Pornography

Looking vs. Touching

Is possession of child pornography a crime worthy of years in prison?

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Amy was eight when her uncle began raping her. He took pictures. Last month the Supreme Court considered what restitution Amy is entitled to collect—not from her uncle but from a man, Doyle Paroline, who downloaded two of those pictures.

The potential answers to that question range from zero to $3.4 million. According to The New York Times, the justices seemed "stumped." Their confusion reflects a deeper problem with the justification for criminalizing possession of child pornography, an offense for which legislators have prescribed increasingly harsh penalties with little regard to sense or justice.

Amy's lawyer puts the past and future cost of her sexual abuse, including lifelong psychotherapy, an interrupted college education, and reduced earning capacity, at $3.4 million, some of which is attributable to her knowledge that images of her uncle's crimes are circulating on the Internet. As Justice Antonin Scalia observed during oral argument in the case, Amy "has undergone serious psychiatric harm because of her knowledge that there are thousands of people out there viewing her rape."

Yet it is no easy matter to allocate responsibility for that harm under a federal law that requires a defendant to pay his victim "the full amount of the victim's losses." Under a theory of joint and several liability, Amy's lawyer argued that Paroline should be on the hook for the full $3.4 million. Paroline's lawyer argued that he owes her nothing because downloading the pictures her uncle took was not the proximate cause of her suffering.

In between those two extremes, Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben said judges should assess restitution on a case-by-case basis. Another possible approach: If you divide $3.4 million by the estimated 70,000 people who have seen photographs or videos of the crimes committed by Amy's uncle, the result is less than $50.

None of these solutions is very satisfying. Once images of sexual abuse have been viewed 1,000 times, Justice Samuel Alito wondered, is it even theoretically possible to assess the damage caused by the 1,001st viewing?

The difficulty of deciding exactly what harm Doyle Paroline has done to Amy raises the question of why possessing child pornography is treated as a crime that merits years in prison. As a result of congressional edicts, the average sentence in federal child porn cases that do not involve production rose from 54 months in 2004 to 95 months in 2010, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Under federal law, receiving child pornography, which could mean viewing or downloading a single image, triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend stiff enhancements based on factors that are extremely common, such as using a computer, swapping photos, or possessing more than 600 images (with each video counted as 75 images). The maximum penalty is 20 years. By comparison, Amy's uncle served 10 years for what he did to her.

When the Supreme Court upheld bans on possession of child pornography in 1989, its main rationale was that demand for this material encourages its production, which necessarily involves the abuse of children. But this argument has little relevance now that people who look at child pornography typically get it online for free. Furthermore, people who possess "sexually obscene images of children"—production of which need not entail abuse of any actual children—face the same heavy penalties.

Another rationale for criminalizing possession of child pornography, mentioned by the sentencing commission in its report, is that these images "validate and normalize the sexual exploitation of children." Yet the same could be said of explicit arguments in favor of sex with minors, which nevertheless enjoy First Amendment protection.

Even if you agree that possessing child pornography should be a crime, the current penalty structure is clearly out of whack. Something is seriously wrong with a justice system in which people who look at images of child rape can be punished more severely than people who rape children. 

NEXT: Brickbat: Off the Books

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  1. Uh-oh. A second one in two days. Is this what will replace the Michael Sam post obsession?

    1. No posts on Shirley Temple as far as I can see. As I said, she wasn’t a cultural touchstone for the H&R writers.

      1. My honest reaction to the news of her passing was “Wasn’t she already dead?”

      2. Speaking of Shirley Temple and child porn.

        http://junkee.com/baby-burlesq…..mple/28843

        1. woh dude. that’s really fucked up. and the fuckedupness of it probably whooshed over the heads of contemporary viewers.

  2. Maybe…,.you know what, I’m just going to do as lord humungous always suggest and just walk away.

  3. Oh good, this again.

    Something is seriously wrong with a justice system in which people who look at images of child rape can be punished more severely than people who rape children.

    The obvious solution is to decriminalize child porn and child rape. Equality! Justice!

    Fuck you Sullum.

