Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Making a List, Not Bothering to Check It

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  • Stewart,

    That ruling about the Simpsons porn being classed as child pornography seems a bit wacky - or is it my sense of values that's out-of-kilter?

    (I haven't seen it & have no wish to see it, but cartoon characters, ffs, = 'kiddie porn'...?)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I'd not ever be in favour of using real children to produce pornography in any way, no matter how manipulated the images were, for the reasons Sam stated:

    Even the tamest softcore including actual adults is predicated upon the consent of the adults appearing. Minors by definition can't give that consent and goodness knows what the long-term psychological ramifications would be of growing up knowing pornographic images of you had been passed around the Internet during your childhood without your consent.

    Yeah I agree with this totally Emma, although I find the line is also blurred by Hollywood children who can 'give consent', hence my dubiousness about 'the blue lagoon' with its oftcore underage sex scene. There are quite a number of films where children are cast in very iffy non hardcore roles, such as Kubrick's Lolita, Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. And Sam Mendes American Beauty. While films such as 'the reader' are still being made, Polanski remains at large.

    But what I'm really aiming at here is 'people' who are drawn from scratch, and animated, as in Gollum / Smeagol. Around the world two bit portrait artists are sitting in crowded malls making attempts that end up looking in no way simiilar to their models, and yet often they do look like people. Add some colours, blur and shadng and you have a photo realistic image (of noone), add another drawing and you have an animated photo realistic movie.

    You are proposing that drawings are not necessarily blacklisted Emma, And I'm curious as how do you define drawings in this case? Or at which stage in the process do images crossover to the realm of 'harmful'?

    on a side note

    Youtube's been down for a week here, something untoward is obviously going on and being posted, this being the 50th anniversary year of that particular event, made me think more about section 92A, re: the uploading of copyright material, why not just do what they do here, block the site until the site removes the content. Saves everyone's Internet connections, at least with regard to uploads.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    And the Australian Classification Board's website has been hacked.

    had a laugh...blame China...

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Ah, here we are, squishy middle position again.

    I don't think that thats a particularly bad place to keep returning to. Some of my thoughts on child pornography are, that if its also evidence of crime, its inappropriate entertainment. Recorded evidence of atrocity helps combat its minimization. Its probably valuable material to law enforcement, educational research (where appropriate) and some of the victims that have had there experiences captured on film (providing they have control of that material). If these thoughts are agreed as reasonable, then we have an issue of ownership rights.

    Hypothetically speaking, If I had images of myself as a child, engaged in hardcore pornography, and the only other person/s involved were adult perpetrator/s of the crime, should it be illegal for me to use it as I see fit? Remembering of cause that I am an adult now.

    It would be outside of middle ground to reject all methods of communicating and understanding the atrocities of war, other than standard academic paper format. Child abuse, particularly domestic/institutional abuse where the child has know means of escape, it is now agreed by most contemporary psychologist/psychiatrists as having comparable long term consequences to those psychologically damaged in war.

    Least we forget.

    We have national monument to war. And lets not forget the holocaust museums of europe. Its not all porn some of it is art. Art is not all about pretty pictures.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Nice post Steven, a number of interesting points you broach re ownership, fair use, and the disparities with the way other violent acts are represented. as you say;

    "to reject all methods of communicating and understanding the atrocities of war,"

    that's really the crux what is needed for significant social progress imho, communication and understanding, compassionately and without fear of being shouted out of the forum of discourse, respect.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Regarding the "cartoon porn" thing, I agree that the Simpsons thing was pretty extreme. However. I have also seen explicit drawings/sketches/etc of child sex which are so representational it's entirely open to question whether or not it was drawn "from life".

    Where do you draw the line?

    My line is that if it involves obvious pre-pubescent children, and it is showing sexual activity, it should not be permitted. Sure, things like Simpson porn will be caught up in that, but frankly I don't care. Images of nude children would not be caught up in such a restriction. And yes, any representation of a child might be in a kiddy-fiddler stash - it's about defining a line between unnecessary censorship/paranoia and depictions that may actually be harmful.

    But having said all that, what might be easiest to police are explicit videos and photography, as is the case in the US and various other countries. And maybe we just have to chalk up non-photographic representations as "merely" horribly distasteful, depending on the level of realism. I suppose it fulfils the notion of "reasonable doubt", since with a photograph, there is no question of an actual child being interfered with.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    My line is that if it involves obvious pre-pubescent children, and it is showing sexual activity, it should not be permitted. Sure, things like Simpson porn will be caught up in that, but frankly I don't care.

