July 13, 2007

Kurt Eichenwald is having a bad week

You know all that stuff that's been drilled into your head about Internet predators? Well forget it.

In a separate study of 2,574 law-enforcement agencies, researchers found that online sex crimes rarely involve offenders lying about their ages or sexual motives. The 2004 study, published in Journal of Adolescent Health, said offenders generally aren't strangers, and pedophiles aren't luring unsuspecting children by pretending to be a peer.

I haven't read the actual study yet — and wire reports of scientific research are notoriously dicey — but if this is accurate, it's big news. Think of all the money and energy that goes into hammering home that message.

On a related note, remember that Debbie Nathan-Kurt Eichenwald kerfuffle? (That lawsuit is due just about the same time as Duke Nukem Forever.) It started when Nathan wrote an article for Salon called Why I need to see child porn. On her new blog, Nathan is back with a post cheekily titled Why I need to see child pollo-graphy. It has to be one of the worst puns ever, but it's a thought-provoking notion, comparing and contrasting the rationales for and against banning kiddie porn and banning images of cockfighting and other acts of cruelty toward animals.

My gut reaction is that the proper protest against Nathan's argument is not so much "children are not chickens" as "pornography is not a simple reproduction of an independent act." That is, with bullfighting or cockfighting, the viewing of images later is tangential to more important act of participating in the sport. With porn of any sort, the producers "participate" for the sole purpose of producing the images. I admit I haven't thought this out clearly, so I can't make a neat logical argument for why this makes a difference right now, but I believe it does — hence the concern about the extension of the animal protection law — originally targetted at crush porn (which people would not do for fun if they couldn't sell the images) — to cover cockfighting (which is best appreciated live, if that's your thing).

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Interesting that Nathan ignores one of the other key arguments for stamping out child porn: As a credible document of something that occurred, it fills a function for predators as a selling point to the child in question, i.e. "look, they're doing it, this is normal." I don't know if there are reliable stats on the prevalence of that, but I have seen it more than once as a talking point in this issue, so it makes me a little suspicious that Nathan feels no need to address it - especially since it's a facet where there is obviously no analogy with chickens.

Additionally, though I disagree with it, there's precedent for criminalizing the ancillary or surface components of a crime - just ask Tommy Chong - as a tool or wedge to facilitate law enforcement's access to get at the actual crime beneath. Nathan seems to have no opinion on this either.

and the Bible and the Koran and the Talmud, et al.

these can and are inculcated to children to seduce them while they're young and still impressionable.

From refdesk's Thought of the Day:

"But the greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness - each system only too delighted to find that the other is wicked - each only too glad that the sins give it the pretext for still deeper hatred and animosity." -- Herbert Butterfield

Thanks for the links, Debbie Nathan rocks.

Religious texts are pretty far outside the topic at hand - how documents get criminialized by association with different crimes - but who among us would deny that they can and are inculcated to children?

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