to visit in jail.

    4. Oh, yeah?


      Teens send nude pics to one other, face kiddie porn charges

      Think twice before sending nude photos to someone electronically, always. But if you’re a teenager, think thrice. Two teenage girls have been arrested and charged with disseminating child porn after they sent nude photos of themselves to two boys, who were also arrested and charged with possession of the pics.

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-po…..harges.ars

      there was something on here about it as well.

      Aren’t the “statutory rape” laws supposed to “protect” those who are “incompetent”, and isn’t someone who is declared “incompetent” in an area immune to prosecution for the act they’re considered “incompetent” to make a decision on?

      The whole thing is part of the general trend since the “progressive” movement took over the country back around Woodrow Wilson- gradually expanding the definition of “incompetence” in order to give our elite masters in D.C. control over more and more of our lives for our “own good”.

      A buddy of mine once said that we should have protested when they raised the age of consent around here, and I pooh-poohed it. I was wrong.

  25. Oh, and by the way, Warty, I know Sugar-Free is just jealous. As soon as I get phone, I’ll send you my number and a wide angle lens.

    1. I’m not jealous. My penis is staggeringly vast.

      1. Reminds of this one: My penis is three inches, but some girls like it that thick.

      2. Is staggeringly even a word?

  26. Yet another victim-less crime that the government chooses to pursue. Only when libertarians hold the reigns of government will this idiocy end.

    1. Only when libertarians hold the reigns of government will this idiocy end libertarians become exactly like Republicans and Democrats.

      1. Ouch. That hurts on the inside.

      2. Only when people learn to distinguish homonyms will people write of holding the reins of government.

        1. who holds the rains in Spain?

      3. oh, I wish what you said wasn’t true. However, we’d probably get 1 or 2 election cycles before they sold out, so some good would come of it. Also, if the people are awake enough to elect libertarians, they might be more vigilant than they are now… for a little while. Like they were from 1776 to ~1792.

        1. 16 good years ain’t bad.

          Whenever someone says “The Good Ole Days” i’ll just ask if they mean 1776-1792.

  27. We are doomed. Any system, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people that make it up. What can you do when there are large numbers of people as stupid and narrowminded as Mr. Trueman and the prosecutors in this case? When people stop having common sense and go collectively nuts, no system can withstand the strain.

    1. I think this is the kind of stuff Carlin, the wisest of modern social philosophers, was talking about when he said that our culture was circling the bottom like a toliet, just going faster and faster and it gets lower, or something like that.

    2. When people stop having common sense and go collectively nuts, no system can withstand the strain.

      I think a great deal of it has to do with fear of intimidation and retribution if people don’t go along with whatever the talking heads on their tee-vee is saying. And there’s always a lot of shitbags ready to actually do the dirty work.

      1. I said:

        “whatever the talking heads on their tee-vee is saying.”

        it should actually read “whatever the talking heads on their tee-vee are saying “everybody else” is saying”.

        One of these days I’ll learn to actually proof-read this stuff before I post it…. Nah….

  28. One of our managers, a humorless mom pushing, if not past, 50, who always has her hair pulled back so tightly in a bun that I’m sure her eyebrows could emit G sharp note if they were ever plucked, told me that she was supposed to go to her teenage daughter’s school this week to give a presentation on sexting.

    Of course, the first thought, which almost flew out of my mouth was, “Really? How often do sext?” Fortunately, my filter kicked in.

    This woman, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman in “Uncle Buck,” whom he tossed a quarter to and told her to “get a rat to gnaw that thing off her face,” must have been a HUUUUGE hit with the youngins’. I’m sure they hung on her every burdensome, parental word.

    Why do they bother?

    1. To be fair, just having to look at someone like that talking about sexting probably ruined it for most of them.

      1. Bonus: The school system will face lawsuits for making children puke in class.

  29. “get a rat to gnaw that thing off her face,”

    I really, really miss John Candy.

  30. Isn’t there some kind of discrimination suit possible over “sexting”? I mean, why criminalize photos as opposed to auditory phone sex? “Your Honor, decorum prohibits playing back that voicemail.” There are differently-abled as well as generational-technology aspects involved.

  31. Another fine example of how common sense isn’t so common.

  32. counsel to a religious advocacy group

    Wait – you mean that a bunch of religious prudes dominate and determine the law in Iowa? Holy crap, since when?

    1. Yeah, in New Jersey, secular prudes do the same thing. When secular politicians uphold Blue Laws in the name of reducing traffic, the religious secular divide is meaningless.

