Everything’s f**ked?

Melbourne artist Paul Yore is likely to be charged for producing child pornography.

I haven’t seen the picture in question, but apparently he pasted the faces of children onto some sexually explicit pictures as part of a big collage of all kinds of random stuff. It seems that that is sufficient to qualify him as a producer of child pornography.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a bit over the top. There is an important question here: Why do we have laws against child pornography? The answer should not be “because some arbitrary group who are not being forced to look at it thinks it is obscene”. That is just an excuse to impose one’s values on others, which is no different to preventing people from choosing a religion or watching Last Tango in Paris. The only acceptable answer to the question is: “to prevent children from being abused.”

Ok, so we (hopefully) agree on what we are trying to achieve. So why block child pornography at all? There are three possible reasons that I can think of:

  1. To produce it, one must abuse a child
  2. Possessing it may make a person more likely to abuse a child (this is a debated viewpoint, but let’s assume it is true).
  3. Possessing it creates a market for it, which may lead to bad people abusing children for profit to meet demand.

So, how has Mr. Yore’s collage hurt children?

  1. He did not abuse a child to make the collage.
  2. The so-called “child porn” bit is only a small part of a larger picture. Possessing it (in a gallery, no less) seems highly unlikely to make him want to abuse a child. If he had a house full of pictures solely of kids faces pasted to x-rated pictures that would be a different matter entirely, but unless the police find such a collection I’m going to assume he doesn’t.
  3. Do you really think people are going to wander into an art gallery in Melbourne, see this collage, and then rush out and start buying up child pornography? It is not presented in an erotic context, and it’s not like it is that hard to use a home computer to paste a baby’s head on an adult’s body.

So what we have here is a law designed to protect children being (mis)used to punish a man for producing a harmless piece of art that someone doesn’t like. It does not do anything to protect children, and in fact it probably has a slight negative effect: the more that society demonises paedophiles, the more likely they will be to hide their problem. Wouldn’t society be better if paedophiles could feel comfortable seeking treatment before they molested a child, rather than punishing them after? Not to mention the many horror stories of innocent people losing jobs, friends, even taking their lives, because of false accusations of paedophilia.

I try to have respect for the boys in blue, but acts like this don’t make it easy.

82-year-old Australian entertainers living in Berkshire, London

I’ve seen several media reports lately of a recent arrest on suspicion of sexual offenses.

Let’s not jump to conclusions, it could be any 82-year-old Australian entertainer living in Berkshire, London.

It’s all a bit farcical really. It also raises several of questions for me:

  1. If the media aren’t allowed to name this person “for legal reasons”, why are they allowed to release so much information that it narrows down to just one person? Eventually a line is crossed where the person is identifiable, which defeats the purpose of the law.
  2. What if there are multiple 82-year-old Australian entertainers from Berkshire, and the wrong one gets vilified because everyone assumes the category is so specific that it could only be referring to a single person?
  3. What if the person is completely innocent? Named or not, there is now an 82-year-old Australian entertainer who has been permanently tarred with a tainted brush, even if he is innocent (as he must be presumed to be until found otherwise in a court of law). If he is guilty, let him be tarred with the brush after it is proven, not before. If an accused is believed to be at serious risk of committing further crimes…well that is what the bail system is for.

One of the issues with the type of crime in question is the extreme social hysteria towards it. For example, this article talks about at least one innnocent man who committed suicide on the mere accusation of looking at child pornography (when in fact he was innocent). Others have lost their jobs and/or wives. And the same thing could happen to any one of you innocent readers out there. Society needs to take a chill pill; we can still catch the monsters that ought to be punished, but we have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
With the right approach we may even prevent some of the abuse from happening in the first place.