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The Slippery Legal Slope of Cartoon Porn 933

Posted by timothy
from the in-a-perfect-world-the-topic-would-not-arise dept.
BenFenner writes "Two out of the three Virginia judges involved with Dwight Whorley's case say cartoon images depicting sex acts with children are considered child pornography in the United States. Judge Paul V. Niemeyer noted the PROTECT Act of 2003, clearly states that 'it is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exists.'"
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The Slippery Legal Slope of Cartoon Porn

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:01AM (#26256857)

    does it become illegal? Two stick figure drawings with a caption "10 year olds" would be considered illegal if you didn't pencil in some shorts? Madness.

  • by Mystery00 (1100379) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:02AM (#26256863)

    If it's fantasy, you can say the depiction is as old as you want. It's not real, rules of reality don't apply, at all.

  • Disclaimer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:04AM (#26256871) Homepage Journal

    So a disclaimer at the bottom that all characters pictured are based off real adults who are merely very young looking would make it safe?

    Ok, so if I draw a picture of a person having sex with a sentient machine (non-human like, lets say a 1m cube with a penis sized hole in one side) and that machine is only 10 years old according to the crappy fan-fic I write about it, does that make it child pornography?

    Oh wait, I know how to use up more of the courts time, where were those rule 34 pictures of ALF and the simpsons I had laying around...

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:04AM (#26256881) Journal
    I was under the impression that the reason for child pornography laws was to protect children from exploitation. It may not be possible to prosecute the people abusing children if they are in a foreign country, but you can help to reduce their market by prosecuting the people who buy their products. How, exactly, does society benefit from prosecuting artists who draw cartoons, however tasteless? The money would be better spent going after mimes.
  • Am I in trouble? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dannycim (442761) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:05AM (#26256883)

    Geez, I've been watching a lot of cutesy Japanese anime for a long time and some of the girls in the ecchi stuff I like appear very very young.

    Maybe I should start thinking about whole-disk encryption. :)

  • Victims? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:06AM (#26256889)
    So, who exactly is the victim in this case? If none is required then logically everybody involved in production of any work of (questionable) arts depicting killing, assault, robbery or any other crime should be convicted. Too bad over 80% or more of Hollywood and TV production would become illegal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:06AM (#26256893)

    The problem is, they aren't using the age of the actual cartoon...but the apparent age of the participant.
    I can't find info right now, but wasn't there a law, or at least a movement toward making a law, that would criminalize possession of pornography where the actor LOOKS underage, even though they are legal? Must be rough being that actor's significant-other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:08AM (#26256917)

    How about pictures of underage girls with full grown male genitals? How about non-sexual underage vorarephilia? How about underage furry?

    How about concentrating police time and effort capturing the REAL pedophiles? Remember? Those that actually DO illegal stuff!

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:09AM (#26256925)
    Isn't that the Zeitgeist of today? Persecuting people for looking light they might or abstractly could commit a crime?!
  • by Aerynvala (1109505) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:10AM (#26256927) Homepage
    And go where? The UK where they want to rate websites like movies? The US where we're being just as stupid? Canada maybe? But who knows how long til they buckle under. We can't keep running from these idiots.
  • In other news. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dvh.tosomja (1235032) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:10AM (#26256929)

    Director of animatrix convicted for 1.class murder of Mr. Anderson

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:12AM (#26256949)

    One best reconsider following Bart's imposition to eat his shorts, or at least drawing such a thing.

    So I assume these judges have signed affidavits of concern with respect to the depictions of a clearly naked Bart Simpson in the latest (and so far only) Simpsons movie? Right?

    What, you mean they haven't? They are only trying to selectively enforce their misinterpretation of the law? Shudder.

  • Lost our minds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nehumanuscrede (624750) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:14AM (#26256959)

    When we start trying to apply the laws of the
    land to the realm of make believe our justice
    system will have officially lost it's mind. . .

    Next we'll be appointing a Cartoon Czar. . .

  • by lxs (131946) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:14AM (#26256963)

    "I was under the impression that the reason for child pornography laws was to protect children from exploitation. "

    No. They're there to pander to the braying mob and instill a climate of fear. This does nothing other than having police chasing shadows, diverting their attention from real abuse cases. Very counterproductive.

    It may not be possible to prosecute the people [for committing crime X] if they are in a foreign country, but you can help to reduce their market by prosecuting the people who buy their products.

    This tactic was a roaring success in the war on drugs. In fact all drug dealers went broke during the first Reagan administration, and now there are no drugs to be had anymore.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:26AM (#26257023)

    Well, it is. Most (real) child porn of today comes from the former east bloc and far east asia. Ever tried to arrest someone in that area?

    While people drawing porn come from all over the globe, just prosecure the ones in the western hemisphere and it sure looks like you're doing something about the problem. You don't, actually, the kids in Russia and south east asia are still being exploited, but you're doing SOMETHING.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:31AM (#26257069)

    Sadly, I'd rather consider the possibility of real child porn becoming more popular. Hey, when you're gonna do as much jail time for the substitute as you do for the real drug, which one would you pick?

    For fscks sake, I thought it's already been established that the most powerful drive of the human is the sex drive. When you tell a rapist he's going to prison for masturbating while thinking how he abuses a person, what do you think is the effect?

  • by carvalhao (774969) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:34AM (#26257089) Journal
    Lucky for Nabokov he's dead, or he'd be jailed for writing Lolita...
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:37AM (#26257115)

    For repeated and multiple murder, for torture, both physical and psychological, for cannibalism and for a few other things that I'd have to consult my library for and reread some of his work.

    And while we're at it, I also ask to have the governor of California arrested for ... well, pretty much the same crimes.

    No, they didn't commit them. They only depicted and acted them. But appearantly that difference is no longer important.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:38AM (#26257117)

    was that its manufacture directly hurt children (the ones portrayed in it, not some abstract concept). While distasteful, virtual "child" porn, no matter how realistic, seems to be a freedom of speech which is protected under the Constitution. Otherwise, you are creating a thoughtcrime.

    Also is the matter of arguing "age". Some are undeniably children, but we live in a country where 18 years old prosecuted for statutory rape of 16 years old isn't unheard of in our recent histroy. Do we really want to relegate to the prosecutors this power?

    Also consider the common cartoon/anime characteristic of having an adult in mind in an essentially child like body. What then?

    In summary:
    -lack of victim
    -Freedom of Speech, if only popular speech were to be protected, we wouln't need 1st amendment
    -age ambiguities

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:40AM (#26257135)

    Plus as some cartoons are over the age over 18 like the Simpsons for example. They're 20 years old as a point of fact.

    So I can legally masturbate furiously to a video of a 10-year old being having sex with her father that was filmed eight years ago? Awesome! No seriously, there might be a logical fallacy in what you said.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:41AM (#26257139) Journal

    does it become illegal? Two stick figure drawings with a caption "10 year olds" would be considered illegal if you didn't pencil in some shorts? Madness.

    Makes me wonder, actually? Remember the Muhammad cartoon controversy? Some people actually tried that trick with stick figures then as well; wonder what will happen now.

    This will be the true test of free speech in the West - going not against the taboos of another society, but against ones of our own. Count me a pessimist on this one...

  • Re:Victims? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kiuas (1084567) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:43AM (#26257149)

    If none is required then logically everybody involved in production of any work of (questionable) arts depicting killing, assault, robbery or any other crime should be convicted.
    Too bad over 80% or more of Hollywood and TV production would become illegal.

    That's what I was thinking as well. Should the creators of these cartoons be convicted? And what about all those actors in movies who "killed" someone on screen? After all if it is not required that "the minor actually exists" (ie. there is no victim like you said) why should there be the need for the murder victim to "actually exist". On top of that movie actors tend to look more authentic than cartoon figures.

    And it doesn't end there. In this case the man was only watching cartoons, but if that can be considered illegal imagine what it does to gaming. I have "murdered" tens of thousands of virtual characters just for the entartainment it offers, should I be held criminally resposible for that? Pure insanity.

