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Virtual Child Porn: Is It Illegal? 584

Posted by michael
from the bring-out-the-gimp dept.
pcosta writes "Today's LA Times has an article about a Supreme Court hearing on wheteher or not 'virtual' child porn created with computer generated images is illegal. In a previous ruling, the federal appeals court in San Francisco agreed 2-1 that the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from making it a crime to generate "images of fictitious children engaged in imaginary but explicit sexual conduct". But prosecutors said this kind of pornography can whet the appetite of pedophiles, and therefore is dangerous even if no real children are involved." This will be one of the major free speech cases of the year, and I think there's no telling how the Supreme Court will decide.
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Virtual Child Porn: Is It Illegal?

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  • The purpose of outlawing child porno was to curtail the exploitation of children for making pornography. No the federal government is making a psychiatric diagnosis that animated porn with subjects that look under 18 could entice pedophiles. This is an irrelevant and nonsensical assertion brought to us by those who want us to give up our freedoms to deter a few irresponsible folks. The real perverts in this case are the prosecutors in the so-called Department of Justice.
  • You're right. But I was looking at it from the point of view of prurient interests rather than describing something that did, or could happen to someone. I'm sorry I didn't make myself more clear.

  • no it wouldn't be legal. the editing and distribution wouldn't be the problem. the filming of a minor who isn't old enough to give consent is the problem.
  • I see many people injecting their opinions (as Slashdotters are prone to do), but have yet to see one question be addressed. This question must be answered before any larger debate can commence.

    What is pornography?

    Is the modeling in Playboy magazine porn? How about Hustler Magazine? Where is the line between artistic expression and pornography? Is a photo of a nude 13 year old porn just because she is nude, or must she be engaged in some sort of sexual activity with another person to achieve porn status?Where is the line?

    There is, in my opinion, a question to be answered before even discussing the previous question. This question is perhaps the most important of all......

    Who decides where to draw the line?
  • The problem with your argument is when is something speech and when is something an assault. I would argue that wearing a T-shirt in public with pornographic or violent images is no more just "speech" than walking up and punching someone in the nose

    Free speech does not invalidate the right not to listen. Wearing such T-shirts comes dangerously close to doing just that.

    The way it generally works is that one has the right to view/listen to "distasteful" subject matter but not to force others to view/listen to it.

    IMO, this case really is "cut and dried" provided that noone is forced to view kiddie porn (and even then, the blame lies with whoever is doing the forcing)

  • What about a BOOK, for crying out loud, that depicts any of these things (including fictional sex acts involving fictional children)?
    Lolita

    Or the Bible?

  • by kaphka (50736) <1nv7b001@sneakemail.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @04:20PM (#487320)
    I would guess that even the Libertarians (though I am not entirely familiar with their platforms), for the most part, agree with Justice Holmes, who stated: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. . . . The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
    Every time somebody mentions that quote on Slashdot, I feel compelled to post this link [krusch.com].
  • In the case of child pornography, it's illegal to just have pictures of children doing sex acts. Whereas for murder, the act itself is illegal. Child pornography isn't an act or an event, it's pictures or video. So simulated/manufactured child porn is still pretty damned close to real child porn - it just happens to not involve real children.

    The question should boil down to whether child porn laws are there to protect the children that are the subjects of pornography, or whether the laws are to protect those of us being exposed to it.

    Either way, it's about as appealing as goatse.cx.

    Mr. Ska

    I slit a sheet
    A sheet I slit

  • You know, this may be a stupid idea, but I'll throw it out there anyway.

    What if was legal to make and distribute virtual kiddie porn, but it was illegal to sell it?

    My thinking is that if someone wants to create this stuff because it's an expression of their imagination or fantasy, so be it. What really worries me is some unscrupulous "business" person saturating the market with it and putting money into it's promotion - potentially giving it mainstream appeal (I personally believe this is responsible for much of the hype surrounding anal sex (not to say that is wrong)).

    Thoughts?

  • do they have any/similar legislation about anime/cartoon porn especially relating to children, not to mention mutilation, bondage etc.
  • Would someone familiar with the case draw a distinction between simulated child porn and simulated murder on TV or in the movies or on the internet? Simulated rape or any other crime?



    .:.
    :tedd

  • Wholly misconceived. It's not the underlying bitstream that's being banned, it's what you describe as the "implementation details", which is the human-readable meaning of a given bitstream in a context that includes the display of images.

    It's perfectly possible to read the bitstream of a .jpg as a very, very large number devoid of anything other than its sui generis meaning as a number. It only becomes harmful (select your own value for harmful here) when the implementation of that number is as a jpg of a kind readable by an appropriately-configured machine as an image.

    Our hypothetical large number is noise in the context of pure number, but signal in the context of a session with - say - paint shop pro.

  • I've seen that said before, but I just can't see it. Where's the child porn in R&J?

    Juliet (the female lead) is about 13. In the context of the story (and when Shakesphere adapted it as a play) a "young woman". In the context of modern American values an "underage girl".
  • Child porn certianly harms children. Images indistiguishable from real child porn allows real child porn to exist. Simulated child porn, therfore, harms children.
  • I never said it wasn't offensive of morally bankrupt, I just said it wasn't the part of the government to regulate it.
  • Some people have no idea how the mind works

    I think you've proven this point, at least.

    --
    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • Hmm... but if I make a `virtual' (=fake) press release, it must be just as "good" as the real thing then, eh? So how about a `virtual' newsbyte about freedom of speech prevailing?
  • Well put. I wish more people had your level of understanding.

    Rick

  • You had me until the last third. Your argument would have been stronger if you hadn't mentioned homosexuality, considering its lack of relevance to an illegal action against an innocent verses concenting adults (male homosexual urges shouldn't be any more dangerous or encouraging towards illegal activity than heterosexual urges.. Yes there are violators in both camps, but we must single them out). I understand the Christian swing, but there it is.

    The problem is that the thought leads to action, action leads to habits, habits lead to attitudes, attitudes lead to character, character leads to destiny. Lust after children needs to be fixed at the thought level. We can't legislate that, and we shouldn't, so...

    What you say about feed-back loops makes a lot of sence to me as an EE. Though I don't think your conclusion about destiny is as logical. If I had to make one up, I'd say: thoughts lead to desires (habbits), desires lead to attitudes (viewing their sexual prey as sluts who desire your gratifying "punishment"), attitude leads to character (possibly molding how you act, but in general, who you are), and only at the very end is action. Not all the steps are always present (such as with initial experimentation with masterbation). The key difference is that once action is taken, all the damage is done.

    I agree with you in that I don't think violent sexual activities should really ever be _encouraged_. Obviously it's unwise to indulge in fantacies about your work-place. There is strong practical reason for why you should never date at your work place.. Should fanticizing about your students be any less stupid?

    I respect that you say regions should have the right to evict undesirable elements, provided the offenders have the right to move. I remember Hero's Quest III or some such beast where there was this society based around honor.. And if you were caught committing a non-violent crime, your punishment meant a declaration of a lack of honor - that was it.. Of course the practical side effect is that nobody would sell to you. I always thought that mentality was kind of cool, though largely impractical.

    Still the horrors of 1984 lead me to dislike any sort of thought police. Pre-emptive action such as this is a pandora's box that we don't want to open. If some cunning spam causes me to inadvertantly open a porn-web site that's been flagged by some watch group, my life could silently be ruined.

