Sex and Youth
GENERIC DISCLAIMER: In these pervasively correct days one cannot just state facts or make arguments and allow people to judge by them. The injunction not to offend or appear to offend real or ascribed sensitivities takes precedence over intellectual objectivity and honesty. Current fashion dictates deference to the vulnerable, to victims and to minorities and women. Having said that I will go on to say that in these essays nothing I say should be taken as saying that I condone criminal, unwanted or unpleasant behaviour.
Studies of black Americans have explained the high incidence of mother centred families as a legacy of slavery where the integrity of the family unit was frequently abused. The weakness of black families, the lack of a strong male role model has in turn been used to explain their higher unemployment, poverty, crime rates, and failure to match the economic success of other ethnic minorities. In order to prosper Blacks are urged to adopt conventional American values and family structures.
We in Canada have our Indian problem (ours by creation, theirs by affliction) with its poverty, addictions and appalling suicide rate among youth. We are informed that Native peoples also have their own problem of high rates of child sex abuse. We have defined it for them. Some years ago a prominent First Nations leader publicly confessed to the offence of child sex abuse. Abuse is usually interpreted as a consequence of other problems they face. In addition to the archaic liberal platitudes of poverty, discrimination, etceteras, it is viewed by some as a consequence of the residential school system where many aboriginals were sexually abused as children. Abuse begets abuse is the simplistic explanation. In the schools and elsewhere child sex abuse on the part of white authority figures was part of the destruction of their culture. However their culture was very different from ours and the meaning/effect of the abuse was also different.
Books have been written about the abuse suffered by Native children in residential schools and a number of major legal cases have documented it. While far from the documenting the worst examples of abuse the book, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: The Kamploops Indian Residential School by Agness Jack tells the stories of many residents. It is not a tale of unremitting abuse and there are many positive accounts by former residents. The main complaints recalled were the terrible food, inferior to that served the staff, the harsh and demeaning punishments. There was of course some sexual abuse by staff members and older students at the school.
In societies where every male is expected to marry and raise children, or become some kind of holy man, sex play among boys and even adult youth sex is not seen as threat. This has traditionally been the case in Middle Eastern and Muslim societies amongst many others. However adult male same sex relations, premarital sex, adultery and even pornography are likely seen as a danger to the institution of the family in ways that sex play and man youth sex are not and are likely to be harshly proscribed. This is not dissimilar to own culture within recent centuries, particularly in the lower classes. In this context of every male expecting to marry and raise children, sexual play including between boys and men had no implications for sin, morality, identity or harm and while often discouraged was nevertheless tolerated.
The aboriginal societies of North America in common with almost all cultures outside the Judeo Christian tradition were generally sex positive including tolerance of childhood and adolescent sexuality and minor casual adult/child contact. The latter is described in two Native autobiographies, SUN CHIEF: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI INDIAN and SMOKE FROM THEIR FIRES: A LIFE OF A KWAKIUTL CHIEF. Childrens sex play (outside of often rigid and extensive incest taboos) was not subject to the moralizing and sanctions found in our society. I would note that those in the abuse industry are rewriting the pre contact sexual culture of Native peoples to conform to contemporary values. Our own society represents a rather extreme situation in this respect.
Because of their culture Aboriginal children were especially vulnerable to sexual predators they encountered in residential schools. The fact that they engaged in sex play not strictly tolerated in white society made it easy for the predators to label Indian boys as immoral and degenerate and rationalize their own behaviour. According to this thinking it would not be a big thing for an Indian boy to be molested or sodomized. It could even be rationalized that they were probably used to it anyway. Aboriginals already deemed inferior in other respects would also, logically, be morally inferior. White abusers could righteously claim that they would never do the same things to a white child. As a result of the involuntary institutional abuse of their children Aboriginal cultures have tended to move from tolerant to very homophobic. This is unfortunate. Homosexual relationships once a part of their traditional culture are now seen as something imposed on them by an alien culture. [This is common in Third World countries traditionally tolerant of man/boy sex but where nationalists now blame foreigners for introducing the practice.] Homophobia can be a barrier. This has created serious problems for their own gay youth.