    Slippery slope they say? No, this is something more. This is a vertical freefall. It won't require many more cases like this and pretty soon people will start to accept that imagining certain things can be considered illegal and thoughtcrime becomes a reality. People should really wake up and do something to stop this sort of lunacy from happening.
     

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:43AM (#26257155)

    Ya, real democracy, wonderful. So that a 90% Christian nation can impose its morals on everyone. No, we need to remove blue laws, not give people the chance to make more. Our republic is supposed to be setup so that the majority can't run roughshod over minorities. Democracy is nothing more than codified mob rule.

  • by vagabond_gr (762469) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:51AM (#26257205)

    I was under the impression that the reason for child pornography laws was to protect children from exploitation. It may not be possible to prosecute the people abusing children if they are in a foreign country, but you can help to reduce their market by prosecuting the people who buy their products.

    Of course, these laws are about sexual abuse. Because our whole economy is based on products built by abused children on the other side of the planet.

  • by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:54AM (#26257225) Journal

    "I was under the impression that the reason for child pornography laws was to protect children from exploitation."

    That may have been the original intention when the first child pornography law was created (I believe that was in 1977), but those who now scream "think of the children!" are not really thinking of the children at all.

    Child pornography is an emotional topic, so it is very easy to use the issue for political reasons. Campaigning for laws against issues which cause moral outrage are an easy way for a politician to raise his profile and/or attract support. Each campaigner has to find something slightly different to campaign for, so it's not surprising that someone eventually chose virtual child porn.

    Of course, laws against child pornography are also a great way to justify intrusive and restrictive laws. Child porn (among other issues, such as terrorism) was used to justify Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (UK) [opsi.gov.uk], which forces a person to provide any encryption keys which they know of, under penalty of imprisonment.

    Laws against child pornography are an easy route to power, so it is not surprising that politicians use them regardless of the consequences to children and ethical paedophiles.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:56AM (#26257255)

    Kiss a pair of boobs and the movie's rated R. Chop them off and it's PG-13.

    --Jack Nicholson.

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:58AM (#26257275)

    Ecchi (naughty/sexy) images of underage girls are not necessarily illegal under this new law. Specifically the PROTECT Act of 2003 states [wikipedia.org]:

    Prohibits drawings, sculptures, and pictures of such drawings and sculptures depicting minors in actions or situations that meet the Miller test of being obscene, OR are engaged in sex acts that are deemed to meet the same obscene condition. The law does not state that images of fictional beings who appear to be under 18 engaged in sexual acts that are not deemed to be obscene are rendered illegal in and of their own condition (illustration of sex of fictional minors).

    So, the Miller test [wikipedia.org] is used to determine whether or not it is obscene. So what about this test? Again, from Wikipedia:

    * Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
    * Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions[2] specifically defined by applicable state law,
    * Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. (This is also known as the (S)LAPS test- [Serious] Literary, Artistic, Political, Scientific).

    Generally speaking, if the majority of people in a community would find these works "obscene", then it would be grounds for a conviction. For instance, typical pornography showing genitalia and sex acts is not necessarily classified as obscene under these guidelines.

    So no, it doesn't automatically mean anytime a young anime girl flashes her panties, it's grounds for a conviction. Depictions of child abuse, rape, torture, mutilation, and the ole-standby: tentacles. Yeah, probably considered "obscene" by most, unless its portrayed in a way that conveys serious artistic intention (i.e. demonstrating the psychological scars of a girl abused by her father, for instance).

    Stuff in the middle? Who the hell knows?

    So, why did this guy get convicted? Take a look at his mug shot [wikipedia.org] (which screams, "I'm going to rape your daughters" like nothing I've quite seen before), and the fact that the jury likely knew this was a parole violation for previous sex offenses, and you'll probably have your answer.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:58AM (#26257283)

    It's not the best route, but a violent revolution (global this time) seems to be not far off from coming.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Violent revolutions do not happen because a form of information got censored. Violent revolutions happen because a sufficiently large proportion of the populace cannot eat or because a sufficiently large proportion are being repressed (repression in this context means "taken away at night and never seen again", not "prevented from posting what they like in their blog").

    Even then it's amazing what people will put up with. Note that Robert Mugabe is still in power, for instance.

  • Re:Disclaimer (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:58AM (#26257287)

    hehe... girl with a face of 10yo and melon sized boobs... try to figure out age. or even remote possibility that such person might have any relation to reality.

    P.S. I think US should really adopt the proposal outlined here [boingboing.net].

  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:01AM (#26257303) Homepage Journal

    The serious problem with any witch-hunt - we'll take paedophilia as an example, because it's the current one - is that banning speech about an issue prevents rational discussion of that issue.

    When Charles Dickens was concerned about the condition of children in Victorian London, he wrote novels about it. When Robert Burns wanted to express his opposition to slavery, he wrote poems about it. The novels and poems reached a far wider audience and ultimately affected political change far more effectively than dry factual accounts.

    I'm not arguing that paedophilia is acceptable. It's clearly an abuse of power for adults to prey on non adults. But the boundaries of that condition do have to be explored: why is the age of consent for heterosexual sex in Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Israel and parts of Germany 14, in Denmark, Iceland, France and Greece 15, in Finland and most of the United Kingdom 16, in Northern Ireland 17? Why, in the United States, is sex legal at the age of 14 in many conservative mid-west states, but illegal until 18 in liberal California?

    There's also a concept in many parts of the world that sex between two people of roughly the same age is allowable able at a considerably younger age than sex between a young person and a significantly older person - and that seems to me entirely reasonable.

    But so long as there is a witch-hunt in progress we can't have rational discourse about these things. We certainly can't use fiction to explore the issues. Could Nabokov's Lolita even be published today? This is in the end a civil liberties argument - not because children don't need protecting, of course children need protecting. But so does freedom of speech.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerzel (240421) <<brollyferret> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:08AM (#26257355) Journal

    It shouldn't matter AT ALL the age depicted. The (Just) reason that child pornography is illegal is to stop the harming of children through its production. Adults have the right and ability to consent to be part of such productions as part of their own free speech rights. Children, almost by definition, do not, and thus their rights are violated when they are used in child pornography.

    First in order to be child pornography a child, a real one has to be involved. Cartoon characters are not children and they have no rights to violate. Hand drawn pornography can be considered child pornography if and only if the drawings were done from an actual child model.

    Secondly, though this doesn't apply in most cases, it has to be pornographic. Pictures of baby's first bath and similar don't count. Generally there is(and rightly so) less tolerance for what is and is not pornography when children are involved.

    The real impetus behind child porn laws that go against those who merely possess or re-distribute the material and do not produce it or harbor those that do, especially once written, drawn, and cartoon porn is made illegal where a child was never involved at all(though if someone is making a lot of written porn they might not be up for jail but a mandatory talk with a psychologist might be in order), is generally to protect those persons' who are pushing for the law sensibilities. Just like segregation protected those same sensibilities by keeping the dark people out of sight, and such laws in the end are only a little less unjust, mainly due to fewer peoples' rights being violated on a generally smaller scale.

  • Two Words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:12AM (#26257375)
    Witch Hunt.

    Pedophilia and child pornography are morally reprehensible to most people, not to mention damaging to those exploited in its production. It's also worth pointing out that COPA and PROTECT are two prime examples of how our system of government fails to do what it set out to achieve.

    COPA basically stated (among other things) that your first amendment right to free speech was null and void when the content of that speech was fictional child pornography. The supreme court ruled COPA unconstitutional [wikipedia.org], and rightly so, due to the fact that COPA very specifically abridged free speech; something the first amendment [wikipedia.org] very specifically states Congress does not have the power to do.

    Due to the fact that Congress's fast one wasn't able to slip by the Supreme Court (whose job is to filter out this bullshit), they changed a couple of words and relabeled COPA as the PROTECT act. PROTECT, like its predecessor, also abridges free speech by again making fictional work, which is deemed morally reprehensible by the majority of voters who reelected the folks who pushed the bill through----er, wait a minute...

