A different obscene use of child pornography

AdamReed's picture
Submitted by AdamReed on Tue, 2006-09-05 07:47

First, full disclosure. I was once arrested on a false allegation of possession of child pornography. Evantually I was proven innocent, the charges were dismissed, and my arrest record expunged. My experience has left me with a realization that child pornography has other uses than the obvious.

Real child pornography is the record of the sexual abuse of an actual child. The buyer of child pornography is in effect paying the producer of child pornography to abuse the child for the buyer's perverse gratification. The buyer is a co-initiator of force who ought to be punished by objective law. But this is not all.

Because child pornography is an actual case in which buying "ink on paper" is objectively a crime, to enemies of free expression the invocation of child pornography has become a master key to public opinion. In every country of the world, the slogan of "fighting child pornography" has been used to excuse ever-wider suppression of images and writings that do not, except in the fervid imaginations of the censors, have anything to do with actual initiation of force. The latest example comes from South Africa. Here is how it was The Wall Street Journal (Mbeki Blames The Press, September 1, 2006) describes it:

Mr. Mbeki has put forward a bill, to be presented to Parliament today, that would amend the country's Films and Publications Act so as to subject print and broadcast media to censorship. The ostensible reason for the amendment is to deter child pornography, but this hardly seems credible. The new bill does not deal only with child abuse. It names four sweeping categories of content that must be submitted to authorities "for examination and classification" prior to publication or broadcast. Subject to this scrutiny and process would be "descriptions or representations of...a) sexual conduct, b) propaganda for war, c) incitement to imminent violence, or d) the advocacy of hatred based on any identifiable group characteristic."

In some countries with written constitutions and judicial review of legislation, the courts have stopped this kind of over-reach. In the United States, the Supreme Court restricted the legal definition of child pornography, in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, to what it ought to be under objective law: a record of actual child abuse. If it is not a record of actual child abuse, then it is not child pornography. If it is, then it is a real crime - and one that can be efficatiously prosecuted and punished without setting up an apparatus of censorship.

But countries with written constitutions and judicial review of legislation are few and far between. As in the latest example from South Africa, child pornography also has a different obscene application: to justify the rape of minds with censorship - and to smear advocates of free minds as "defenders of child pornography."


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