The laws against ‘abuse images’ are abusive

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Today’s guest blog is on child pornography, or “abuse images” as the current PC term has it, and is by Feinmann, whose debut as a blogger here was in April this year under the title “War on Kinds disguises one against kids”. Professionally retired, he remains highly active as a field researcher working on the conservation of endangered species. The splendid graphics (not intended for sexual gratification but feel free to enjoy them!) are the author’s own.

 

WAGING WAR ON CHILD PORN IS OPPRESSIVE AND DUMB

Some definitions

Pornography: derives from the Greek: πορνογραφία meaning “a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution”.

Child pornography: the term appeared in North America during the 1960s, and is defined thus: “Pornographic material featuring sexually explicit images or descriptions of children”. Child pornography, when back-cast to the original Greek suggests: “a written description or illustration of child prostitutes or child prostitution”. The noun child pornography superseded the noun child erotica, but is now equated with child abuse images.

Inquisition: institutions within a system of government whose aim is to combat heresy, and is characterised by: a lack of regard for individual rights, prejudice on the part of the examiners, and recklessly cruel punishments.

COPINE scale: used by UK law enforcement (also known as officious paramilitary social workers) to determine sentencing for possession of child pornography. This ten-point scale was created in the Department of Applied Psychology in Cork in 1997 and adapted for use in UK courts. In 2002, the scale was amended to a five-point SAP (Sentencing Advisory Panel) scale. It then changed again in 2014 to a three-point SOD (Sentencing Offenders Definitive) guideline. The forging of this scalar weapon and its inclusion within the inquisition’s armoury, furnishes law-enforcement agencies with a most terrible servant to deploy … and deploy it they do with rigid absolutism.

Paedophile: a person who is sexually attracted to children, the word appearing in medical dictionaries in 1918, but, with a lack of distinction between paedophilia and homosexuality. From 1960 attempts were made to distinguish “homosexuals” from people then dubbed “paedophiliacs”. In popular usage, the word paedophilia conflates sexual attraction to prepubescent children with “child sexual abuse”.

Indecent Sentences

From Heretic TOC: What Defines Child Pornography?: “In many jurisdictions this is utterly unclear, because mere nakedness may in theory be permissible, but too close a focus on the genitals may constitute an illegal lascivious display or an indecent image. An allegedly suggestive pose can tip the balance from legal to illegal, even if the child is fully clothed.”

In his consultation paper of 2002, Sentencing In Child Pornography Cases, Tom wrote: “The danger lies in the vagueness of the word indecent. As Geoffrey Robertson QC says: ‘Indecency…is assumed to have an ascertainable meaning in law. Jurors and justices who use it as part of their everyday language are trusted to know it when they see it.’ Yet ‘scientific surveys, parliamentary debates and jury verdicts demonstrate no measure of consensus either about community standards or the sort of material which infringes them.’ It seems to me far from self-evident that indecent photographs necessarily involve exploitation in their making, especially as regards those at the lower end of the scale, in COPINE classes 1-6. Indeed, the Sentencing Advisory Panel concedes this point by saying: ‘Images that are relatively less harmful … may still involve … exploitation or degradation …’ They may. Or they may not. Unfortunately, the Sentencing Advisory Panel fails to pursue the logic of this ambivalence. Taking a shotgun approach, the Panel opts to assume the worst and blast away regardless.”

“Shotgun approach” indeed. Fifteen years on, governments still blast away with their indecent bullets to the point where free expression and free speech is critically riddled with holes. In relating the anger expressed over the murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Peter Herman in Heretic TOC highlighted the following bitter irony: “It has come to a point where, in many parts of the English speaking world, any image of youthful sexuality and even written descriptions of it will at the very least ostracize the individual, land him in jail or possibly get him killed.”

Endlösung der Pädophilenfrage – Final Solution to the Paedophile Question

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But why is war on minor-attracted individuals waged? Why have those elected to protect the civil liberties of every citizen, failed to do so for members of this group? Why have law-makers labelled every member a sexual predator and treated them as a deformity on the body politic?

