Afternoon Links

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
  • Study: Legalizing possession of child porn linked to decrease in sex crimes against children. This similar to other “outlet” studies showing increased availability of regular porn leads to decreased incidence of rape. Obviously, no one would suggest we legalize child porn. But it does suggest laws against and a focus on possession, and particularly laws against virtual child porn, are misguided.
  • Skip Oliva: Boycotting Amazon over the Wikileaks issue is silly. I think he’s right.
  • Lawsuit alleges mass abuse at a private youth corrections facility in Mississippi.
  • First, they came for the . . . oh, nevermind.
  • Google/YouTube appear to be pulling the plug on Alex Jones. I think Jones is fairly nutty. And let’s remember, private companies taking away your platform isn’t “censorship.” Still, it is troubling behavior from Google.
  • Fourth Amendment underwear for your next trip through a TSA checkpoint.
  • Ads that wouldn’t make it today (some NSFW).
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44 Responses to “Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  how | 

    Shouldn’t that fourth item have read “Double Trouble?”

    Also, I think boycotting Amazon is the right idea, if your intention is to punish them for being cowed by Joe Lieberman.

  2. #2 |  Mike | 

    Off topic, have you heard about this: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/09/howell_says_virginia_assembly.html ?

  3. #3 |  freedomfan | 

    Minor note regarding the Alex Jones story: Jones is being censored by Google/YouTube. They have every right to do it and the government isn’t doing it, so it’s not a First Amendment issue, but it is censorship.

  4. #4 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Those ads were shocking. The good old days sure were good if you were a white man.

  5. #5 |  Matt | 

    Was going to say what freedomfan said. Private companies suppressing speech is still censorship.

  6. #6 |  Juice | 

    I think Google may be censoring Alex Jones because recently he’s been getting his listeners to do Google bombs every day or something.

  7. #7 |  Jeff | 

    Radley, I don’t disagree with you often, but here is one place where I don’t think I could disagree with you more strongly. We do need laws against possession of (real) child pornography. How can you make it legal to possess something that is created by viciously attacking a child?

  8. #8 |  Marty | 

    didn’t google make a big deal about censorship in china?

  9. #9 |  Radley Balko | 

    How can you make it legal to possess something that is created by viciously attacking a child?

    Because of the enforcement problem. How do you police for possession? You have to spy, or monitor online activity. Or search someone’s computer. There are also lots of documented cases where malware has downloaded child porn without the owner’s knowledge. What if someone unknowingly clicks on a child porn link while browsing for regular porn?

    I have no problem outlawing sale or distribution. And the people who make the stuff should obviously go to jail for a very long time. But outlawing possession is a tougher call. And leads to too many enforcement abuses.

  10. #10 |  Irving Washington | 

    It wouldn’t surprise me one tiny bit to learn that 40% of child porn possession prosecutions are frame jobs. Custody battle? Put a little porn on his computer. Troublesome employee? Cheaper than unemployment insurance.

  11. #11 |  Jozef | 

    Google already removed Jones’s Web sites Prisonplanet and Infowars from its news providers listing (articles from both sites still appear among Web site results, though). Looks like a larger blackout scheme.

  12. #12 |  KristenS | 

    boycotting Amazon is the right idea, if your intention is to punish them for being cowed by Joe Lieberman

    Agree. Amazon is a private company so they can do whatever they want with their servers, etc., but I can tell them with my pocketbook that their getting up inside Lieberman’s butthole is not what I look for in a company I do business with.

    Sorry, Radley, you won’t make your Amazon affiliate commissions from me this year.

  13. #13 |  SJE | 

    Google is under pressure for antitrust issues, and so is engaged in a serious lobbying and PR effort. Removing Alex Jones might keep the governments happy for a bit, and reduce the pressure. Its not government censorship, but its not much different from newspapers going easy on government figures to preserve access, or the local businesses to preserve advertizing.