    1. Your hysterics induced by a perfectly reasonable sentence do you no justice.

      1. Something is seriously wrong with a justice system in which people who look at images of child rape murder can be punished more severely than people who rape murder children.

        One wonders what PM thinks of my edit.

        1. One wonders what PM thinks of my edit.

          I think it’s a pretty shallow and vacuous analogy since a corpse can’t experience any further loss or damage. It may also be worth pointing out that the inequity of the punishment wasn’t what I took issue with, but the solution implied by the preceding sentence suggesting that kiddie porn should be decriminalized.

          Anything else you wonder about that I can clear up while we’re here?

          1. How about this?

            “Something is seriously wrong with a justice system in which people who look at images of a minor being beaten by the cops can be punished more severely than the cops who beat him.”

            The minor can experience further loss and damage, can he not?

            And while we are on the subject, isn’t Amy experiencing further loss and damage based in her knowledge that strangers like us are talking about her rape? Shouldn’t then be a crime to talk about kiddie porn as well?

            It may be worth pointing out that the point I took from the article was the preposterousness of a law that imprisons people for merely looking at an image, whatever one’s purpose for doing so. Even a person committed fighting the abuse of children who is investigating the extent of the problem can be prosecuted for “possessing” images merely by viewing one on a computer. That is simply ridiculous.

            1. The minor can experience further loss and damage, can he not?

              Yes, that was rather the point.

              isn’t Amy experiencing further loss and damage based in her knowledge that strangers like us are talking about her rape?

              I suppose you could try and make the argument, although I think you’d have a difficult time analogizing discussing the public details of a criminal case with viewing or disseminating a private video capturing the rape of a child against the consent of one of the participants. One of those things doesn’t sound much like the other, from both a legal and a practical perspective.

              …the point I took from the article was the preposterousness of a law that imprisons people for merely looking at an image, whatever one’s purpose for doing so.

              A legitimate point, and one that Sullum should have stuck to instead of advocating for the decriminalization of kiddie porn. Intent is a cornerstone of the law.

              1. No, the point is that *Amy* could make that point, and no doubt some proggie judge and/or jury will agree.

                1. No, the point is that *Amy* could make that point, and no doubt some proggie judge and/or jury will agree.

                  I doubt very much that any judge would allow such a lawsuit to proceed even if the victim of the rape actually wanted to pursue one considering the constitutional case law surrounding the issues (this would be very well protected speech under the 1A). There is a legal and ethical (from a NAP standpoint) difference between discussing a public criminal case and watching a private video of a child being raped when the child never consented to the rape, the production of the video, or its dissemination. The law can accommodate that difference.

                  1. Nonsense. The map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal, the description is not the thing described, the representation is not the thing/event represented. This is the first axiom of general semantics.

                    Evidence of a crime is not a crime. The only way to criminalize child porn is to show a nexus of contract between the viewers and the producers.

          2. the solution implied by the preceding sentence suggesting that kiddie porn should be decriminalized.

            You’re inferring what Jacob did not imply. The only implication I infer is that the penalties for kiddie porn should be less than for rape.

            1. However, I am for legaliz’n of all porn.

      2. Since no one is defending the perverts…

        Maybe your reading is different from mine, but I took away from this statement that Sullum doesn’t support the criminalization of possession of child porn:

        Even if you agree that possessing child pornography should be a crime…

        On the question of the article, why is the active rapist given a less severe punishment than the passive pervert?

        More important than the question is the solution to the obvious injustice. Sullum’s ideal solution seems to me to involve decriminalizing kiddie porn. In which case, I repeat, fuck you Sullum.

    2. Since no one is defending the perverts, or addressing the question of why they get more jail time than the rapist, lets look at this through an analogy.

      There used to be a statute on the books in New York called ‘Menacing’ which is what they’d charge you with for arriving on someone’s porch and waving a shotgun around (this is before the gun-grabbers came to the fore in the state). However, making threats was rolled into ‘assault’. The result of the law was, if you called someone up and said “I’m going to come over there with a shotgun” you got more jail time than if you actually came over with a shotgun. Now which action was the more serious? Eventually they chucked ‘menacing’ from the statutes and rolled that into assault as well, because the situation made no sense.