Being a paedophile has become a crime of such importance that merely to accuse someone brands them a child sexual abuser. The term crimen exceptum, a mechanism vital to the functioning of inquisitions executing social control via justice systems built on barbarism, describes this process well. The crimen exceptum updates the Magna Carta to read: we are all guilty in a court of law.

As with all inquisitions, the crimen exceptum enables a monstrously corrupt false allegations industry to flourish, enthusiastically stoked by child charities and accusers – the latter in the full knowledge that they will be believed, that their anonymity will be guaranteed even if they are found to lie, and that they can profit from selling their lies to a salaciousness-hungry media. These bounty-hunting allegators doubtless obtain an extra buzz from ruining the lives of the innocents they accuse.

To heighten the moral panic and hysteria, the inquisition classifies an image of a naked child as obscene. Ironically, perversely, and hypocritically, one cannot be arrested for possessing images of terrorist crimes or violent crimes, no matter how sadistic or sickening. Heretic TOC recently discussed additional un-prosecuted “child pornography” in the public domain. It also flagged circumcision and the curious failure to prosecute the genital mutilation of some 10,000 and 1,000,000 male babies in the UK and the US, respectively, annually.

Conclusion: it has nothing to do with the image, and everything to do with the discrimination of those that promote and enjoy child sexuality; that includes the kids themselves.

The estrangement of adults from the lives of children

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Frank Furedi in Spiked: “The promotion of paranoia in relation to every aspect of children’s lives accomplishes the very opposite of what it sets out to do.” With nearly one quarter of UK households with dependent children managed by a lone parent, 91% being women, one might envisage such homes to be fertile ground for feeding the paranoia Frank highlights: stranger-danger outside; evil internet inside. Any child daring to display natural sexuality will be instantly hermetically sealed within a bubble of suppression, any adult moving a hand to break the bubble, ostracised.

This from Moor Larkin: “Look after the children, the idea seems to go, and then by the time they see all this filth and perversion, they will be adults and thus impervious to any of its pernicious effects. However at the same time, a legal norm has built up that anyone looking at pictures of children in sexual poses will be likely to want to emulate that imagery in reality, and thus must be treated to remove these pernicious effects, and if they refuse to comply then they must be removed from society.”

Moor’s final comment applies increasingly to children. A primary source of child abuse images rather ironically, is the children themselves. Pediatrics in 2014 states: “That we did not find a link between sexting and risky sexual behavior over time may suggest that sexting is a new ‘normal’ part of adolescent sexual development and not strictly limited to at-risk adolescents.” With the ever-earlier onset of puberty – the term “adolescent” implies a person between 10 and 25 – time perhaps to review age of consent laws.

That youngsters experience fun (kid’s code for excitement) showing off to peers and strangers alike as cameras roll, has been self-evident to child erotica aficionados for decades. Kids, particularly boys, evidently have an interest in sexual imagery. Nothing really new there, but danger lurks on the internet. The inquisition’s Five Eyes will be quick to pounce and arrest young perverts. Oh yes, the inquisition wages a vicious war against youth sexuality too. Heretic TOC highlighted a sad fact that around one in three registered sex offenders in both the UK and the US are themselves minors. Society has totally acquiesced to the implementation of savage lunatic discriminatory laws that, far from protecting children, systematically abuse them, and go on punishing for the remainder of their hellish lives. It is time to STOP IT NOW!

Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out

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This poisonous lie from those who claim to protect society exposes the dark heart of the inquisition: “The FBI on behalf of the US government, claim that children are re-victimized every time images of their sexual abuse are viewed or transferred. That argument is one of the main rationales for punishing mere possession of child pornography, which under federal law and the laws of some states can be treated more harshly than violent crimes, more harshly even than actual abuse of children. That penalty structure is obviously irrational unless you believe that serious harm is inflicted every time someone looks at the image of a child’s sexual abuse. In that case, a large enough collection of images could equal or even surpass the harm done by a single child rape, so that it could make sense to impose a life sentence on someone who has done nothing but look at pictures.”