    This is the most prime example I have borne witness to of flagrant abuse of power by the Congress in my life:
    1. Congress passes law.
    2. Supreme court says "wait just a fuckin' minute"
    3. Congress changes wording on law, renames and repasses it, while supreme court bickers over previous law.
    4. ????
    5. Congressman Asshole wins reelection for being "Tough on Crime." (also known in politics as "Profit")

    As long as anything is morally reprehensible enough, Congress can throw the bill of rights out the window to enforce their agenda while the flak takes years to tear its way through the judicial system only to finally be struck down by one court or another.

    Just goes to show that politics really can be a system that clogs down on its own bullshit as long as there's enough of a popular opinion in the first place to ramrod the shit past its initial threshold.
  • I'm not such a big fan of republics as such either, but ... buh? You want to solve moral panic-induced stupidity by *removing* constitutional limitations on the power of the mob?

  • by Cowmonaut (989226) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:15AM (#26257399)

    Oh yea, I'm sure everyone around the world is totally in for a violent revolution because they are told they shouldn't be watching obscene things on the Internet, and an exceptionally small handful of those people get punished for it.

    Some people need a reality check, or better yet a history lesson. Armed revolutions are not unheard of by any measure but they tend to happen for some very specific reasons. Namely, the oppression affects the vast majority of people and hampers the lives of the majority of people. Given A) the limited number of people punished for the action, B) the almost complete lack of regulation on the distribution of the material, C) the social stigma attached to the subject matter, and B) general psychology of the average perpetrator I'd say 'revolution' is a damn long way off.

    Or you could mean the general 'censorship' of the Internet that is taking place and not this subject matter specifically? If that is the case its a bit off topic but I'll bite anyways.

    Firstly, you are dead wrong about real democracies. You don't want to have that. Believe me, you really don't. Mob rule and mob justice tend to leave a sour taste in ones mouth, even if you were part of the mob. I'm not saying a democratic republic is a terribly great thing either, and while monarchies are romantic they're a bit too much like dictatorships in many cases, but you don't want whim running a nation. And that's just assuming the government isn't so inefficient it can't actually DO anything. No, a pure Democracy is a terrible form of government.

    At the end of your post you mentioned three things and you don't seem to understand the last two fully. You're right about the generation gap relationship with technological advancement. We have people who when they were growing up didn't have computers making decisions affecting technology that came about when they were busy dealing with children for the most part. They just aren't qualified in many cases.

    The last two bits you mentioned were greed and politics. This is a little different. This is not something you can change or expect to change. They're components of human nature. Survival traits. Social traits.

    Regardless how you feel about Christianity, the Bible at least got that bit right (IMO): Greed is bad. It tends to hurt others anyways. But acquisitiveness seems to be a common human trait. You see it with consumers, you see it with collectors, you see it with fans of a movie or book series or TV show. It's not limited to physical goods either. You see it with any "resource" that is available. Money for some, power for others. It can be relatively harmless, like the guy at the party that is eating as much as he can rather than socializing, or it can be dangerous like what seems to be affecting most politicians these days, or the CEOs of all those 'failing' companies that are giving themselves millions of dollars.

    Then you have politics. Just like greed this scales. Politics is really just group dynamics. You see it in your small family, or even the relationship you have with your loved one. Most people don't realize that. They just see the politics between nations which are on a grander scale. They fail to realize that even if humanity united there would be politics and it will be 'dirty'. As I mentioned before, it seems to be a survival trait of our species and as they say life isn't "fair".

    Politics and survival brings up the big reason your idea of a "global" resolution is A) bad and B) farcical. Revolutions won't happen simultaneously the world over. Especially over something as "unimportant" as Internet Neutrality or "Simulated Child Pornography". Aside from either one just not affecting a large enough percentage of people (globally) the pressures aren't building up at the same pace in every country. Without that pressure pushing on the populace, they aren't going to go grab their gun and march on city hall.

    No, if a "global armed revolution" was to occur it would just b

  • by lxs (131946) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:21AM (#26257441)

    Laws against child pornography are an easy route to power

    It's also difficult to oppose a law against child pornography without sounding like you're endorsing child abuse, especially when you're a public figure, so these measures usually are passed without much opposition.

  • Go after God... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retech (1228598) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:23AM (#26257457)
    Since God is the attributed author of the Bible, I think we should prosecute god!

    Since Abraham strapped his son to an altar and was in the process of performing ritual sacrifice on him. Or that naked Moses, that's offensive. God only knows what those three "wise" men really wanted with a swaddling clad Jesus and his virgin (and underage I might add) mother.

    If we're going to get the religious right nutters involved, we might as well get the completely involved!
  • by CPerdue (1376115) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:39AM (#26257567)
    Those of us who believe we have the right to self defence, and that the single most effective class of tools for that purpose (i.e., firearms) should not be restricted, have been fighting this sort of thing for over a century now. "For the children" is the rallying cry of the tyrant.
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:42AM (#26257589)

    I wonder where this idiocy will end. It's probably being pushed by the same people who want to make it a crime to burn the US flag. Ask them if it's OK to burn a picture of a US flag, or something that looks like a US flag but is one or two stars short, and they start to look at you with that same lost, betrayed expression a dog gets when you pretend to throw the ball, but hide it behind your back.

    These assholes are a lot more dangerous to society than the occasional pervert who gets off on drawing dirty pictures.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:44AM (#26257613)

    No. They're there to pander to the braying mob and instill a climate of fear. This does nothing other than having police chasing shadows, diverting their attention from real abuse cases. Very counterproductive.

    Wrong.

    Child Pornography laws are there to protect real children. Your beef is with "Obscenity" laws. Obscenity laws, while originally intended to prevent the PUBLIC display of material and behavior inappropriate for young people, have morphed (in many places) to be thought-crime laws. THESE are the bad ones.

    Child Porn laws, on the other hand are designed to try and protect children by dismantling Kiddie porn distribution networks and arresting those that partake of and help support Child Porn. Let's not forget that Actual child porn involving real children IS abuse, and results in permanent harm (both psychological and physical) to a child. This is something that any healthy society should strive to prevent.

    Lastly, it should be noted that one of the largest arrests in the WORLD on Child Porn was the arrest multiple members of a Global Kiddie porn ring, including 61 people in the United States (http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/12/12/porn.arrests/) Kiddie Porn is a Global problem, and the US is in no way immune.

    This tactic was a roaring success in the war on drugs. In fact all drug dealers went broke during the first Reagan administration, and now there are no drugs to be had anymore.

    While the "War on Drugs" has had only limited success, and is of questionable value, this is largely due to both a lack of focus (wasting time on Marijuana users and growers) and the high volume of individuals willing to purchase illicit drugs. Neither of these issues apply to Child porn laws in the United States. Child Porn task forces are highly focused units with very specific and narrowly defined missions. They are NOT out there after Hentai viewers, for instance. They are only after REAL Child porn, both it's purveyors and consumers. Also, CP has a highly limited audience. While that audience in sheer numbers is still large, when compared against the consumer base for illegal drugs, it is infinitesimally small. So it is a much more manageable problem.

    Let us also not forget that while the use of recreational drugs (particularly marijuana) could rightly be said to be a "victimless" crime, Child Porn is most certainly NOT victimless, and the arguments used against the War on Drugs become hollow and vile when used against Child Porn laws and enforcement.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:50AM (#26257645) Journal

    Let's not forget that Actual child porn involving real children IS abuse, and results in permanent harm (both psychological and physical) to a child. This is something that any healthy society should strive to prevent.

    The problem with our current laws is that the cases you describe are lumped together with cases of teenagers sending dirty pictures of themselves to their (girl/boy)friend. It's like stopping a bank robbery by nuking the entire city.

  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:59AM (#26257729) Homepage

    Who gives a shit about the cartoons, The Son Of A Bitch was/is a child predator and got what he had/has coming, he'll pay for it in the pen!!! "Whorley also received digital photographs of actual children engaging in sexual conduct and sent and received e-mails graphically describing parents sexually molesting their children."