      On the question of the article, why is the active rapist given a less severe punishment than the passive pervert?

      1. Not sure why my other comment didn’t nest properly, but it’s directly above yours, or here

    3. Yeah, fuck logic, yo! Who needs it when you have false dichotomies to make!

      1. Not really a false dichotomy when one of the two options was suggested by the author.

        1. The obvious solution is to decriminalize child porn and child rape.

          No, it wasn’t, dipshit.

          1. The former explicitly. The bolded portion, not as explicitly. Although it’s an easy logical route from holding the consumer blameless as long as the transaction was not for profit to holding the producer blameless on the same grounds (while still holding the perp responsible for the actual crime against the child. If you think molesting kids should be criminal. I know not everybody here does).

            1. Stop trying to rationalize your mendacity. Produce one sentence from Sullum advocating against child rape laws.

              1. I think I pretty clearly said that he never explicitly advocated such. Although it’s hard to follow his logic to any conclusion other than the production of non-profit kiddie porn (which would necessitate the abuse or rape of a child) being decriminalized.

                1. (Which I realize wouldn’t necessarily mean the decriminalization of the actual abuse or rape of the child, if the perp gets caught. So in that sense, you are right, I owe Mr. Sullum a heartfelt apology. He supports the right to film, disseminate and consume photos and videos of the abuse and rape of kids; for fun, but not for profit; but not the actual abuse and rape in and of itself. And for that, I repeat: fuck you Sullum.)

                  1. He supports the right to film, disseminate and consume photos and videos of the abuse and rape of kids

                    I’m not really seeing this. It seems to me he’s arguing for reducing the penalties for possessing child pornography to something less than the penalty for actually raping a child. It is ridiculous that this girl’s uncle got only 10 years while someone who possesses photos of her uncle’s crime could recieve as much as 20.

                    Furthermore, I see nothing in the article addressing the actual production of child pornography or what the penalties for that should be.

                    IOW, I think you’re reading something into this that isn’t there. He’s not advocating for the outright decriminalization of possession of kiddie porn, much less the production of said porn, and even much, much less the actual commission of child rape.

                    1. Eh, I disagree, and I explained why here. His wording is telling, as is the fact that his sense of the injustice is that the penalties for child porn possession are too harsh, not that the penalties for the sexual abuse of children too lenient. I think you’re reading less into this than is there.

                      It is ridiculous that this girl’s uncle got only 10 years while someone who possesses photos of her uncle’s crime could recieve as much as 20.

                      A fact I never took issue with and even addressed downthread.

      2. Why do you hate the children so much?

    4. Why is it then that pictures depicting all other criminals acts remain legal, yet this type in particular is not? That’s the real analogous comparison to make.

      1. For analogous criminal acts, photo and video depictions aren’t legal either (actual rape porn, the elusive snuff video, etc).

        1. That’s only because of certain arbitrarily specific laws. All other media of criminal shootings, property damage, beatings, illegal fights etc. remain legal to posses

          1. That’s only because of certain arbitrarily specific laws.

            No, it’s because there isn’t an unconsenting victim who may be harmed in the cases where the viewing of the crime is legal. You can watch some thug hold up a 7-11 on the surveillance video in which both the perp and the victim were in public and observed in public by the camera, and neither perp nor victim has a property claim on the video or could be materially harmed by its viewing. Watching a private video of a child getting sexually abused by an adult when the child didn’t consent to the sex act, the video, or the dissemination of the video involves a rights violation. The difference is anything but arbitrary.

            1. Nonsense. The map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal, the description is not the thing described, the representation is not the thing/event represented. This is the first axiom of general semantics.

              Evidence of a crime is not a crime. The only way to criminalize child porn is to show a nexus of contract between the viewers and the producers.

              The rights violation is accomplished by the rapist, not the videographer/distributor/viewer. The crime victim has a claim on the perpetrator, no one else. To say that the victim has a claim on the viewer because he/she is harmed by the viewers knowledge of the victims shame, or what have you, is the same as making a claim on the mental state of the viewer, a preposterous conclusion.

