Saturday, May 23, 2009

Child Pornography?

Read the news article here

What is child pornography? Is it ever acceptable to produce and/or distribute child pornography? If an image/video is not considered by authorities to be child pornography when produced, should it ever be classified as such? If an image isn't considered by LEA to be serious enough to prosecute the producer and/or distributor, should anyone be able to be prosecuted for possessing it?

These questions are just some that were raised in my mind when reading the story linked to above. So, what is child pornography? Well, it appears if you asked 50 people that question you'd get 50 different answers. To me, it's very simple. Would the image in question be considered pornographic if the person/people in it were adults? If the answer is yes, the image in question is pornography. If the answer is no, it isn't. If the image has thus been established as pornography, the next question to ask is whether any of the participants are children. If the answer to that is also yes, the image in question is child pornography. Is this approach simplistic? Possibly, but that doesn't make it wrong. It certainly helps remove many of the grey areas that currently obfuscate the issue. The blurred line that sometimes exists between art and porn remains but is much easier to deal with by taking this approach.

So, back to the article that initiated this train of thought. The footage in question was of two 13yo students performing a sex act and was filmed by another boy from their school. Would this video be considered pornographic if it were of two adults? Obviously the answer is yes. Is there a child or children participating in the video? Again, the answer is yes. Therefore, there can be no question that this is child pornography. Bear in mind there are people in the USA facing charges of producing child pornography for running a website in which the children were clothed and not involved in any sort of sexual activity, so if this is the standard being applied I don't see how the video referred to in the news article can be seen as anything but hard core child pornography.

So this then brings us to the next pertinent questions. Should the person who filmed the sex act and distributed the child pornography be charged? Or is it acceptable to produce and distribute child pornography if you're a child yourself? We charge children with murder so why not with producing and distributing kiddie porn? Is it not considered a serious enough crime to charge them? What if a 60 year old person is found with the video on his/her computer? Should that person be charged with possessing child pornography when the video in question wasn't considered serious enough to charge the person who made it? What if the boy who filmed the sex act made money out of his distribution? Does that really change things when most of the child pornography in circulation is made and distributed without anyone making a cent?

There are a lot of issues that this story raises and I don't pretend to have all of the answers. I'm certainly interested to hear what others think.

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