    He is not a child predator. The adults acting in the photographs he received are. He just has a sexual fetish that is not shared by most of the rest of us, one that provokes fear in a lot of parents.

  • by legirons (809082) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:09AM (#26257827)

    does it become illegal? Two stick figure drawings with a caption "10 year olds" would be considered illegal if you didn't pencil in some shorts? Madness.

    At whatever level of detail the police and prosecutor decide.

    Below that level and the courts will never get to decide. Above that level, and the person is already labelled a child raper and the court decision is irrelevant.

    Note: the police don't actually know what the law is either (e.g. see many articles on El Reg [theregister.co.uk] about it) so it's down to the mood of whoever is handling the case that day and how much they like you.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:12AM (#26257861)

    You know what's gonna remove blue laws? Successive generations.

    The politicians of today are fighting against two things they can not possibly win against: time, and Big Bird.

    Yes, Big Bird.

    Most of us here - regardless of country - grew up watching Sesame Street and other children's programs. You know, the stuff that taught us about sharing and respecting others? This is why I believe in 20 years or less gay marriage will not only be the norm nationwide, but it will be common. Big Bird told us not to judge people based on their beliefs, appearance, etc. and by the furry grace of Elmo we listened.

    The second enemy - time. People are travelling around the world more and more. Information is spreading and its getting nigh-impossible for the government to control it. I'd say most teenagers think weed being illegal is bullshit. They just tune out the "anti-drug" crap and other lies as if it were their English teacher in high school.

    These kids are going to go to high school with other kids who won't have to live in fear of being openly gay, or Atheist, or Muslim, or do or believe whatever they want that doesn't infringe on the rights of others. And one day, these kids will be able to vote. The idiotic laws will be repealed to some degree. It's just a matter of time.

  • by Thiez (1281866) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:13AM (#26257867)

    Becaauuuuse, it's bad precedent. Suppose someone has raped, tortured, and murdered over a thousand children. He get charged for those crimes, and in addition gets 20 years in prison for driving 62 on a 60 mph road. You may say 'who cares such a conviction is ridiculous, the guy deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life', but it sets bad precedent for all of us, not just the 'villains'.

    That's why the cartoon-related conviction matters.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:15AM (#26257913)

    It's also difficult to oppose a law against child pornography without sounding like you're endorsing child abuse,

    Which, on the face of it, is retarded. Nobody who is even semi-rational is going to endorse child abuse, yet people are so easily convinced of such things when the topic comes up. Rather than consider that someone has a sophisticated opinion on the subject, too many people are all too willing to jump on the "why do you hate children?" bandwagon.

  • by ZygnuX (1365897) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:42AM (#26258213)
    Actually you can, legally. As long as you don't own or have possession of the video.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:44AM (#26258239)

    And then what? Wane off a pedophile by putting him on cold withdrawal and he'll turn to adult women and be a "good citizen"?

    Here's a thought experiment for you. Imagine straight sex was outlawed and you should turn to other men for sexual relief (or, in case you're homosexual, imagine the other way around which shouldn't be too hard, depending on what country you're in it had been that way a not so long while ago). Now, would you do teh ghay? Be a good citizen and take it up your ass?

    We're talking sex drive here, that ain't something you can "cure". If anything I'm effing glad they have that outlet, maybe a few kids stay unraped that way.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:45AM (#26258251) Journal

    You dislike the current law. What would you suggest as an alternative? What is you proposed solution?

    • Setting an age of consent based on calendar age is arbitrary. The age of consent should be defined as puberty, as this is based on biology instead of politics.
    • Initiating sex with a minor by force, coercion, abuse of power, deceit, etc is punished as rape (just like if the victim was an adult)
    • Pornography is illegal if and only if it was created by performing an illegal act.
  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:59AM (#26258383)

    * Setting an age of consent based on calendar age is arbitrary. The age of consent should be defined as puberty, as this is based on biology instead of politics.
            * Initiating sex with a minor by force, coercion, abuse of power, deceit, etc is punished as rape (just like if the victim was an adult)
            * Pornography is illegal if and only if it was created by performing an illegal act.

    I think you have made a good start. But if I may, I'd like to point out one weakness here.

    It's your first suggestion about age of consent. It is easy to tell when a female has reached Puberty, as she beings her menstrual cycle and it can be nailed down to a single day. How does one tell when a MALE has reached Puberty as there are no outward signs of Puberty for MONTHS after the process has begun? Do you propose that we require random blood tests for the increased levels of Testosterone that indicate the onset of Puberty? And for girls, will we require them to legally register as Adults within a week after their first menstruation? Shall we do it "For The Children"?

    Do you see the problem here? As arbitrary as using a specific age may be, it is much LESS arbitrary than dealing with the confusion surrounding the onset of Puberty in males, the embarrassment and privacy issues of the onset of menstruation in girls and the variable ages at which Puberty can begin. Let's not even get into situations of a young girl who HAS had her first menstruation claiming she has NOT and getting some boy who broke her heart put in the slammer.

    No, the definition of "age of consent" MUST be a specific age because to do otherwise is far too arbitrary and random, and introduces way too much instability into the system.

    You other suggestions are excellent, though.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:16AM (#26258557)

    -Keep the law out of people's private lives until there is a direct conflict that isn't solved through extended negotiation.

    -Prosecute people for the result of their actions and not for their intent.

    -Stop confusing justice and revenge.

    Just a couple of suggestions.

    Those aren't suggestions, they are generalities and complaints. I'm talking SPECIFIC suggestions about how the current laws should be adjusted vis-a-vis the issue of teenagers taking nudie pics of themselves.

    Frankly, it's a complicated issue. You don't want to send kids to jail for doing something that was simply stupid, but at the same time you want to try and eliminate the possibility of someone using these nudes to take advantage of a child. I doubt there is a perfect solution, and no, just making it legal isn't a solution.

    Just to show I'm not rabble-rousing, I'll give my own suggestion:

    I would personally favor some kind of law tying age of consent to images. If one is old enough to consent to sex, then one is old enough to consent to pictures of sex. Also, trying minors who do self-pics AS minors would be an excellent start as well. It's illogical to try someone as an adult for taking pictures of themselves since adults taking pictures of themselves isn't illegal. I'd like to see some consistency there. Additionally, convictions of a minor AS A MINOR for self-pics would be an Infraction, not a Felony and would carry NO sexual predator repercussions. Basically, the idea would be a slap on the wrist and a warning for being stupid. Sort of a "scare them straight" approach, with escalating punishments starting at a warning and ending with psychiatric evaluation and/or community service.

    I think those two suggestions would go a LONG way towards narrowing down the Child Porn laws in this area and balancing out an injustice.

    Anyone care to sponsor a bill?

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:27AM (#26258659)

    Every public policy has a cost side and a benefit side. The cost of ever more stringent child pornography laws, in terms of both fiscal impact and damage to our society, far outweighs the marginal increase in safety to children.

    Emotionally, cost-benefits analysis is repulsive. Emotionally, we want to do everything we can to protect children, and any other policy has all the emotional impact of actual child abuse. But fortunately, society is not based on pure emotion. Reason, which is the only mechanism through which we ever make progres, dictates that we take reasonable steps to ensure children are safe, but not to the point where we sacrifice other principles for which we stand and create an oppressive police state.

    After all, we want to bring children up in a free society, don't we? We want them to safe after they turn 18, too!

  • by Nebu (566313) <nebuNO@SPAMgta.igs.net> on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:37AM (#26258769) Homepage

    Plus as some cartoons are over the age over 18 like the Simpsons for example. They're 20 years old as a point of fact.

    So I can legally masturbate furiously to a video of a 10-year old being having sex with her father that was filmed eight years ago? Awesome! No seriously, there might be a logical fallacy in what you said.

    Is there any significance to your choosing "10" and "8" (perhaps because 10 + 8 = 18?) in your example? I suspect what the OP was getting at is that the cartoon has been around for 20 years (Acccording to Wikipedia, the Simpsons started on December 17th, 1989 -- so actually it's 19 years).

