Dispatches from the Creation Wars

ABCNews reports:

Federal agents arrested Charles Rust-Tierney, the former president of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU, Friday in Arlington for allegedly possessing child pornography.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by ABC News, Rust-Tierney allegedly used his e-mail address and credit card to subscribe to and access a child pornography website.

And this is apparently not virtual child porn, anime or that kind of crap. According to the description, this was video of real prepubescent kids being tied up and raped while screaming for help. And according to the report, the guy admitted to having purchased it. The anti-ACLUers are going to have as much fun with this as we have with Ted Haggard and Lonnie Latham and we can hardly begrudge them that.

Comments

  1. #1 Brandon
    February 25, 2007

    This is why I love your blog. You’re the only person on the entirety of the Internet who’s truly dedicated to balanced reporting. And right after I was about to vomit from seeing PZ Myers’ latest “Religion sucks!” headline.

  2. #2 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    The anti-ACLUers are going to have as much fun with this as we have with Ted Haggard and Lonnie Latham and we can hardly begrudge them that.

    Very true. The best way to demonstrate integrity in this instance is to wholeheartedly join them in condemning his actions.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    February 25, 2007

    Absolutely. I can’t imagine any decent person not condemning such a thing.

  4. #4 Bill Poser
    February 25, 2007

    Actually, I think that Ed may be bending over too far backwards. Its true, of course, that this will be used against the ACLU, but there is a big difference between this case and cases like those of Ted Haggard and Lonnie Latham. Haggard and Latham were revealed as hypocrites who publicly condemned homosexuality but privately practiced it. Rust-Tierney, on the other hand, has been shown to have sexual tastes that offend most people and to have acted in violation of the laws against child pornography, but he has done nothing that shows him to be a hypocrite or that invalidates the arguments he has previously made against censorship of the internet.

  5. #5 Flying Fox
    February 25, 2007

    Bill has a point, but I agree with Gretchen too.

  6. #6 raj
    February 25, 2007

    Question: was the guy a Catholic priest?

  7. #7 Brian
    February 25, 2007

    See, that’s exactly what we don’t need to do. The first thing out of right-wingers’ mouths when one of their own gets caught in a scandal is “But blah-blah the liberal did it, too!” This is a horrible thing that he did, and we don’t need to make excuses for him.

  8. #8 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen,

    In the discussion in the “Holocaust Denier” thread about the possession of child pornography, you said “I believe possession of both real and fake porn should be legal and just production of real should be illegal.” So presumably you think Rust-Tierney’s action here should not be a crime. Is that correct? Or do you think his action here should be a crime, but for the reason that he purchased the material rather than because he possessed it?

  9. #9 Bill Poser
    February 25, 2007

    This is a horrible thing that he did, and we don’t need to make excuses for him.

    Who’s making excuses for him? The point is, there is no relationship whatever between his and the ACLU’s stance on freedom of speech and his interest in child pornography.

  10. #10 kehrsam
    February 25, 2007

    For a uplifting interlude, Neil Degrasse Tyson on WaitWait Don’t Tell Me this week.
    javascript:getMedia(‘WAITWAIT’, ’24-Feb-2007′, ‘4’, ‘RM,WM’);

  11. #11 kehrsam
    February 25, 2007

    That link worked great. Here’s the main site. http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=35

  12. #12 Ian H Spedding FCD
    February 25, 2007

    Haggard, Latham and their ilk are self-appointed arbiters of morality who claim their authority derives from representing the will of their divine Creator here on Earth. They are hypocrites who did and do not live by the morality they preach and were apparently undeterred by the possibility that by their actions they might incur the wrath of their God in who they claim to have such absolute belief. They are demagogues who, if they had the power, would impose their beliefs on the rest of us and there is also little doubt that they would also have abused that power to prevent their hypocrisy being exposed to public gaze.

    The ACLU defends the very rights that Christianists would trample all over. It does not impose beliefs on others but, rather, works to prevent them being imposed on those who do not share them. Where extreme religions would attack us for being infidel, the ACLU would defend our right to be such.

    That is the difference.

    What Rust-Tierney did, assuming he is guilty, was despicable and a crime and he deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law but his offence does not undermine the good work the ACLU has done and continues to do in defence of the rights of individuals and groups, especially where they disagree with the views of such people.

  13. #13 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    Jason,

    I don’t think it should be a crime; I do think it should be morally condemned. It just doesn’t seem pragmatic to me to enforce laws against possession, nor in such instances is there a direct act of harm being committed, whereas the production itself involves the actual rape of a minor– in this case not just the statutory variety.

  14. #14 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen,

    I certainly agree that it should be morally condemned, but I tend to think it should be a crime too, notwithstanding the practical difficulties with enforcement and such.

    Does anyone know what the ACLU’s position is on the criminalization of possessing child porn? I’m looking for authoritative answers with links to official statements by the organization, not guesses.

  15. #15 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    The ACLU opposes child pornography that uses real children in its depictions. Material, however, which is produced without using real children, and is not otherwise obscene, is protected under the First Amendment.

    – says their web site. I assume when they say “oppose,” they mean they oppose both production and possession.

  16. #16 Prup aka Jim Benton
    February 25, 2007

    My possession towards child porn is probably close to Grethchen’s, if not more liberal — depending on the age and other factors. My position on porn involving rape or violence, simulated or real, is probably more negative than anyone’s here — though I do question legal punishment as a free speech matter. My position on child rape or porn involving child rape is that it should be punished to the maximum allowable by law — and I have a good idea how his fellow inmates will feel about it.