From my own observations there appear to be a lot of gay Aboriginal young men, out of proportion to the total numbers encountered in the city. Of the four that I knew in the early 1990s, including one who was my roommate, all died of AIDS. I have noticed that other Indians tend to be extremely homophobic and have been told that this common. One knowledgeable informant claims that this is the result of the abuse suffered at the Indian residential schools.
The true costs of Indian residential school sex abuse of boys is not limited to the suffering of the individual victims and those close to them. The true cost must include the suffering resulting from the homophobia engendered in Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal cultures throughout North America were generally gay friendly, including intergenerational male liaisons, in precontact times. In SEX AND CONQUEST by Richard C. Trexler the author attempts to reconstruct the original sexual cultures of our indigenous populations. There is also a study of the Plains Indians by Wil Roscoe which looks at the berdache tradition vestiges of which still survive. The berdache tradition may have been near universal. The berdache, the not men not women or two spirited people, engaged in homosexual activities. In at least some cultures the berdache did not have sex with each other, that seems to have been a taboo, but with other males in the community. They served as healers and counsellors. They consoled distraught husbands thereby helping to preserve families by reducing adultery and jealousies. Their availability may have also reduced incidence of rape. The berdache also provided practical sex instruction for youth and served as an outlet for those not ready or interested in a heterosexual commitment.
Homophobia, encouraged by the religious/bureaucratic moral assault on Aboriginal cultures was most forcefully imposed by the abuse committed by religious and educational authorities. This has led to large numbers of gay aboriginal youth feeling out of place in their communities and drifting into urban areas where they encounter hard drugs and are exposed to AIDS and other problems they are ill prepared to deal with. Gruesome statistics bear this out. The suffering of these youth resulting from the induced homophobia is not something that can be compensated for by handing out money.
We can agree that white society has inflicted a horrible burden on the Indians and unable to atone we have an obligation to make amends. Apologies, and in order to apologize you have to know what for, are useful. It entails understanding the others version of what happened. While money and services may be welcomed these are not sufficient. Pride needs to be restored, not an angry pride but a confident pride. But we cannot solve the problems we created.
Society is so concerned about kids being exposed to sex that it neglects the question of how they should learn about sex. Sex should be acknowledged in approriate ways from infancy including the parents affection for them and each other both of which may be passionate, and that the genitals have different feelings. For children sex should not be something that is taught but as something absorbed by observation and play, something that is there. Adults should not avoid sexual humour or gossip in front of children as that is useful learning. They absorb what interests them and ignore the rest. Before sex assumes any urgency in childrens lives, all the basic facts of life should be sketched out in their minds. As children become more interested in sex, any information they want, including pornography, should be accessible, in stores, in school libraries, and on the Internet. Pornography helps kids learn explicit things they want and need to know.
No topic should be censored but no topic should be forced on them. There are hundreds of gross acts and facts that an adult should be aware of but they wont if they dont start learning them young. The Net allows the user to just peek, which is how kids start surfing on their own, or get involved in theory and practice and debate. It is likely, as with everything, that some kids will become quite keen on it for a while, which may say more about their backgrounds than the kids themselves. Kids who want to watch porn videos should be able to. Sex education should be primarily a matter for self study and clearly not a school responsibility. Parents and churches could teach and preach what they want. All restrictions on porn and its accessibity should be removed. Let markets develop. We would find that there is little to really worry about. It would be great step back, back into sanity. Free markets would lead to more diversity and better quality of erotic material for kids.
Children are not helpless when they encounter porn, why should they be? Most kids, nowadays anyway, know that porn is something theyre not supposed to see, and they know what it shows even if theyve never seen it in real life. This doesnt mean that kids shouldnt be educated or warned about porn although they should not be prevented from viewing it. Those who are curious or self assured may want to view porn, or just like to try things, and others may go along. Only children who believe that pornography is harmful and maybe dangerous would be at risk from the experience of viewing it. Prohibitions which engender taboos about porn can lead to adverse effects on those kids who inappropriately exposed to it.