    I'm confident (but haven't checked) that Maggie appeared in the very first Simpsons episode. Therefore, Maggie was conceived on or before December 17th, 1989, making her at least 19 years old. She happens to portray a 2 year old in the fictional world presented by the show, but she herself is 19.

    Personally, I find the notion of "treating cartoon people as real people" to be literally ridiculous (i.e. enticing ridicule), but if the lawmakers choose to go down this path, then I think a logically and legally consistent conclusion would be to treat Maggie as a 19-year old playing a 2 year old character on TV, just as most actors playing teenagers on TV sitcoms are much older than the characters they play as.

    This would put Maggie into the the crosshair of a different law (not sure where the law has jurisdiction, is it still the US?) which says that even if everyone involved is an adult, if they are portraying children, then it's still illegal. IMHO, this latter law should definitely be abolished, because often there is not enough evidence within the fiction itself to say with absolute legal certainty whether a given story is portraying children or not, and thus there is too much subjectivity.

  • Re:Bad Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ari_j (90255) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:38AM (#26258771)
    Very slight correction:

    Child porn involving actual children - the states may choose to make it illegal with impunity. Images and stories of children having sex - the states may choose to make them illegal if the laws by which they do so only apply when the content is obscene.

    The important point is this: It is up to the states to decide whether and how to regulate or ban these things. Just because the Constitution does not require the government to permit something does not mean that the government is restricted from permitting it. The Constitution is, rather, a check on democracy itself, and for many things it sets no rules and leaves democracy to its own devices, which is probably the right thing to do in these cases.
  • by coolsnowmen (695297) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:41AM (#26258805)

    Sorry, but if the idea of raping children turns you on, then I want you off the streets and securely locked away from my kids.

    I understand that parents get pretty scared about this and rightly so, but no one should be locked up because of something that solely exists in their head.

    Think "Minority Report". And I know it is over used, but also Thought Crime from "1984".

    If someone has a derangement but hasn't actually hurt anyone then [s]he should be helped and not locked up just so you can sleep a little better tonight.

  • Indistinguishable. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GiMP (10923) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:49AM (#26258889)

    The underlying problem that is worrying many, I believe, is that as technology advances it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between real photographs and cartoons. They're be indistinguishable. This goes in both directions, in making real images look like cartoons, and in making cartoons that look like real photographs. While there might still be ways to forensically determine if an image is computer generated, this won't hold true for long, and I'm sure is already impossible to distinguish images produced cleanly enough.

    I'm really out of ideas of what you can do about this. It sounds like a bad idea, a clearing house where images can be signed off as being legitimately computer generated would be workable solution. The clearing house would audit cartoon/animation and porn studios and determine that they are not, in fact, photographing children. Approved images would be given a verified digital signature. The clearing house would have to be impartial to the content of the images and only make their determinations based on the production of the image, as to the question of being produced by photographing a minor.

    It would have to be clear that images lacking these signatures would NOT be automatically illegal, but that by having the signature the image could be immediately deduced as being approved by said clearing-house. Images not signed, and including potentially illicit content, would have to be individually reviewed and verified as must be done today.

    The obvious danger of all of this is that corruption would hit the clearing house, that bribes would become the standard or, worse, that they succumb to political pressures to deny signatures for legal content. Further down the slippery slope would be the risk that it would become a legal requirement to be signed by this authority, or that there would be too much a stigma by not working within such a voluntary system.

    Again, I think the best thing here would be for this to be a voluntary, non-governmental system, like as the rating systems are designed for video games and music...

  • by Nebu (566313) <nebuNO@SPAMgta.igs.net> on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:51AM (#26258905) Homepage

    He is not a child predator.

    No, but the idea of sex with children turns him on. That makes him a dangerous, very potential child predator

    Not really. Lots of people enjoy playing violent videogames, and that doesn't make them "a dangerous, very potential" violent person.

    A lot of people can and do enjoy illegal (the Grand Theft Auto videogame, the Count of Monte Cristo book), immoral (the Goodfellas movie) and just generally unadvised (the Jackass movie) acts in fictional contexts, without having any serious amount of temptation of committing those acts in real life.

  • by Smauler (915644) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:54AM (#26258951)

    Bank robbers help enable the crime. Viewing child porn does absolutely nothing about the original crime. Viewing child porn is also not illegal, AFAICT - having possession of child porn is. Paying for child porn is a different matter, however, in that it does at least possibly contribute to child molestation. GP did not say there was nothing wrong with child porn.

    You scare the crap out of me, because your reading skills don't seem to be up to much, your analogies suck, and you spout one insults at people you don't understand.

  • by apoc.famine (621563) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .enimaf.copa.> on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:08PM (#26259085) Homepage Journal
    It looks like you highlight two interesting issues:

    Outlawing possession of something which can nearly instantly be duplicated and transmitted around the world is stupid. We're already seeing what a mess the various media companies are making in trying to do this. I would propose that possession can't ever be usefully applied to electronic media. At its base level, this is because all electronic media is, is a bunch of 1s and 0s. At a higher level, "possession" can happen by clicking the wrong link, installing the wrong software, letting someone borrow your equipment, and by owning used equipment. None of these things apply to a box filled with pictures, or even the mid-ground, one filled with video tapes.

    The second interesting issue is the ever-popular "make a law to make illegal something already covered by other laws". Almost without fail these new laws overreach their bounds, and cause all sorts of issues. There are already laws against both the grooming of children for sex and the showing of porn to minors. Using a grooming argument to outlaw possession is a good example of the massive issues which can arise when you use something already illegal to justify more laws.

    I really haven't followed any of the legal history of porn, and would have to thank you for being such a scholar. (:p) I'd have to agree that the case you mentioned is a very bad precident. What's interesting is the psychology behind it. Any kids watching it would have no idea what was going on. It's just the adults that understand, and that doesn't harm kids. Unless the adults then go and harm kids. But we have laws for that already.

    I wonder if there could ever be enough support for a "Legal Simplification" political party. I guess it will have to wait until I'm Emperor.
  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:11PM (#26259117)

    No, but the idea of sex with children turns him on. That makes him a dangerous, very potential child predator and someone I don't want near my kids, or anyone else's kids for that matter.

    I get a kick out of watching gunfights on TV and in the movies. I also play paintball. Should I be arrested for murder? Aren't I showing the signs of being one step away from the latest mass shooting?

    Viewing adult porn is different. Adults can consent or refuse to. However, a child can not legally consent, making any sexual act with a child rape.

    I completely agree on this point. Kids just don't have the tools to deal with sexuality. Doing so is a part of childhood and growing up. But that should not involve sexual interaction with an adult.

    Sorry, but if the idea of raping children turns you on, then I want you off the streets and securely locked away from my kids. If you are OK with these people being near YOUR kids, then you need to have your kids taken away from you and given to parents with some common sense.

    Here we are convicting without a crime again.

  • by BoberFett (127537) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:11PM (#26259121)

    If viewing cartoon kiddie porn makes people want real kiddie porn, then watching fake violence makes people want to kill real people and all mock violence needs to be banned immediately. This includes sports.

  • by saider (177166) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:13PM (#26259141)

    How about we take them off the streets and get them help. Not a prison...

    Forcibly taking people off the streets against their will is the definition of prison. You can fancy it up all you want, it is still a prison.

    Prison (n): a place of confinement or captivity

    That way, we all win (assuming that "help" works in this case. IANAPsychologist, so I don't know if it can be "helped").

    Furthermore, what do you do if they cannot be helped? You have just justified locking people up for things they might do. This opens Pandora's box and makes the situation ripe for all kinds of government abuse.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:20PM (#26259225)

    He is not a child predator. The adults acting in the photographs he received are. He just has a sexual fetish that is not shared by most of the rest of us, one that provokes fear in a lot of parents.

    I see how this works. Let me try this out. Mafia leaders aren't murderers, the hitmen are. Mafia leaders just have a thing that needs to be done that is not required by the rest of us, one that provokes fear in a lot of lawful citizens.