    -Michael

  • Sorry, I tried to check my facts, but I couldn't find it. I appreciate it. The RHPS was a stupid sidebar to add to my comment, because it was filmed in a country with 18+ laws.
  • Yes, but that makes the actual filming of the movie itself illigal.
  • "because in most cases porn serves no purpose other than to indulge the sexual fantasies of the viewer, while movies and the like usually aren't intended to make someone fantasize about commiting the crime."

    So tell me Dr.Freud, why do we watch action-, and scary-movies? I think you hit the nail here without even seeing it.

    However, playing with imagination is something _altogether different_, than doing it for real. But now, it's all made illegal, because of FUD.

    "I think that if the courts take issue with virtual child porn they should also take issue with virtual rape (etc.) which is presented in a pornographic context."

    Virtual rape and pornographic content to one, might be erotical art to another. How is people that got raped ever going to deal with it, if e.g making art about it is made illegal?

    - Steeltoe
  • No, I haven't, and no doubt it's worse, but both would elicit a strong reaction and I think people have the right not to have to experience either.

  • I don't see how there would be one. Furthermore, the argument can be made that no children are harmed in the production of such material

    However some places have already tried to make "fictional child porn" illegal. (With rather interesting results for the likes of "Romeo and Juliet".)
    How these would be interpreted if someone were to create "Sci-Fi Porn" where the characters are androids, holograms, aliens (of the ST kind who look like made up humans), etc?
    Let alone that humans characters could be set in a historical or futuristic context, with completly different social ideas of what is and isn't "pornography".

    Of course, there's the whole issue of using the images or likenesses of real people in virtual productions. Can an actor sue you because you made a computer-generated movie starring a digital simulacrum of him or her?

    Remember that the rights to the appearance of an actor (or a character played by an actor) may well not be owned by that person. Thus if you are going to get sued in this context it could easily be by a large corporate.
  • And what about TEXT depicting sexual activity with/between minors ? Are they illegal too ? They are purely work of fiction, yet "they can whet paedophiles appetite". Should it be banned too ?

    Then what to do with the classic Nabokov
    book "Lolita" ?

    If they can make illegal pure work of fiction, then will censorship end ?
  • If a 16-yr-old girl gets ahold of a camera with tripod and timer, and proceeds to take erotic photos of herself - entirely of her own volition, without anyone else's involvement and without any intent to profit from them - and she then posts these pictures on her Web site, has she just committed a crime? If so, who is the victim? Herself?

    (Regardless of law it's against the terms of service of most Web hosting companies, but not all, especially outside the United States.)

    --

  • I think there is some distinction, based on the purpose of the material. Child porn, simulated or real, is not the same as depicting a crime in a movie, etc. because in most cases porn serves no purpose other than to indulge the sexual fantasies of the viewer, while movies and the like usually aren't intended to make someone fantasize about commiting the crime.

    But there are movies and stories where a character committing "crimes" is somehow "heroic". Where do you draw the line?
  • I would accept scientific proof of a necessary and sufficient cause. That is, viewing virtual child pornography is required in all cases where someone becomes a child molester. And furthermore, viewing virtual child pornography by itself is sufficient to turn a regular person into a child molester.

    I do not believe this is the case. In fact, I do not believe that viewing virtual child pornography would even contribute to turning someone into a child molester (be careful of correlations here!). Therefore, as it does not harm any real children, virtual child pornography should be legal.

  • An "ignoramus"?

    So you are saying that the families and nuns and orphans and Superbowl VIP's in my examples are not victims? Maybe my examples are a little exaggerated for effect, but the logic still holds.

    Before you insult me, perhaps you should read my post a little more carefully. Furthermore, I don't recall anyone ever stating your definition of "victimless". It is very possible to be a victim of yourself when you harm yourself due to ignorance, stupidity or poor judgement. That doesn't mitigate your culpability in any way, but the idea behind the illegality of drugs is because people harm themselves and others when they use them. I think the term "victimless crime" is a rationalization created by people that really don't have a good argument for the legalization of drugs.

    Here's a similar example. If you don't want to wear a motorcycle helmet and you are hurt more because of it, that's your right, but when you affect me because more insurance money goes towards fixing your fractured skull, then society has a responsibility to consider on my behalf whether it's worth it to _me_ that you don't want to wear a helmet.

    In your example, you mention a grieving widow. Now bungie jumping is not a crime, but if it were, how could you argue she's not a victim.

    When someone OD's and dies, he or she most certainly affects other people, even if it's just because someone has to haul his or her sorry carcass away. People do not live in a vacuum, and anyone who argues that harming yourself (especially seriously) affects no one else has an overly simplistic view of the world.

  • by ooze (307871)

    I can't believe it. Over 100 years past Nietzsche there are still discussions about morality!

    Let me say it again: Morals are arbitrary, and completely (group-) subjective.

    BTW, does anybody even think of the ancient greek pederastic educational system being the origin of our western culture? ;)

    Basic rule: As long as all involved have no problem, there is no problem at all.

  • If you're trying to back me into a corner, it won't work. I _agree_ that there's a double standard for alcohol with respect to other harmful drugs. However, there are differences.

    People can and do die accidently from overdoses even when they know what they are doing or know the purity of what they are dealing with. Illegal drugs are _dangerous_, which is why they are illegal. If you apply the logic of why drugs are illegal to alcohol, it's almost (but not entirely) an open-and-shut decision that it should
    be illegal, too. People die from alcohol. People cause others to be killed through use of alcohol.

    However, it's not exactly the same. While it is possible, I hardly think there's a significant risk that someone will keel over after having a glass of wine. No one ever got in a fight at a Catholic Mass because he was suddenly drunk from Communion.

    The problem with alcohol, in contrast, is that using it responsibly confers a trivial, if any, risk to the user or those around him. This is not true for illegal drugs, otherwise they wouldn't be illegal. I know this point is debated with some drugs, such as marijuana, but I think that is the driving force behind drugs being made controlled substances and makes for a legitimate and convincing argument.

  • Let's not forget that in Canada, even the *written word* can also constitute child pornography.

    So have they banned the Shakesphere play "Romeo and Juliet"? What about "The Bible". Or are we talking selective enforcement here...
  • Um, first you are reiterating the last paragraph of my post.

    Second, I am talking about "sick" which is not the same as "should be illegal", nor did I ever state that.

    Furthermore, I'm not entirely sure you read my previous posts either, or you would see that my original thesis was that under the First Amendment I reluctantly agreed that this should be Free Speech.

    Before you accuse me of being an out-of-touch computer nerd, perhaps you should respond to what I say, rather than what you want to pigeonhole me into believing. Didn't 400 years of American history teach you anything about prejudice, or were you too busy playing computer games?

  • Yes, you're absolutely right. And while I have explained myself elsewhere in this thread, I should have chosen my words more carefully.

    If no one talks about these things, no one can fix them. I never meant to say anything different.

  • Throughout a society, there is always a thin, yet beneficial and usually very controversial and sometimes sick line which must exist. This line is the line filled with the pedophiles, KKK, extremists, racists, bigots, etc. which have an antagonistic stance. That is, most people at populous random wouldn't agree with their ideas, and some might even want to control them or stop them completely.

    However, it is this line which presents a great wall from the flood of the great beast which is government control, censorship, and "mind control" (not by implants, unfortunately) from crashing through with well known affects. I think we all need to except that this line needs to exist.