Sexual knowledge is likely to lead to more and earlier sexual play and experimentation. For many of those following the Judaic traditions this is a major concern and a reason why they oppose sex education. Any measure that can delay sexual activity by a matter of months is heralded as a victory and is used as a justification for abstinence teaching. This concern obscures more important matters dealing with sex. As with so many things to do with sex its not the relationships and acts themselves that are the problem, its the concern about them. But in the current moral panic how can you tell parents not to worry? Perhaps only those parents who can clearly and honestly recall their own childhood and adolescent sexual thinking and experiences can be realistic about it. Sex play should accepted as normal with guidance emphasizing the ethics of sexual encounters and relationships. Safety, hygiene, physiology and to some extent psychology can and should be taught but sex itself is not appropriate for formal instruction. Intergender sex should be treated more seriously than same sex activities. Its not just fooling around, it relates to major life decisions and social institutions. In later adolescence when most boys become increasingly interested in girls they will not be plagued by the sexual clumsiness, inhibition and aggressiveness that blight so many youthful affairs in our society. Sex would be less urgent and less important to male egos allowing pairings to form on a more relaxed and rational basis. More stable relationships and fewer broken families would result. We need to look at sex lovingly.
There is a fair ammount of interest in and discussion of circumcision on the Internet in recent years. The main thrust of the debate is against circumcision as something traumatic for infants and children, as unneccessary and risky, and as reducing sexual pleasure. Some call it genital mutilation and claim that it is abusive and a denial of human rights. Various methods involving surgery and stretching the skin are promoted to restore the foreskin. I believe it is a mistake, and a divisive and harmful one, to approach the question from a narrow human rights perspective. Circumcision broadly defined is a cultural matter and should be left as such. The medical and sexual satisfaction arguments are inconclusive and generally irrelevant. I do not deny that some men feel that they were cheated or abused by being circumcised as infants but the numbers are very small and mainly a result of hyped advocacy.
While extreme forms of male circumcision including extensive flaying of the skin and slitting of the urethera have become uncommon that is less true of girls. The extreme female genital modification practices of some East African cultures offend Western sensibilities. They seem outragious but if we are concerned about harm to young people it makes far more sense to petition against the American governments policies of encouraging premarital abstinence and sexual ignorance among young people than protesting entrenched cultural practices in regions we are generally ignorant of. Other societies should be free to evolve on their own. A few years ago there was an article in the Globe And Mail describing a mild and powerfully symbolic ceremony involving an East African girl during which her clitoris was pricked with a drop of blood appearing. It had little in common with the slice and sew operations that have attracted notice. Arrogant moral imperialism has caused enough problems already.
Infant circumcision is one case and if males are to be circumcized infancy is probably not the best time to do it. When to do it is a separate issue. My own position is that infant male circumcision should not be a routine practice unless mandated by strong religious or cultural injunctions as perhaps exclusively among the Jews. That is their business. In other circumcision cultures, Muslim, Malay, African etc. infant circumcision was not traditionally practiced. Decisions should be made by the boys themselves within their appreciation of their cultural and peer expectations. If an age line has to be drawn I would suggest eight as a minimum. It is not just or even mainly a question of what is done but the whole context including how and when decisions are made and carried out. My own ideas derive from many conversations I have hade with men and adolescents in the Philippines, an overwhelmingly Christian country with an ancient folk tradition of circumcision that predates Muslim, Spanish and American influences. I described this in my 1994 book Manilamanic. Circumcision, or as in places like the Philippines and Tahiti, supercision, slitting along the top of the foreskin, could easily be hazardous due to infection in humid tropical climates with primitive sanitation. Typically, younger boys never retract their foreskins allowing the natural secretions of smegma to protect it from infections. Even regular retraction of the foreskin where aseptic cleansing is lacking may invite infection. As boys get older the stink of the smegma can become a problem and is a factor in favour of circumcision. Appearance, aesthetic considerations, also favours circumcision. While things are changing in the Philippines the traditional practices I have heard described typically include the following:
In the provinces boys customarily have themselves cut in the years just before puberty. cut. I use the term cut rather than circumcised because the operation often involves the slitting of the foreskin, supercision, rather than its removal. Boys believe that being cut hurts more if done after puberty. Many also believe that girls wont have sex with uncut boys. Uncut cocks are considered ugly Theres probably a lot of peer pressure and older boys who are uncut are open to ridicule. Typically a group of boys, age mates agree to get cut together. They tell friends, brothers, probably their father according to my sources, but not their mothers. They approach an older youth or man trusted as a circumciser. They will pay him a few pesos or give him some tobacco or rum. It is not something done to boys by men as it is in certain African, Melanesian, and of course, our own culture.
