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Re: Child porn as thoughtcrime

At 2:51 PM 9/11/96, Chuck Thompson wrote:
>The answer to the all the questions in the first set is yes, in this country
>anyway, if they are interpreted by the legal system as intending to incite
>illicit sexual acts, fantasies or obsessions about children.  The fantasies
>or obsessions are assumed to lead to the illegal acts.

You later mention that "Intent to commit an actual crime must be proven."
Saying that fantasies or obsessions are assumed to lead to crimes is the
same as thoughtcrime.

>>Clearly the first argument applies to many other things.  Why not outlaw
>pro-drug speech?
>Hold on here..  you are making an invalid comparison.  To my knowledge,
>there is no law against speaking in favor of child porn, any more than there
>is against speaking in favor of drug usage.  It against the law to *use*
>either of them.

Writing a pro-drug article on the joys of marijuana use, on the pleasures
of opium, on the "naturalness" of various herbs, etc., would seem to me to
be essentially "drug pornography" (by the standards of porn laws). To use
your quote, "The fantasies or obsessions are assumed to lead to the illegal

(By the way, the language of pro-censorship anti-pornography crusaders is
being adopted by other special interest groups. Sarah Brady has called for
restrictions on what she calls "gun pornography," and there are a lot of
people trying to "clean up" television and movies by controlling "the
pornography of violence." By your various arguments that "fantasies and
obsessions" can lead to later crimes, are they not behaving as you would
wish them to? If thoughtcrime about how cool guns are can be eliminated, we
can save the children from gun violence!)


(my quote left in for context)

>>The second argument, that children are actually harmed, is vitiated by the
>fact that >much so-called child porn comes from countries where the actors
>are of legal age.
>>How can a 14-year-old Thai girl be "harmed" when what she is bing paid to
>do is
>>perfectly legal in Thailand?
>There you go again..  being legal does not, in any way, mitigate it's
>harmfulness.  There may be places on this earth where it is legal to

??? Are you saying that the legal system should punish people for perfectly
legal behavior which is "harmful" (putatively, in a future or "inspiration"
sense) to people?

(The civil litigation community is of course in agreement with you: Sue gun
manufacturers for crimes committed using their guns. Sue the makers of rock
climbing equipment for the harm done to rock climbers, even though
voluntary. Sue the horseback riding farms for falls suffered by riders. Sue
tobacco companies for the lung cancer of smokers. Sue MacDonald's for the
high cholesterol-induced heart attacks of customers. Sue the director of
"Natural Born Killers" on behalf of victims murdered in "copycat" cases.
Sue the author of "Lolita" for inspiring sex crimes. Sue.....)

>>And the case of morphings, drawings, stories, etc., clearly involve no
>actual children, >so the argument that children are harmed is empty.
>The argument is not dependent upon whether or not actual children are used,
>any more than whether or not an actual gun is used in a robbery - the net
>effect is the same.  Children are harmed by the promotion of child porn
>because it leads to the abuse/exploitation of kids.

You seem to be arguing for class-based rights and wrongs. Does promotion of
capitalism lead to the abuse and exploitation of workers? Perhaps we could
outlaw pro-capitalist writings.

Does pro-drug speech lead to drug abuse and misery? (Probably it does, of
course.) As I asked earlier, should pro-drug speech be outlawed? (You
earlier implied that of course it should not, that pro-drug speech is
protected. But if it probably leads to consumption of drugs, as nearly
everyone on both sides of the issue will likely agree, isn't it the same as
your point about child porn?)

>First, you must separate opinions from actions.  In this country, opinions
>are not ever illegal.  Some actions are.  The illegality is probably (I'm

Do you mean _unspoken opinions_? If so, I agree--after all, if never
spoken, the opinions are unknown to others, not even to Big Brother. If,
however, you mean that "_expressed_ opinions are not ever illegal," this is
clearly false. Sedition laws are still on the books, as are laws outlawing
the "advocacy" (an uttered opinion, surely) of various things.

(I believe it was Eugene Debs who spent time in prison for expressing the
opinion that the United States should not be in the Great War, or that the
draft should be abolished, or something related to this.)

>which we deem to be in our best interests.  And, as long as the laws which
>are passed do not violate our constitution, the underlying basis for passing

Such as the "Congress shall make no law" language in the most important
items in the Bill of Rights? Just where in the Constitution is it said that
speech may be limited so as to reduce "fantasies and obsessions"? I read
the Constitution as saying this may not be done, and I read most later
Supreme Court interpretations as saying that limitations on speech may only
be implemented if there is a compelling need to protect other basic rights
(a la the infamous "falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater").

>Your case is weak, because it is based on the false premise that the
>illegality of child pornography equates to illegality of thought.  It is
>overt action which is illegal, not thought.

None of the acts I described in my piece involved _actions_ against
children in the United States. Drawing a picture or writing a story is
_speech_ (in the accepted definition of speech, thought, expression of
views, literature, etc.). Morphing an image of Raquel Welch is speech. And
so on.

This is not sophistry, this is a statement of what is really happening. No
actual child is involved. If one argues that speech which may lead to later
crimes, by other people, can and should be outlawed, then Pandora's Box is
truly opened for limiting vast amounts of speech. Words _do_ have impact,
tremendous impact in fact. Free speech _can_ and _does_ lead to others
committing crimes, killing themselves, acting stupidly, undermining
society, even having "fantasies and obsessions."

Get used to it.

>By the way, Tim, I found your "translation" to be offensive, crude and
>deliberately provocative.  I do, however, support your right to publish it.

What if it inspires a young girl to think more positively about having an
incestuous relationship with her father? Mightn't it inspire "fantasies and

And under the CDA, it's probably illegal, given that various 13- and
14-year-olds are reading this list.

--Tim May

[This Bible excerpt awaiting review under the U.S. Communications Decency
Act of 1996]
And then Lot said, "I have some mighty fine young virgin daughters. Why
don't you boys just come on in and fuck them right here in my house - I'll
just watch!"....Later, up in the mountains, the younger daughter said:
"Dad's getting old. I say we should fuck him before he's too old to fuck."
So the two daughters got him drunk and screwed him all that night. Sure
enough, Dad got them pregnant, and had an incestuous bastard son....Onan
really hated the idea of doing his brother's wife and getting her pregnant
while his brother got all the credit, so he pulled out before he
came....Remember, it's not a good idea to have sex with your sister, your
brother, your parents, your pet dog, or the farm animals, unless of course
God tells you to. [excerpts from the Old Testament, Modern Vernacular
Translation, TCM, 1996]