    I am reminded of a children's book which attempts to explain the whys of the worst hate of all (IMHO) -- censorship -- "silencing". It starts out by eliminating groups of not well liked inhabitants of an imaginary forest (worms and toads). Everyone didn't like them anyway and thought they should best be left out of the forest and thought the place might even be better without them (who wants slimy worms and toads anyway?????). After all, they're not like me. So they were eliminated. It was really easy to do with so much support, and pretty soon there was a new replacement for the ugliest and the dirtiest. You can see where this is leading. At the end, there, (of course) was only one group left, and who was left to speak? Was this group the best? Had we finally "cleansed" society? Probably not, since the methods are arbitrary at best anyway, and related solely to a minority anyway -- what we set out to eliminate in the first place!

    I think everyone can see the moral to this story, and the need for that barrier, which mad parents and hypocritical politicians try to cross everyday, in the pursuit of a "safer" community.

    Which kind of community would you like to live in?
  • This is a specific instance of the perennial question "How old do you have to be to reach majority?"

    Or even "is age a sensible metric for this in the first place?"
  • If memory servers, this would be illegal, and seen as no different than any other type of 'real' child porn.

    In the eyes of the law, a hermit living in the middle of the arctic who writes child porn erotic fiction and never shows it to anyone is still breaking the law.

    Yes, it's extreme. No, the hermit probably woudln't get charged.. but the law has decided that anyone doin ganything that depicts or promotes sex with children, whether they are real or not, is illegal.

  • Here are some very interesting articles on the subject.

    Turns out the US government is the prime kiddie porn
    dealer on the net!

    http://www.zolatimes.com/V4.34/kiddie_porn1.html
    http://www.zolatimes.com/V4.34/kiddie_porn2.html
  • An interesting example of this, it is rumored that Columbia in RHPS is only 15 :) makes you feel all dirty now doesn't it :) (btw if you can find a place to confirm this rumor please let me know :)

    Well, according to the IMDB [imdb.com], the Rocky Horror Picture Show [imdb.com] was made in 1975, and the actress who played Columbia (Nell Campbell [imdb.com]) was born in 1953, so I guess the rumour is false.

    But you could have figured that yourself, if you'd invested the 60 seconds or so of effort that I just did..

  • You're absolutely right, but I would bring up that Free Speech protections do not apply when you are inciting people. Again, "inciting people" is yet another in a long list of vague words that the courts and legislature must rely on. If I wear a sandwich board on the streets of that says " should be shot.>" Is that an exercise of Free Speech. Absolutely! However stupid it might be, you have the right to do it. Of course, there's the whole issue of "hate crimes" where a crimes severity depends on who the victim is, I won't go down that road, because there lies madness. But if you gather together a bunch of -hating bigots and say "Let's go shoot some !" and get them fired up in a frenzy that they might actually do it, is that Free Speech? Yes (because all speech in the country is Free), but there are legitimate reasons for it _not_ to be protected anyway. There are legitimate reasons to make narrow exceptions to many, if not all, rights as granted in the Bill of Rights, but it doesn't affect the fundamnetal nature of our form of government. Of course, vigilance is necessary because even well-meaning people can abuse rights.

    Where to draw that line is difficult to decide.

  • Sorry, here's the readable version....

    You're absolutely right, but I would bring up that Free Speech protections do not apply when you are inciting people. Again, "inciting people" is yet another in a long list of vague words that the courts and legislature must rely on. If I wear a sandwich board on the streets of <insert your favorite ethnic minority neighborhood> that says "<ethnic minorities> should be shot.>" Is that an exercise of Free Speech. Absolutely! However stupid it might be, you have the right to do it. Of course, there's the whole issue of "hate crimes" where a crimes severity depends on who the victim is, I won't go down that road, because there lies madness. But if you gather together a bunch of <ethnic minority>-hating bigots and say "Let's go shoot some <ethnic minorities>!" and get them fired up in a frenzy that they might actually do it, is that Free Speech? Yes (because all speech in the country is Free), but there are legitimate reasons for it _not_ to be protected anyway. There are legitimate reasons to make narrow exceptions to many, if not all, rights as granted in the Bill of Rights, but it doesn't affect the fundamnetal nature of our form of government. Of course, vigilance is necessary because even well-meaning people can abuse rights.

    Where to draw that line is difficult to decide.

  • Why do you refer to chemical reactions? Do the theories of chemistry seem more 'real' to you than experinces which you can have directly?

    I don't understand what you mean. I was referring to the chemical reactions which take place in the brain when exposed to a particular stimulus. In this, I hope to convey the thought that it is something not influencable by one's congnitive process. I don't see how experience - that is, a collection of memories - can have any influence on the chemical reaction I'm referring to. They operate at different levels.. and shouldn't be confused with each other.

    If I seem picky, it is because I believe it is important to think clearly about these things, and to use the right words, so that we, as a collective body, can think clearly about them as well.

    You don't seem picky, you seem confused.

    I chose to express my thought in the manner I did so that I could cleverly condense two thoughts - one, answering to the question posed by the original poster, and two, suggesting that being a chemical reaction, it is beyond the mental control of one's self. I thought I did a good job.. apparently not. :)

    I think technology is about to give us a passport to enter a moral, experiential and psychological wilderness. (If you think about it the way I do, then this case is only the very beggining.)

    Agreed. If it weren't for technology, you and I wouldn't be able to anonymously have this interesting exchange. :)

    Technology will allow people to question traditional thought without suffering the traditional consequences.

    It is in order to navigate this wilderness that I believe it is so important to think clearly.

    Agreed.

    --
    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • Eh?

    You lost me there. If someone is so weak-willed that knowledge of a concept can significantly affect their ethics, they're dangerous for that reason alone. I tend to put more faith in people, myself.

    --
    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • Where you live, maybe, but the age of consent varies by state. Here in Virginia, it's 18. (no, I'm not a pedaphile. A close friend of mine served some time for it, though). I believe it's as low as 15 in one of the Carolinas (?)
  • by str8-and-sober (266417) <carllivitt@NOsPaM.yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:23AM (#487448)
    Whilst I think I'll be in line with the majority of people here by saying that child porn is wrong, sick and best left out of any society, there is a point here that needs raising.

    In any society, there will be one section of people who appear as "unacceptable" or "twisted" to another section. Whether these sections are the minority or majority, who has the right to say what images (or sounds, experiences, smells etc) we are not allowed to generate electronically?

    If it is possible for the powers that be to dictate what is acceptable to generate using technology, then where will this dictatorial power end?

    The question is: is it right to decide what is and is not "acceptable use of technology", thereby setting a precedent for the future? Or should we say "there must be a morally defined limit for the application of technology" ? Who would decide on such morals? Who could veto such morals?


    ----------------------------------------
  • by Nezumi-chan (110160) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:24AM (#487452)

    We've had this sort of thing on the books for a long while. I did an article [chebucto.ns.ca] on the subject a couple of years ago, and the situation has changed little.

    The upshot here is that in Canada it is illegal to create art of two people having underaged sex, or even who look underaged. And it doesn't matter if it is made clear that the characters are not underage, the only test is that they look underage. So disclaimers mean nothing.

  • I don't see how there would be one. Furthermore, the argument can be made that no children are harmed in the production of such material (although they might be when a user tries to act out what he sees, but that's another matter).

    Of course, there's the whole issue of using the images or likenesses of real people in virtual productions. Can an actor sue you because you made a computer-generated movie starring a digital simulacrum of him or her? But that's somewhat tangential to discussion.

    Just for the record, I am not condoning this behavior. I think it's awful. But I can't see how it would be illegal under the laws as I understand them. IANAL.