  33. If you use a cell phone to send a high school student a copy of the images from his state mandated health text book, you will end up in jail and on the sex offender list for life.

  34. jtuf, it probably depends on how you send it. If you say “here’s the stuff you need to do the anatomy homework”, you’ll only be convicted of copyright infringement. If, however, you say something sexual, then yes, you’re done for.

  35. Back when I was 17, my 18 year old girlfriend sent me a 2 square inch picture of her erect penis. Should she be on a sex offender list for life?

    1. Wait, what?

  36. The Alliance Defense Fund may be going too far here (lifetime registration as a sex offender? That sort of thing should be limited to jump-out-of-the-bushes rapists).

    But some of the ADF’s activities may be more appealing to H&R folks. There’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an annual event by which churches defy the Internal Revenue Service by exercising a freedom they possessed up to 1954 – the right to endorse political candidates. But then in 1954, a Senator named Lyndon Johnson decided he didn’t like what some nonprofit groups were saying about him, so he got the tax code changed to prohibit partisanship.

    Of course, churches still manage to indulge themselves in all sorts of perfectly legal ‘social justice activism.’ Just don’t name the names of candidates.

    My only criticism of the ADF on this issue is that they should defend secular nonprofits as well as churches.

  37. This is the central function of government: control without reason.

  38. All these adults were supposedly attempting to protect Iowa’s young people?by punishing this kid who was fooling around with a pal.

    This “kid” was an adult at the time. While I agree that the sex offender registry is horribly overbroad — not only ruining non-dangerous people’s lives, but also making it essentially worthless for tracking truly dangerous offenders — this is not a case where I’m especially concerned. It’s not like this was two 14-year-olds fooling around; this guy is allowed to join the military, vote, etc, so he should know well enough not to do this sort of thing.

    1. Are you serious? An 18-year-old’s life is ruined because some seriously warped zealots decide to make an example of him an you’re not too concerned?

      1. I said I think using the sex offender list in this case is stupid. Not because I oppose sex offender registries, but because I support them and want them not to be diluted by public urinators and sexters.

        But the person I quoted kept calling this 18-year-old a “kid”, which is a gross misrepresentation. There have been cases reported here where it really was two similarly-aged kids who were prosecuted, and that is a travesty. This isn’t.

        1. But the person I quoted kept calling this 18-year-old a “kid”, which is a gross misrepresentation. There have been cases reported here where it really was two similarly-aged kids who were prosecuted, and that is a travesty. This isn’t.

          So, Johnny’s been going (to bed) with Jenny since she was 14 and he was 17, and now that Johnny is 18, he’s suddenly perverted for carrying on a reltionship he’s been in for a year?

          Get real.

          Rape = sexual predetor

          “statutory” rape (as opposed to pedophilia, or “child molestation”) is just punishing perfectly normal people for consensually doing what nature impels them to do.

  39. Even the Iowa Supreme Court acknowledges that the photo was at her request, that the two weren’t romantically involved, and that the whole exchange was intended to be a joke. Nevertheless, it upheld Canal’s conviction and sentence, which comes with the requirement that he register as a sex offender, likely for the rest of his life.

    And if she had asked Canal to point a gun she thought was unloaded at her and pull the trigger as a joke, and it turned out to be loaded and she received a fatal gunshot wound, the Court would uphold his conviction for manslaughter, too.

    Just because it’s a victimless crime does not mean it’s unconstitutional. Don’t blame the courts, blame the legislators. Though given the libertarian track record at the polls, I’d understand why your first resort is to the unelected blackrobes.

    1. Just because it’s a victimless crime does not mean it’s unconstitutional.

      Just because a bunch of legislators and their sheeple will accept a given legislation as defining a “crime” when there is no complainant (or rather an imaginary one) doesn’t mean it’s Constitutional. For example, when drug prohibition became the vogue, it was recognised that any federal law restricting what any given any individual put in their system would be unconstitutional without a fundamental change to the constitution. This was actually done to facilitate the ban on booze, but since only “chinks, niggers, and mexicans” were perceived to indulge in the other substances, “taxes” were seen as being enough to justify incarcerating folks.

      Of course, nowadays the DEA even has final say over what your doctor can prescribe you for pain, anxiety, and other things that people might take a bit of pleasure in if they weren’t suffering so damn much in the first place…

  40. Just because it’s a victimless crime

    Full fucking stop. Just shut the fuck up. Victimless crime.

    A victimless crime IS NOT A FUCKING CRIME.