  14. #14 |  MikeZ | 

    I’m actually with Radley on the Amazon issue. It certainly is disappointing that they are no longer hosting wikileaks but that isn’t at all the same as actively doing something you hate. Sears.com or any other US retailer is also not hosting wikileaks further they weren’t hosting wikileaks last week either? So shouldn’t they be included in your boycott?

    Amazon seems to have taken a very pro-libertarian stance for hosting wikileaks for probably almost zero increase in revenue. They now stand to lose a lot of revenue because they hosted it. A boycott in August may not mean much but right before Xmas well it probably is a bad time to make a stand for a retailer. So would Amazon.com have been a better company had they never had hosted wikileaks?

    My answer to that is no, they were better for hosting it if only temporarily

  15. #15 |  Dan | 

    I guess it’s just tough luck for the kids getting sodomized in the child porn. Maybe they will feel better knowing that their abuse will lessen others from getting buggered.

  16. #16 |  Sky | 

    “Lawsuit alleges mass abuse at a private youth corrections facility in Mississippi.”

    Before I ever opened the article I knew this was about Walnut Grove.

    Radley, before Tyler Edmonds was granted a new trial (thanks in part for your work) and found not guilty, he was at Walnut Grove. We knew about these atrocities but could never find anyone to follow up on them. There is another young man there now who could share some horror stories too.

  17. #17 |  StrongStyle81 | 

    #6: “I think Google may be censoring Alex Jones because recently he’s been getting his listeners to do Google bombs every day or something.”

    He has. The thing is, I use the Google browser and can still access his site. I went to Google search and results still came up for his site when I put in Prisonplanet and Infowars so it’s not a complete blackout. They just took them off their news listing which I never use. I think the Google search bombs have more to do with it than his politics.

    As far as Youtube goes, Youtube is quick to ban accounts whenever someone posts a video someone else doesn’t like. SFDebris received a warning when he posted a video review of Red Dwarf, evidently BBC doesn’t want people being exposed to a little known but at times funny sitcom they made. God forbid some poor schmuck might see one of those reviews and go buy it on DVD to check it out. Maffew who makes the Botchamania videos not only has had multiple accounts banned for because of his use of music in his videos, but Youtube actually banned the word “Botchamania” itself. So he named each subsequent video after Marvel vs Capcom characters and kept the series going and it remained extremely popular. So this is not new on the world of Youtube.

    This is my problem with Alex Jones and his websites. They take a news story and at times draw completely ridiculous conclusions from it.

  18. #18 |  DJMoore | 

    I’m very strongly against making and selling child porn, because as has often been noted, actual child porn records a criminal act against an actual child; no good. The idea of sacrificing a few children for “the greater good” is absolutely hideous to me.

    In this context, I encourage folks to look up Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. [Note: Wikilink contains spoiling story synopsis.]

    But as Balko says, how do you enforce a possession law? Contraband laws in general seem to be ineffective at best, and counterproductive at worst.

    The possession of obvious paintings and digital art should not be regulated in any way.

    Two extrapolations if this research is borne out:

    (1) School teachers and administrators should not be condemned for possession of virtual CP; they are the ones exposed to the greatest temptations, and may well be most in need of a release.

    (2) Bring on the child robot bordellos as treatment centers for pedophilia.

  19. #19 |  Ben | 

    “I guess it’s just tough luck for the kids getting sodomized in the child porn. Maybe they will feel better knowing that their abuse will lessen others from getting buggered.”

    Dan – wow, you really did a number on that strawman. You should take it easy on him!!

    Going after the actual abusers who produce the child porn is obviously a good thing, and no one would argue otherwise. However, going after the consumers for possession not only does NOTHING to prevent children from being abused, it probably causes more abuse by not giving pedophiles a non-violent outlet. And, as has been discussed already here numerous times, there are enforcement issues with charging for possession, and opportunity for corruption/planting evidence/framing people.

  20. #20 |  Radley Balko | 

    I guess it’s just tough luck for the kids getting sodomized in the child porn.