  • well I really dont think the children consenting or not is an issue (and I definitely dont think whether they're enjoying it or not is), the fact is that children do not have the right to choose in the affirmative (let's clarify that!) to be a part of sexual activities with adults in our society.
  • If this "virtual kiddie porn" is a purley fictional representation of nonexistant children how the hell do you determine wether or not they are underage? The creator could simply claim that he was drawing people who looked young or something - right? No one has a bith certificate for Lara Croft do they?
  • Is it illegal to draw one?

  • Posted by polar_bear:

    Actually, it'd be frightfully easy -- just as easy as Pixar showing the wireframes and such for Woody and Buzz.
  • by laetus (45131) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:28AM (#487463)
    Simulated murder in video games, movies, et. al. are not done with the intent of arousing murderous feelings in the viewer.

    Simulated child pornography is done with the intent of arousing pedophilic feelings in the viewer.

    The former does not seem dangerous to me. The latter is sick.
    ----------------------------------
  • (except, some would say, the viewer of virtual child porn)

    Do we care? Is this actual physical harm? No, then go right ahead. If this is actual physicial harm, is this self inflicted? Yes? Go right ahead.
  • by gavinhall (33) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:48AM (#487469)
    Posted by polar_bear:

    I've never had cause to regret the First Amendment or the advances that computers have made in my lifetime...now I do.

    It's possible that the Supreme Court could rule that this material appeals to "prurient interests" and has no artistic value and therefore allow it to be banned. However, this is unlikely because it opens up the possibility of banning books like "Lolita" which are considered classic works. (I think the book sucks, but many people think it's a brilliant work.)

    However, if that is the case, special laws do not need be put on the books - existant laws concerning child porn and obscenity should do. This is similar to the acts that try to make porn on the Internet illegal - if something is truly obscene it does not matter what medium it is distributed in, special circumstances don't apply to something stored in electronic format rather than on paper.

    Frankly, I think we've become too civilized if this sort of thing is allowed to exist. Another poster made the comment that people who sell such things should be shot and I have a hard time arguing. There are some things that a society should have no tolerance for, and this is one of them.

    It's an odd dichotomy, though. Our societal advancements have had both positive and negative effects -- things that once weren't acceptable, homosexuality for example, have become accepted in our society and that's (at least in my opinion) a Good Thing. The same laws and movements that have made homosexuality acceptable have inadvertantly opened the doors to loopholes for child porn and the KKK. (Although I believe the KKK should be allowed to voice their opinion, repugnant though it is. If it's voiced then people know it's out there and can react...) Also, we've only developed our modern concept of childhood in the last couple of hundred years. 200 years ago it was not uncommon for 10 year olds to work more than 40 hours a week and sleep in the same common room (possibly the same bed) that their parents had sex in. 14-year-old girls were married to 30-year-old men all of the time and no one blinked an eye. Today a 30-year-old who tried to date a 14-year-old would be strung up. (Which is also a Good Thing in my opinion.)

    Frankly, I don't think legal means are the answer. I the only answer is to ostracize - or outright execute - people who perpetuate child porn. I know it sounds extreme, but any society that isn't capable of enforcing its values will not keep them. If the punishment is severe enough it will prevent people from doing it and to seek counciling.

    Yeah, I have strong opinions about this...oh well.
  • It's a scary idea, because the obvious extrapolation on this idea is virtual reality, but from a legal point of view, no children are being harmed in its production, so I don't see how it could be illegal.

    While I completely disagree with the act of doing so, I have to grudgingly agree that a person does have the right to create CG child-porn, as much as they would have the right to paint it. I also agree with you on the extrapolation to VR.

    The next question becomes: Where is the onus of proof? If a piece of porn is obviously computer generated, it is one thing. However, if it is virtually indistiguishable from the real thing, does law enforcement have to prove whether or not real children were involved, or does the person owning the porn. Our current system would say law enforcement, which translates to no way that they can crack down on child pornographers without catching them "in the act".

    Perhaps, Congress should pass a new law that requires any producers of virtual child pornography preserve proof that the image/movie/VR in question was created without models. If they have CG wireframes, etc. They might be able to show the origins. This is a heavy onus on producers of this crap, that still allows law enforcement to nail real pornographers without ending free speech. Unfortunately, this solution might be considered undue limiting of free speech itself and the Kiddie porn guys might just find a way around it.

    All around, this is a pretty sick group that we are talking about, and there is no easy answer for someone who values free speech and loathes things like child porn.

    B. Elgin

  • Cool. So like because access to material about Hitler can encourage the Eric Cartman's of this world, perhaps we should ban that too. I dont want to risk my freedom on maybes, you shouldn't either.
  • I'm sorry, but I haven't gotten far enough down my 'Things to Do Before I Die' checklist to hit 'contemplating the facial expressions of fictional aliens' yet.

    It's Item # 4,203, and I'm still working on # 6, 'meaningful relationship'..
  • In japan, the age of consent is only 14. Does this make them all perverts? No. It just means that they have a different value systerm than I do. And while people might be upset by casses with younger girls, what about a picture of a young woman who I claim to be 16? Something like this of a developed woman would probably fall outside what people call 'pedophilic' but would still be considered illegal here (but not in Japan.)

    We have to remeber that the justification behind pedo-porn laws is that it necesaraly required the use of someone under legal age who was incapable of making decisions (according to the law) about their sexual conduct. CG images have no such requirement. The 'Encouraging pedophiles' argument is very shakey and not the motivation for the law anyway.

    How many of you would object on moral grounds to an artfuly done nude with a matured body if the artist claimed that she was 17 (in his intent when he made the pattern of bits on the hard disk?)

  • That's a line we'll cross when we get to it. Judging from the big budget CG I've seen recently it'll be a while.. They spend $40 million on CG effects and still end up with a plasticene Jar-Jar (Gumby had mre beleivable facial expressions!) that wouldn't look realistic drunk AND on acid, for crying out loud..

    As of RIGHT NOW, the illegal part of kiddie porn is the exploitation and abuse of children. I can simulate a murder on film right now, complete with plunging knife, squirting blood, dismemberment, etc, and for all intents and purposes it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Does that make me guilty of murder? Nope. No murder, no crime.

    Same thing with simulated 'kiddie porn'; No child, no crime.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:54AM (#487487) Homepage Journal
    err.. doesnt the prohibition of the (real) image make it harder to find the perpetrator of the sexual abuse of the child depicted? If possession of these pictures was free and unpersecuted (by the state) wouldn't it be easier to track down victim if not the actual perpetrator? Correct me if I'm wrong here but if the pictures are illegal to possess then wouldn't it be suicidal to take these pictures to the police? And if the police dont have the pictures, how can they find out who the victim is and who the perpetrator is? So once again, I call for the actual criminal act to be illegal and the posession of the images to be legal.
  • There seems to be a witch-hunt involving anything vaguely associated with pedophiles these days. I'll be the first to say that paedophiles are not exactly something I admire, but I think people are taking this witch-hunt a bit too far. There are other crimes that are just as ill or worse. And there is no reason to throw normal citizen rights overboard just because there exist some paedophiles.

    How about hand-drawn imagery. Should that be legal, and computer-generated imagery be illegal? What about a collage? It can be made with computer, or with paper, scissor and glue! Or is it realism that counts. Some good artists can create very photo-realistic paintings on a canvas. Should that be illegal as well? How about bad computer-generated images. How about parody? How about unrealistic computer-generated images (hand drawn in windows paintbrush?)