    There is a support structure for these kinds of crimes. Granted - the act itself is committed for various reasons and simply making the act illegal will not stop it. However, allowing a financial motive to support the act will certainly increase the occurrences of that act. Those that provide financial incentive are just as responsible for the act as those who committed it in person.

  • Re:Bad Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:32PM (#26259369) Homepage Journal

    ... Just because the Constitution does not require the government to permit something does not mean that the government is restricted from permitting it. The Constitution is, rather, a check on democracy itself, and for many things it sets no rules and leaves democracy to its own devices, which is probably the right thing to do in these cases.

    Bzzzt. Sorry, wrong answer.

    Why do people keep getting this all backwards. Under the Constitution, the people have all the rights, not the government. The government doesn't "permit" anything - it is restricted (by the Constitution) in what it is allowed to do.

    The Bill of Rights should not have been necessary, but some states wanted certain important rights spelled out, just in case somebody got too ambitious with federal powers (it hasn't really helped, the US government does a *lot* of unconstitutional things). The 10th amendment spells it out pretty clearly:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:50PM (#26259609) Journal

    So a 16 year old brain is developed enough to be trusted with unsupervised control over 16 gallons of highly flammable liquid inside a 2 ton, 70 MPH projectile surrounded by hundreds of innocent bystanders on the highway, but not developed enough to make sexual decisions?

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:55PM (#26259645)

    In this matter, one must consider not only the direct cost of prosecution and incarceration, but also the opportunity cost of what the convicted could have contributed to society, and on a larger scale, the potential societal damage caused by censorship itself. Granted, the latter is very difficult to quantify, but it's a small step from banning certain types of pure speech to banning many types of pure speech. In purely economic terms, oppressive nations are not competitive with free ones: banning speech can be viewed as a "misallocation" of intellectual resources, with all the economic penalties that word entails.

    Of course, there are non-economic cost of censorship: the chilling effect on legitimate discussion, the danger of society slipping into an even more oppressive regime, and the concentration of power leading to its abuse.

    On the benefit side, I have grave doubts as to the effectiveness of our current and proposed measures: ostracizing sex offenders after they are released from prison has not stopped a single incident of recidivism. National internet firewalls are easily bypassed by determined users and give the government the infrastructure is instantly block any other speech, instantly and in secret. Furthermore, as another poster mentioned, it's likely that such pornography satiates sexual urges instead of exacerbates them, actually making society safer (so long as we're talking fiction here, of course.)

    Essentially, those proposing stringent laws against fictional child pornography, and those proposing intrusive electronic monitoring of everyone, are imposing a giant cost on society in exchange for a tiny increase in safety. I believe Benjamin Franklin had something to say about that.

  • by z80kid (711852) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:19PM (#26259915)
    Sorry, but how do you come to the conclusion that the cost/benefit ratio favors legality here? The costs in socialized services for survivors of abuse are enormous. The costs to prosecute and incarcerate offenders are comparatively tiny.

    He referred to "The cost of ever more stringent child pornography laws", in the context of the current discussion. He didn't suggest legality for all child porn.

    So, do you have some statistics on the cost of social services provided to cartoon victims?

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:21PM (#26259939) Journal

    Oh please moron, try to stay on topic. We are talking about a freaking CARTOON here people, just some freaking paint on a bloody page. How the hell can paint be underage? Does anybody else not see the problem with this? If you have a screensaver of your 400 year old elf mage or some crap all it takes is some pervert judge thinking "yeah, that looks a little jailbait to me" and your ass is rotting in jail. Does nobody else see the problem here?

    Let me spell it out: before, with child porn, you had to actually have something involving a child. And it really isn't that had to tell the difference between normal porn and child porn. Now, thanks to these numbnuts, ANY cartoon, animation, drawing, hell even a stick figure can cause you to rot in jail for decades. Because it doesn't matter what it is anymore, it only matters what a judge says it is. Now does everybody see the problem? This thing was so made for abuse it isn't even funny. Literally whether or not you spend the rest of your life in jail will simply be based on what kind of mood the judge is in and how prudish he is. This is thoughtcrime and it isn't even YOUR thoughts you are being punished for, but the thoughts of the judge. How did we fall so far?

  • by Tailsfan (1200615) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:43PM (#26260133)

    So in other words, If a kid were to horde photos of his dick, it would be illegal. So now we must raid every pervy teenager, 4channer, and fanartist out there. And who will pay the police to look at porn all day until he finds a fictional child involved.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:43PM (#26260143) Journal

    However, a child can not legally consent, making any sexual act with a child rape.

    In many places 16 and 17 years olds CAN consent to have sex. and therefore a sexual act with them is NOT rape. And moreover, 15 year olds can usually have sex with other 15 year olds and that would mean the sexual act is not rape.

    Until this year in canada 14 year olds could consent to have sex.

  • by severoon (536737) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:47PM (#26260199) Journal

    What about an animated pr0n based on the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

    The character depicted would be 60+ years old by the time he appeared underage.

    See people, this is the problem with attempting to flout freedom of expression. When it comes to real kids, I'm with ya. When it comes to make-believe...who's to say what's ok to make-believe?

  • by retchdog (1319261) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:49PM (#26260227) Journal

    How exactly are they stupid kids? Sure, people have the responsibility to know the law, but when the laws are increasingly at odds with basic ideas of freedom, it takes unreasonable effort to know them.

    "In the meantime ... please ensure you are CLOTHED when taking pictures of yourself."

    In the meantime, please ensure you log your internet traffic and report it to the state. Just in case a law requiring this has been passed.

    In the meantime, please ensure you don't buy any laboratory glassware to ensure you aren't mistaken for a meth lab. Just in case.

    In the meantime, don't say disparaging things about the president. Just in case.

  • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:50PM (#26260239)
    You would think so, but the the "Flower Power" children of the 1960's have demonstrated how easily these ideals can get corrupted once it is your turn to take the reins. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • by genner (694963) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:01PM (#26260349)

    Nice to see people still miss the point. Whether you care to admit it or not, it's not normal to wank off to pics of underaged people. I personally lost interest in that more or less immediately upon turning 18.

    The argument you're making is that because there isn't direct damage that it isn't causing damage. It's a bad argument, basically it would be OK to view and look at child pr0n as long as you didn't make or produce it. Encouraging it by giving the sites hits or trading other people's images would OK, because of course that person trading the images didn't make them.

    I'm not really sure what about that isn't clear. Trading in kiddie porn is harmful to those that are abused and even in the best case scenario it trivializes what is typically a very damaging act.

    And really, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for making light of what is an immensely painful experience for victims.

    I don't suppose you noticed that are in fact no victims in this case. No actual children where involved. Otherwise I agree with you.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:04PM (#26260381) Journal

    One last thing, let's not forget that some people go through puberty very early, and puberty is happening at ever earlier ages due to the much healthier diet we have these days (or possibly due to growth hormones in food, depending on who you ask). Is a 9 year old girl who hits Puberty really old enough to consent? What about a woman like my wife, who didn't hit Puberty until she was 16? Is it fair to allow the 9 year old to start having sex while the 16 year old cannot? Who is to say a 9 year old is mentally ready for sex but a 16 year old, who had 7 YEARS more to psychologically mature, is not? How does THAT make any sense?

    Determining if a person is mentally ready to begin sexual activity in any objective manner is basically impossible.

    Determining if a person is physically ready to begin sexual activity is easy.

    The law should be based on the objective criteria, not the subjective criteria and certainly not on arbitrary criteria.

    There is no reason that a 9 year old can not make responsible decisions. Until the Victorians invented childhood [wikipedia.org], people took on adult rights and responsibilities at puberty.

    Just because a teenage boy or girl has started Puberty does not then also mean that they have the maturity to understand the implications and ramifications of flashing their new "adult" bits to the world.

    And what is the implications and ramifications really? Human beings have had the same body parts for a few million years now. Will the sky fall just because a teenager reveals the he/she *gasp* has genitals?

  • by oneTheory (1194569) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:06PM (#26260389)
    I agree with most of what you're saying insofar as we both think CP is a very bad thing. Beyond that I would challenge your definition of what a fantasy is:

    things we'd really like to do (if only we had the pulling power).