Another poisonous US Government lie states: “The commercial enterprise of online child pornography is estimated in 2005 to be approximately $20 billion, and it is an industry on the rise.” The lie is not easy to refute because it is illegal to research the facts, allowing the inquisition to launder statistics with impunity. In 2006, the Wall Street Journal in an investigative article commented: “to track down the number’s source yielded lots of dead ends.” A further source in 2001 concluded that the market in child pornography was actually negligible. Hyped claims that child pornography is a massively profitable industry appear to have been largely abandoned in more recent years, as the continuing lack of supporting evidence makes such claims less and less plausible. Attention is now focused more on estimating viewing figures, with people looking at what are now being called “child abuse images” being presented as a ‘social emergency’ (see also the BBC Child Pornography Epidemic link referenced in the bullet points below). The 2015 annual report of the Internet Watch Foundation claims “21% of the webpages confirmed as containing child sexual abuse imagery were assessed as commercial.”

More poisonous lies are recounted here.

Anglosphere child charity ‘statistics’ can be equally poisonous: “… research has shown that one in four children (27%) will experience sexual abuse before the age of 18.” This is 1,258 times more than the figure given by the Parliamentary Education Committee for England. The treacherous NSPCC is no better.

These poisonous lies oil the vicious circle and empower the inquisition to:

A model for the future

When any item in demand is outlawed, mechanisms arise that circumvent prohibition. Child pornography was legally produced and sold across several European countries thirty years ago, but is now restricted to, but freely available within the dark web. As images can be viewed, downloaded, copied, and distributed to a thousand destinations instantly, the war on pornography (as for drugs) is unlikely to be won despite huge commitment, funding, and, inane declarations of war.

By waging an intelligent, pragmatic, anti-war on drugs, certain countries in Europe ensure the cure costs less than the problem. Portugal decriminalised possession of all drugs for personal use in 2001 by implementing wider health and social policy changes. Results have been remarkable. The fact that Portugal benefited overall from the intelligent reversal of its stance on drugs, should be a wake-up call for governments that pig-headedly persist in waging costly, ineffective wars on items that society clearly wants.

Anglosphere countries should institute an anti-war on child pornography to unstitch manifestly corrupt and repressive laws that discriminate against citizens on the basis of their sexuality, and deny everyone the basic human right to articulate opinions and ideas. Articles 7, 12 and 19 of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration are relevant here; these continue to be breached with impunity. The unstitching process should dismantle dangerously unaccountable law-enforcement agencies (plus their allies) that design and deploy McCarthyesque witch hunts to create immense damage across society. One candidate the author would recommend for retrospective prosecution on the basis of discrimination is this one. If any single institution is guilty of fomenting mass-hysteria, discrimination and misery across the world over many decades in the total absence of any scientific justification, this is it.

We do not want future generations to have insanely fucked-up attitudes towards human sexuality like those that lie within the heads of the fascist moral “protectors” that infest Anglosphere governments today. To this end, society must ensure that every child receives adequate education on: human sexuality and human relationships, and the illegality of discrimination on the basis of sexuality. It would be instructive to highlight the fact that the animal kingdom is saturated with sexual deviance (for example: casual intergenerational sex play), and that as deviance is widespread in nature, deviance in humans is natural too.

This inquisition has been successful in suppressing free thought and scientific thought on the issue of child sexuality and intergenerational sex. Peter Herman again: “Following surveys in a number of countries, including, Denmark, Germany, Japan and the Czech Republic, a strong association has been demonstrated between the ready availability of pornography and reduced levels of sexual offending, including against children. Research also shows that non-coercive sexual acts with minors, in themselves, do not result in psychological trauma.” ipce summarises similar research findings. It is high time we revisited these findings and conducted additional rigorous scientific research to clarify the full diversity of human sexual needs, regardless of age.

Cognitive ‘distortions’ and dissonance

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Welcome to 2014 at Heretic TOC! No looking back over the past year, this time, or crystal ball gazing into the future. There’s so much to talk about I’m just going to crack on, starting with GirlChat.

Every online minor-attraction forum is surely acutely aware their deliberations are followed with interest by law enforcement authorities and monitoring bodies such as the Internet Watch Foundation. But do they know that academic researchers have their spies too?