    And what exactly does it mean that something depicting children in sexual activities is porn? How about teaching materials (for parents, teachers and children about paedophiles)?

    I think it is time that we stop thinking about paedophiles as the worst evil of our time. The witch-hunt for paedophiles is most likely creating a lot of victims that doesn't deserve the label (much like the witch-hunting did!). A convicted paedophile today will have very much trouble to adapt to society after his sentence is finished, because he will have to live with the fear that someone finds out about his past and decides to do whatever they find appropriate (starting a lynch-mob, fire him from his job, kick him out of his apartment, whatever...)

    I am not to say that paedophilia is ok, because it certainly isn't, but today I think we are going too far. Treat paedophiles as humans, not monsters! They are humans that need treatment (and perhaps punishment), but they don't need a witch-hunt. And please don't judge anyone in advance. Many accusations that come up against a "paedophiliac" are false, but yet it is very hard for the person accused.

    We don't need to get medieval just in order to feel safe about our children. The good, old, normal system of justice is just fine. I am not even so sure that child-porn increases paedophilic activity. Maybe it is better for them to get their steem out through pornography than through real life. Anyone know of some good studies of this?

  • Fantasy in troubled individuals often leads to acts.

    Do you have any studies to indicate this? Perhaps you're a psychologist. Either way, what does this have to do with me wanting to cruise around as Adolf Hitler in some future artificial VR game of the future? After all, if we assume that people are "troubled individuals" then obviously a game where you get to play Adolf Hitler should be outright banned because it may encourage another global war.

  • That's the line in Britain.

    The simple point being that maintaining a ban on the real thing is impossible if the virtual is legal. We've all seen photoshopped spoof images of all sorts of types (no, not necessarily porn...) and they're by no means always detectable. If you can't prove an image is a fake, you can't prove that an image is genuine either. At which point you can't convict for the real thing.
  • but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search of pictures of real children.

    And here is the central question. Or more accurately, the central question is whether virtual child porn encourages people to produce more real child porn or to abuse real children. The problem is, causation has never been established. If it does not cause this, we should probably allow virtual child porn (although I'm not saying we should advocate it). Because no children are being harmed and we should not make thought crimes illegal.

    On the other hand, if it does cause this, society has a right (and, indeed, a responsibility) to protect its children. In which case, virtual child porn should probably be illegal.

    In my opinion, it doesn't cause real children real problems. Someone who is messed up enough to sexually abuse a child does so because she or he is already messed up. Viewing virtual child porn would not turn a normal person into a child molestor. But of course, this is only my opinion and I'm open to scientific studies proving otherwise.

  • Tin Drum comes to mind. Yes, the US tends to be queasy about sexually explicit material yet at ease with violence. That's really a red herring, though, isn't it?

    The question is simple "Is simulated child pornography closer to real child pornography or free speech?" Does it matter if the viewer can distinguish the difference? What if the author lies and says it is real? Is there a difference between digitally removing the clothing off a minor, drawing things from scratch, or altering a picture to make the subjects appear younger? These aren't easy questions and I look forward to reading the briefs.
  • ....kinda make me laugh.

    i don't want to see chidren hurt or exploited, but these stories always remind me of this girl i used to work with...i swear, she looked 12 or 13, but was in fact 19.

    we went out for lunch a few times and people would stare. she told me it was hell...very difficult getting dates from guys who weren't twisted, and people staring at her in college, etc.

    spent a lot of time crying over it, unfortunately. we have a sick/twisted society in many ways that goes far beyond virtual child porn.

  • That was not flamebait!

    True, it was simply wrong.

    However, when it is between children, the children usually are not concenting, or enjoying it in any way whatso ever.

    ok so far...

    In addition, having digitally created pictures of children in sexual positions only goes on to say that it is ok to have this type of thing done.

    Why? Not criminalizing depictions of children having sex is no more of an endorsement of child pornography than not criminalizing violent movies is an endorsement of murder. (There are too many negatives in that sentence, but you get the idea.)

    The fact that they are under the age of 18 regardless of if it is a picture or not, makes it illegal.

    Except that when dealing with a computer-generated image, there is no "they".

    if you post a story or something to an adult message board, you would not be permitted to post a story about children under the age of 18, regardless of if the story is true or not.

    I seriously doubt that. If the owner of the forum decides that he doesn't want stories about kids, that is his right, but any law that says that you cannot write stories involving children engaging in sexual activity is blatantly unconstitutional.

  • To add to your point; If I am not mistaken, we see a glimpse of a bare chested Juliet in the film during this same scene. The actress who played Juliet, Olivia Hussey, was 17 when she starred in the film.

    -gerbik
  • by Pfhreakaz0id (82141) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:33AM (#487511)

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    This is, probably the clearest item in the Bill of Rights. There's nothing wishy-washy, no qualifications. It says, plain as day, "CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW ... abriding the freedom of speech or of the press." And of course, Congress has proceeded to make tons of them and the Supremes have held them up. Why?
    ---

  • My point would be that there are reasons for writing fiction which involves children having sex that are not at all sick. And that the line between "sick" and "not sick" is so fine as to not exist.
  • In the US, a movie depicting two 17 year olds having sex on prom night is child porn. It does not have to show any graphic details, just show them rolling around under a cover and bragging to friends the next day (don't want to get too detailed, then this post itself might become child porn).

    Now, ask most americans if they'd think such a movie is child porn? Doubt you'd get many to say yes. Heck you can rent examples of these at the local video store.

    What about the old film version of Romeo and Juliet which even goes as far as to use underaged actors? Is this child porn? God no.

    Now, what about virtual porn. It get's even more difficult to legislate. Suppose the maker uses a body frame which is barely mature, say it looks about 12, then in the film has the actress say she is 18. Who is to say otherwise - its virtual after all? You might say no 18 year old looks that young, but I am sure you could find one. I once knew a 20yr old that looked about 10 if you put a 'care bear' sweatshirt on her.

    My point is this, its impossible to legislate this. Most people would 'know it when they see it', but it is extremely difficult to make hard and fast rules. Let common sense and local standards sort this out - just as we have left the definition of 'obscenity' very vague in the US.

    This might produce a hodge podge of standards, but I think that is better than where this is currently heading.

    -josh

  • There is yet another way of looking at this

    A while ago I read an article discussing a similar vein, but a long discussion on psychology played a large part. Why? Because if children can be shown images of (for all they know) real children performing acts they may be leery about, they'll be less inclined to say "No." It's the whole, "They did it, it can't be that bad," type of thinking.

    An innovative child pornographer would make virtual pictures to draw in real children, so he/she/it can perform *actual* sex with the children. That's the only real danger I can see in realistic simulations of child-porn. I say only, because there may come a day when hollywood or some other entity makes a film depicting just what we're talking about here, as a documentary of some sort. You can only know the true horror of a situation when you see it first hand, no matter how much it sickens you to watch. It's a way of raising public outcry when there might not be much.

    Admittedly, child-porn already has almost the entire free world signed up to see it destroyed, but the option is still there. What if a victim of child-porn makes the documentary, for instance? What then?


    --
    Shaun Thomas: INN Programmer
  • by Shadowlion (18254) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @11:10AM (#487554) Homepage
    Fantasy in troubled individuals often leads to acts.

    Then how about punishing those people that commit those acts? If I drive over somebody in a car, then I am tried, convicted, and sent to prison. Yet the other, responsible drivers on the road aren't required to hand in their licenses and freedoms because one person did something stupid.