    Following that logic I would really love to stalk through some desert wasteland shooting raiders and slavers in the head, stealing stimpaks off unsuspecting merchants while trying to find my wayward Dad (yeah I've been playing Fallout 3 all weekend).

    I would posit instead that fantasies are much more about the things we really don't want to do, but would like to simply run the thought experiment of doing (ever wonder what it would be like to rob a bank or had a dream that you did?). Oh good, me neither.

    Unless you're talking about real crime you're talking about thought crime. There's no two ways about it. Why is it not against the law to think about robbing a bank. Or to fantasize about it? (No banks were harmed in the writing of this post). Why is it not even against the law to talk about the idea of it with your friends?

    In short, you're a hypocrite unless you also advocate banning all violence and any other glorified abridgments of any law in games, TV, and movies immediately because some people really seem to get off to that shit in that they seek it out and spend a lot of time doing it. It's only a matter of time before they'll want to do it in real life, right?

    Oh, and getting back to sex, why are rape fantasy websites ok? That's depictions of sexual abuse and I think it's pretty messed up! But it's still legal? Think of the children... oh wait since they're not children it's ok? Can you tell my why that is?

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:07PM (#26260409) Homepage

    Thought crimes. C'mon, it's what Chris Hansen is all about. Why don't you have a seat over here?

    Seriously though....if fantasy CP is a crime, so is pretty much all the crap you see on tv, movies, magazines, etc. Even things on the Disney channel and Nickelodeon. Thought crimes. Want to see something even more disturbing? It's that this crap [google.com] is a-ok, and the parents participate. Disgusting.

    Let's ban sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/thriller books and throw their authors in prison while we are at it.

  • by Draek (916851) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:11PM (#26260455)

    Arguing that because kids are not directly involved that therefore they are not being harmed is something that needs to be justified.

    No. The negative, that even though they aren't involved they're being harmed is what needs to be proven, common sense dictates that if you had nothing to do with something, you shouldn't be affected by it so the burden of proof is on the other side. And so far all I've seen is "OMG ur so st00pid u should die!!!!!11111".

    In the case of the criminal in the original article, he had real pictures along side the false one.

    I have it from a very reliable source that he was also breathing. Do we ban breathing now, under the pretext of protecting our children?

    The reality is that there are pedophiles that wouldn't ever molest a child, people that would molest a child aren't necessarily going to stop just because they can get images that are produced without doing so.

    I *think* that the GP is right that there were studies confirming as such, but I'm not entirely sure and without that I'd tend to agree with you, it is what common sense dictates anyways. However, to argue for the ban on fictional images such as the subject of this story, the opposite needs to be proven: that in absence of these images, people that would molest a child *are* going to stop if they can't get these images. Which to my knowledge hasn't been proven (or even postulated as a valid hypothesis) yet by any reputable source.

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:17PM (#26260527)

    the line does need to include some scope of cartoons or other drawings within its boundaries.

    This statement is a non sequitur and is not supported by your otherwise reasonable post. By your own reasoning, we need to establish that these cause harm in excess of that caused by the abrogation of free speech banning them would involve.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:29PM (#26260627) Homepage Journal

    Nice to see people still miss the point. Whether you care to admit it or not, it's not normal to wank off to pics of underaged people. I personally lost interest in that more or less immediately upon turning 18.
     
    And you can tell the difference between a 14-year-old with a pushup bra and a 19-year-old with a pushup bra exactly how? In a world where hormones in the drinking water and better access to good nutrition can lead to Precocious puberty [wikipedia.org] and a 12 year old who looks like she's 20, how the hell do you tell?
     
    Legally, of course, you're completely right. I'm just pointing out that your claim to have "lost interest in that more or less immediately upon turning 18" is somewhat suspect indeed. Also, your claim that it isn't "normal" is suspect given the normal ages of marriage in primitive cultures, which usually for women was upon the onset of menses, much younger than 18.

  • Re:Bad Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by makomk (752139) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:31PM (#26260641) Journal

    By my read, the key factor that made these prosecutions legitimate from a First Amendment standpoint is not that they were "child pornography," but that they were obscene.

    Roughly speaking, yes. Since the argument for the exemption of child pornography from First Amendment protection is based on it being created via the abuse of children (though arguably the law has gone beyond this already, for example in relation to the handling of non-nude images) it would be difficult to apply it here. Based on past performances, I wouldn't put it past judges to allow the application of this argument to mere drawings - but the broader law has already been to the Supreme Court and failed, which is the reason the current law is worded the way it is.

    However, the law is specific to child porn, and the punishment is that given for possessing child porn, not that given for possessing obscene material. (The official title is "Obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children", but in effect it's an extension to the law on child porn.) Also, my understanding is that possession of obscene material within the home is not, in general, illegal in the US, whereas this law prohibits mere possession. I have a feeling this last aspect may turn out to be unconstitutional, if it hasn't already.

  • Not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by D_Blackthorne (1412855) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:33PM (#26260655)
    Would I view or appreciate cartoon child porn? No.
    Do I think drawing, viewing, or posessing such material is in extremely poor taste and very much ill-advised? You bet I do.
    Do I think such material constitutes the same offense as actual child porn and those drawing or posessing it should be prosecuted as such? Absolutely NOT. Apples and oranges.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:04PM (#26260979)

    Yet (and I guess this is my biggest point) it's very tough to get anyone to get over their squeamishness about the subject and fight for what's right. ...which reminds me of another area that suffers from a similar problem: the issue of prisoner's rights. We have a prison system -- the most populous in the world, in fact, with more than two million prisoners -- where forcible rape is a normal occurrence and is tacitly accepted as part of the punishment, even for trivial non-violent crimes like, say, passing a bad check. And thanks to HIV and hepatitis, being sentenced to serve time often becomes a de facto death penalty.

    That this amounts, in effect, to the systematic extermination of a substantial number of people is most often met with a yawn, if the topic comes up at all. It wouldn't do to appear to be "soft on crime" -- even if, in this case, being "hard on crime" actually involves encouraging rape and murder.

  • by level99 (968745) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:04PM (#26260983)
    I think you are, in large, right. One stumbling block tho: when those kids grow up, they become insane parents themselves. And insane parents, as proven by several generations since the 70'ies, will forget ideals, become even more over-protecting and borderline insane - all for their children. :)
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:32PM (#26261241) Homepage Journal
    Not in Soviet Amerika(disclaimer: YMMV depending on the state)!

    Say, hypothetically, that you're 23 years old. You go to a 18+ or even a 21+ club and you meet a girl who unambiguously wants to have sex with you. You ask her, "Are you over 18?" She tells you yes. You ask to see her I.D. and it shows her picture and it indicates that her age is over 18. You take her home and have sex with her...

    Later the cops knock on your door and arrest you for statutory rape. Turns out she felt guilty about the whole thing. Maybe she used her fake I.D. to buy herself too many drinks and she lost her judgement, or maybe her boyfriend just found out and gave her an ultimatum with turning you in as a condition. But none of the petty details matter as much as the fact that

    You are now a rapist. Look forward to a short, painful rest of your life in and out of prison.
  • Re:Bad Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reziac (43301) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:33PM (#26261253) Homepage Journal

    Let's change the scenario slightly.

    Let's make them cartoons depicting gruesome murders -- but note that as with the kiddie porn, no actual person is harmed. Or at the other end of the scale -- cartoons depicting someone smoking pot, even tho no actual marijuana was grown, harvested, or smoked.

    HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT??

    Under a worst-case interpretation, a cartoon depiction or written description of a crime becomes legally the same as doing the crime itself, and subject to the same penalty as the real thing.

    Under worst-case enforcement, that would pretty much empty most libraries, just for starters.

    I don't have time to wade through and wrap my brain around all the legalese in the decision, but I do know we definitely do NOT want to go down the road of enforcing real penalties against fantasy depictions of crimes, regardless of what that crime may be.