    5. yeah I am all aboard the libertarian train until this kind of stuff is mentioned. Libertarian =/= libertine.

  4. Truly a cringe-inducing post heading, compelling even some of the most jaded toostrich. Yikes.

    1. *to ostrich

  5. The best argument I can think of for handing out harsh sentences for those who consume child pornography is that they are complicit in encouraging the victimization of children for their own benefit; in other words, they are creating a demand for which others are supplying, to the severe detriment of the children.

    Does that mean that they should be treated more harshly than the suppliers of such media? No, I don’t think that’s reasonable; on the other hand, I don’t necessarily think they should be cut any slack just because they were “looking” rather than “touching”; by encouraging such behavior with their depravity they are complicit in the crime, in my opinion.

    I’ve seen arguments put forth before (not that I’m seeing that argument made in this article) that pedophiles who look at child porn but don’t engage in the behavior are, in a sense, self-medicating so that they don’t harm “real” children. Well, sorry, but child porn inherently creates a victim and their self-medication is to the detriment of someone out there. They *should* be held liable for their part in that, even if it’s a relatively small one (i.e. they weren’t the ones taking the pictures).

    1. Quick, somebody come grief this guy for having the temerity to suggest kiddie porn isn’t cool.

    2. …by encouraging such behavior with their depravity they are complicit in the crime, in my opinion.

      Does the consumer have any bearing on the producer? With no audience, would the assault not happen? I honestly don’t know.

      1. I would think that the child molestation still occurs but that it might not be filmed if there was no market for it.

        But truly we are practicing picking at nits and splitting of hairs.

        Just fry all connected with the harming of children in such a manner and let us then debate issues worthy of debate.

    3. How is a consumer complicit in a crime that may have happened years or decades ago? If prosecutors can draw a line from consumer to producer and show cause/effect, they should do that. Asking us to take the connection on faith just because we think looking at the images is abhorrent should not be enough.

      1. Well, for one thing the consumer is benefiting from criminal activity and not reporting the crime; in a sense it could be argued that makes them an accomplice.

        For another, the propagation of the illicit material continually victimizes the subject of the pictures/videos over and over again; mentally if not physically.

        I’m generally fine with taking a “live and let live” mentality in most things, but this particular issue involves a third party being victimized for the pleasure of others, and that is something that I think needs to be stopped wherever possible. Including the dissemination of materials related to the crime.

        1. “Benefiting.” Shouldn’t the prosecutor have to prove that? If I download a video of a convenience store robbery, am I expected to report that crime?

          As for the continual victimizing argument, where does the distress come from? Does it come from someone looking at the image or from someone telling the child that his/her image is being enjoyed by strangers? If I look at an image of your rape, it that cause you any distress before someone tells you I did that? If looking at the images causes distress, then even law enforcement looking at it should also cause distress.

          Looking at child porn for pleasure IS abhorrent. Looking at it to decipher one’s childhood traumas is terribly sad. Looking at it to research criminal trends might prove useful. The law, however, makes no distinction between reasons to look at it. To make that distinction would require knowing what the viewer was thinking while viewing…taking us directly into defining thoughtcrime.

          1. Actually, in some states the law does make distinctions between “bona fide” academic research and that of prurient interest.

            1. That is not true if there are images that are from across state line, that person whether the state says it’s ok or not, can and will be, and has been prosecuted and convicted in the last few year. Even attorneys are not allowed to look a the images without law enforcement beside them is a special room.

        2. How could it victimize them mentally if they don’t even know you’re doing it?

        3. And yet if you report the crime, presenting the evidence can get you charged. If you think I’m making that up, do a little research.

    4. What if the porn was produced so long ago that there could no longer be an incentive for the producers? Same as with copyrights.

  6. Another possible approach: If you divide $3.4 million by the estimated 70,000 people who have seen photographs or videos of the crimes committed by Amy’s uncle, the result is less than $50.