    This is certainly NOT comparable to Haggard or Latham, who did nothing wrong in having gay sex and can only be condemned for hypocrisy. What Rust-Tierney did (assuming he is in fact guilty) is many times worse, and Bill Poser’s comments are inexcusable. Let’s not compare and contrast, let’s just describe R-T as the scum he is. (But yes, we have to defend the ACLU from being associated with his crime — we should also defend the sincere parishoners of Haggard as well, at least from cries of hypocrisy. Their anti-gay position is ugly and wrong, but they shouldn’t be blamed for being conned.)

  17. #17 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    That statement is rather ambiguous on their position with respect to the law. Obviously, they could “oppose child pornography” but also oppose laws that make possessing it a crime.

  18. #18 kehrsam
    February 25, 2007

    Since he was with the ACLU, didn’t everyone just assume he was a pedophile anyway? So for Gribbett, this isn’t even a revelation, and shouldn’t bear mention. I bet he writes about it anyway.

  19. #19 Elf M. Sternberg
    February 25, 2007

    The problem is that our side has to condemn Rust-Tierney because it’s all we know how to do. Unlike the Christian meme, secularist memes don’t seem to have a narrative of fall from grace, forgiveness, and redemption. Sure, Haggard’s little story smells bad from here: three weeks to “completely heterosexual” sounds more like “completely delusional” to me, but his flock is primed to understand and accept that such things are possible with soopernatural(™) intervention.

    Secularist[*] ribbings of Christians over Haggard just wash up against their auto-reinforcing notions of humanity, but they can point and condemn Rust-Tierney all they want and we will feel bad about it because we don’t really have a similar set of narratives. All we know about is condemnation and punishment.

    Sure, Haggard’s probably as queer as a three dollar bill and trolling the M4M section of Craigslist even as we speak. That’s part of our schadenfreud: the Christian narrative is often wrong. But it does keep their flock’s culture clanking along, circulating the donation plate, and all that.

    [*] I’m not going to use the word “liberal” because, frankly, I’m not one.

  20. #20 flatlander100
    February 25, 2007

    As the ACLU might point out, the man involved has, as yet, not been convicted of any crime. He’s been arrested and charged. We can and should all join in condemning kiddie porn and those who make its production possible by purchasing it. But the widespread willingness to assume guilt in this country upon arrest always makes me uncomfortable. Does this time too.

  21. #21 Ed Brayton
    February 25, 2007

    I think Prup is exactly right. If we’re going to compare what this man did to what Ted Haggard did, I’ll easily put this in a far worse category. Hypocrisy isn’t the worst crime in the world; we’re probably all guilty of it in some area of our lives. But this is victimizing pre-pubescent children; there is no comparison. And no, I don’t care even the tiniest little bit whether he actually participated in the rape; the fact that he paid someone to produce it means that some other child is likely going to get raped. Providing the profit for the production of such material makes one every bit as complicit as the person who produced it.

  22. #22 Bill Poser
    February 25, 2007

    flatlander:

    According to the original article “Rust-Tierney admitted to investigators that he had downloaded videos and images from child pornography websites onto CD-ROMs, according to the complaint.”
    It could be they’re lying or that the confession was coerced, but for practical (as opposed to trial) purposes his presumption of innocence is greatly weakened by this.

  23. #23 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    And no, I don’t care even the tiniest little bit whether he actually participated in the rape; the fact that he paid someone to produce it means that some other child is likely going to get raped. Providing the profit for the production of such material makes one every bit as complicit as the person who produced it.

    What if it had been “virtual child porn” that had been created using adult actors posing as children, but he had purchased it in the belief that it involved real children? What if he hadn’t purchased it but had just been given it for free by someone else?

  24. #24 Russell Miller
    February 25, 2007

    I tend to agree with those that say that his actions are definitely repugnant, but are in a completely different category than Haggard’s, etc. His actions speak against him personally, but really don’t reflect on the ACLU all that much, and I think if the wingnuts try to paint the entire ACLU because of his actions they’re out of line – because there’s really no hypocrisy involved.

    The issue here is not whether his actions are personally repugnant, but whether they reflect badly on the entire movement he was supposed to be representing. I contend no – at least not in the same way as Haggard et al., because the ACLU does not make it a central tenet of their platform to condemn child porn.

    The wingnuts make it a central tenet of their faith to condemn homosexuality, and I think that’s why it’s different.

    Oh, there’s *some* reflection, but I think to start jumping on the ACLU as supporting people who view child porn is tasteless and completely in character. I won’t be supporting that.

  25. #25 Russell
    February 25, 2007

    Prup aka Jim Benton makes a hopefully non-Freudian slip when he writes:

    My possession towards child porn..

    He meant “position,” of course. My damn fingers do that to me all the time. What I mean is… Oh, hell. Never mind.

  26. #26 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    Providing the profit for the production of such material makes one every bit as complicit as the person who produced it.

    I guess I just can’t put making someone want to harm a person on the same level as committing the harm itself. Plus, there’s the matter of people coming to possess child porn without meaning to (either because they thought the people being depicted were adults, or they just downloaded the wrong thing altogether) or the few people out there who actually do have an interest in seeing child porn for research purposes. Plus, what if you don’t actually pay for the child porn? Does that mean you’re not providing any profit for its production, and therefore should not be penalized?

  27. #27 Russell Miller
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen:

    It’s kind of like the “war on drugs” but with a much greater social acceptance.

    You can’t win it, only contain it. I, along with many others, tend to have much greater tolerance for the war against child porn than the war against drugs. I think I, unlike many other people, aren’t ready to go to extreme lengths to fight it.

