April 25, 2002


YOU'RE STILL WRONG, RYAN: My Star Wars-obsessed friend refers me to an Ann Coulter column to showcase the argument against vitual kiddie porn. Sigh... Picking apart a Coulter column is almost too easy to bother, but here goes:

...the law simply extended the reach of the federal child pornography laws to computer-generated "virtual" images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Without this law, it will be impossible, in practice, to prosecute any child pornography cases.
Lie! Kiddie-porn sickos get prosecuted all the time. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas noted that the argument that prohibiting the virtual stuff is necessary to prosecute the real stuff is the only one that would be valid, but since no pornographer has ever used the "it's fake, honest!" defense, this is completely speculative.
Justice William Rehnquist points out in his dissent that both "American Beauty" and "Traffic" [which contain scenes well within the law's definition of "simulated" sexual activity involving minors] were made (and given awards) while this precise child porno law was on the books.
Irrelevancy! The Clinton Justice Department, as has been pointed out by many (including Coulter herself), was famously lax in enforcing Federal obscenity laws. The notion that Reno not prosecuting American Beauty means that no A.G. would is like saying anyone would have burned Waco and seized Elian. 'Tain't so.
Moreover, the actress who played a teen-age girl in the crucially important simulated sex scene in "Traffic" was not, in fact, a minor.
Irrelevancy! The law applies just as much to a girl who appears to be, or is presented as, a minor as to one who actually is. That's part of what "simulated" means.

This is the same Ann Coulter who once argued that a website with lots of bloody imagery celebrating the deaths of abortion doctors and listing their home addresses was protected speech (It seems to have been purged from the NRO archive); she later claimed she was being denied her "First Amendment rights" because an editor wouldn't publish something she wrote that was sub-par. Bottom line: regarding free speech, Ann Coulter has no idea what she's talking about.

Posted by John Tabin at April 25, 2002 11:02 PM