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:43PM (#26261361) Homepage Journal

    Rather the point I made up above -- if fantasy depiction of one crime is illegal, and is to be penalised as if it's the real thing -- then ALL fantasy depictions of crimes must, in fairness, be equally penalised as if they are real.

    And there goes the contents of most libraries, most film/TV, and anything else that might depict persons or property or intent.

    I'm reminded that some cultures and religions prohibit depictions of humans -- the stated reason is that it's idolatry or soul theft or some such, but one wonders if the foundation might have been something akin to what we're discussing. Imagine the caveman arguing his case before the hetman: "Og drew a picture of me with a knife in my head! Og wants to kill me, and for that Og must pay!" To which the hetman, tired of this argument, responds: "No more drawings of people! And if you disobey me, the sky gods will strike you dead!"

  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:49PM (#26261419)

    Here's what I think about juries - They consist of 12 people with enough civic responsibility to not beg out.

    The reason that far too many juries have a below median intelligence is because too many of the people reading this site have schemed their way out. I am not naive, and I don't want my fate being in the hands of a jury. On the flip side, I'm not going to make up bullshit excuses for not doing my jury duty.

  • by manifoldronin (827401) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:57PM (#26261491)

    Nice to see people still miss the point. Whether you care to admit it or not, it's not normal to wank off to pics of underaged people. I personally lost interest in that more or less immediately upon turning 18.

    Do you realize that "normal" is a very, very subjective word? There are people in this world who consider it not normal having sex during day time.

    (Disclaimer: no, I don't find it normal to wank off to pics of underaged people either, but that's beside the point.)

    The argument you're making is that because there isn't direct damage that it isn't causing damage. It's a bad argument, basically it would be OK to view and look at child pr0n as long as you didn't make or produce it. Encouraging it by giving the sites hits or trading other people's images would OK, because of course that person trading the images didn't make them.

    What about viewing an online video depicting a man being beheaded or any other act that in and of itself is illegal to commit?

    I'm not really sure what about that isn't clear.

    What isn't clear is where does it end.

  • by genner (694963) on Monday December 29, 2008 @04:46PM (#26261987)

    Its called Boiling a frog, or a slippery slope. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog [wikipedia.org]. Drugs, pr0n, alchoholism, eating disorders all are susceptible to this.

    That assumes there's a persistant state of escalation, this isn't always the case. If the water doesn't continue to warm it never boils.
    We can't prosecute people on the assumption that what they are doing will eventually lead to someting worse.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday December 29, 2008 @05:22PM (#26262411)

    Where things become difficult (and, I suspect, where this law is aimed at) is when computer-generated images look so realistic that any lay person would have trouble recognising it as being computer generated.

    It prevents real perverts being able to use a defence of "It's all fake, no offence was committed".

    (Before you ask, yes there are talented artists right now producing photorealistic images which are entirely computer generated. I've seen them myself but I haven't been able to dig any examples out).

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday December 29, 2008 @05:25PM (#26262441)

    I remember when the whole Traci Lords scandal thing came out. She was underage and making porn tapes.

    Never having seen them, I couldn't understand how the pornographers couldn't have known. Then, years later I saw a documentary on it, and they showed a snippet of the porn movies that she made when underage (snippet had no sex and fully clothed).

    I was totally shocked. That girl looked far from an underage kid. I couldn't tell the difference.

  • by jythie (914043) on Monday December 29, 2008 @06:19PM (#26263035)

    That is what elected judges do. The problem is elected judges do not want to rule in such a way that they will loose their jobs. Any judge who rules in favor of something painted with the brush of 'sex' and 'children' is unlikely to survive re-election.

  • by jythie (914043) on Monday December 29, 2008 @06:24PM (#26263079)

    That gets into the entire 'what is normal' problem. Current attitudes concerning when someone is sexually mature are neither normal nor natural. Over the last century or so we have been pushing the age of 'child' further and further and putting more and more importance on 'keeping innocence' and have really been forcing the myth that minors (i.e. people between 12 and 18) are unable to act like adults...

  • by Nebu (566313) <nebuNO@SPAMgta.igs.net> on Monday December 29, 2008 @06:55PM (#26263383) Homepage

    It is -- and should be IMO -- illegal to portray children having sex.

    A lot of people feel the novel "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov is a pretty important work of art. If it were illegal to portray children having sex, Nabokov might never have written that novel.

  • by gfody (514448) on Monday December 29, 2008 @07:28PM (#26263669)

    You forgot the part where the under-aged girl starts crying rape because it's so much easier than taking responsibility for the fake ID, drinking, cheating, etc. Now it's your word against her's and why would the jury believe someone who fucks kids? You think she's gonna show up in court looking anything like she did that night in the club? You won't even recognize her in the little girl costume the DA dresses her up in (probably even with pigtails). Good luck with that defense though!

    I'm not sure even I'M quite that cynical.

    Are you sure you're not actually a carebear?

  • by Rycross (836649) on Monday December 29, 2008 @07:35PM (#26263723)

    Given that I've met "rapists" who's only sin was having consensual sex with a girl who had a boyfriend, I can certainly be that cynical. Rationality goes out the window when someone is accused of a sex crime in America. As soon as you're labeled, you're automatically guilty and whole-heartedly deserving of any punishment up to death.

  • by tftp (111690) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:20PM (#26264513) Homepage

    I have a book called Flies from the Amber [wilmccarthy.com] and it depicts a future society where a 30-35 years old man is called a child, and consequently not allowed to vote.

    But it is true that with development of the society the "child/adult" borderline is creeping higher and higher. The main reason is longer lifespan; another reason is economic ability to keep children away from adult activities until males grow long beards, literally. Consider that the optimal age for a woman to have a child is somewhere between 18 and 25 years old, but a good chunk of it is spent in the "child" limbo. Parents want to keep their precious offspring in child state as long as possible because they got used to it; some say that children are not mature enough to make adult decisions - but I think most people are not mature enough to make those decisions by any age (divorces aplenty).

    People do not necessarily become more mature if they are kept in diapers longer. Real world makes people mature, and everyone has to make their own, personal set of mistakes to learn from. It hardly matters, IMO, if the person does that when she is 18 or 21 or 25 years old. But the earlier they start, the earlier they learn.

  • Re:Not first post (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:18PM (#26264871)

    I don't look at child porn

    Liar.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:25AM (#26265703) Homepage

    It is -- and should be IMO -- illegal to portray children having sex.

    Please forgive my abysmally poor artistic skills.

    This is a fictional depiction of a 16 year old boy lying down:
      -

    This is a fictional depiction of a 16 year old girl lying down:
      -

    This is a fictional depiction of a 16 year old boy lying down on top of a 16 year old girl, having sex:
      =

    If you think I have committed an actual criminal act and that you have some right to pull out a gun and and attempt to imprison me with deadly force then you are dangerous and deluded, and I well defend myself with equally deadly force. And if you think you have some right pull out a gun and kill or imprison someone else for drawing fiction just because they have better art skills than me, then you are just as dangerous and deluded.

    You're no better than the Taliban-types that claim it is a criminal act to draw fictional images of Mohammad, and presume they have some fucked-up right to murder or imprison people for drawings, or to run around blowing up random building and random innocent people just because some drawing offends them. Some people have this fucked up notion that they have some right to use force, injure, imprison, or even kill anyone who offends them. Ooooo... a picture of a woman without a veil on her face.... that's porn... pull out a gun and imprison the pornographer.... and shoot to kill if he resists arrest.

    -

  • Drawing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Digital End (1305341) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:58AM (#26266393)
    I'm going to start drawing lines on a page... tell me which line makes it illegal. The outline? Shading? Coloring?

    There's a reason that sounds stupid... because this whole damn topic is stupid. ffs I like to watch violent movies, and I don't kill people... I like to play racing games, and I've never had a speeding ticket... is it some how different when there's sex involved? Is reading some stupid porn story going to suddenly make you exactly like the story talks about?

    Of course this is going to be a mess... we can't even get these idiots to accept that playing a video game won't make you the next baby-killing monster. I think these people protest a bit too much...

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