    Surely Amy deserves $3.4 million * 70,000. And then the government can tax the settlement. Budget deficits solved!

    1. Clearly the little gold digger should be paying Mr. Paroline damages. If she hadn’t enticed the poor fella by allowing her uncle to rape her and upload the video to the internet he’d probably be enjoying a perfectly career as a school bus driver.

        1. Ploppy actually supports fucking little kids and publishing any depictions of the act, both with impunity. But, uh, good one.

          1. Chill dude, I realized you were being sarcastic. And yes, the joke was that Ploppy’s actual views match up with your sarcastic description.

            1. Sorry. I’m getting shredded upthread for supporting keeping kiddie porn illegal, so I thought you were piling on.

              1. No, you’re getting shredded for being a mendacious cunt. You’ll notice ZombiePete was much more reasonable and nobody has piled onto him.

                1. No, I’m apparently getting shredded because you’re too goddamned stupid to read.

            2. Nice straw guys. But hey, that’s what I’d expect from you two. So w/e.

      1. Clearly anyone who has concerns about current laws just wants TEH CHILDRENZ TO BE RAPED!!!

        1. Having concerns about the law isn’t the same thing as advocating the decriminalization of child pornography or suggesting the victim is an asshole for seeking damages.

          1. I would suggest that anyone who deliberately informs a victim that thousands of perverts are looking at images of her childhood rape…THAT person is most definitely an asshole.

            1. And is the person that is causing the re-victimization, especially when it was decades ago that the abuse took place.

  7. Back in the 90’s, maybe ’96 or ’97, I remember Time running a scare piece about how porn was around every corner and unsuspecting grandmothers would intend to look up recipes and wind up engaged in child prostitution. My roommates were computer illiterate and asked me what I thought of the article. I told them the article was hype but porn of all forms was accessible to those actively seeking it. They called BS and basically demanded a Rule 34 session (back before it was cool–suck on that!).

    Their choices may have allegedly involved scheisse, animals and kids. Using Usenet, I was able to show them one of each in less than 10 minutes. Had the NSA been up to its tricks back then, I might just be getting out of prison.

    1. Back in the day when pine was my email client and Lynx was my browser.

      Usenet was rec.arts.startrek, alt.binaries.porn, alt.sex.hello-kitty and kibo, of course.

      Good times. Still, I wouldn’t trade Youtube for all that nostalgia.

    2. Had the NSA been up to its tricks back then, I might just be getting out of prison.

      Depending on the statute of limitations, you may want to watch your back. This would, afterall, probably count as a confession.

      1. Some say the statute of limitations should start from when the “victim” remembers the “crime”. Repression, donchta know. A crime occurs when the victim sez it occurs.

    3. Well, maybe after the first two they could have just taken your word for the third. Actively taking ten minutes out of my life to search for something as abhorrent as child pornography, even if it’s “just” to prove a point, would be a waste and ten minutes I would likely regret for the rest of it after I had seen something I couldn’t unsee.

    1. Mmmmmmmm, tasty!

  8. Looks like a liberal law professor sent one of his flunkies here to practice arguing against straw men.

  9. I agree with ZombiePete’s analysis that the act of “looking” creates a demand for pictures that by their very nature document an actual crime and abuse of a child. Strong criminal penalties may help to reduce illegal images (Child porn)in what is generally an exploitive pornography industry. In other words, if child porn was allowed, there exists an entire industry dedicated to sexual gratification through pornography. The more extreme, the more sensational and to some, the more stimulating. That said-there are worlds of difference between adults engaging in the porn business and a minor child.

    The author seems to confuse a civil fine with a criminal penalty. Joint and several liability is common in civil cases. Crimes are acts against society that require individual responsibility. If the alleged criminal possessor of child pornography is locked up-I think an excessive fine of 3.4 million dollars is a waste of the court’s time. In any event, the fine is not proportional nor does it reflect wisdom in jurisprudence.

    1. Strong criminal penalties may help to reduce illegal images (Child porn)in what is generally an exploitive pornography industry

      We’ve had 20 years of empirical data, does it support your assertion?

