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.Now Have Your Say
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