    Why should this be any different? Rather than punish people for something they might do, and in the process take away some essential liberties, how about punishing people for the crimes they actually commit?

    What you're saying is the equivalent of, "It's OK to punish as many innocent people as possible, so long as one of them might commit a crime in the future (possibly)."


    --
  • by Cederic (9623) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @11:11AM (#487558) Journal

    I am 28; I sometimes see girls in school uniform (in the UK that tends to mean 16 or less) that are sexually attractive. I also tend to look away and not admire in the same way I would a 28 year old woman.

    Girls that have gone through puberty are physically old enough to carry children; it is therefore only logical that my reproductive organs recognise this fact and express their desire in the time-honoured manner.

    The fact that I do nothing about this desire is indicative of my acceptance of the artificial rules of the society that I live in - I accept that society has deemed sex with girls under the age of 16 illegal, and so I steer clear. If I'm going to be honest, I've never had sex with a girl under the age of 25..

    I believe the age of consent in Holland is 12 (feel free to correct me) - so pretty much any girl I'm attracted to in Holland is legally old enough for me to have my evil way with. But I still wouldn't - I want more from a girlfriend that raw wanton sex (although I want that as well).

    ~Cederic
  • by LauraLolly (229637) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @12:05PM (#487563)
    First a caveat - I have two children, and my sister-in-law has been approached in shopping malls by people who want to use my niece in legitimate modeling jobs - these kids qualify as cute.

    Second warning - a dear friend is on medication partly because pictures that were taken of her twenty-five years ago are now circulating forever on the Internet, some in altered condition. The photographer died in jail over ten years ago, but this crime goes on and on and on.

    There are three questions here:

    1. Does virtual porn harm any actual living children?
    2. Does virtual porn either encourage or discourage the genuine sexual abuse of actual children?
    3. Where do the first-amendment rights of free speech end? In other words, where does the fist (no pun intended) of pornography bump up against my child's nose?
    The answers are:
    1. Yes, if the virtual models are based on photographs of real children. Often, in photorealistic virtual creations, an original model was used. When I mentioned the friend who was in therapy, part of it was learning that her image is now the basis of some very sick virtual scenarios. Unless this child was not based on any living model in any way, there is provable harm. Even if the model is an archetype, such as "Harry Potter" or "Cindy Lou Who", there are many small black-haired boys with glasses or blue-eyed blondes who bear such a close resemblance to those archetypes that they could be harmed as well. The harm is not just in the creation of the pornography, but also in the dissemination of the images.
    2. The research isn't out yet. Some say it encourages child molestation. Others say that it acts as a substitute. I am not capable of judging. Any genuine studies would be unethical; it could only be either after-the-fact questionaires or blood-pressure/arousal studies.
    3. I can't do thought control. If some sicko wants to imagine sex with my child, I can't stop it. If some sicko wants to publish a fantasy of sex with my child, I won't try to stop it, as long as all possible identifying charicteristics are left out. The moment some sicko to publishes fantasies, either written or in images, of sex with my child, or of another child, or of a virtual child that can be easily confused with my child, my child has been harmed.
    I'd much rather use tort law to get at this than the hammer of censorship. Take a look around you, though. Ask yourself how you would feel if that were your smiling face on top of the most disgusting act you can think of. (Not the most sexual - the most disgusting.) Now, ask yourself about the disemination of that image for the next fifty years.

    There is no good solution. There should be no thought control. Eat rage and weep for our children

  • Several of my Jewish friends are almost induced into a traumatic state when considering certain Nazi material. I think "making me sick" is an order of magnitude less severe... Yet, Nazi advocates in America are not Jailed (provided they do not act).

    Therein lies the entire point of freedom of speech. Mob rule is based around popular self riteousness. You present an idiological danger to us, so we will stamp you out. We believe it's common sence that you committed this appauling crime so damn waiting for the trial where you have a chance at being acquited, we're going to kill you tonight!!

    Music can induce us into a frenzied, less safe state for driving. Alcohol can lead us into abuse. Cocain can destroy our brain. Depictions of immoral sexuality can "whet" our desire and bring us to action.. These are all truths. (If you have value in the teachings of Christianity, (even from a non-christian point of view) the response was to pluck our your eye if it causes you to consider bad deeds). The responsibility is in the individual, and not for the society to simply remove every possible temptation.

    An over-weight person that removes all food-temptation will explode and splurge when given the opportunity. Those people that allow temptations to be at hand at least have the opportunity to moderate their discipline, and make life bearable.

    Sexual offenders (as far as I understand it) are tainted for life. It's their responsibility to seek help / restraint, or our responsibilty to distance them when they're caught actually doing wrong. But slowly taking away stimulous, such as moderate-level drugs, or hard-core pr0n only attacks the symptom, not the problem.

    -Michael
  • by Wreck (12457) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @11:13AM (#487582) Homepage
    Consider. A picture, on a computer, is a file. A file is string of ones and zeros. It is a number. So, to "ban kiddie porn", is the equivalent of banning a certain set of numbers. Nobody can have these numbers; they are too dangerous. I.e., consider the number X = 2^15359991. Perhaps that is really "Raping Little Susie", as encoded in some format. Since we don't like pedophiles, we ban X. That's OK, though, right? After all X is huge -- it is very, very unlikely that X is actually a number anyone would really want to use.

    But wait. How about X/2? Should that number be allowed? Given the fact that one can easily convert it to X (just multiply by two), if X is banned, it must also be banned or the ban is worked around trivially.

    In fact, given any encoding scheme as complex as gzip or as simple as "divide by two", to really "get rid of" a number, we need to ban all possible encodings of that number.

    But the possible encodings of X change, based on the possible encoders. That means that some numbers might OK today, but kiddie porn just as soon as bzip3 comes out.

    Now consider that an encoder can use lookup tables. It is therefore possible to encode any number as any other number; which one encodes which is simply an implementation detail. So, for example, I might then write a gzip variant which encodes X as 17. I have the code right here; I could do that. So that would mean banning 17, in order to ban X.

    I think it is pretty clear that the world needs 17.

    So how you gonna ban kiddie porn? Unencrypted only? What good is *that*? Rot13 anyone?

  • by moonsammy (65351) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:08AM (#487593)
    While I don't necessarily think virtual child porn should exist, I don't see why it would be illegal. Actual murder is illegal, but look at all the virtual forms of that we accept - video games, movies, television, etc etc. Why should the argument about virtual child porn be any different?

    -MoonSammy
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:08AM (#487596) Homepage Journal
    I would consider this to be equivalent to writing a piece of fiction that depicts these acts. It's a pretty sick puppy that would do this, or want to read it, but you could theoretically do this in a locked room by yourself and for yourself starting with no one else's work, which as far as I'm concerned pretty much makes legal issues moot.

    It's a scary idea, because the obvious extrapolation on this idea is virtual reality, but from a legal point of view, no children are being harmed in its production, so I don't see how it could be illegal.

    Which isn't to say I don't find the idea morally offensive, but there you go.

  • To be fair, Christianity is based on the fact that morality is absolute (at least those sects that still have any philosophical integrity left) and that laws should reflect this absolute morality.

    The fact of the matter is, laws do reflect a morality, or at least a subset of morality that 50.1% of the legislatures agree with or that 50.1% of the courts uphold. There is nothing wrong with calling for these kinds of laws, but the legislators who listen to these calls must obey his or her own rules as stated by the Constitution. Nevertheless, an unconstitutional law is not necessarily a bad one, except for its unconstitutionality.

