November 17, 2008

Man Convicted Either For Child Porn Or Nothing

You decide.  Make sure that once you pick, you accept the logical consequences of your choice.

Britain-- where they have more surveillance cameras than jobs (sadly, zing)--

A man has made legal history as the first to be sentenced for downloading "Tomb Raider-style" computer-generated child pornography...The pictures were part of an illustrated story involving child abuse and incest - but involving no real children
Computer generated still pictures. 

The pictures on which Hoque was acquitted were "almost comic strips" with speech bubbles, the court heard.

The six pictures on which he was found guilty were so realistic, the jury concluded they looked like photographs.

No one thought he had molested anyone, and it appears no one even thought he was going to.  But the pics are more like heroin, the more you use, the more you want, and maybe then you might become a molester:

"I think you'll get some insight into the damage that children can suffer. This may be on the fringes of it but it's still an entrance, a door into a very murky and distasteful world." [said the judge.]

The problem with this argument is that it doesn't fit the reality.  Are you sentencing him for possessing the pictures only, or because it leads down the path to wanting more?  Because he already wanted more:

They were among tens of thousands of images on his computer hard drive seized by the police in October 2006, ranging from crude, simple illustrations to cartoon images to complex graphics.

Most were "fairly distasteful and disgusting, but perfectly lawful", said the judge.

In other words, if he had the tens of thousands but not those six, is there no concern?  If I had those six, but not the other ten thousand, would I get the same sentence?

You have no idea, really, if it leads to molestation, that argument is a red herring.  If it was actually the real concern, then this would not have happened:

The judge did not ban Hoque from working with children.

The problem with policing a thought crime is that we can't agree on what is a crime, let alone a thought.  And if you don't have the legal or physical ability to forbid someone from performing a physical action (e.g. work with kids) how do you plan on forbidding them from thinking things?

These are not real kids, this is CGI.  As abhorrent as it may be, you can't regulate thought on the assumption it leads to behavior.  It is impossible to ask how many virtual child porn users molest.  There's no way to verify either.

You can't argue that fake child porn will incite them to molest kids; legal porn wouldn't get them fired up as well?  Or the KMart catalog?  Or a visit to the playground?

Almost Supreme Court Justice-but-instead-we-got-Kennedy Robert Bork made the argument that pornography, especially child pornography, doesn't deserve to be protected speech anyway.  Carefully, he hedges that while the government shouldn't have the right to outlaw such "speech," neither does it have the right to prevent segments of society from curbing it themselves.  Supporting this nuance, he us that porn as a first amendment issue is a relatively new discussion, despite how the First Amendment, not to mention porn, actually is.

He's right, but he's perhaps purposely avoiding the question of whether it is ok to punish real people  for, in essence, looking at stuff. 

As I've said elsewhere on the same subject, don't confuse my neolib sentiments for actual lib sentiments: if you want to prevent child molestation, make it a capital crime.  But the focus has to be on the act, not the thought, because you can't measure the thought, neither does it translate clearly into act.

(Older post on pedophilia.)