The operation is carried out in a secluded outdoor location and while friends, brothers and cousins may get to watch it is not a public ceremony. No anesthetics used. Competently done the operation only takes a few seconds and the pain while intense is localized and brief. Inevitably it is seen as a test of fortitude at least among peers and there may be social consequences from failure to take it in stride. Circumcision is a significant event in a boys life but it has no religious or formal connotations, and does not change his status or treatment. Most in the community will probably neither know nor care. It is not a solemn occasion and there may be a good deal of banter, teasing and bravado among the boys while they are being cut. A brilliant award winning 1984 Filipino movie, The Perfumed Nightmare contains an amusing sequence where several young boys are cut.
In a society where information is freely available to young people boys should as much as possible be able to decide if, what, when and how they modify their genitals. They should be able to explore the options available and experiment with non permanent body modifications like piercings. It is partly a question of body image and probably as with other things questions of aesthetics and style would be important. While safety concerns have to be addressed the involvement of bureaucrats, medical practitioners and parents should be kept to a minimum. Genital modification viewed in the context of youth culture is a question of expression. Dreary human rights approaches and victimological theories should be avoided. Its not a big deal.
When the sexual abuse of boys is officially described it is almost always in the context of the offender/victim paradigm. It doesnt matter of the boy is eight twelve or seventeen or if the other person is a man, youth or women. There is probably more concern about the sexual abuse of boys than girls. Legal decisions, clinical research papers, professional reports usually lack any understanding of the cultural and social contexts in which the abuse occurs. Inquiry is limited to seeking causes and cures for defined problems. Only in sociological and ethnological studies are serious attempts made to understand the experienced realities of those involved. Only fiction and autobiographies can accurately reflect the reality of scenes. There is little place for the latter in law and courts which a priori assumes the offender/victim paradigm.
Streetkids and other adolescent boys who have little adult male support, and who often have no homes where they can chill out with their friends, frequently end up associating with gay men and youth lovers. Few others would accept them as regular visitors. Think about it, who else would? Are straight men or families going to allow unrelated adolescents to hang around their homes? About the only other people who might accept them are those engaged in certain criminal activities where juveniles can be of use to them. Facilities like drop in centres offer limited comfort and group privacy for socialization. Boys will take what they want from them but they are more likely to feel comfortable in the home of a youth lover where they can be and express themselves more freely. The boys may be offered snacks and drinks, and possibly drugs, or they may be grateful for a place where they can smoke their own. The homes of youth lovers often become hangouts and they may become privy to the boys thoughts and affairs that parents and social workers know nothing about. In the Newspeak of clinical junk science men who accept marginal adolescents into their lives are redefined as predators who target vulnerable children if sex occurs. Most of these boys come from dysfunctional families and may have been involved with the law or childrens services. Many have been through sexual charged custodial institutions. They are defined as `vulnerable by child care workers and the courts. That they may turn to youth lovers is evidence of the failure of family and social agencies to meet their subjective needs. They may be victims, but of who and what?