    You’re not responding to the point I made. As I said, the people who produce, sell, and distribute the stuff should be prosecuted and jailed for the rest of their lives. But I’m not convinced that jailing someone for 20 years because the Best Buy tech found pictures or videos on a hard drive is going to have any significant effect on production. And there are some significant problems with enforcement and with showing intent. And if the stuff that’s already out there gives some pedophiles a release and prevents them from raping more children, that would seem to me to be a net good.

  21. #21 |  Salt | 

    Skip Olivia does not convince me over the Amazon/Wiki flap.

    “Second, what you’re basically saying is that you’re going to let statists like Joe Lieberman decide where you will and won’t shop. That’s asinine.”

    No Mr. Olivia, Amazon is helping people decide where they will and will not shop. Thus far, Amazon has acceded to a thinly veiled threat without offering a substantive statement justifying their action.

    How is Amazon a victim? According to published reports, Amazon readily acted based upon a Lieberman staff letter of inquiry. I my mind, Amazon should have at least responded to Lieberman with some form of inquiry as to potential actions facing them. They bent over way too easily IMO.

    Yes, Amazon is private and may do what they wish. But an out of control Senator expressing utter contempt for those who elect to shine a light in dark places is most contemptible.

    Olivia casually calling Amazon boycotters ‘asinine’ based upon such a weak premise is itself childish.

  22. #22 |  ken | 

    “How can you make it legal to possess something that is created by viciously attacking a child?”

    How much of the ‘child porn’ is actually pictures of children being sexually abused, rather than naked pictures of children.

    I ask since there have been prosecutions of teens for sending naked pictures of themselves, parents for taking bare bottom pics of their children, that women in Texas who took a picture of breast feeding her children, etc…

    Maybe we could start by making it only be illegal to own if it is an ‘actual’ picture of an assault on a child

    Still a number issues about how you enforce and investigate, but at least that might start cutting down on the ‘sent a picture of her tits to her boyfriend’ cases that get two people charged with child porn.

  23. #23 |  ken | 

    Another thing, what about all those ‘true crime’ books with graphic pictures of brutal and gruesome crime scenes.

    Is it just ‘tough luck’ for those victims and their families that large numbers of people get off on reading and looking at these pictures.

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And let’s remember, private companies taking away your platform isn’t “censorship.” Still, it is troubling behavior from Google.

    What bothers me about censorship by private internet based companies is that the world is heading toward an internet based world. As it now stands, ISPs can’t be held liable for content supplied by users, but as the attacks Craigslist have shown, there is plenty of sentiment out there to remove that provision of the Communications Decency Act. If (I should say when) that happens, internet companies will be forced to limit communications that pass through their networks and will err on the side of caution, necessarily censoring any content that might snag the attention of an overzealous federal prosecutor even though such content is fully protected by the First Amendment.

    All the activists we hear clamoring for “responsible censorship” on the part of private companies know full well that private companies can get away with censorship that the government could only dream about so I don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that a very small number of private firms control the vast bulk of all network traffic.

  25. #25 |  DaveG | 

    Alex Jones does a great job, but I prefer Jeff Rense for my redpill fix.
    David Duke is big on youtube, and David Icke is great if you like a little reptoid overlords with your international news.

  26. #26 |  BSK | 

    Re: Child Porn

    From what I’ve heard, the issue has to do with the redistribution. Right now, there is X amount of kiddie porn out there. Sophisticated web programs and other “prevention” models make it near impossible to trade and redistribute this porn. As such, new porn must be created. The existing porn is essentially DNA fingerprinted and the interweb can find any attempted transmission of it. So the producers have to create new porn, meaning finding new kids and new victims.

    I don’t know what the solution is. But it was interesting to hear that crackdowns on the distribution and redistribution have increased production.

  27. #27 |  BSK | 

    “(1) School teachers and administrators should not be condemned for possession of virtual CP; they are the ones exposed to the greatest temptations, and may well be most in need of a release.”

    While I agree that virtual CP is different than real CP, this comment is a bit concerning. Generally speaking, a healthy person is not “tempted” sexually by a child. I realize the various degrees of gray area here, including when you have teachers and students/”children” who are a mere 3 or 4 years apart in age. But, I think we would greatly need to refine this argument before presenting it. Would we be okay with a 50-year-old with virtual CP of 8-year-olds? We may not want to make it illegal, but I think it might rightfully call into question the appropriateness of this individual’s employment.

  28. #28 |  Ben | 

    “Generally speaking, a healthy person is not “tempted” sexually by a child.”

    Regardless of the mental health of a person, is it unreasonable to believe a person who is sexually attracted to children will gravitate to a job that involves children like being a school teacher, priest, camp councilor, or any number of other jobs?

  29. #29 |  BoogaFrito | 

    Is is always illegal to kill a woman?

    How can you not want a Pitney Bowes postage meter after seeing this ad?

  30. #30 |  BSK | 

    Ben-

    It is very reasonable that that would happen. But is it appropriate? I would argue not. It’d be like making sadistic people who like inflicting harm on powerless individuals into prison guards. Oh… wait…

  31. #31 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If only I had a dime for every time someone declared a particular sexual activity as being sick.

    The idea that someone is insane simply because they are physically attracted to someone under some cutoff age is simplistic, arbitrary, harmful, and almost certainly without basis in any reality or credible logic. Keep in mind also that the age of consent has been moved out as maturity has moved in. Evolution has generated an inherent attraction to youth and to suggest that necessarily makes one a pervert defies reason. In other words, it’s pure unadulterated idiocy (admittedly a very popular and vigorously defended form of idiocy).

    In a free country, what you think is your own business. Criminal law should be based solely on injurious conduct toward others. That someone owns child porn is no more a reason to deny him a teaching job than possession of adult porn is a reason to deny someone the right to be a doctor (a gynecologist, for example).

    Mere possession of child porn is not proof that someone injured or is willing to injure a child. The idea that mere possession of child porn motivates the production of more of it is also faulty because it punishes someone for a crime that has not yet happened (future production of child porn). I find it stunning that libertarians are willing to go along with any “possession” laws.

    Outlawing simple possession of child porn (including it’s prosecution under so-called obscenity laws) is not about protecting children. It’s about punishing immoral thoughts of others.

  32. #32 |  Joey Maloney | 

    I’m not saying this study is wrong, but it seems to be based on looking at sex crime statistics in the Czech republic before and after 1989, when pornography was legalized. But help me out, because my memory’s a bit hazy – he wrote for dramatic effect – weren’t there a couple of other things happening in the Czech republic long about 1989, some kinds of major cultural shakeups that might have affected all kinds of things including the rates of child abuse and sex offenses?

  33. #33 |  Nick T | 

    I agree with #21, and I disagree with Radley. Amazon should be boycotted not because they are NOT a victim, not because I don’t understand why they did it, but because there has to be a cost to capitualtion.

    I’m guessing most people here believe that government officials coercing private actors through political stunts and “calls” based on patriotic rhetoric are not much different from statutes that require the same behavior, in terms of their effect on freedom. However, we also know that politicians can get away with one much easier than the other, UNLESS the people they seek to coerce have a reason to stand up.

    A company like Amazon won’t stand on principle, and I don’t blame them for that. They will make whatever decision best helps their bottom line. It makes perfect sense that the idea of losing favor with the government (contracts, regulations, taxes etc.) was too high a cost to bear, so they capitulated. That all makes sense. It’s frustrating but it makes sense.

    A boycott – though likely to be ineffective – at least moves to make that decision make less sense next time. And that’s very important, because next time it will be Lieberman asking Amazon to share private customer info, or drop *several* “radical” websites. With no backlash, why wouldn’t they agree?