    1. The constitution doesn’t say that, so the courts can’t be expected to help libertarians in this case. Perhaps you should try convincing the electorate of your philosophy on victimless crimes.

      1. The constitution doesn’t say that, so the courts can’t be expected to help libertarians in this case. Perhaps you should try convincing the electorate of your philosophy on victimless crimes.

        No, it simply says “no person shall be denied of life and liberty without due process”. And until the progressives came into power, this was understood to mean victimless “crimes”.

        The progressives achieved the banning of prostitution, drugs, and other things they considered “bad for you” by creating imaginary victims under the umbrella of “public health”. That is to say the Happy Hooker was equated with Typhoid Mary, and Harry Anslinger made up stories about pot-heads taking axes to their families and themselves to create the illusion of a “victim”. Without those illusions, the “crimes” are unconstitutional, and the people who penned them knew it. No victim, no crime.

  41. Just because it’s a victimless crime

    Full fucking stop. Just shut the fuck up. Victimless crime.

    A victimless crime IS NOT A FUCKING CRIME.

  42. Dunno wassup with double post; I just hit the preview button, then submit.

  43. OneNewsNow is actually the American Family Association’s very WND-like news site.

    WND actually has a lot of common sense content on sexting. Pretty much all of it is closer to what Radley was saying than the ADF.

  44. I’ve gotten mailings from the Alliance Defense Fund. The primary target of their hatred is the ACLU. This is consistent with that.

  45. This “kid” was an adult at the time.

    So, the pic wasn’t child porn. And he didn’t actually expose himself in person to a minor.

    Is it supposed to make a difference that the penis photo he sent happened to be his own? Or should sending any porn to a minor be criminal offense?

    If so, should you be criminally charged if a minor happens to find porn that you have laying around the house? Why not?

    What if a minor used your computer to look up porn? A crime?

  46. I feel sympathy for the guy. Sex offender lists don’t work and they punish for life.

    But this is not a great example of completely outrageous behavior by the state or the stupidity of Iowa’s religious fanatics.

    He was 18 and she was 14. At that point you are, at the very least, really starting to push up against a very real and important line.

    The one where it doesn’t matter what she asks your penis stays in your pants because she is a child and you are an adult. End of story.

    Also, please remember, mandatory sentences exist for a reason. They didn’t appear out of thin air for no reason. At one point liberal judges far too often imposed ridiculously lenient sentences for very serious offenders. Getting tough on crime has corresponded with reductions in crime.

    Again see point one and maybe we are way past the point where we need to worry about liberal judges anymore the crime climate has greatly changed from the late 70s to now.

    But when you consider things from that context Iowa’s citizens don’t seem that insane.

  47. The Puritan element in the U.S. is still going strong. They never give it up. “Registered Sex Offender” is the new Scarlet Letter. Cases like this dilute its meaning to dung. If I were younger I’d start a movement to have vast crowds going around every day wearing “Registered Sex Offender” t-shirts as a protest against the stupidity of it. What did the above case do except give a bunch of “justice” officials a paycheck for protecting society from an imaginary threat? Maybe there’s too many officials and they can save tax money by letting them go.

  48. “..not because of the dirty pictures themselves, but because of what the hysterical SO-CALLED adults will do to you if they find them.”

    Fixed.

  49. When you disseminate, it is to multiple people. You can’t disseminate to one person. It doesn’t meet the definition of disseminate:

    1. To scatter widely, as in sowing seed.
    2. To spread abroad; promulgate: disseminate information.

    I’m stunned the supreme court didn’t see this and overturn the conviction.

  50. Its a kid. Let he with out sin throw the first stone. You need to teach the young not condem them just because you think he should of known.

  51. dont bother striking back at me, this is not a true email. I am only here to smite those who think they are more rightoughs than others. Alduts know if they have not thought of it already its not been thought of before. You just feel you are more powerful now to smite the week. Believe in God and pray its not him watching down on you from heaven when all passes

  52. I agree. Children of God need to learn before judgement. Courts these day think they are all mighty. only God will be there judge on judgement day

  53. wow im really sad to see how most of you people feel this is no big deal. no wonder why this country is going down hill. at this rate god will be coming very soon and i just hope for all your sakes that your ready when he does come. it’s a shame how people are a bunch of disgusting ignorant pigs. kids sending dirty pics to each other is not okay. im only 18 and even i realize that. no one is perfect and people make mistakes but feeling like this issue is some government conspiracy to make money is just an excuse to not look like some low life scum. i need to do some praying tonight.

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