Law in the Internet Society
Virginia Man Gets 20 Years for Anime Child Porn --

-- RodrigoFuentes - 04 Sep 2008

Thank you, Rodrigo. Please note also that "[t]he jury also convicted Whorley ... of sending and receiving 20 obscene E-mails which graphically described, among other things, parents sexually molesting their own children." Someone has been sent to jail for sending and receiving text describing imagined events.

I still think, after all the wonderful work that has followed it, that The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's most perfect novel (which, as it happens, my father edited). And on the theory of this prosecution, she could have been sent to jail for writing it.

-- EbenMoglen - 05 Sep 2008

Last month, the UK passed the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, which, among other things, makes it a criminal violation to possess extreme photographic images. These images don't have to involve children at all; they merely have to depict an image produced solely for the purpose of sexual arousal that someone believes "is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character," and falls within section 7 (below).

(7) An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following— (a) an act which threatens a person’s life, (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals, (c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or (d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive), and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.

-- JoshS - 05 Sep 2008

Supporters of the criminalization of child pornography and violent pornography often argue that images and stories depicting such activities, even when entirely fictional, can induce predisposed individuals to molest children or commit violent sexual crimes. Like the argument that violent movies and violent video games can promote anti-social behavior, the catalyst theory of child pornography has some intuitive appeal.

However, the empirical research examining the link between pornography and abuse is not exactly conclusive. Even assuming some positive correlation exists between the possession of simulated violent pornography and actual sexual violence, what laws like the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act set out to do is incarcerate people for undesirable activities they have not yet undertaken, but could undertake in the future. Such laws can't be justified on any retributive theory of punishment. The future harm they seek to prevent, while potentially horrendous, will always be speculative. There's nothing speculative about the havoc incarceration wrecks on the lives of individuals who possess simulated violent pornography, or on the lives of their families.

Convictions on the basis of future crimes have no place in a justice system that pays more than lip service to the notions of free will and personal responsibility.

-- AndreiVoinigescu - 06 Sep 2008

While I too would prefer not to jail individuals for mere possession of extreme or child pornography, I can’t accept your rationale. First, there are other theories of punishment other than retribution. An advocate of such regulations might argue that they serve a utilitarian purpose, such as being a general deterrence to those who do commit violent crimes or crimes against children. It’s up to you whether you think that incarcerating one person for a lesser crime to deter another from committing a greater one is a convincing rationale. However, to say that there is no plausible rationale seems inaccurate.

Second, people are convicted for future crimes all the time (e.g. incomplete act attempt). Those prosecutions turn on whether an actor’s actions constitute enough of a substantial step to corroborate criminal purpose, but the actor has not actually committed the criminalized act. Would we be more comfortable with prosecutions for attempted acts of child molestation, where a jury would determine if the defendant’s possession of child pornography indicated her intent to molest children? What if conviction for attempted child molestation had the same jail time as actual child molestation? And what if that conviction was simply based on a puritanical jury’s views of child pornography?

Not only do we convict people for future crimes, we convict people who have attempted to commit crimes and failed (e.g. completed act attempt).

For me, the issue is not the reasoning behind the laws, but that law makers think that it is appropriate to be peering into what I do inside my home at all. Whether it is pornography or drugs or what have you, I would like to maintain my own little fiefdom in which I can do what I want without fear of prosecution.

Additionally, isn’t the categorization of a photograph contextual? Is a photograph of a half naked boy with a cigarette in his mouth child pornography? What if it is later revealed to be taken in Afghanistan by a war photographer? What if it was taken from the war photographer’s website and reproduced on a pornographic website?

[sorry, didn’t mean to ramble...]

-- JoshS - 07 Sep 2008



Webs Webs

r5 - 07 Sep 2008 - 16:30:05 - JoshS
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM