Sunday, July 01, 2012

Are Child Sex and Child Porn Substitutes?

I have seen several news stories of late quoting psychologists who argue that pedophilia, sexual attraction towards children, is an innate characteristic, probably with a biological base, probably unalterable. The obvious conclusion is that children are protected not by keeping people from having that characteristic but by keeping them from acting on it.

One way to do so is by punishing sex with children. Another way would be to make substitutes more readily available. There are, after all, a lot of adolescent and young adult males who, unable to get any desirable women to go to bed with them, have to do the best they can with masturbation and pornography instead. 

There is some empirical evidence that increased availability of pornography, via the Internet, results in reducing the amount of rape. The same argument suggests that child pornography might be a substitute for child sex—less desirable, from the standpoint of the pedophile, but also a lot less dangerous. If so, the current severe laws against child porn may actually increase, rather than decrease, the risk to children.

One argument for such laws is that the production of child porn itself involves child sex—but it does not have to. Child porn could be made using adult actors made to look very much younger than their actual age, possibly with the assistance of computer graphics. It could be made using images created entirely on computers. Arguably, legalizing such porn would provide many pedophiles—defined by preferences not practices—an adequate substitute for actual sex with actual children.

But I can't see any serious politician offering the proposal. Not, at least, if he plans to ever run for office again.

17 Comments:

At 5:11 PM, July 01, 2012, Blogger Arthur B. said...

Sure that might save children, but what's really important is that laws be a reflection of society's moral outrage.

 
At 5:14 PM, July 01, 2012, Blogger Micah Odor said...

I really don't see this as a good idea.

The difficult thing about porn is that it's like a drug, in that it takes greater and more potent "doses" to get the same effect. Encouraging or enabling production of this type of pornography gives a larger entrance to a road we don't want people going down.

I get that my libertarian credentials are in danger because that sounds so much like the pot argument. But I don't care. The potential dangers of this approach are too great.

 
At 9:22 PM, July 01, 2012, Anonymous Jadagul said...

Pretty sure the Supreme Court ruled that wholly-digital child porn was protected speech:

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2007/07/26/CHILDPORN.ART_ART_07-26-07_A1_SF7CML1.html

Micah: do you have any evidence for that claim? I've heard it made but never seen any stats.

 
At 2:38 AM, July 02, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oprah would not approve => the public does not approve

 
At 5:49 AM, July 02, 2012, Blogger Adam Zur said...

people are primates

 
At 6:28 AM, July 02, 2012, Blogger Kaj Sotala (Xuenay) said...

There's also at least one study that suggests that the availability of child pornography in particular is connected with a lower incidence of child abuse:

Jozifkova, Eva & Weiss, Peter & Diamond, Milton (2010). Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic. Archives of Sexual Behavior 30/2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116701

"Pornography continues to be a contentious matter with those on the one side arguing it detrimental to society while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready availability of sexually explicit materials thereon particularly has seemed to raise questions of its influence. Following the effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed pornography to a society previously having forbidden it allowed us to monitor the change in sex related crime that followed the change. As found in all other countries in which the phenomenon has been studied, rape and other sex crimes did not increase. Of particular note is that this country, like Denmark and Japan, had a prolonged interval during which possession of child pornography was not illegal and, like those other countries, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of child sex abuse."

 
At 7:45 AM, July 02, 2012, Blogger jimbino said...

I think the Puritans in Amerika are mostly interested in eliminating sex or at least any fun derived from it. Since they can't directly keep adults from doing it or thinking about it, they take the end run of appealing to "protecting our children."

Amerika has been reduced to a country safe for children in every way. I want to see someone show that sex and nudity on TV, common in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Italy, hav increased sex crimes there.

 
At 1:12 PM, July 02, 2012, Anonymous Steve Trinward said...

Brave words, David; no surprise there. I think your idea has great merit; I also think that in conjunction with a serious movement to promote the concept of "consent" as the defining issue in all matters sexual and otherwise would enhance everyone's life.