I can’t find any chat on GirlChat to suggest they know their forum was under particularly intense investigation in August 2012. If I’m wrong, blame Google Advanced Search, but in the meantime let’s start a bit of chat about it here, because the research in question is very revealing, not just about GirlChat but about the way “science” generates its “knowledge” of minor attraction.

The official Abstract of the research project in question somehow found its way into my database last month and at first I paid it no attention, as it is merely an unpublished Masters thesis by a postgrad at a university I had never heard of. No matter, the subject interested me, the title being “Content Analysis of Cognitive Distortions in Pedophiles’ Online Forum Posts”. The concept of “cognitive distortions” has long been applied to “sex offenders” of various kinds, but has been increasingly under challenge in recent years, so I was interested to know what this postgrad was making of it in her very recent thesis, posted online last July.

It turned out that the author, one Lyndsie Johnson, of Rowan University, New Jersey, had analysed all 1713 posts by, 84 different posters, on GirlChat in August 2012. She deployed a team of four assessors to rate the material for the appearance of five different “cognitive distortions” as described in an influential but rather dated paper in the literature (Child Molesters’ Implicit Theories, Keenan & Ward, 1999); in the event of disagreement her own view prevailed.

I was not surprised to find, in this very junior researcher’s introductory chapter, some serious omissions and misconceptions. Paedophilia, for instance, was nowhere defined. She just assumed, quite wrongly, that paedophilia is synonymous with sex offending against minors of any age. Clearly, she was blissfully ignorant of the fact that paedophilia, in the medical and scientific literature, refers to attraction to prepubescent children, whereas sex offending against minors can involve adolescents as old as 16 or 17 in many jurisdictions. Nor did she show any appreciation of the fact that sex offences against children are often committed by those who resort to sex with a child or adolescent merely as a substitute when an adult is not available, so they are not paedophiles. Also, she implicitly assumed that everyone posting at GirlChat is a paedophile and thereby a likely sex offender, albeit not yet necessarily a convicted one! And she trotted out all the clichés about the supposed inevitable harmfulness of child-adult sexual encounters, again based on the older literature, with no reference whatever to the work of Rind et al., who famously (but not famously enough, obviously) exposed this as nonsense.

So far, so depressingly awful. Where were this student’s supervisors when needed? The appalling thought occurs that they might have been just as weak as her, but I’ll let that pass and turn to why I am commending this seeming garbage to your attention. The answer lies to some extent in her findings, describing which will necessitate a brief consideration of the so-called cognitive distortions, or alleged “thinking errors” in question. These are of five types. The details are unimportant for present purposes, so I’ll just give a minimal summary in my own words:

Children as Sexual Objects – falsely seeing children’s affectionate behaviour as sexual
Entitlement – believing it is a child’s duty to please adults, including sexually
Dangerous World – children seen as dependably loving, in a world of hostile adults
Uncontrollability – blaming the child for being too desirable to resist
Nature of Harm – belief that sex with children is not necessarily harmful

Heretics here will have no difficulty, of course, in spotting a rather big flaw in all this. Whereas we might readily agree it would be a bit dodgy to feel kids are duty bound to give us our jollies, the same cannot be said for the belief that sex with children is not necessarily harmful: indeed, we can point to objective information from case studies in which, far from being harmful, benefits have been credibly claimed. We also know children are sexual beings, and their affectionate behaviour sometimes includes a flirtatious component, which may be merely provocative or may have downright seductive intent. In other words, some of the so-called cognitive distortions are not necessarily distortions of reality, or “thinking errors” at all. As noted above, the whole concept of cognitive distortion has come under challenge: the leading researchers now refer more cautiously to “offense-supportive attitudes” – views which are not objectively incorrect but are politically so.

Whatever we call the various heresies, though, we might expect that researchers scouring GirlChat for them would have no difficulty in spotting what they were looking for: the slightest deviation from orthodoxy could be labelled a “distortion” if Ms Johnson and her coding team were so minded.