  34. #34 |  MikeZ | 

    A boycott kinda seems futile at best in this case. Assuming it works how would amazon ever know if the lost revenue due to the libertarian boycott be greater than the lost revenue due to the Lieberman’s Statist boycott?

    How would Amazon get through this without a loss of revenue? To me it is almost courageous that they DID host wikileaks up until now. I assume Amazon’s primary business is as an online merchant and not an ISP. So they have a lot to lose if one of the ISP customers becomes a target. Had the corporate equivalent to GoDaddy.com been Wikileak’s ISP I think a boycott would be a lot more appropriate.

  35. #35 |  Omri | 

    This isn’t rocket science. If possession is legal, then the police can only set off prosecution for the production and dissemination of child porn, and can’t spend any time going after the easier pickings that collectors of the stuff provide. More resources going after the producers, ergo more producers in jail, more producers deterred from producing, fewer children hurt.

  36. #36 |  Cyto | 

    #9 | Radley Balko |
    The downside to banning “creation and distribution” of kiddie porn is that kiddie porn that doesn’t involve actual flesh-and-blood kiddies is still defined as child pornography. Drawings of Lisa and Bart Simpson doing what 30 year old kids will do is child porn these days. Good luck with any of the Japanese animation stuff… definitely child porn by today’s standards.

    As long as that definition lives, you can’t draft a reasonable policy. Not that there’s ever any hope of reasonableness entering into a debate as icky as kiddie porn.

  37. #37 |  parse | 

    Obviously, no one would suggest we legalize child porn.

    I suggest we legalize child porn.

  38. #38 |  BSK | 

    Dave Krueger-

    I was speaking about a “child” in the true sense of the word, not the legal sense. I’m not talking about an 18-year-old with a 17-year-old or even really a 40-year-old with a 17-year-old (though I think there is a genuine ickiness to that as a function of the likely huge disparity in emotional development; but it shouldn’t necessarily be illegal). But an adult, a 30-year-old, looking at sexually explicit pictures of children, 8-year-olds or 9-year-olds, or, more to the point, having sexual relationships with those children… that is definitely evidence of something unhealthy.

    Where the cutoff should be, I’m not sure about. But adults and children do not mix sexually.

  39. #39 |  PW | 

    But adults and children do not mix sexually.

    Except when it involves the founder of the world’s largest death cult. But we’re supposed to respect that in the name of multicultural “diversity,” right?

  40. #40 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #38 BSK

    But an adult, a 30-year-old, looking at sexually explicit pictures of children, 8-year-olds or 9-year-olds, or, more to the point, having sexual relationships with those children… that is definitely evidence of something unhealthy.

    Looking at pictures and having a sex are two vastly different things. When it comes to fantasies, I don’t care what gets a guy off. Not even a little. I don’t care if it involves farm animals, farm machinery, or farm children. Nor am I willing to diagnose an illness based on those propensities and, absent any attempt to realize those fantasies through illegal conduct, I don’t think it’s any of the state’s business.

    While there are certainly exceptions, I believe that people have an amazing capacity for knowing what conduct is permissible socially and legally regardless of how strange their private fantasies may seem. I don’t believe the paranoia that there is a pedophile around every corner or that children are perpetually at risk of being sexually abused.

    Unfortunately, while we live in a world where sex crimes are in decline, pedophile hysteria is on the rise and people don’t differentiate between someone who merely looks at pictures and someone who is truly interested in abusing children. Most people don’t believe those who play violent video games are all potential murderers, but they have absolutely no hesitation in making such idiotic assumptions when children and sex are injected into the equation.

  41. #41 |  DJMoore | 

    BSK: “Generally speaking, a healthy person is not “tempted” sexually by a child. ”

    I’m going to insert a condition on that: not tempted by small children. Young adolescents are very attractive to many people, even if that doesn’t always shade over into sexual attraction. I’ve talked to many adults who have confessed that they are still attracted by adolescents of the age that they themselves first started to experience sexual stirrings.