 
At 2:56 PM, July 02, 2012, OpenID pokarpokarpokar said...

just remove the world child and what we have is sex and porn. are they substitutes? sex is real. porn is of the mind.

should a real thing be substituted for by an idea in this case? well, it's complicated. my weak position is that either outlet is maladaptive but that release stimulated by the idea of a thing imposes fewer costs, etc.. but that's really bullshit, isn't it? it's more about the individual with those drives and trying to normalize, rehabilitate them, so they get out into the real world and start loving people and making babies (preferences notwithstanding) and working, right?

 
At 3:42 PM, July 03, 2012, OpenID andyhallman said...

I like Arthur's comment and Steve Trinward's comment.

@Arthur: To many, the purpose of law is to reflect a society's values, what it approves of and doesn't approve of. To these people, the facts about the relationship between porn and rape are secondary to the goal of signaling our disapproval of porn.

@Steve Trinward: I agree that "consent" should receive more attention in arguments over pornography and other issues involving victimless crimes.

 
At 5:17 PM, July 03, 2012, OpenID dagonell said...

As part of my master's degree I did a paper on Censorship and the Internet. The definition of 'child porn' varies wildly from state to state and even city to city. In some areas a 'age-dehanced' photo of a legal age person is still considered child porn. A typewritten story of say, a Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy slashfic can also be considered child porn because it describes children having sex. In some places a stick figure line drawing labeled 'nude 5 yr old' could get you arrested. And as you said, no politician who hopes to get re-elected will ever propose such a law.

 
At 8:09 AM, July 17, 2012, Anonymous Major_Freedom said...

Micah:

The difficult thing about porn is that it's like a drug, in that it takes greater and more potent "doses" to get the same effect.

Then they can take more doses. They can take so many in fact, that they rarely if ever leave their homes.

That's a good thing is it not?

 
At 4:24 PM, July 17, 2012, Anonymous Joel said...

Is what you propose actually illegal at the moment? I wouldn't have thought it was... If adult actors are used I don't see the issue

 
At 9:17 AM, July 22, 2012, Anonymous freedomforce said...

Amerika has been reduced to a country safe for children in every way. I want to see someone show that sex and nudity on TV, common in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Italy, hav increased sex crimes there.


Or at least, what people think would do so.

Sure that might save children, but what's really important is that laws be a reflection of society's moral outrage.

They are the essence of powerful suckers' moral outrage at least.

If someone argues that moral ist just a conventional thing of human beeings who interacted with each other. Yo could say nor is it self evident or beyond ratio. You can argue about that bullshit pouring outa someones' mind, logically.

 
At 2:45 PM, July 25, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as child porn cannot be stopped on the net your ideas of cgi and digital tricks to make actors/actresses make total sense approx 7 years ago the FBI gave the UK police a list of over 50000 credit card numbers that British people had used to look at child porn a few cases were prosecuted but the sheer scale of raiding that many people seizing and checking that many computers meant not many cases were chased.
With the volume of site users against the number of child sex crimes does this suggest that pornography and fantasy satisfy the vast number of users???
The above reflects how much your blog has made me think because my experiences had left me in the hang them high camp in the 90s i got involved in charity work in Moldova amongst my projects was a small orphanage 6 girls who i swore would have the same chances in life as my daughter.This was my link to sanity to offset the horrors i couldnt stop.This then was a country with NO law so when i got a phone call from Ruxanda saying 3 thugs had decided my orphanage would make a good brothel just a shame my girls were too old for their friend who made child porn my girls were 6 to ten
the details dont matter my girls are safe the film unit burnt down 7 people died and i ended up in a mental hospital Fantasy fine but anyone who crosses the line especially for profit hunt them down like rabid dogs
Richard

 
At 9:27 AM, January 30, 2013, Blogger vinix said...

If paedophilia a normal sexual atraction, you will agree if your child suffer sexual abuse, you will applaud that guy because is using your liberty and you won't bring criminal charges against your paedophile best friend.

 
At 9:12 AM, May 31, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello from Japan.
@ dagonell
I can't believe what you said,
sounds insane to me.
Child porn is so stirict in America.
But
Why are movies about child killing people like Kick Ass legal in America?


 

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