April 28, 2002

YIKES

YIKES: Someone found this site by running a Google search for "digitally simulated teen sex video." I feel like taking three or four showers now.

A final word (for now) on this issue: before I could really stake out a position on virtual kiddie porn, I'd need to see some research. Does the availability of child pornography seem to make children on balance less safe, by whetting the pedophile's appetite, or more safe, by satiating it? Or neither more or less safe? This is no different than gun policy, as I see it-- let analysis of consequences, not emotions, guide policy making. Real child pornography necessarily involves abuse of children (of course, some of the illegal stuff involves teens who would be legally consenting if they were a bit older, but the consent line has to be drawn somewhere; I see no problem with erring on the older side); virtual porn does not. But what are its effects?

If it can be shown empirically that child pornography encourages sex criminals, then the virtual variety should indeed be proscribed-- with a law less broad then the one that the high court struck down. I'd suggest hinging it on "obscenity," into which community standards and artistic value figure, rather than simply listing various acts that may not be simulated, as this law did; I would also advocate passing it on the state or local level, not the federal level, as the variations in community standards across the country mean that a federal law couldn't be applied equitably (unless the absurd notion of a nation-wide community standard were to be applied), thus introducing Fourteenth Amendment problems.

If, on the other hand, it can be shown that exposure to simulated child pornography decreases a pedophile's chances of committing a sex crime, then the stuff ought not be banned just because we find it repugnant. Gun control zealots find guns repugnant; some of the policies they advocate would increase gun violence. Feelings alone shouldn't guide policy.

This isn't a topic I particularly want to think a whole lot about, but if anyone can find any research along these lines, I will look at if you send it to me.

Posted by John Tabin at April 28, 2002 05:23 AM
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