    2. have strong criminal penalties significantly reduce the demand for drugs in this country?

      I know that the underlying crimes are completely different but the principal remains – hefting heavy penalties on one set of criminals to deter the actions of a different (but dependent) set of criminals has negligible effect.

      In addition, one of the cornerstones of western jurisprudence is that punishments are proportional to the crime.

      Under that standard there is no way to match possession with production.

      I’m not for decriminalization, not really even for *reducing* the possible sentences for possession. Only for the law to make some goddamned sense in how it apportions punishment.

      1. A key difference though is that drug production doesn’t have any victim (at least not inherently). So it’s not a very fair analogy, except in the narrow sense of demonstrating that demand is constant and doesn’t always respond to incentives.

        I’m not for decriminalization, not really even for *reducing* the possible sentences for possession. Only for the law to make some goddamned sense in how it apportions punishment.

        So you support increasing the sentences for child molesters, child rapists, and the producers of child porn such that they always exceed the sentences of child porn consumers? You monster!

  10. Thoughtcrime.

  11. After the age of consent has been reached, I’m cool with people doing anything they want – polygamy, incest, any/all drugs, etc. – as long as it’s consensual. But before the age of consent, no way. Do not mess with kids, ever. Stick it to the rapist, the possessor, the seller, everyone involved; make it hurt.

    1. I’m told that in libertopia there would be no age of consent laws and every accusation of kiddie rape would have to be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine the intellectual capacity of the (alleged) child involved. Musn’t judge collectively.

    2. Biggest problem is the legal age of consent is beyond the natural age of consent which is determined by puberty. So in reality, “kiddie porn” includes young adult porn.

      Here’s an article by Radley Balko about how a 16 and 17 year old girl landed their older boyfriend 15-years in prison (not to mention sex offender registration).

      It covered the history how in 1984, when they raised the drinking age, they also raised the age of consent, all so prosecutors can obtain easier convictions:
      You Can Have Sex With Them; Just Don’t Photograph Them

      But as Hamilton points out in his sentencing statement, there is no indication that Congress had this rationale in mind when it raised the age of consent in 1984. Instead the congressional record indicates the reason for the change was that prosecutors usually are not able to track down the women depicted in explicit photos to verify their ages. With the cutoff at 16, prosecutors were having problems winning convictions if the girls depicted in the images showed any signs of puberty. Raising the age to 18, a House committee reported, “would facilitate the prosecution of child pornography cases and raise the effective age of protection of children from these practices probably not to 18 years of age, but perhaps to 16.”

      1. So, they’re admitting that they just want to incarcerate more people. FYTW.

  12. This is typical of American justice. They use the same rational regardless of whether it’s drugs, guns or child porn. It’s all reduced to a supply and demand mentality.

    They assume that the demand for child porn drives the production of it. In some cases that might be true but in cases like this is obviously is not. Just like in the war on drugs though they use this mindset to set stiffer penalties for the consumers than for the producers. In both cases they believe that if they can destroy the demand the supply with dry up. All they manage to accomplish is to drive all of it further under ground.

    Gun crimes is an area where they use the same premise but reverse the cause and effect. With guns they believe the supply drives the demand.

  13. I’ve seen some truly wicked child porn (infants; etc.) at erotic bookstores in Paris. Old black and white photos. Yeesh.

    After all that, I still prefer my objects-of-sexual-desire to be slim and stacked.

  14. Not to derail things but I think it’s fucking awesome that the NSA can spy based on a tiered network graph structure (at least, BarryO suggests they are no longer spying on people three phone calls away from a primary suspect) but that punishing child rapists, hardcore child porn consumers, and incidental or non-sexual consumers on a more discretionary basis is somehow elusive.

    Our justice system is so many layers of fucked up it’s not even funny.

  15. If the harm is in the looking at the pictures, how much is she owed by the police, prosecutor, judge, and jurors who looked at them?