    Get the people who actually create it, and I’ll be happy. Get the people who consume it intentionally, I won’t be shedding a tear. Get the people who consume it unwittingly, and that’s where I say “hey, wait a minute…”

  28. #28 Skemono
    February 25, 2007

    And this is apparently not virtual child porn, anime or that kind of crap.

    …anime?

  29. #29 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Yes, there are some strong similarities to the war on drugs, and the same kind of arguments about causal links between possession and production or purchase and production can be made with respect to drugs too. That’s why I’m not particularly inclined to shed a tear for individuals targetted for mere possession or purchase of small amounts of drugs.

  30. #30 Technogeek
    February 25, 2007

    Skemono, I’m guessing he’s talking about the “lolicon” stuff. I believe that’s the proper term, anyway — the Internet has exposed me to more obscure facts about Japanese drawn porn than I ever wanted to remember.

  31. #31 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    Yes, there are some strong similarities to the war on drugs, and the same kind of arguments about causal links between possession and production or purchase and production can be made with respect to drugs too. That’s why I’m not particularly inclined to shed a tear for individuals targetted for mere possession or purchase of small amounts of drugs.

    I don’t have any more or less sympathy for people caught in possession of drugs as opposed to being producers, either…but that would be because I don’t think that either should be a crime in the first place. I don’t see any moral correlation between raping a child on camera and growing some plants or mixing chemicals to create a recreational drug.

  32. #32 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen,

    Obviously, the direct harm from drugs lies not in their production in itself, but from the effects of their consumption. The government has legitimate role in restricting the availability of harmful substances, including recreational drugs.

  33. #33 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    Well, this is not a thread about recreational drugs so I won’t comment on that subject further. Suffice to say that I disagree– at least with the form of “restriction” that is currently being attempted.

  34. #34 Julia
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen,

    I guess I just can’t put making someone want to harm a person on the same level as committing the harm itself.

    It seems to me that some sexual abuse of children would never happen at all were there not a market for it. There are people who, if they did not get paid, would do something else profitable rather than rape or arrange for child rape of the type discussed here. So it’s the audience, those who pay now and those who may be coaxed now into an interest that would lead them to pay later, who are “making someone want to harm” these children.

    I’m assuming there are may indeed be different degrees of responsibility, but I’m wondering what guidelines you would use to distinguish clearly between those who should be held legally respnsible because they physically commit the crime and those people who should not be held legally responsible.

    So if my friend Anna’s husband pays somebody to attack her, he’s less to blame than the guy who actually administers the beating? Crime bosses who sit quietly in their offices are less to blame than the people they send out to commit murder? A woman who does nothing but sit quietly and watch while her boyfriend, so drunk he hardly knows where he is, beats her infant to death is not really to be blamed? The person who rapes the child is the criminal, while the person who arranged the event, the mother who brought over her child to be raped, the camera person, the director (“Do it once more, please, so we can get it from this angle”) etc. are not so much to be blamed? What about the person who pays extra to get to sit in the room and watch? Is that person more, less, or the same responsible as the one who can afford only to watch on the internet?

    In the case of child porn, it just seems to me that these lines are so difficult to draw that it makes sense to criminalize production and possession.

  35. #35 Ed Brayton
    February 25, 2007

    Jason wrote:

    What if it had been “virtual child porn” that had been created using adult actors posing as children, but he had purchased it in the belief that it involved real children? What if he hadn’t purchased it but had just been given it for free by someone else?

    Adult actors posing as children doesn’t bother me. If he purchased it thinking it was real children, the moral judgment of him remains precisely the same. And the same is true if he had gotten it for free.

  36. #36 Ed Brayton
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen wrote:

    I guess I just can’t put making someone want to harm a person on the same level as committing the harm itself. Plus, there’s the matter of people coming to possess child porn without meaning to (either because they thought the people being depicted were adults, or they just downloaded the wrong thing altogether) or the few people out there who actually do have an interest in seeing child porn for research purposes. Plus, what if you don’t actually pay for the child porn? Does that mean you’re not providing any profit for its production, and therefore should not be penalized?

    He didn’t just want to harm someone, he helped provide the incentive and the profit to sustain the underground industry in raped children. The other hypotheticals simply don’t apply here.

  37. #37 SLC
    February 25, 2007

    We seem to be forgetting something here, namely innocent until proven guilty. Does not anyone remember Richard Ricci, Richard Jewell, the three Duke lacrosse players? These aforementioned folks were also charged with crimes which charges were later proved to be unfounded.

  38. #38 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    Julia says:

    It seems to me that some sexual abuse of children would never happen at all were there not a market for it.

    Sorry, but are you saying that people would never sexually abuse children if they didn’t get paid for it? I find such a belief bizarre, to say the least. It effectively discards the existence of pedophiles and ephebophiles altogether. People sexually abused children long before child porn existed as an industry, and they continue to do so without filming it.

    So if my friend Anna’s husband pays somebody to attack her, he’s less to blame than the guy who actually administers the beating? Crime bosses who sit quietly in their offices are less to blame than the people they send out to commit murder? A woman who does nothing but sit quietly and watch while her boyfriend, so drunk he hardly knows where he is, beats her infant to death is not really to be blamed?

    Yes, yes, and no. I didn’t say that people who are directly in a position to prevent someone harming another and choose not to do so are “not really to be blamed”– that’s really a separate issue altogether. Additionally, creating a market for something is not the same as directly paying a person to commit a illegal act. There are people who like to collect memorabilia that used to belong to serial killers and videos of tragic car accidents because they have an appreciation of the macabre– this may be strange and (in my opinion) a bit twisted, but it doesn’t mean that they are endorsing wanton murder or car accidents. If someone is inspired to go out and stage a car accident that gets people killed in order to satisfy such a market, are the people who want to see videos of it equally guilty for causing the death? I would say no. Are people who buy the pelts of endangered tigers responsible for those tigers being killed? Not directly, no, though they are somewhat responsible for feeding the market. Are people who buy clothes from Nike or the Gap responsible for children working in sweatshops?

