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Reply #61: I tend to agree with you. [View All]

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Runcible Spoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-16-08 04:59 AM
Response to Reply #31
61. I tend to agree with you.
This debate is by no means cut and dry ethically/morally one way or another. I do agree that people who enjoy looking at naked children are sick fucks, as unequivocally reflected by our societal values. The issue is how to deal with them. I don't think anyone sane person would defend the act of the pictures being taken, but should looking at an image of a certain nature constitute an actual criminal act?

I don't think laws should be crafted around whether or not looking at the images entices or lessens a pedophile's urges. The bottom line is we are prosecuting people based on a dubious assumption of intent, and that is really prosecuting a thought crime. You can find an accomplished and well-published behavioral specialist who will tell you that YES looking at child pornography increases the likelihood of the individual actually molesting children, and you can find another just as respected specialist saying the exact opposite, that only individuals already predisposed to this activity would be in possession of such images. Why? Because the reasons people develop these behaviors are complex and very specific to the psychological history of that individual and the influence of the pornography on people is greatly variable.

I struggled with this argument for a long time, especially as a grad student when I did worked with and witnessed through the writing and research of others. What our culture would call pedophilia was as every day event: very sexually open cultures where mothers rub their young children in the genital regions, for example, any kind of sexual initiation ritual you can imagine. All of these behaviors were normalized in their cultural settings. This left me feeling very conflicted as teh children seemed happy and the familial structures seemed stable and loving, but I left with one definite thing: assuming the absolute fixation of moral normality and rectitude is dangerous for a society structured in punitive laws.

I'm not arguing for the absence of prosecution of child molestation; our society has deemed the sexualization of children to be morally repugnant and as such our society should punish that as a serious crime. However, extending that punishment when it comes to looking at images is an extremely dangerous precedent in that the whole basis for prosecution demands the jury to make an impossible ascertainment: what was the INTENTION of the person having this image in his possession? Certainly many museums would be in great danger for displaying controversial sexual images; perhaps they have some sort of protection since it is assumed museums do not exhibit the images for the purpose of promoting child pornography. But what of the people who go there to view the works? How can you prove the intention of someone viewing an image in a museum versus someone viewing an image on a home computer? It's a legal/ethical quagmire.

The whole issue also begs questions in terms of violent imagery/rape fantasy. The very same logic is used in reference to images of non-consensual sex/extreme bondage(even staged; in some cases it's impossible to tell unless subjects of the images are known to be mutually consenting adults); that merely possessing them is linked to an increased likelihood of committing the act. But BSDM images are protected even though the same logic is often applied to rapists. And all at the same time, "Lolita" and extreme fetish sites which dance around legal boundaries continue to thrive on the internet.

*note to any BSDM enthusiasts who might be reading this: I don't by any means intend to conflate this type of fetish with actual rape OR child pedophilia. I am merely referring to the reasoning used by certain groups to outlaw it which I think is just as legally dubious as the argument used to prosecute those holding images depicting certain images.

We need to craft these laws logically and not as an emotional reaction to a tragic event, as is the case with many laws related to children's welfare.

The bottom line is, are child molesters born or made, or some combination? IS this a biological/hormonal condition, or is it created through psychological trauma/conditioning? Can that be discerned with what we know now, and what is the role of pornography in these patterns of behavior? These questions are by no means definitively answered...
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