  16. Maybe we should consider the argument from an economic perspective. In order for there to be a supply, there must first be a demand. Those who seek out these videos / pictures exploiting children are not only contributing to the emotional damages of these children but are increasing the demand, so these crimes against these children continue to happen. In some ways it could be looked at as someone who pays an assasin to kill someone. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they definitely had a hand in the crime. Granted, it’s not as direct as that, but if they would cease to demand such pictures, the supply would undoubtedly decrease. Rapes will continue to happen, unfortunately, but the further pain and exploitation following the rape would be omitted. The rapist should obviously recieve a harsher punishment, but those who demand such crimes should be have a harsh punishment as well – in my opinion.

  17. The best argument put forth for harsh penalties for simple viewing/possession of kiddie porn is that it deters market supply which encourages harm to children.

    HOWEVER, I remember several years ago a legal ruling that ANIMATED kiddie porn – where no actual children are involved or hurt – was deemed into the same category of illegality and punishments of actual kiddie porn.

    This summarily dismisses the best argument above, and relegates the reasonings behind harsh penalties for simple viewing/possession to “doesn’t matter that you didn’t do anything bad to an actual child – we’re punishing you because we think that you’ve thought about it”

    Be as disgusted about this subject as you like, but Sullum has a point – people are being harshly punished for their thoughts, real or perceived, not their actions – Having viewed kiddie porn, accidentally or on purpose, being the evidence of their thoughts. If the subject were anything else, would you be comfortable with that?

    1. I think we all agree that people “looking” are perverts that are supposed to be punished. Marc, your point on the animated ruling (if it is factual) brings up a an interesting point. No one actually got ‘molested’ or ‘hurt’ even though it depicts – fakely – a horrific crime. I would be surprised at this ruling because it could be used as precedent against watching movies like The Hills Have Eyes, or Last House on the Left, or any film depicting a rape scene. The crime was shown, but it didn’t happen, so does that make implicate me for watching a movie.

      That point aside, and assuming folks who actually commit that crime should pay a VERY harsh penalty. I am with ZombiePete and in this instance, I am going to recommend something anti-libertarian and encourage we do set penalties. If you’re caught producing child porn (not necessarily doing the actual molestation, but filming it), you are clearly complicit in the crime and you should pay as harsh a penalty as the person doing the actual molestation; if you distributed it, then you should pay a penalty but not as harsh, and if you viewing/caught with it on your PC, etc, then you pay a penalty as well. Though not as harsh as the latter two. I am completely fine with defining these penalties. Regardless, this is something that should be curbed and the penalties need to be steep enough to stymy the actual production, distribution, and “looking”.

      1. We do NOT all agree such.

  18. How about stepping away from child porn to make a comparison with murder, an even more serious crime? What should be the penalty for the following?

    Committing a murder
    Creating a video of that murder
    Distributing a video for profit of that murder
    Distributing a video for free of that murder
    Purchasing a video of that murder
    Downloading for free a video of that murder
    Viewing a video of that murder
    Processing a video of that murder

    Creating a video of a realistic looking but fictitious murder that is meant to appeal to people that enjoy that sort of thing
    Distributing a video for profit of the fictitious murder
    Distributing a video for free of the fictitious murder
    Purchasing a video of the fictitious murder
    Downloading for free a video of the fictitious murder
    Viewing a video of the fictitious murder
    Processing a video of the fictitious murder

  19. PM, does your opinion change at all in light of fairly strong evidence that legalization of child pornography is significantly correlated with reduced sex crimes against minors.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..111326.htm

    In light of this evidence it seems that use of computer generated actors might actually reduce crime.

  20. Not exactly pertinent to this article, but Luke Rudkowski of “We Are Change” was targeted by somebody (CIA?) who contacted him saying they had whistleblower information and when he grew suspicious and opened the file on a different computer from his own, it downloaded vile child pornography onto that computer; he was out of the country at the time and when he returned, he was detained and his computer was searched for eight hours apparently by people who were expecting to find those files. It makes me wonder how many of the people we have heard about lately who have been arrested on ‘child pornography’ grounds have unknowingly been targeted. And if this is what our ‘law enforcement’ is up to, how can we possibly trust them? No one is safe from this form of blackmail, the effects of it would be permanent even if the source was finally determined.

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