    In the case of child porn, it just seems to me that these lines are so difficult to draw that it makes sense to criminalize production and possession.

    I’m not comfortable with that because, as mentioned, it’s far too easy to come into possession of illegal pornography without meaning to.

  39. #39 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen –

    I guess I just can’t put making someone want to harm a person on the same level as committing the harm itself.

    The problem with that, is that the consumption of child porn, is the reason the rape occured. The consumption of the porn is also the reason that more will be produced, causing more raping of children. People that buy and purposefully possess it, are making the demand that more children be raped. Whether they ever, actualy rape a child or not, they are causing children to be raped, by their actions.

    Plus, there’s the matter of people coming to possess child porn without meaning to (either because they thought the people being depicted were adults, or they just downloaded the wrong thing altogether)

    Those who come into posession inadvertently are in a tight spot, some may even be wrongly accused and prosecuted. Though, law enforcement is becoming quite aware that what someone intended to download, may not be what they get. It is unfortunate, but innocent people go to prison on occasion. The only way to avoid that, is to stop prosecuting anyone for anything. Ultimately, it is the job of lawenforcement and the legal system to deal with this, their in/ability to do so is irrelevant to the

    …or the few people out there who actually do have an interest in seeing child porn for research purposes.

    Then they are not committing a crime. Those who have legitimate reasons for possessing it, would register that with their local FBI, just as anyone who posesses anything that is illicit, does when the posession is for research purposes.

    Plus, what if you don’t actually pay for the child porn? Does that mean you’re not providing any profit for its production, and therefore should not be penalized?

    Whether you payed money for it or not, your consumption is contributing to the demand. By the mere (purposeful) posession of it, you are saying, in effect, “please rape more children, so I can have more.”

  40. #40 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Ed,

    Adult actors posing as children doesn’t bother me. If he purchased it thinking it was real children, the moral judgment of him remains precisely the same.

    What about the question of whether his act should be a crime? In fact, what is your position on the legal questions? Do you think possession of real child porn should be a crime? What about distribution? Does it make a difference whether it’s commercial or non-commercial distribution? And what about possession/distribution of virtual child porn? In other posts you’ve made on cases involving speech/expression and the law (e.g., Holocaust denial law), you’ve made your position on the law very clear, but you haven’t addressed it in this case, as far as I can tell.

    And the same is true if he had gotten it for free.

    Why? You said “Providing the profit for the production of such material makes one every bit as complicit as the person who produced it.” But if he had acquired the material without providing any payment, he wouldn’t have been contributing to the profit for production, so why would your moral judgment of him be “precisely the same?”

  41. #41 Gretchen
    February 25, 2007

    I said:

    I guess I just can’t put making someone want to harm a person on the same level as committing the harm itself.

    Ed said:

    He didn’t just want to harm someone, he helped provide the incentive and the profit to sustain the underground industry in raped children.

    I wasn’t talking about Rust-Tierney wanting to harm someone; I was saying that he indirectly may have caused somebody else (the person who actually produced the film) to want to harm somebody. Wanting to harm somebody should not be a crime, and I’m not convinced that causing somebody else, indirectly, to want to harm someone should be either.

    The other hypotheticals simply don’t apply here.

    You said that possession was equal to production; those hypotheticals constitute a counter-argument to such a statement. Unintentional possession of child porn is not equally complicit in production of child porn.

  42. #42 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen –
    Sorry, but are you saying that people would never sexually abuse children if they didn’t get paid for it? I find such a belief bizarre, to say the least. It effectively discards the existence of pedophiles and ephebophiles altogether. People sexually abused children long before child porn existed as an industry, and they continue to do so without filming it.

    Some would, obviously. But many would not. There are truly scummy people out there who will do damn near anything if they get paid to. The other side is that there are those who help facilitate the rape, who would not be likely to do so, if they were not going to get paid. They can contribute by helping “aquire” children to be raped, provide a place to do it, film it – simply povide the reinforcement, the would be child rapist needs to actually do it.

    Are people who buy the pelts of endangered tigers responsible for those tigers being killed? Not directly, no, though they are somewhat responsible for feeding the market. Are people who buy clothes from Nike or the Gap responsible for children working in sweatshops?

    The answer to every one of those questions is yes. There is no way to claim that they are not. The tigers; if no one buys the pelts or other parts, no one would kill the tiger. They are the market, they don’t sort of contribute. By buying the pelt, they are making it quite likely that another tiger will be killed. And if people stopped buying products made by child labor – no one would use child labor. So yes, those who shop in those places are directly contributing to child labor. The fact that they are one of many, makes no difference. Every single individual who buys a product made under bad working conditions, is supporting those working conditions – period.

  43. #43 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Russel Miller

    It’s kind of like the “war on drugs” but with a much greater social acceptance.

    Not even close. It could easily be argued that the vast majority of harm caused by illicit drugs, is due to it’s illicit nature. Whereas, the worse harm caused by child porn, is to the children being raped, or otherwise exploited.

  44. #44 flatlander100
    February 25, 2007

    Bill Poser:

    If there is something from the accused or his atty, on record, admitting guilt, I agree, presumed innocent does not apply. Until then, I’ll avoid assumptions. Maybe it’s an excess of caution born of having lived 31 years in the Southeastern US where there is a history of admissions of guilt announced by authorities turning out to have been unsustainable [nearly always in cases involving race I admit]. And we have the recent example of the rush to judgement in the Duke lacrosse players’ case.

