Up Front by Emma Hart

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

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  • 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 • 4651 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 • 4651 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 • 22848 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 • 4651 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 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Quickly quickly Emma! Clear the Cache!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 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 • 22848 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 • 4651 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 • 19740 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 • 5441 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 • 22848 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

  • linger,

    are-you-out-of-your-freaking-mind-you-morons

    Very much my reaction too (on reading a report in last Sunday's Japan Times ). I mean, it's so batshit crazy on so many different levels:
    (i) the Kafkaesque insanity of attempting to try her as an adult , for child pornography of herself (surely at least one of these definitions has got to be flexible under the circumstances?);
    (ii) the so-called "perpetrator" of the act is also the "victim": thus, any prosecution is by definition prosecuting the victim and compounding the effect on her life beyond any direct result of the original photos; it can't be defended in any way as championing the victim!(iii) the mandatory outcomes of any conviction (sex offender register) and the traumatically serious possible outcomes (e.g., maximum possible sentence is 17 years in jail).
    Counselling might be appropriate here. But prosecution !? Sheesh.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Yeah, it's all about protecting victims, except that it isn't, it's clearly about getting off on your moral crusade, and the actual outcomes are beside the point.

    My partner and I were discussing this a couple of nights ago: what's behind this growth in moralism when we're supposed to be becoming more liberal. It's not just a matter of perception, because in Britain and Australia you can count the increasingly restrictive laws being passed. And in the US, the change of government seems to have had no effect on the moral crusade.

    Which is because these laws are enforced by elected prosecutors. People who can get votes out of being 'tough on crime' can also directly prosecute offenders. Imagine Rodney Hide being the state prosecutor...

    In a nice piece of convergence, the Outlawing Indencency doco Russell mentioned has a section on a state trying to outlaw low-cut jeans. Yes, to the point of sending people to prison if their underwear shows above their jeans.

    The Whale Tails site is on the ACMA ban list.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Article 1773992 of the Deep Space Concordat clearly states that " No Ferengi shall sit in judgement over alternate life-forms ..."

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

  • Emma Hart,

    Actually, while we're dumping really offensive moralism, try the story of Jessie Logan. This isn't child pornography: she was 18 when she sexted nude photos of herself to her boyfriend. After they broke up, he sent the photos to other girls at her school. As a result, she was bullied so badly she killed herself.

    Here are some headlines in reaction to that:

    "Sexting Leads to Teen Suicide"

    "Teenager Commits Suicide After Sexting..."

    "Friends Hope Teen's Death Warns Others Against Sexting"

    Get it? It wasn't the bullying or the slut-shaming that drove her to kill herself, it was the action of sexting. It was her own fault.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Which is because these laws are enforced by elected prosecutors. People who can get votes out of being 'tough on crime' can also directly prosecute offenders.

    In light of that, it's hugely ironic that Australia, and in particular the Australian Labor Party, which has made a big issue of the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary ever since the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam goverment, is at the forefront of this contrived populist puritanism.

    Ten years ago it was a splendid wheeze on the part of the media to bail up a gormless One Nation candidate and mock their yokel incomprehension by hitting them with a curly question on the separation of powers. Rudd's slickly packaged puritanism is turning out to be far more dangerous than any of Hanson's garbled initiatives.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    what's behind this growth in moralism when we're supposed to be becoming more liberal

    christianity.

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

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