    See, I disagree. No real people were harmed by the production of that Simpsons porn. A real person was harmed by being prosecuted for owning it - and he lost his appeal. He now spends the rest of his life having to declare that conviction - a conviction for having child pornography.

    Neil Gaiman wrote a great piece on defending cartoon pornography, including lolicon. I'm not going to explain lolicon, you're all perfectly capable of looking it up on Wikipedia.

    Still, you seem to want lolicon banned, and people prosecuted for owning it, and I don't. You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you're going to have to stand up for stuff you don't believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don't, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person's obscenity is another person's art.

    Also, if you prosecute it all the time, you prosecute it when it's used for therapy. You prosecute it when it's depicted as negative and destructive. You make it, basically, something that can't be portrayed at all in any way for any audience.

    I do see the concern about drawing from life, however my concern in that instance wouldn't be the drawing.

    I will say that I don't think any law will keep child pornography out of the hands of paedophiles. So if you say it's worth the cost (which is always a cost to someone else) you're assuming there's a benefit. You can't be protecting a child by banning a picture that's never involved a child.

    I could really go on about this, and I very much don't want to sound like I'm having a go at Tracy because I'm not. I think stephen raised a very good point, and not an easy one.

    My own experience has been not with pictures but with words. I've been criticised for writing a woman who enjoys violent sex, even though such women exist. I've been criticised for writing scenes that involved rape, even though experience was portrayed extremely negatively, showed real and horrendous consequences, and the writing left me shaking and in tears. If someone's who's experienced sexual abuse as a child wants to draw about it, I don't believe anyone should be telling them they can't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I've been criticised for writing scenes that involved rape, even though experience was portrayed extremely negatively, showed real and horrendous consequences, and the writing left me shaking and in tears.

    Is it a different story if the experience wasn't portrayed negatively? Like if rape or other abuse of someone was presented as positive? Not just for you, but "OK for someone else to do because it's fiction and freedom of speech"?

    I don't know what was in the simpsons cartoon, and I don't particularly care to. But I presume there are two bases to our laws in this area - the harm in the production of the material, and the possibility of harm arising from the viewing of it. Taking away the first presumably doesn't necessarily take away the second.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    It seems to me that the guilty parties will continue to find access to this stuff, no matter what, links or no links, censorship or no censorship, just like everything else in life, and personally I feel the less (involving children) that is made the better. I might get my head bitten off, but I'd feel a little more comfortable knowing that people who 'needed' it were given counselling and controlled access to old stock with consent of those involved, than prohibition forcing more DIY creations. Who are we tryng to protect? The children or the internet?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Is it a different story if the experience wasn't portrayed negatively? Like if rape or other abuse of someone was presented as positive? Not just for you, but "OK for someone else to do because it's fiction and freedom of speech"?

    I have this really big space between 'things I think are okay', and 'things I think should be banned and people should be jailed for producing'. This would be in there. Would I want to read it? Nope, but I'm a grown-up and I can make those choices. Do I think it should be banned? No. Would I defend somebody else's right to write it even though I'd find it repulsive? Yes I would.

    But I presume there are two bases to our laws in this area - the harm in the production of the material, and the possibility of harm arising from the viewing of it.

    If somebody wanted to stop me producing something because other people consuming it would cause harm, my first response would be 'prove it'. The research around porn as a cause of rape is contradictory and inconclusive, certainly not strong enough to make a case for curtailing freedoms. I've previously linked to studies conducted in both the US and Japan, and that Neil Gaiman piece links to a US-based article, which show that over the last thirty-odd years, the availability of porn has increased, and the rate of rape has decreased. I don't think that in any way proves that 'porn reduces rape', but it does make it very difficult to make a case that porn causes rape. I know there are studies that show that individuals who view large amounts of porn (ie more than six hours a week, which is about four movies) are more likely to have raped and to have poor attitudes to women, but they're not showing a causal link, just a correlative one.

    Now perhaps it's different with child pornography, but I can't really see why it should be.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the are-you-out-of-your-freaking-mind-you-morons, department:

    The latest teenage girl in America to be charged with child pornography offences after sending her boyfriend nude pics of herself with her mobile phone.

    If she is convicted, she will spend the rest of her life on a public sex offenders' register. Does nobody involved in this process have any speck of sense at all?