But no, that is not what happened! Remarkably, very few “cognitive distortions” were found: only 2.45% of posts indicated cognitive distortions. The most strongly represented ones were Children as Sexual Objects (15 occurrences), Dangerous World (9) and Nature of Harm (5); Uncontrollability was seen only three times and Entitlement not at all. It is surely no great surprise, and should not worry us, that posters to a site focusing on attraction to minors would see children as sexual beings (they are) and that sexual contacts with them are not always harmful (they aren’t), nor that minor-attracted persons (MAPs) would see the world as hostile to them (it is, obviously). Nor should it worry us, indeed it is good news, that those engaging with MAP sites do not appear to be out of control, nor do they impose on kids a duty to do their bidding.

These findings, then, are of interest and so is what the researcher makes of them. In line with the approach taken in thousands of other studies, which she copies as faithfully as a diligent pupil doing a standard school chemistry experiment with the exact prescribed method, she gives illustrative examples of the supposed cognitive distortions where they occur in the GirlChat posts, reporting them with seemingly scientific objectivity. No opinion intrudes. Even in the concluding discussion section, where possible explanations of the findings are presented (albeit unconvincingly, with little insight) and suggestions made for further research, an air of strict detachment prevails. Remarkably, there is no querying of the cognitive distortion concept, nor any challenge to the validity of the five CD types.

At first I thought this was just zombie science: no brain, merely robotic procedure. And so it may be. But there were also tiny hints that there might be more going on than meets the eye. One clue is in the quotes from GirlChat, many of which are so eminently reasonable and sensible (to my heretical mind, at least!) that they cry out for a more engaged and imaginative response. So could there be something else holding this researcher back, other than her need to get full marks for objectivity? What about fear? We are in a Dangerous World for researchers, as well as MAPs, after all: any sign of going native and actually understanding the MAPs could be fatal at the start of a career.

What we get, in the absence of understanding, is a sort of dull, understated, puzzlement. It is conceded, for instance, that even these posters talk about more than just sex with children. It is briefly observed that “members also discuss topics that go beyond pedophilic interests (e.g., politics)”, an admission that comes dangerously close to admitting MAPs might be human! Then, with Entitlement not being demonstrated in any Girl Chat posts, a concession is made: “…it may suggest that pedophiles may not feel it is the ‘right’ of the adult partner to receive sexual pleasure from a child. Posters often describe feeling honored when a child ‘chooses’ them as a sexual partner and the love that exists between a pedophile and a child is a privilege, not a right.”

In the context of a 30-page report, these positive observations are only very slight. There is no blinding light on the road to Damascus here, no epiphany, no conversion. But neither is there any “cognitively distorted” attempt to twist the data in order to arrive at the “right” conclusion. As I say, what we have is puzzlement – which is quite right and proper when the facts fail to meet expectations. The task then becomes one of addressing that puzzlement thoughtfully. This particular tyro scientist doesn’t quite get there, but the data are good, and are “out there” for others to see: that is how science, even when it is done by not especially clever people, is able to make progress.

A final intriguing point is that “Inter-rater reliability was 92.7% at the start of analysis; however, as content analysis progressed, inter-rater reliability dropped.” In other words, the team assessing the cognitive distortions started off with a high degree of agreement as to what would constitute an example of cognitive distortion. However, this impressive level of agreement slumped to a lowly 14% during the course of the exercise! What this entirely new divergence of opinion suggests to me is that the assessors were actually beginning to use their brains in response to the data, querying what constitutes a cognitive distortion and perhaps whether the construct was valid at all.

Such dangerously heretical thoughts nowhere find overt expression in the paper, but the exercise must have sown confusion. While it demonstrated that MAPs were not shown to think in a cognitively distorted way, it also indicates that the researchers were suffering from another interesting mental condition, cognitive dissonance i.e. psychological conflict when presented with data at odds with one’s beliefs. Given the conservative nature of their starting point, this offers the hope that they may actually be moving forwards a little, as they struggle, perhaps painfully, to accommodate the new information and make a new beginning.

Come to think of it, this theme of starting afresh is perhaps not so remote from blogging about the New Year after all! Happy 2014 everyone!

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