Street boys often develop a circuit of youth lovers that they visit. The police and media will define this as a ring. They may meet new people and often go to cultural events and on camping trips with their adult friends. The sexual interests of the man is usually clear from the start. Some boys may get involved in sexual liaisons with the man, perhaps several men, but most boys may not. Sex is inevitably to some extent currency, but it is not prostitution given the complex relationships that may develop. (Boys may also have dates or clients they rely on but boy prostitution usually involves more socialization than with girls.) Peers monitor and moderate their own affairs. Strong, asymmetrical but mutually satisfying affairs are common. Though they generally lack the romance of the affairs of heterosexuals, lovers quarrels may still provide drama and entertainment.
When boys are free to come and go and are aware of the interests of those they visit and are not coerced into doing things they dont want to do the state should have no right to interfere unless there is a valid complaint. It should be up to the boys to determine if they are being abused. As I have said before such boys are more likely to suffer abuse at the hands of the criminal justice system including its assorted therapists and social workers.
Religious fundamentalists have, according to studies, the highest rate of child sex abuse after people with heavy substance abuse problems, alcoholics and the junkies like those depicted in the movie, Train Spotters. The churches are concerned about this and members have addressed this problem. SEX ABUSE IN CHRISTIAN HOMES & CHURCHES, by Corolyn Holderread Heggan, (1993 published in Ontario) and CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE NEW THEORIES & RESEARCH by David Finkelhor are two books dealing with the topic. Conservative religiousity is also correlated with physical abuse. A big reason for this is the immense moral authority of the Bible and other religious works. A number of Biblical passages are actually injunctions to beat children. Several religious authorities recommend that spankings start during infancy and that punishment should continue until the childs will is broken. The Reverend Jack Hyles in his 1972 book. HOW TO RAISE CHILDREN states, The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the childs will is broken. It should last until the child is crying, not tears of anger but tears of broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his will, the spanking should continue. The painful stimulation should of course be applied to the erotically charged buttocks or anal zone. This torture scenario was not written for the enjoyment of sadomasochistic pedophiles but Christian parents. Breaking wills sounds like the way totalitarian states deal with dissidents. Another writer simply suggests whatever that takes, and we all know that there are some pretty willfull and stubborn kids out there. For those interested I would also recommend DARE TO DISCIPLINE available at some religious supply stores. The website, www.kidspank.com has some interesting material including testimonials, a kids page and instruction manuals. They frequently advocate or counsel deliberate physical punishment far in excess of the guidelines set out for determining abuse by social welfare agencies. While I do not support use of beatings as punishment for anyone I believe that public debate about the pros and cons of beating children should be tolerated. However when it comes to sex involving children our child pornography laws prohibit writings that advocate or counsel sex with children. Unlike the Bible nobody ascribes much much moral authority to child pornography. It may however help some men realize that they are not total isolates and help them achieve sexual release.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada: Child pornography is inherently harmful to children and society, This harm exists independently of dissemination or any risk of dissemination, and flows from the existence of the pornographic representations, which on their own violate the dignity and equality rights of children. If you examine this statement it is pure, unadulterated mysticism. It is magical thinking and is a re-emergence of judicial acceptance of curses etc. Child pornography is an evil that is somehow basically different from any other expressive material in our world. Following the decisions and reasoning of the Supreme Court this is true even if it only is only marginally different from adult porn. It is true if its written fantasies or fictional accounts. It is true if it is factually based and logically argued advocacy for the benefits of currently illegal sex activity involving young people.
Unless we, like the Supreme Court, assume that child pornography works like a dangerous radioactive element by giving off invisible rays that can harm children, we are left with its effect on the behaviour of those who use it. This inevitably brings us to masturbation. Is masturbation or the fantasies that accompany it dangerous to others? Is the person, say a child depicted in the pornography, harmed or abused when their depiction is used to help trigger orgasm? If their depiction is used repeatedly to trigger orgasm is the abuse greater? Some anti-porn activists and judges support this mystical contention by claiming that the child is abused every time its depiction is used and that only by eliminating the depiction can the abuse be stopped. What about child TV, music and movie stars whose images have triggered many millions of orgasms? Have they been massively abused? The only way to make logical sense of the Courts statement is that Child pornography somehow affects other than facilitating masturbation.