    So, when the accused or his atty go on record, I agree, the presumption is no longer there. But until then…

  45. #45 Julia
    February 25, 2007

    Gretchen,

    Sorry, but are you saying that people would never sexually abuse children if they didn’t get paid for it?

    Of course, I didn’t say that. I said what I said: “SOME sexual abuse of children would never happen at all were there not a market for it.” And I stand by that.

    Certainly there are people who would, and do, commit child sexual abuse without publicizing it or getting paid for it. And it is just as true that there are people who see child porn primarily or entirely as a money-making proposition. Their interest is in the money, not in the child sex. And if there were no money in child porn, they would go do something else profitable.

    Does everybody involved in the production and distribution of a particular illegal drug do so because they just love that drug and would produce it for themselves if they couldn’t sell it? Certainly not. SOME such people do it for the money and would go do something else if there were no money to be made. The same is true for child porn.

    So every person who buys child porn, or who accepts it thus confirming the existence of a potential future buyer, is directly motivating some very ugly events, SOME of which would not happen without the audience participation.

  46. #46 Ed Brayton
    February 25, 2007

    Jason wrote:

    Do you think possession of real child porn should be a crime? What about distribution? Does it make a difference whether it’s commercial or non-commercial distribution?

    Yes. Yes. No. And I’ve explained my reasons several times and have little desire to do so again. And I don’t care if you disagree, or why.

  47. #47 Greg
    February 25, 2007

    Julia says:
    It seems to me that some sexual abuse of children would never happen at all were there not a market for it.

    Gretchen says:
    Sorry, but are you saying that people would never sexually abuse children if they didn’t get paid for it? I find such a belief bizarre…

    Sorry, Gretchen, I find your contribution bizarre. And perhaps vile.

    You have changed Julia’s “some” to ‘all’, then used highly emotive language to distract our attentions from your misrepresentation.

    It worked on Julia because she found herself ambushed with an accusation completely contrary to she said and apparently believes. I am surprised it worked, so far, on everybody else.

  48. #48 Greg
    February 25, 2007

    Ahh! In the time it took me to write, whilst answering the phone, attending my daughter… Julia has recovered. Good.

  49. #49 Russell Miller
    February 25, 2007

    I honestly think that while it’s true that SOME is made because there is a market for it and people can make money on it, that that is a very small amount of the total “inventory”.

    Not very many people are stupid enough to actually pay for it – it produces a money trail which can be easily followed, as this jerk has proven in a quite spectacular manner.

    I don’t really buy the “it creates more of a market for it” argument for that reason. Yes, perhaps it creates a small cache of people willing to pay for it, but those are the idiots who eventually get some time in prison.

    Don’t mistake me for defending it. I’m not. I just think that the profit motive is a very, very minor concern in comparison.

    I think that making photos of prepubescent children in sexual situations is disgusting. I am also not entirely convinced that mere posession should be criminal. (though I don’t want anything to do with it myself, I hasten to add). On the flip side, I think that the death penalty for those who actually *make* it is one of the few circumstances where I would consider it even remotely warranted.

  50. #50 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Julia,

    So every person who buys child porn, or who accepts it thus confirming the existence of a potential future buyer, is directly motivating some very ugly events, SOME of which would not happen without the audience participation.

    That argument would apply to the purchase or acceptance of fake child porn that the buyer/accepter believes to be real, as well as to the purchase or acceptance of real child porn.

    If the material is purchased or accepted in the belief that it is real, even if it is in actuality fake porn that was produced using adult actors posing as children, then purchasing or accepting it would provide the same motive for production of real porn as if the material had in fact been real porn.

    And yet the Supreme Court struck down the federal law that criminalized the possession and distribution of fake (a.k.a “virtual”) child porn in Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition. Do you think it was wrong to do so, and that a law criminalizing the possession/distribution of fake child porn would be constitutional?

  51. #51 Russell Miller
    February 25, 2007

    Jason:

    I was fully in support of that decision (though I’m not Julia :)). That’s where it truly does become a conflict between the right to free epression and a legitimate state interest in ensuring children don’t get harmed. And in the case of “virtual” child porn, no children get harmed.

    I know many don’t agree with me. Thankfully the supreme court did…

    (I don’t consume it myself, obviously. I just am a very staunch support of the right to free expression)

  52. #52 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    Russell Miller,

    Don’t mistake me for defending it. I’m not. I just think that the profit motive is a very, very minor concern in comparison.

    The Wikipedia entry on child pornography seems to confirm this. Quote:

    By most accounts, by the 1980s there was little child pornography being commercially produced. Most of what exists either originates from private production or was produced commercially in the 1960s and 1970s. Later investigations have found only isolated instances of commercial production and distribution. The loss of anonymity that comes with making payment, combined with the availability of free material, inhibits demand for commercial product, and the loss of anonymity that comes with receiving payment inhibits the supply. Media reports about child pornography “rings” refer mostly to private, non-commercial exchange.

  53. #53 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Russel Miller –

    I honestly think that while it’s true that SOME is made because there is a market for it and people can make money on it, that that is a very small amount of the total “inventory”.

    First, even if it is just one percent of what get’s made, it is still worth fighting. If it helps keep one kid from getting raped per year, it is worth it.

    That said, I think you’re wrong about that. While some people take pictures, or even record, their raping of a child – and would do so whether they sold it or not, very few make porn for the hell of it. It’s not nearly as much fun to make porn, as it is just to screw.

    Not very many people are stupid enough to actually pay for it – it produces a money trail which can be easily followed, as this jerk has proven in a quite spectacular manner.