    Unfortunately, the subset of behaviors that have no positive value to society and the subset of bahaviors that are not protected by the Constitution do not completely overlap. However, this is a reasonable price to pay for a system of government that attempts to minimze the restrictions of any behaviors unless they adversely affect other people. Just remember, that those Christians you so love to bash are speaking from a different, but no less legitimate, point of view. I happen to agree that pornography should be flat-out illegal, but I understand that under our system of government, as devised by men far wiser than I, this is impossible.

  • by kenf (75431) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:09AM (#487620)
    The ONLY reason for banning child porn is the harmful effect of creating the porn on the real children involved.

    Any other porn, which represents itself as child porn but does not depict actual children, should be left alone.

    Only adults, who should know what they are doing, are involved.
  • by atrowe (209484) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @11:19AM (#487621)
    What about live action movies that depict actors over the age of 18 portraying minors in sexually explicit scenes. American Pie comes to mind. There are several nude scenes involving characters who are in high school. How would this be affected?
  • by Phaid (938) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @12:18PM (#487625) Homepage
    One big problem with all of the posts on this subject so far: everyone is assuming that the material prohibited by this law will in fact be child porn. That it will involve what are unmistakeably intended to be children, performing obscene acts.

    The real problem is that such a law leaves interpretation of what constitutes a "crime" up to law enforcement. What if someone likes drawing Anime-style characters engaging in sex? What about the "furry" fans, who like anthropomorphised animals? Anime characters, with their big eyes etc, and typical cartoon characters, are not always easy to tell from children, especially to the uninitiated.

    Will we have a rash of arrests -- even if they don't lead to prosecutions -- of perfectly lawful artists creating perfecly legal works, simply because someone thinks their characters look too young? Will we drive all sorts of artists underground, or keep them from publishing anything at all, out of fear that they might get hauled into court and labeled as a CHILD PORNOGRAPHER and publicly humiliated?

    This is another case of creating an extreme law to prohibit an extreme act, which has a chilling effect on freedoms far out of proportion to the small (and debatable) amount of good that it does.

    Keep the government out of my bedroom, out of my doctor's office, and off of my drawing board!
  • by .sig (180877) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:10AM (#487627)
    Well, it kinda sounds familiar to me, what with all the arguments about virtual violence in video games/movies/music whatever. If it's legal to go on a shooting spree and kill hunderends of unuarmed innocents in a video game, or root for the bad guy in a particularry gruesome movie, why should this be any different?
    I'll be the first to argue that it's morraly wrong, and basically sick, but it's not my place to decide what people should do with their time. As long as it's purely virtual, then no one gets hurt and it's basically a private matter up to the individual.
    Now it could lead to inspiring such acts agains real children, which is a totally different matter, but it could also give the crazies what they want in a harmless matter. The question, I guess, is would the virtual be better than the real thing?
    Makes me glad I'm not a parent yet, but afraid of what times will be like when that changes...

  • by _Ludwig (86077) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:11AM (#487631) Journal
    The argument that it should be illegal because it might "cause" someone else to do something is thoroughly unconvincing, especially lacking any serious studies implying a strong causal relationship between fake child porn and actual child molestation. Hell, a sixpack could "whet the appetite," and they're not outlawing beer.

  • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:12AM (#487643) Homepage
    I think this kind of "virtual" porn should be illegal, but not for the reasons that I've seen written about. With computer graphics getting better and better every day, how long will it be before CG stuff becomes imperceptable from the real stuff? If a guy gets busted with kid porn on him computer, he can just say that he created it. We need to remove any reasonable boundries that prevent the prosecution of child pornographers. Outlawing crypo? No. Outlawing niche market virtual child porn? Yeah.

    -B
  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:12AM (#487649)
    What about porn that depicts a (fictional) rape? Should that be illegal because it'll "whet the appetite" of a rapist?

    What about a movie that depicts graphic dismemberment of a corpse? It might "whet the appetite" of a serial killer. Silence of the Lambs

    What about a movie that depicts a not at all graphic simple domestic homicide? It might "whet the appetite" of a spouse abuser.Almost any TV show

    What about a BOOK, for crying out loud, that depicts any of these things (including fictional sex acts involving fictional children)? Lolita

    These are all perfectly legal. I just don't see that the "simulated child porn is wrong" case has a leg to stand on. Therefore it'll probably pass unanimously...
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • by Hairy_Potter (219096) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:15AM (#487689) Homepage
    For instance, in an erotica writing club I belong too, a woman's story was removed becuase it talked about her sexual experiences as a teen.

    I realize it's mostly a moot point with the Slashdot crowd (hell, I was a 20 year old virgin), but if you had a sexual experience at 13, would you want the right to talk about it?

  • by Gorimek (61128) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @01:20PM (#487736) Homepage
    We're all more or less sick from time to time, mentally and physically. That is no reason to throw us all in jail. Only acts which harm others should be punishable, sick or not.
  • by digidave (259925) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:19AM (#487777)
    I can't remember all the details, so sombody please correct any mistakes...

    A Vancouver court heard a case like this a few years ago. The defendent claimed that his drawings of nude children engaging in sexual activities were both works of art and products of his imagination. While simply being "works of art" isn't a defense (photos can be art, but not if they're of nude children having sex), his argument about being products of his imagination stood up in court.

    The court said that while they found the drawings disgusting and that they should be banned, it would be impossible for them to rule that they're illegal because that's one step away from declaring that a person's thoughts are under the control of the law.

  • by startled (144833) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @12:44PM (#487786)
    Part of it, of course, is wishful thinking-- they really WANT to pass a particular law, and uphold it, and so they make up a rationale.

    There are two other issues, however. First, Congress is given the power and responsibility to pass laws for particular purposes, such as "to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States", and "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". This entirely contradicts the First Amendment, which would make much of that (especially the second quotation, about copyright) impossible. In fact, many amendments, taken to their logical extremes, would totally void much of the constitution, inclusing many of the other amendments.

    Because of these contradictions, they have to make interpretations-- this is not under debate, because there are many well-recognized contradictions. But where you side on the interpretations is a large part of what political affiliation you might have. Your interpretation, of course, is Libertarian. I would guess that even the Libertarians (though I am not entirely familiar with their platforms), for the most part, agree with Justice Holmes, who stated: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. . . . The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

    If you are interested in the history of the Constitution, from its creation to many of the interpretations of it, I highly recommend this FindLaw resource [findlaw.com], which has an astonishing amount of content, decently organized.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:20AM (#487809)
    Because rape and murder in movies is done by rich Hollywood producrs who have the legislators in their back pockets. Banning ficticious murder and rape in movies would destroy in industry. Ban something not many are profiting from, and who cares, right?
  • by mcarbone (78119) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:20AM (#487811) Homepage
    This issue is interesting as it addresses some potential "exceptions" to freedom of speech.

    Child pornography has always been rightfully illegal as an inherent part of it is sexually abusing a child. So the question then becomes: with modern technology, if child pornography can be produced artificially (that is, without the abuse of children), then what is the harm? Well, apparently, the major argument is that it whets the appetite of child porn users (or observers), and hence puts children in potentially harm's way.

    But then why is this issue more important than other harmful crimes? Not to lessen the tragedy of sexual abuse of children, but realistic movies and stills of violence could also then, using the same argument, cause murders and rapes. And so why not ban those as well? Of course, then the snowball rolls and suddenly fiction about hacking is illegal.

    This may be an exaggeration, but the issue isn't as one-sided as many people think. But I understand the popular hesitation - it is hard to defend freedom of speech as sometimes one is defending the child pornographer next door.