The Supreme Court of Canada decision in my case endorsed the theories of harm advanced by the Crowns psychiatric expert which are generally accepted in the child sexual abuse industry. Harm, harm flowing from the mere possession (in the hands of pedophiles) of child pornography was central to the Crowns arguments. I want to examine these theories from a logical common sense approach.
Does child porn incite men to assault children?
This is referred to as the fueling fantasies theory. Of course child pornography fuels fantasies, all porn does, and that is why people use it. For some people the use of porn may be necessary to achieve the release and satisfaction that masturbation brings. The fueling fantasies argument however is the polar opposite of the catharsis theory which claims that pornography is principally a substitute for sexual assault leading men to masturbate instead of seeking an actual partner or victim. The Court ignores this theory and my lawyers refused to touch it. The incitement theory claims that child pornography incites pedos to sexually assault children and implies that pedos are the ones who sexually assault children. However according to the evidence submitted by the Crowns own expert witnesses most child sexual assault is by parents and relatives. In these cases child pornography is seldom involved. Of the remaining child sex offenders most are what is called situational or opportunistic offenders who substitute children for adults. They may simply be indiscriminate predators, or they may be unattractive, suffer low self esteem or lack the interpersonal skills to find an adult partner. They have no particular interest in child porn and it is highly unlikely that they would use it to incite themselves. Only specifically to normalize adult-child for seduction purposes, groom quite young children would they have any use for it and this is problematical. We are left with about a quarter of child sex offenders who are true or preferential pedophiles. However few of these, like people generally, have much interest in pornography of any kind. It may well be that those who lack porn are more likely to assault children. Even granting that some sex offenders including pedophiles use porn to hype themselves up before offending that does not mean that porn incites their offenses. Unless their exposure is inadvertent they have already formed the intent to offend when they use the pornography. Lacking porn they would likely find other means to hype themselves to offend. Another situation documented in the case of some child sex offenders and serial rapists, which may be as or more common than using porn before an offense, is using an actual assault to provide the basis of future fantasies. When the fantasy becomes stale another assault may be committed. Everyone would be better off if these men could use child pornography or violent pornography instead of an actual assault as a basis for masturbation fantasies.
Do offenders use child porn to groom children?
The grooming argument is that offenders show child pornography to potential victims in order to normalize child sexual activities. Other children do it so its OK is the line. This has some plausibility in the case of younger, prepubertal children who are ignorant or naive. It has little relevancy to older kids, especially boys, who have entered puberty. In this case adult XXX videos which arouse them would be more effective. Adult porn is cheaper, generally much better quality and much less risky to use. Beyond this is the question of alcohol and drugs which may easily disinhibit adolescents. If we approach the problem of grooming realistically, it is a question of how things are used, not the fact that they are possessed. Prohibiting child pornography would have only a very limited impact on the grooming of children. Any common sense approach to the problem of grooming should focus on the use of materials and substances that would most likely put children at risk. Prohibiting child pornography can only offer a sense of false security.
Are children harmed in the production of child porn?
Obviously some are. In some instances the pornography itself is a record of the abuse entailed. This can be covered under other laws such as child sexual assault and those governing evidence of criminal activity. In other instances exploitation may be present or implied by the image. This is a less serious serious situation but one that should be addressed. The attitude and expression of the subjects depicted is not irrelevant to the question of harm. Nude pictures of children not engaged in sexual activities are not in themselves exploitive. They may become so through display or distribution which exposes the child to embarrassment or other adverse consequences. The argument that the possessor may use them to blackmail the child is weak. Blackmail in itself is a serious criminal offense. Among adolescents it is more likely that they would use the pictures to blackmail the photographer. In terms of any simple possession offense the abuse in production needs to be qualified in terms of the images themselves and the real or implied circumstances of their production. Children can be harmed through the circulation and distribution of images which are not otherwise harmful in cases where their identity becomes known to others. Where the child depicted is known, particularly in the case of adolescents, their views should be relevant.
