Half the world is, in fact, smoking crack

You may have seen this already, but in case you haven’t… I get the overwhelming sense that child porn hysteria has become a significantly harmful force, so as to likely now impede actual efforts to stop the terror and horror of actual child porn. Stop the madness. When can agencies of authority start an honest conversation about these issues to educate people, so we can try to end exploitation and assault in our lifetimes — instead of this lynch-mob mentality? This is getting out of control. It feels like we’re on the verge of criminalizing childhood, and parenting. And the innocent people, such as the parents victimized in this bizarre charade, are suffering from real mental fallout from the trauma. Think about the wider impact on society. Not good.

Family Pics Deemed Child Porn by Wal-Mart at Center of Lawsuit

(…) Last fall A.J. and Lisa Demaree took a memory stick with family photos to the printing center at the Wal-Mart store in Peoria, Ariz. Some of the photos showed their three young girls, all under 5 years old, partially nude in the bathtub. The Demarees say these were innocent pictures that all families take. But a Wal-Mart employee felt otherwise and contacted the police who agreed that this was a child pornography situation.

Child Protective Services searched the Demaree home and took custody of the children for a month while the state investigated. The watched family videotapes and found a few in which the children were playing unclothed. Lisa was suspended from her school job for a year, and both of their names were placed on the sex offender registry. The couple spent $75,000 on legal bills.

Ultimately, the story has a reasonably happy ending. The Demarees were cleared of any charges and their daughters were returned. They’re angry:

“It took us a long time to take a picture [again],” Lisa told Good Morning America on Monday. “I even worry about them in their bathing suits now, if I get a shot of them in their bathing suits and they’re tilting their heads a certain way or their hips are sticking out a little bit, all I think of is ‘Does someone think that it was posed? Or how is that going to be perceived?’”

(…more, blogs.wsj.com, thanks Ariel)

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  1. We had a real hysteria about paedophiles in the UK a few years ago. It still crops up but not quite as overwhelmingly as it did before. I think the thing that took a bit of the sting out the media coverage was the Brass Eye ‘Paedophilia’ TV special. It satirised the media and got about a dozen UK celebrities to endorse a campaign called ‘Nonce-sense’ that showed how ridiculous the whole thing was. The press and TV made a huge deal out of it but then stepped back a bit. Doubt it would ever be shown in US, mind you. The first part of it is on VideoSift but not sure if the rest is stilll available.

  2. I was a counselor at a Girl Scout camp and during training we were told to watch out for “Naked Brownie Syndrome,” because giggly seven year olds changing out of their swim suits in a parentless environment can get carried away, especially when they’ve all been armed with disposable cameras … We were actually supposed to tell the girls from the beginning that they could only take a picture if they asked permission first. Of course we weren’t quite that strict about it but sure enough we heard laughing and shrieks about naked pictures, and the entire group had to sit down and have a talk with the director, and I’m assuming the director had to mention this to every parent to avoid involving them in some kind of Walgreens child-pornography situation. Blegh.

  3. I’m so scared of peasants with pitchforks that I’m not even gonna click that link above.
    Yes, child abuse is a horrifying crime. So is torture, so is psychological abuse, so is any rape. From a historical background and a sorta ‘social sciency’ one, it makes me wonder about overall social trends and the presence or absence of a large scale polarizing dynamic.
    Follow me, as we change social structure from television culture and old paradigms of cold war and national relativism (defined loosely as we Americans are better than you) we are shifting into the fast and loose free culture of the Internet and data exchange.
    I wonder if it is necessary that people need to fixate on some kind of enemy? This is an old argument, and I don’t know if it has any base. But I do know that having an easy target, say a child molester, that you can vent your wrath on is probably *very* adaptive.
    Follow me again, an element like this is capable of complete focused hatred. The ‘pervert’ has no redeeming qualities, he/she has become other, they are the other pack, the rival for mate, the stealer of food or the bringer of illness. This allows for granulation of community as per opposition. This exterior element is dehumanized, nee, despeciated, to coin a term.
    It would sorta explain why even society’s outcasts, our prisoners, vent their own hatred on these people.

    sorry about the novel, hppy birthday,
    p.s.s. if you get a package from the south with a weird objet’ in it, it’s from an old devoted fan, and the said piece had to find a home, ima gonna try to send it to your agent

  4. Believe me this is a concern for me with the twins. I tread very lightly here. Fortunately, L’s dad is a former social worker so at least we have that working for us.

    Just saw your thank you post. Happy belated birthday, dahling.

  5. 1. Everyone starts printing their pictures at home
    2. Child pornographers start printing their pictures at home
    3. Someone publicizes that child pornographers print their pictures at home
    4. The masses get it into their heads that anyone who prints pictures at home is a child abuser
    5. Photo printers are made illegal
    6. Everyone is a criminal

    It all seems to boil down to #6 all the time, doesn’t it?

  6. The quicky department store developers seem to be the biggest offender when it comes to this. When we first moved to NC there was a case where a father kissed a naked baby on his stomach and they took the picture and had it developed, they lost their son for a year before it was straightened out. That was a walgreens that did that.

    Then we had a Wal-Mart call the secret service on a kid who was (the irony here) doing a free speech project and took a picture of push, but a red X across Bush’s face and then posed with a thumbs down in front of it.

    He was questioned for a day or two before they let him go.

    I print my pictures at home.

  7. The trick is to rename the issue and build a language that makes it not sound like opposition to disproportionate punishment is the same as supporting child molestation.

    Look at the pro-life/choice debate: both sides frame the issue in their own terms that implicitly make their advocated position sound reasonable and the other side unreasonable.

    Another way to get at the issue is to work on laws that compensate people for bogus prosecution. This family will have a hard time recovering damages from the state because the DA will maintain that it is his/her discretion of how to prosecute a case. CPS will maintain that they don’t decide what’s child porn and what’s not, they just saw someone charged with child porn and based on that they took custody. A law that explicitly defines a notion of unjustified prosecution and defines specific remedies would significantly change the situation.

  8. Great Spaghetti Monster, when I was little it was a full-time job for my parents to keep me IN clothes; I’d strip them off and run naked at half a chance. So as it turns out, yeah, I’m naked in quite a few of the family photo albums (not so great when I bring a girlfriend home, but whatever…)

    I’m in agreement with you; it seems like we’re on the verge of a cliff, about to go over. And it doesn’t seem like there’s anyway to stop it. If I mention being against sex offender laws, people around me gasp. Given time to fill them in on what can land people on that registry, and the statistics of who commits sex crime, I can bring them around to my way of thinking. But we don’t live in a world where we have time to convince people; we live in the world of the 5 second soundbite. No politician or judge will dare stake his career on the issue. It’s only going to get a lot worse before it gets better. =(

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