    I do wonder if this insanity is, like the zealous age-of-consent prosecutions in some states, driven by people who deep down believe that teenagers should be made to suffer for their alleged moral failings.

    The French documentary on these trends in the US, Outlawing Indecency , is out there on the wires, and highly recommended. I was shouting at the television by the end of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The French documentary on these trends in the US, Outlawing Indecency , is out there on the wires, and highly recommended. I was shouting at the television by the end of it.

    I was sitting with my head in my hands thinking 'I wish I was more surprised by any of this'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Oh, and while we're here, 'downloading'.

    Someone sent me a link to an image to check whether it was okay to link to from here. In order to determine that, I went and looked at it.

    That means I've 'downloaded' it. I've committed just as much of a crime as the person who was convicted, and lost his appeal, for possessing it.

    There's something very sad and pathetic about the fact that I'm now off to clear my cache, just in case.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Quickly quickly Emma! Clear the Cache!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    "Hi Emma, I am thinking about making a comment on your blog, that involves linking an actual Simpson adaptation. This Image .

    I wish to point out the communicative merit of illustration; how mild shock is a valid method in which to draw attention toward social misconception and denial. That by taking this sort of image out its dubious context, it can be socially beneficial.

    What do you think? I'm sometimes not the best judge on these things.

    Regards Steven"

    What can I say about an image that we can't safely look at.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    What can I say about an image that we can't safely look at.

    Emma checked with me, and my view was that it would be reckless to link to images that have been defined as "child pornography" by a court.

    Personally, I think the decision in that case was nutty, but that's where we're at.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    No worries, I realize, and accept our obligation to comply with the law.

    Child sexual abuse is an aspect of life that generally wants sweeping under the carpet, or confining to counseling rooms, compelling us to generally shut the fuck up about it, enabling pretty much no resolution. Just a bunch of witch burning rhetoric. Thats not healthy.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If somebody wanted to stop me producing something because other people consuming it would cause harm, my first response would be 'prove it'.

    Fair points.

    I'd imagine there is anecdotal evidence on both sides. Some people might have access to the stuff and it prevents them doing anything further. Others it might encourage them. A difficult area on which to base a criminal law.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I know there are studies that show that individuals who view large amounts of porn (ie more than six hours a week, which is about four movies) are more likely... to have poor attitudes to women,

    So Paul Henry...

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    What can I say about an image that we can't safely look at.

    Censorship, pretty much by its definition, stops us from talking about things. It curtails freedom of speech, that's it's job.

    I have found myself in quite surreal situations as a result, and I totally get where steven is coming from. Somebody asked me in an open forum at BW a question which required me to explain to her the difference between R content and NC 17 content. (We have different rules for the two.) I couldn't give her examples, because we were in an open forum. Nor could I link to examples, because the NC 17 content is locked away. She couldn't get it, and I couldn't tell her.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Classic censorial behaviour from prosecutors in the US taking an "educational" approach to teen sxting:

    But when MaryJo Miller protested to Skumanick that the photo portraying her daughter and Kelly couldn't possibly be considered child porn, he replied that the girls were posed "provocatively," according to the lawsuit.
    ...

    But Skumanick said the image wasn't appropriate.
    "You'd have to see the photo and see the setting, which I'm not going to show to the public because I don't think it's appropriate," he said.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I know there are studies that show that individuals who view large amounts of porn (ie more than six hours a week, which is about four movies) are more likely to have raped and to have poor attitudes to women, but they're not showing a causal link, just a correlative one.

    Aren't there also studies that find rape is not motivated by sex, but by violence?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Classic censorial behaviour from prosecutors in the US taking an "educational" approach to teen sxting:

    Yikes. Here's the suit filed against Mr Skumanick, the district attorney by the girls and their mothers.

    He appears to be a censurious nutbar who doesn't like teenagers. Girls especially.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    DeepRead: Robert Sapolsky on primate sexuality.

    I watched this last week. Sapolsky is a brilliant guy; I loved his books, and it was nice to see that he's a good speaker too.

    Anyway: from his POV, sex and aggression are intimately related in the brain (to extract, summarize and brutally simplify 1.5 hours of fascinating stuff).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I watched this last week. Sapolsky is a brilliant guy; I loved his books, and it was nice to see that he's a good speaker too

    I was relieved when he stopped stepping between those two safety 'fixed positions' at the beginnng. Enjoyed that Stephen. Thanks.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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