    My thought is that someone may not realize they’re even vulnerable to that temptation until they start spending substantial amounts of time surrounded by and working closely with dozens of children a day.

    And as noted upthread, there is an age below which sex is actually, physically damaging. A photograph or movie of such an act records a painful assault against an unwilling, even uncomprehending, victim, and the creation and distribution of such must be halted.

    But a fantasy painting or drawing of such does not record a crime, and as such should not be criminalized, particularly if this study is replicated and confirmed, and viewing such is found to reduce actual assaults and seductions. That last is key: art that reduces violence. I love the idea.

    BTW, compare these two examples of socially acceptable cheesecake involving real girls:

    Fifties

    Noughties

    Which do you think is more likely to offend your average GLSEN supporter?
    Wait, GLSEN? You mean the outfit that supported putting gay porn in school libraries? The president of which Obama made his “Safe Schools” program?

    Tell me again why manga lolicon is even an issue?

  42. #42 |  BSK | 

    “Most people don’t believe those who play violent video games are all potential murderers, but they have absolutely no hesitation in making such idiotic assumptions when children and sex are injected into the equation.”

    Have you held your hands over your ears and sung to yourself when everyone was up in arms about Grand Theft Auto and other similar games? :-p

    To the point at hand, I was initially referring to the comment regarding teachers and other adults who work with children needing “release” to avoid the “temptation” they are faced with on a daily basis. If an adult is genuinely tempted by the children they work with (and again, I mean real children, not 17-year-olds), they likely harbor something that moves them beyond simple fantasies. Should they be arrested for such “thought crimes”? Obviously not. But can and should schools take such information into account, if it is appropriately available? I sure as hell think so.

    I don’t believe in all the “stranger danger” either. I don’t believe kids are constantly in jeopardy of being gang raped. But, I do question the wisdom that says it is understandable for teachers to use child pornography to avoid the “temptation” from their 3rd grade students.

    Of course, the creation is another issue. I realize that there is a difference between naked pictures and pornographic pictures, with “sexually explicit” pictures falling somewhere in between the two. I don’t know what the impact of being photographed nude is for a child. I don’t know what the capacity for consent is for a elementary or middle-school aged child. I don’t know if photographs taken without their consent is more or less a violation of their rights. However, all of these questions would need to be answered before we can say that any child pornography is truly “victimless”.

  43. #43 |  DJMoore | 

    Is a photograph of an infant being bathed in the kitchen sink, or crawling diaperless across the living room, porn?

    How about five or six year olds playing in a wading pool or hot tub without bathing suits?

    The troublesome thing for me is adults directing naked children to take poses they are uncomfortable with, or, of course, to perform any kind of blatantly sexual activity, particularly with an adult, regardless of whether or not the activity is photographed.

    ===

    I’ll also note that any teacher who keeps porn of any kind on a school computer, or any computer that students might have access to, is asking for trouble, and rightly so.

    ===

    What bothers me is porn being discovered on an individual’s repaired hard drive, or a laptop being searched by Customs (something which I find disturbing in and of itself). I seem to recall an incident where a teacher was pilloried when a single image showed up in the browser cache, and another where the poor guy was infected by a virus which used his computer as a server (I think he was eventually cleared).

    The whole concept of digital contraband is bad, period. If there’s no evidence that someone is knowingly making and distributing porn recording actual children — or anyone, for that matter — being forced into unwanted sexual activity, then I think the harm done by the punishment is worse than the infraction, if any.

  44. #44 |  BSK | 

    DJMoore-

    Great points. There is obviously a difference between a parent photographing their child and an adult posing one. Where exactly the line falls is harder to determine.

    I have also read and heard of abuses of the “possession” law. Supposedly custody disputes and divorces have been tainted by accusations of possession and counteraccusations of planted porn.

    As I said above, there is also real evidence that crackdowns on possession and distribution increase the production. When “users” can’t trade what they already have, they need to create more.

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