    You’re joking right? Child porn is primarily distibuted through one of two means, buying it, or trading it. This is true of both “manufactured” (i.e. produced in a manner consistent with porn industry standards) and homemade porn (i.e. porn made by the rapist, while raping a child). The latter is the hardest phenom to fight, as it is usualy traded amongst people who are active, child rapists.

    I don’t really buy the “it creates more of a market for it” argument for that reason. Yes, perhaps it creates a small cache of people willing to pay for it, but those are the idiots who eventually get some time in prison.

    Like I mention above, many, if not most, of the people who do not pay money for it, are raping children to get the currency they need to get more pictures. Even those who do not put money into it, or rape kids, are contributing to the demand that causes more kids to get raped. They get the porn some how. Whatever the motivating factor, the consumption of the porn, leads to more production. More production leads to more kids getting raped. The notion that it does not mean more kids get raped is just too obsurd for words.

    Don’t mistake me for defending it. I’m not. I just think that the profit motive is a very, very minor concern in comparison.

    You don’t really understand the porn industry. It is all about profit. People don’t do it, just because they like sex. Yeah, it’s a turn on, but it is a turn on that makes you want to go have good sex. People do it because they can make money, doing something they like.

    Fetish porn is a little different. Some people make it because they want to trade it with others who are into the same thing – they only record or photograph their activities with the intention of trading it with others doing the same thing. It can be argued that the children raped by these people, would be raped anyways, but making this kind of porn, still lends to having more of the sex involved. This means either an individual child is subjected to that much more abuse, or the rapist finds yet another victim. Either way, making the child porn, still means more child raping. If no one was consuming that porn, that child rape would not have taken place.

  54. #54 Russell Miller
    February 25, 2007

    DuWayne:

    But if they make it and trade it, they become producers and not mere consumers. And as Jason pointed out, my argument does have some support.

    I find your arguments somewhat specious, myself. I agree that children need to be protected, but I also believe that it does nothing to protect children to go after people who have not actually harmed the child.

    Your argument about “people wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a market for it” is, in my opinion, hogwash. The child porn community seems to be fairly close-knit, and yes, people do indeed “get off” on it. They’ll do it if there’s a market or not, they just use their community to affirm their particular perversion, rather than make money. Why else do you think they trade tips on how to “groom” children? So that they can open their own business? Nope.

    I think your heart is in the right place, at least.

    Our difference in arguments comes down to motivation. I get the impression that you think that people wouldn’t rape children if there was no money in it. You think too highly of people. They’ll do it because it’s what they get off on.

    I remember reading a letter to the editor in the Toledo Blade about 10 years ago. Some guy wrote in and said something to the effect of “So what if we like to have sex with children? It just makes us different and we should be accepted”. THAT is the mindset you’re dealing with and it’s naive to think otherwise.

  55. #55 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Russel Miller –

    Our difference in arguments comes down to motivation. I get the impression that you think that people wouldn’t rape children if there was no money in it. You think too highly of people. They’ll do it because it’s what they get off on.

    I don’t think too highly of people. I am not naive enough to think that people wouldn’t rape children, if they didn’t get paid. I am saying that the production of child porn, causes more child rape.

    Your argument about “people wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a market for it” is, in my opinion, hogwash. The child porn community seems to be fairly close-knit, and yes, people do indeed “get off” on it. They’ll do it if there’s a market or not, they just use their community to affirm their particular perversion, rather than make money. Why else do you think they trade tips on how to “groom” children? So that they can open their own business? Nope.

    People get off on the porn. People get off on having sex with kids. People get off on making porn. They do not get the big rush while making it though. It’s a turn on, because they can imagine that other people are going to look at it and get off on it. Making the porn itself is not a big turn on. It’s not comfortable. One has to contort and adjust to suit the camera – the viewer. Making porn is not like having recreational sex. This is just as true for fetishists as it is for more vanilla porn. The only turn on that it really gives, is based entirely on the market for the porn.

    There is just no point in making the porn, if their isn’t a market for it. Whether that market is driven by money, or it is vernacular, the market, contributes to the raping of children. If all child porn were eliminated tommorow, there would certainly be children getting raped. There would simply be less of it. That is worth making it illegal. Anyone who wittingly posesses what they believe to be real depictions of child rape, are contributing to some of the incidence of child rape.

  56. #56 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 25, 2007

    One In Three Boys Heavy Porn Users, Study Shows

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070223142813.htm

    Source: University of Alberta
    Date: February 25, 2007

    Science Daily — Boys aged 13 and 14 living in rural areas are the most likely of their age group to access pornography, and parents need to be more aware of how to monitor their children’s viewing habits, according to a new University of Alberta study.

    A total of 429 students aged 13 and 14 from 17 urban and rural schools across Alberta, Canada, were surveyed anonymously about if, how and how often they accessed sexually explicit media content on digital or satellite television, video and DVD and the Internet. Ninety per cent of males and 70 per cent of females reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once. More than one-third of the boys reported viewing pornographic DVDs or videos “too many times to count”, compared to eight per cent of the girls surveyed.

    A majority of the students, 74 per cent, reported viewing pornography on the Internet. Forty-one per cent saw it on video or DVD and 57 per cent reported seeing it on a specialty TV channel. Nine per cent of the tens reported they accessed pornography because someone over 18 had rented it; six per cent had rented it themselves and 20 per cent viewed it at a friend’s house.

    The study also revealed different patterns of use between males and females, with boys doing the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant minority planning social time around viewing porn with male friends.Girls reported more accidental or unwanted exposure online and tend to view porn in same-gender pairs or with mixed groups.