  • A sick puppy like Gunter Grass [aclu.org]?

    Or did you mean like Vladimir Nabokov [freeservers.com]?

    Mystere?

    Nicola Griffith?

    Diane Duane?

    Who?
  • by Private Essayist (230922) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:21AM (#487819)
    A law should only be passed if it has a reason for being. So let's examine what a ban on completely computer-generated porn involving images of children is supposed to accomplish:

    • Protect Children: Real kiddie porn uses children, and they need to be protected from this. But computer-generated images do not involve the use of any real children. Therefore this law does not directly protect children.
    • Don't Fuel Pedophile Appetites: That's the reason being given here, that such images will encourage pedophiles to abuse children. But isn't it commonly understood that pedophiles do not stop wanting to abuse children no matter what you try or do? Isn't that the whole point behind Megan Laws, that even a released pedophile is not really reformed, and can never be reformed? So a pedophile, evidently, needs no encouragement to engage in their acts.

    I dunno, seems as if this law doesn't accomplish anything other than to 'get rid of the stuff' (out of sight, out of mind). Not that this would work either, since kiddie porn producers are already breaking laws. Pass this law and that will be just one more law for them to break. Won't stop them, that's for sure.

    Mind you, I can't think of any valid use for kiddie porn, computer-generated or not. But free speech being only valid when you defend that which you find offensive, I worry that this law (which will accomplish zero) is wordly generally enough that the prosecution won't end with explicit kiddie-porn. Anime will be the obvious next step, and so on.

    Note, I'm not defending kiddie porn. I'm pointing out that I think this is a law that will accomplish nothing good, and could be used down the road for something bad.
    ________________

  • by Cheshyre (43113) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:22AM (#487820) Homepage
    Keep in mind that Zefferelli's film "Romeo & Juliet" features a bare Romeo leaving Juliet's bed in the morning. Certainly "conveys the impression" that those two minors jad been "engaging in sexually explicit conduct?"
  • by The NT Christ (305898) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @03:23PM (#487826) Homepage
    OK, so you're a dickhead who wants to persecute people because they have a different brain chemistry to you. That's really high morality. Well done. It's people like you who persecuted witches, gays, women and blacks in the past. This is no different - wrapping it up in a neat little "oh, please think of the CHILDREN" package is just an excuse. You're a closed-minded bigot who cannot comprehend the fact that others might be different - SUBSTANTIALLY different - from himself. I merely allow the possibility, and according to you that makes me a "sick fuck"? More redneck morality here - why don't you get a posse together and string me up for daring to speak out?

    Let me just say this one more time: if your actions do not affect another human being, they are nobody's business but your own. This includes looking at virtual kiddie porn. Like I say, it's not the porn per se, it's the actions that result in obtaining the porn. If the porn can exist without those actions, there is nothing wrong with it. Are you capable of swallowing your overdeveloped morality long enough to grasp this simple concept?

    Pardon me for extending an olive branch of understanding to those unfortunate individuals who really have a powerful drive to look at kiddie porn. What, do you think they woke up one day and made a choice that children and not adults would get their juices going? Any more than a gay makes a choice that men and not women get their juices going? Of course not! Do you think it benefits society to persecute them? Or do you think a humane society might be able to swallow their repugnance and give these people something that helps them without harming others?

    Your arguments for banning virtual porn are no different to any other argument that prevents free speech. They boil down to the same thing - we need to censor activity to help us stop crime, never mind that the same activity might actually benefit society in a larger, less obvious, way. It's bullshit. A crime hasn't been committed until a crime has been committed. I wish law enforcement officers would bear this in mind before they entrap the mentally ill and send them to jail with the *real* criminals (those of sound mind who deliberately engage in activities harmful to others).

    Looking at adult porn does not make one a rapist, so why does looking at kiddie porn make one a child molester? Answer me that one. And get a fucking clue about cause and effect before you start saying that DOOM contributed to Columbine, or that 100% of child abusers look at kiddie porn. Just because salad is green, doesn't mean all green things are salad. The will to go out and abuse children, shoot people, whatever is fundamentally different to the will to look at pictures of children, or violent movies or video games. Of course, because all the actual criminals are found to engage in the non-criminal activity it gives those with weak analytical powers the idea that the two are intrinsically bound. They are NOT. Get this through your head, for Christ's sake.

    But for all your outrage you do make one interesting point - about how digital imaging technology might mask real kiddie porn. What makes this different from any other legal case in which evidence has been digitally tampered with? There is a science called forensics which deals with issues like this - and yeah, digital technology forces forensics to advance. This is nothing new, and nothing unique to kiddie porn. [Anyway, all you need do is prove that ONE of those 50,000 images is genuine.] What, should we ban all new technology because it makes the police's job harder?

    So why don't you try using your head? All you've done so far is spout utterly standard moral outrage (you could have cribbed it from any Fox 11 News report), and you've made one weak argument that says "forensics is more difficult if we allow freedom of speech". Think with your head, not your gut.

    Fuck you, and your fake morality. In your rush to be fashionably protective towards children, you've completely forgotten to be compassionate towards misguided adults. They deserve our sympathy too, especially those who have done nothing to harm anyone. The internal fight for such people must be monstrous - can you even begin to imagine how a decent person might feel when he realizes he is sexually attracted to young children? It makes most people's life struggles seem completely trivial.

    Having said all this, of course we should lock up anyone who does harm to children, or who has a provable intent to do harm to children. Or adults, for that matter. That's what jails are for; they're not there to enforce your idea of morality by locking up people who have done no harm to anyone other than offend their sensitivities. Remember, this is about virtual kiddie porn, not about the "right" to molest children. Keep that in mind. Stay focused.

    [Incidentally, are you really in law enforcement? If so, it reaffirms my views on the sort of people who get into that job.]

  • by WillSeattle (239206) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @01:45PM (#487831) Homepage
    There's a similar case being heard by the Canadian Supreme Court about whether a B.C. man can be convicted for possessing such pictures. Without such possession being evidence, it would be very hard to get any convictions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @10:23AM (#487846)
    Violence of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real violence.

    Sex of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real sex.

    Cheese of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real cheese.
  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @07:16PM (#487852) Journal
    I have contemplated exactly this scenario several times in the past - I just hadn't expected it in reality so soon.

    If such works do not lead people to commit child abuse, there is no reason to make them illegal. (OK, I can think of one - see below.) I will therefore assume such abuse is increased by simulated pornography, as it is the interesting case.

    Argument 1: The benefit to society of allowing this is the pleasure/entertainment of some people. The benefit of banning is the prevention of child abuse cases. Child abuse is so horrendous and crippling that the benefit of banning greatly outweighs the benefit of allowing it, so it should be banned. This is the utilitarian argument.

    Argument 2: While it is (hypothetically) true that a person exposed to simulated pornography is more likely to commit child abuse, it is still a free decision by them to do so. The blame lies in the person, not the pornography, and it is they who should be banned/punished, not the pornographer. Many view the pornography and don't abuse - why should they be denied this because a few do abuse? This is the free will argument.

    Personally, I tend towards utilitarianism. I am surprised at the near unanimity to allowing such pornography shown in these posts (at least, in those moderated high enought that I read them.) I would have expected this to be much more controversial.

    (P.S. The promised extra reason for banning simulated porn: If it were allowed, it would make it harder to control real child pornography and prosecute pornographers, because there would be an extra requirement to determine that the images were 'natural' rather than computer generated.)

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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