Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Daubenmire’s Son and Child Porn

Thanks to Ahcuah for sending me this article. Some of you may remember Dave Daubenmire, the former high school football coach who was told by the courts that he could not proselytize his players and engage in religious exercises while doing his job. He then became an evangelist and formed Pass the Salt Ministries, crusading against separation of church and state for, among others, the Worldview Weekend folks. I’ve critiqued his predictably weak arguments here many times. His son was just arrested for possession of child porn. But I have to give credit to the father for his unequivocal handling of the situation:

“It is an insidious and shameful story,” Dave Daubenmire, the leader of Pass the Salt Ministries, wrote to The Advocate last week. “We are told by the experts that pornography is a victimless crime.

“We thank God that our son’s self-inflicted sin didn’t bring physical harm to anyone, but the fact is the landscape is scattered with those wounded by his actions. We are all deeply ashamed.

“Our family apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by this. We offer no excuses. Sin is destructive.”

I give him credit for not making excuses or suggesting some sort of conspiracy.

Comments

  1. #1 Jason Kuznicki
    September 1, 2006

    Yeah… but. Porn isn’t victimless when it’s children, who don’t understand what they are getting into, and who are in no position to consent meaningfully. By blurring the distinction between adult porn (a real victimless crime) and child porn (which is wrong even on the libertarian grounds of mutual consent), Daubenmire makes it clear he does not really understand the issue.

  2. #2 Raging Bee
    September 1, 2006

    “We thank God that our son’s self-inflicted sin didn’t bring physical harm to anyone, but the fact is the landscape is scattered with those wounded by his actions…

    First, this statement is self-contradictory. Second, has anyone tried to name those persons who were “wounded by his actions?” That shouldn’t be too hard a task if “the landscape is scattered” with wounded people.

  3. #3 Will
    September 1, 2006

    We thank God that our son’s self-inflicted sin didn’t bring physical harm to anyone

    Yeah, emotional harm is so much better.

  4. #4 Blessed Kitten
    September 1, 2006

    I ask this question in all sincerity: who is actually hurt by the alleged actions of Zachary Daubenmire?

    You will hear no argument from me about the evils of using children to make pornography, or for sex in general. However, Zachary is accused of downloading and possesing child porn. He has not directly harmed a minor, nor is he accused of aiding or providing support to someone who has. In this sense, are we not just criminalizing unpopular thoughts in this kind of a case?

    Perhaps you could argue that paying money for something like this provides support to those who are directly harming minors, and I can see how providng material support for an illegal activity should also be illegal, but (in the article at least) Zachary is accused of no such thing.

    These kinds of issues are so emotionally charged, and justifiably, but I think that there is a dearth of serious discussion because of it.

  5. #5 decrepitoldfool
    September 1, 2006

    Zachary is accused of downloading and possesing child porn. He has not directly harmed a minor, nor is he accused of aiding or providing support to someone who has.

    “The man who eats meat is on the same moral level as the butcher.” – Robert Heinlein

  6. #6 Blessed Kitten
    September 1, 2006

    “The man who eats meat is on the same moral level as the butcher.” – Robert Heinlein

    As a vegetarian I appreciate that quote, but I think he’s more on the same moral level as the person who steals scraps out of the butcher’s garbage. His actions neither support nor hinder the butcher (assuming still that he just found the material online somewhere).

  7. #7 decrepitoldfool
    September 1, 2006

    Guess we’ll just wait and see if it turns out he paid for even one picture. Or if he passed any of those pictures on to anyone else, which is a crime because they are in themselves a medium of exchange in that trade.

  8. #8 Jeff Hebert
    September 1, 2006

    Perhaps you could argue that paying money for something like this provides support to those who are directly harming minors, and I can see how providng material support for an illegal activity should also be illegal, but (in the article at least) Zachary is accused of no such thing.

    From a legal standpoint, posession is a crime, just like with drugs — it doesn’t matter if you bought it or if it was handed to you free, it’s illegal to have it in your posession, period.

    As to the more general question of “who did he harm”, you could certainly argue that by providing a ready consumer for the product, Daubenmire encourages and enables the original crime to persist. He’s like the consumer in the drug war — if no one wanted drugs, there would be no drug market and they’d disappear.

    That’s a bit of a dangerous criteria, however. Is any material that is in any way reflective of child sexual abuse illegal, or only material that actually shows real children who are being abused? What about cartoons — those aren’t real people, is that illegal? Or written stories? What about people who enter their children into beauty contests? They’re real kids, but while there’s no actual abuse taking place it’s also (it can be argued) contributing to an atmosphere where sexual abuse of minors is encouraged.

    I honestly don’t know what the relevant laws say about those kinds of distinctions. I don’t know if the correlation between someone owning child porn and actually committing child porn is so high that you’re warranted jailing people or not because of it.

    And you’re right, the whole subject is so … icky and repellent? can I use non-technical terms like that? … I feel very uncomfortable even talking about it at all.

  9. #9 Blessed Kitten
    September 1, 2006

    As to the more general question of “who did he harm”, you could certainly argue that by providing a ready consumer for the product, Daubenmire encourages and enables the original crime to persist. He’s like the consumer in the drug war — if no one wanted drugs, there would be no drug market and they’d disappear.

    Except that he is not a “consumer” in an economic sense if he does not purchase the material. If he’s just downloading the stuff from IRC, an anonymous FTP site, or similar, he’s more what we would consider a copyright infringer or “pirate” if we were talking about more conventional media. If this kind of activity promotes the production of the material being transmitted, why does the RIAA keep suing people who engage in similare practices with music?

    I mean, if you applied the same kind of reasoning that is applied to copyrighted material that is transmitted in the same fashion, you could make a case (a very uncompelling one) that this removes any economic incentive from the producers, thus discouraging the production.

    That’s a bit of a dangerous criteria, however. Is any material that is in any way reflective of child sexual abuse illegal, or only material that actually shows real children who are being abused? What about cartoons — those aren’t real people, is that illegal? Or written stories? What about people who enter their children into beauty contests? They’re real kids, but while there’s no actual abuse taking place it’s also (it can be argued) contributing to an atmosphere where sexual abuse of minors is encouraged.

    These are exactly the kinds of issues that are not raised, because as you say, this is a very icky and repellent area.

  10. #10 ThePolynomial
    September 1, 2006

    Jeff: BoingBoing had a story on made up child porn pretty recently. You might want to check it out.

  11. #11 Steve Reuland
    September 1, 2006

    By blurring the distinction between adult porn (a real victimless crime)…

    Actually, adult porn isn’t a victimless crime because it’s not a crime at all.

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