    Though being curious about sexually explicit media may seem a ‘natural’ part of early adolescence, porn is a major presence in the lives of youth. The media environment in Alberta homes makes access to porn easy for teens and viewing pornography at a young age can set children up for problems later on, said Sonya Thompson, a masters graduate student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and author of the study. “We don’t know how we are changing sexual behaviours, attitudes, values and beliefs by enabling this kind of exposure and not talking with kids about it in any meaningful way,” Thompson said.

    Thompson, formerly a sex education teacher, is concerned about the health and social messages pornography sends. Excessive early exposure to pornography may be harmful in terms of expectations going into relationships. “What kinds of expectations will these young people have going into their first sexual relationships? It may be setting up a big disconnect between boys and girls and may be normalizing risky sex practices.”

    Almost half of rural youths in the survey reported seeing pornographic videos or DVDs at least once, compared to one-third of the urban participants. Thompson is unsure why rural teens access porn more on video and DVD, but suggests that parents may think distance acts as a buffer. “Maybe they have a false sense of thinking they are far away from unhealthy influences.” Rural boys also reported a lower incidence of parents talking with them about sexual media content. Urban girls were most likely to have had discussions with their parents.

    And while the majority of teens surveyed said their parents expressed concern about sexual content, that concern hasn’t led to discussion or supervision, and few parents are using available technology to block sexual content.

    “It indicates there is plenty of room for better parenting around pornography use. Parents need to improve dialogue with their children and their own awareness level. They have to be educated enough to be the ones setting the boundaries in the house,” Thompson said. “Families using media together is no longer the norm, so parents need to know what their kids have access to in their alone time,” Thompson said.

    Teachers also need to tackle the issue in sex education classes, she added. “Obviously it’s a huge influence on kids and it needs to be talked about. There’s a whole subculture we are not addressing.”

    Retailers, government and the media industry regulators also need to work with parents to ensure they are educated about limiting their children’s access to sexually explicit material, have strategies to talk with their teens, and that laws around the sale of porn to minors are enforced, Thompson said.

    Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Alberta.

  57. #57 Jason
    February 25, 2007

    DuWayne,

    Your position is a complete mess, as usual. If “anyone who wittingly posesses what they believe to be real depictions of child rape, are contributing to some of the incidence of child rape,” and this is sufficient grounds for making such possession a crime, then it applies whether the depictions are real or fake. And yet you have said you oppose criminalizing the possession of fake child porn.

    You know, I don’t really have a problem with the “possessing real child porn should be a crime, but possessing fake child porn should be legal” position. Just come up with an argument that actually supports that position instead of contradicting it.

  58. #58 Greg
    February 25, 2007

    Three in three boys see enough abnormal and coersive sexual behaviour in network television, public theatres, and pg-13 videos to cause concern about the perceptions and behaviours they are learning.

    And we forbid or refuse to provide them material which might teach them healthy attitudes and behaviours.

  59. #59 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Greg –

    And we forbid or refuse to provide them material which might teach them healthy attitudes and behaviours.

    Whole ‘nuther, nasty old can of worms. But I go way too far off topic here, way too often to even touch it.

  60. #60 AnneS
    February 26, 2007

    Everyone here on both sides seems to be proceeding from the same assumption – that the sole harm that the laws against child pornography seek to prevent or redress is the rape or other physical sexual abuse of children. This is a mistake, IMHO. There are at least two other harms to the victims that the laws address. First, the actual production of the porn (photographs, videos), which the victims are often aware of, is another way to victimize the child. It is an additional part of the trauma experienced by the child, for reasons so obvious I don’t think we need to go into.

    Second, viewing the porn represents another victimization of the child, a form of victimization that will continue for years afterwards. The pornography is not merely evidence of the harm done to them, it is itself an instrumentality of continuing harm. While the victim may not be aware of each individual viewing, punishing individuals who possess it and thus discouraging posession at least provides some redress for this harm and may prevent or discourage others from committing this harm.

    If you view laws against posession as merely intended to discourage child sexual abuse, it is difficult to justify permitting simulated child porn while outlawing real child porn. IF you consider the additional need to present the separate (although related) harms caused to the victims by the production and viewing of the real porn, the distinction becomes clearer.

  61. #61 Gretchen
    February 26, 2007

    Sorry, Gretchen, I find your contribution bizarre. And perhaps vile.

    You have changed Julia’s “some” to ‘all’, then used highly emotive language to distract our attentions from your misrepresentation.

    That would be because I honestly missed the word “some” in her statement altogether– which would explain my incredulity that she would say such a thing. That’s what I get for trying to engage in an online discussion late at night when I’m tired (late at night here in Denmark, that is). Apologies.

  62. #62 Gretchen
    February 26, 2007

    The arguments just aren’t lining up for me here. If paying for child porn can be condemned on the grounds that it creates a market for child porn production, that still doesn’t justify criminalizing people who acquire child porn without paying for it. Neither does it make clear how we’re supposed to discern whether a person who hasn’t paid for the child porn intended to acquire it or not.

    Then there’s also the matter of fake child porn, which I don’t think anybody concerned with the First Amendment should oppose (in terms of legality)…which brings up the problem of how to deal with people in possession of real child porn who think it’s fake.

    These two problems together are what cause me to believe that possession should not be illegal, and I haven’t seen an argument yet that solves them. I don’t believe that the inevitable imprisoning and ruining of reputations and careers that comes with arresting people who are accidentally in possession of child porn can justify criminalizing possession in an attempt to curb production. The only way around that is to be able to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt, that is) that the person deliberately purchased the porn knowing or hoping that it contained actual minors. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to ask considering the possible harm to innocent people it will prevent.

  63. #63 Yeah!
    February 26, 2007

    And right after I was about to vomit from seeing PZ Myers’ latest “Religion sucks!” headline.