Does child porn reinforce cognitive distortions?
This the indirect or attitudinal harm argument. Child pornography is assumed to predispose pedophiles and perhaps others to think such things as sex with children is harmless, acceptable and beneficial. Written material in particular is alledged to create and reinforce cognitive distortions. This can include not only pornographic stories but also but novels, historical and ethnographic studies and even academic material challenging conventional beliefs. Any one of these could be argued to affect the readers thinking. Cognitive distortions are defined as pro-offending beliefs. Essentially they are unorthodox ideas, in particular sexual heresies. They can only exist in relation to an orthodox understanding or interpretation. To the extent that child pornography challenges conventional assumptions about kids and sex it can be said that it reinforces cognitive distortions. A story about a boy enjoying oral sex from an adult contains cognitive distortions, a story about a girl being brutally raped does not. The problem lies with the concept of cognitive distortions itself.
Child porn and other porn
The basis of the Crowns case was harm, harm flowing from the mere possession of child porn. Yet according to others including many social scientists, sexologists, writers and probably your typical porn consumer, adult pornography is a substitute for a partner, or at least an exciting one. Its hassle free and some men may have few alternatives. Many, perhaps most people can be objective about adult porn and see that it may be a good thing. If men can enjoy more satisfying masturbation with porn than without then pornography may actually protect women from molestation and rape. Its quick, cheap and you can play with kink youd never consider doing in reality. We can understand a sexually bored, good family man wanting to experiment with exotic, erotic fantasies. Having a lover on the side or molesting servants threatens to disrupt the family but porn can safely provide something new. These are common sense arguments that most people can check against their own observations. Is there any reason to believe that child pornography is used any differently? Yet the government, the police, the religious, the civil libertarians and probably a large majority of Canadians believe that child pornography somehow has radically different its effects. It only makes sense if child pornography has some magical or mystical properties. Moral panics can make it so. For example the apparent threat of Soviet world domination in the 1950s and 60s was created by the McCarthy hysteria. I am trying to provide a glimpse of the mass hysteria which is invisible from inside. Our society accepts adult porn although we dont condone it. Other societies which dont tolerate porn at all, accept but dont condone men and boys having liaisons. The definitions of child pornography are necessarily arbitrary and many instances are marginal. Yet in a particular case it either is or it isnt. The situation is similar to the old joke about a woman who had a house near the New Brunswick/Maine border. She wasnt sure which country it was in so she had her property surveyed. It turned out be in the U.S. and she was very relieved because she didnt think she could survive Canadian winters.
Would total prohibition of child porn be harmful?
Another common sense way to look at the effect of many things is to explore the implications of their absence as well as their presence. Wildlife investigators, for example, commonly do this when considering predators like wolves. Without predators prey animals such as deer may be subject to cycles of overpopulation and collapse with possible degradation of the natural environment resulting. Consider a situation where new sources of child pornography were totally eliminated. I am not going to speculate on what means would be necessary to achieve a total or near total elimination of child pornography but zero tolerance always has its price. In a variation of the catharsis argument former consumers, if free to make decisions would have a number of choices. They might either do without, turn to the nearest legal substitute, or indulge in voyeurism. Or, as happened after the suppression of commercial sources in the late 1970s, they begin making their own. At the voir dire the trial judge closely observed the testimony with its nuances and studied the scholarly exhibits entered. He found significant if not substantial weaknesses in the Crowns evidence. It is highly unlikely that the SCC closely examined the 400 page transcript or made any such careful analysis of the evidence and relied on their clerks and articles by legal academics who also probably also didnt read the transcript and study the evidence. Unfortunately for me neither did my lawyers despite my attempts to bring facts to their attention. The child learns about its own body before it can handle responsible activities in its environment like driving a car. And it can do this before it can understand the complexities required to participate in civic life such as politics.
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