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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 30 November 2001

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.

 

From: Kerry
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: "Virtual Child Porn" : illegal


While possibly victimless, it is still illegal.

From the European/US Treaty on Cybercrime at :

http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/WhatYouWant.asp?NT=185

Article 9, section 2, states ( and I'll paraphrase here )
that "child pornography" shall include any realistic images
representing a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

This treaty was signed by the US, UK and 15 European
nations on Nov 23rd 2001, and while it does not define laws
as such it is a general agreement that these nations will
put such laws into place. Anyone interested in cybercrime
and international law should read this document, it will
have some profound affects on the Internet.

I guess that the aim of this is to remove both supply and
demand. If there is a demand for only "Virtual Child Porn"
then this may induce someone into providing a supply of the
real thing, or even using real actors and re-processing the
image into making it look virtual.

Disclaimer : I'm not a lawyer, although I would class myself
as a professional in IT security and cybercrime.





From: Michael Woodhams
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Virtual kiddie porn - free will vs utilitarianism

I can think of three main reasons for making (keeping?)
virtual kiddie porn (hereafter VKP) illegal.
1) Eyew, that's disgusting/sinful!
2) The legality of VKP would provide cover
for real kiddie porn - people could claim their collection
was all virtual, and proving otherwise might be hard.
3) The availability of VKP would lead to more child abuse.

Reason 1 is no longer considered acceptable - e.g.
homosexual law reform.
Reason 2 is not an issue right now - VKP will not be good
enough to mistake for the real thing for some time. There
will likely be technical solutions also.
Reason 3 is the interesting one. To support it, you need to
show that VKP does indeed lead to more child abuse, but
for the sake of argument I'll asume this has been done.
Is the reason ethically/philosophically valid?

Argument 1 (utilitarianism)
It has been demonstrated that ready availability of VKP
leads to more child abuse. This is a very great harm. The
good of VKP availability (pleasure of a small fraction of
the population) is much less, so the overall good is
greatest if it is banned.

Argument 2 (free will)
To claim that VKP causes a person to abuse children is to
ignore this person's free will. They have the ability to
choose whether to abuse or not, and if they do so, it is
entirely their fault, morally and legally. It is wrong
to ban something because some person may be more likely to
choose to commit a crime. (Notice that VKP in itself is
not encitement, unlike hate literature that advocates
bashing/killing some minority class of people.)

Notice that both these arguments can also be applied to
violent hard core pornography, gun control, even sale of
alcohol.

This posting is intended to raise an interesting point of
ethics, not to advocate any particular approach to VKP.

(I don't believe in free will - I just choose to act as
if I had it.)




From: anon
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: virutal kiddy porn reply


I think you raised some really good points and I had a bit
of a think about what you said and came up with this.

1. As you point out virtual kiddy porn is not in itself
bad, but it could cause someone to go out and commit such
acts.

2. Yes we see murder and rape on TV and via other mediums
and this could also cause someone to decide to go out and
commit such acts

3. The major difference is that the latter is usually
pretty easily discovered - murder is pretty hard to cover
up in the scheme of things and a rape victim can go to the
police etc. or at least try to defend themselves. However
someone can (and people have) get away with child abuse for
years on end without being discovered.

So essentially it is whether or not you allow the depiction
(even if virtual) of something that could incite someone to
commit an act that they could get away with quite easily.
Yes there are already depictions of acts far worse (murder
is worse than child abuse IMO), however you are much less
likely to get away with that.




From: Peter George
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: "Virtual" reality - really?

I think the whole issue of what is acceptable in any medium
needs to be addressed.

“Do I advocate that virtual kiddy-porn be legal? Hell no --
but I'd sure hate to see a law that suggested murder and
rape were acts that were of lesser significance. “

It is time that this is repeated widely and loudly. It
seems to have become the norm to say that child porn
crosses the line of acceptability. This is a way of
legitimising murder, rape (and more).

“Virtual realism” does not look real to me. The other night
on the TV news I saw an Afghani fighter, presumably shot,
rolling down a dusty bank and landing in a pile of rubble
clutching his stomach. I felt for him, knowing it had
probably happened for real (an important psychological
aspect of realism). I have experienced nothing like this in
my admittedly limited exposure to virtual violence.
Of course, the official bomb strike videos are real
(presumably), but very impersonal and de-humanised. For a
purpose.

Accepting violence as acceptable as long as no-one is
actually hurt easily seems to become acceptable as long as
no-one important, or no-one undeserving, is hurt. We are
seeing this in big dollops thanks to the land of Hollywood.
I know it can get tricky knowing where the line can be
drawn with violent and illegal activities. But it has to be
done. And more importantly, each of us that feels that
violent depictions of many types are not nice and not
acceptable should make this known, as otherwise those that
are entertained by other people’s misery may think it is
widely acceptable.

Doing nothing and saying nothing does almost as much as
continued participation in misery entertainment.





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