    Oh yeah! Someone needs to take PZ out!

  64. #64 John B
    February 26, 2007

    I’m not sure if you guys saw this story last week. But I read it and thought of you and your interest in child porn.

    http://tinyurl.com/2gzhsn

    Teenager couple takes explicit pictures of themselves, get tried for making child porn… O.o

  65. #65 DuWayne
    February 26, 2007

    Gretchen –

    I responded to your argument above, both directly to you and in further comments. What specificly isn’t clear about what I said?

    In regards to people in posession of real child porn they think is real, if it contains disclaimers that claim it is fake, there is nothing they could be prosecuted for. It is up to law enforcement to make sure that porn that claims to be fake, actually is.

  66. #66 Randi Schimnosky
    February 26, 2007

    Duwayne, your position that people are motivated to produce child porn by the profitless consumption of it simply isn’t convincing. I don’t buy for a second that people produce more of it because it excites them to know others are viewing it and I don’t think Gretchen does either. My guess is that people produce not-for-profit child porn because they want to relive the events by viewing it themselves.

  67. #67 Jake
    February 26, 2007

    John B,

    I thought it was very strange that they were tried as adults.

  68. #68 Leni
    February 26, 2007

    I’m just going to join in the chorus of people disgusted with Rust-Teirneys’ alleged actions. But I don’t think it has anything to do with the ACLU any more than it would have to do with AMA were the man a medical doctor.

    The only exception to that would be if there was some ongoing cover-up involving the ACLU directly. Perhaps if they repeatedly shuffled him to a new chapters every time he started “having problems”. Maybe if they ignored the victims’ and their families’ complaints and suppressed evidence. Actively sought to cover his actions up. You know. That sort of thing.

  69. #69 DuWayne
    February 27, 2007

    Randi –
    Duwayne, your position that people are motivated to produce child porn by the profitless consumption of it simply isn’t convincing.I don’t buy for a second that people produce more of it because it excites them to know others are viewing it and I don’t think Gretchen does either. My guess is that people produce not-for-profit child porn because they want to relive the events by viewing it themselves.

    I am not arguing that people produce profitless porn, they always have a profit in mind, even if it is just to relive the expierience. Obviously if that is the kind of kiddie porn they are caught with, they are going to be charged with far worse than mere posession. My point is that people who make porn are doing so, for their audience – even if the only audience, is themselves. There are those who make the porn, because it turns them on, to think of all the people who will see it. I would argue this is part of the motivation for most people who do it – regardless of their primary motivation. There are many motivating factors, for those who make porn – all of them are fuled by the audience. Cut off the audience, there is no reason to produce it. The only people this does not apply to are those who make it, soley for their own use. Those who purposefuly consume real child porn, are thus contributing to the rape of children. Whether the child would get raped anyways, is irrelevant. If the porn were not being consumed, the child wouldn’t be getting raped right then. I don’t care if it is just a tiny percentage of the hell, that child is in, if it alieviates a tiny bit of the suffering, it is worth it. Dissect it any way you will, the primary motivation for producing it, is the audience. Cut out the audience, it doesn’t get made.

  70. #70 DuWayne
    February 27, 2007

    I have sworn, closed bold before the lat two sentences.

  71. #71 Randi Schimnosky
    February 27, 2007

    I understand what you’re saying DuWayne, I just don’t buy it, and I don’t think Gretchen does either. What I mean by profitless porn is porn without money. Your assertion that some people produce profitless child porn because it turns them on to think of all the people who will see it isn’t credible to me – I don’t believe that’s the case with anyone and if I might speak for Gretchen I don’t think she does either.

  72. #72 DuWayne
    February 28, 2007

    Randi –

    Speaking from personal expierience, it was what motivated me to do it. The notion that I might make a few bucks off it (which never panned out) was kind of cool, but was not why I did it. I have also read plenty of interviews with porn stars that make it cear that they are in fact turned on by the fat that a lot of people will see it. The few people involved in the little bit of porn I was in said the same thing. Regardless of other motivations, many people make porn beause they like sex and have an exebitionist streak.

    That said, it really makes no difference what the motivation for producing porn is. It doesn’t change the fact that without the audience, whoever the audience is, the porn would not get made. The notion you are arguing against is just one of the motivations for making it. Eliminating it does not change the fact that without the audience, porn does not get made. Thus, people who are in posession of child porn, are culpible in the rape of the children involved in making that porn.

  73. #73 Randi Schimnosky
    February 28, 2007

    DuWayne, I’m not convinced. I just don’t believe anyone is excited by the idea of someone they have no contact with looking at pictures or video.

  74. #74 DuWayne
    February 28, 2007

    Randi –

    People are into all sort of bizzare, kinky things. Exhibitionism isn’t even all that weird of a fetish. It feeds on a certain amount of narcissism, a pretty firm lack of inhibitions and ejoyment of sex.

    I have a hard time believing that some people get turned on by wearing diapers, sharing bodily waste, wearing rubber body suits, or many other strange fetish’s. But the amount of porn devoted to these and many other fetish’s says that some people, do in fact, find these things sexualy stimulating. I certainly don’t understand why they find it so stimulating, but that doesn’t mean they don’t.

    Hell, look at the topic we’re discussing. Do you find it harder to believe that people could be turned on by their exhibitionist streak, or by raping small children? I don’t think I have heard of a fetish, harder to believe, than pedophilia, excepting maybe necrophilia. Yet the very fact we are dicussing this topic at all, implies that some people get into it.

    Believe me, people get turned on by some incredibly strange and bizzare stimuli. Just because you can’t believe it, doesn’t make it untrue.

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