On this blog, I try to discuss interwoven themes like the impact of social media and new tech on personal accountability, the importance of thinking through the broader consequences of one's actions and how in control we truly are of the choices we make. I've even focused on Vic Toews as a study case.
I feel almost a sense of relief when I read a piece like this that makes all these connections in a clear, concise fashion. Systems theory isn't about wasting time on "peripherals" - it's about efficiency and sustainability.
Thank you, Ms. Mallick, for writing this.
Watching child porn no crime, says Tom Flanagan, former mentor to Stephen Harper
Tom Flanagan was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s soulmate, his mentor, the architect of the plans Harper carried out to turn Canada towards the hard right.
But Harper must be mightily steamed today, apoplectic. Berserk maybe. Canadians are “either with us or with the child pornographers,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews thundered last year. Who knew Flanagan himself was off-message?
Flanagan is presumably hiding in his basement until it’s safe to come out, which it never will be.
Flanagan said it. Someone recorded him on a cellphone and posted it on YouTube. It’s a sex tape, sort of, if you like your child porn arguments dry and theoretical. “I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” Flanagan said Wednesday during a lecture at the University of Lethbridge. “I don’t look at these pictures.”
Flanagan has wondered aloud about this before, but not, I think, on air.
“It’s a real issue of personal liberty,” he said, amid cries of “That’s disgusting” from the largely First Nations audience who had come for another kind of discussion entirely. “To what extent do we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person?”
Flanagan was dumped from the CBC, condemned by Harper and rightly so. But that obscures a more important point, which is that Flanagan is sincere.
For he is an ideologue, and ideologues are always sincere. It’s what makes them dangerous. Concepts like untrammelled liberty are clear spring water to them, and real life, as it is lived by small soft-limbed splayed children weeping with pain and terror on camera, is irrelevant.
Take freedom of speech. Ideologues don’t think there should be limits, which is why they so dislike Human Rights Commission rulings for black people barred from restaurants. Take personal liberty, which ideologues say is infringed on by the long-gun registry, by border guards finding child porn on the laptops of travelling Catholic bishops.
Flanagan is saying that watching child porn is a passive crime. Police worldwide say with all the passion they can muster that it’s not. Online porn exists because there is a market for it. If pedophiles didn’t watch child rape and often pay for the privilege, there wouldn’t be a huge online porn-sharing network. Children are mutilated, psychologically and physically, for strangers’ pleasure.
Those who make it are bestial. Those who watch it are feeding the beast. Those who defend their right are free to do so but they should understand whose cause they’re serving. If you praise Flanagan’s logic, then you are saying child victims of sexual torture are being illogical. Why can’t they just get over it?
You have to put some real effort into a Flanagan level of naiveté about the extent of online child porn. Since the 1990s, it has spread like spores, like poison gas. According to American journalist Emily Bazelon, there are hundreds of thousands of child porn websites worldwide and 22 million public IP addresses “offering photos or videos via peer-to-peer file sharing.”
These aren’t avatars. They are images of real children, traded like baseball cards. New York Times MagazineBazelon wrote in the New York Times Magazine in January about a new attempt at victim restitution.
In 1998, when the FBI began tracking online child porn, Bazelon reported, they found one particular case, photos of a little girl with emails like this: “do me a favor . . . take a pic of her in nothing but stockings pulled down below her (genitals.) The photographer obliged.
The FBI traced the photographer to a small-town home and recognized the basement room where the photos were taken. But where was the little girl? The FBI agent saw her, playing in the yard across the street. “It something I’ll never forget,” he told Bazelon.
The little girl, Amy, grew up, her pedophile uncle jailed. And then she began to get crime-victim notices from the Justice Department. Every time a porn arrest revealed a shot of tiny, naked Amy, she was notified. Her lawyer came up with the idea of forcing convicted pornographers to pay “royalties” of a sort.
Such is the extent of file-sharing that the notices kept arriving and the payments mounted up from often wealthy defendants. Amy was paid a total of $1.6 million by more than 150 men.
If Flanagan thinks child porn is victimless, he should know that Amy will spend the rest of her life knowing that men worldwide are looking at ghostly images of her as a child, naked, trussed up, penetrated, bleeding. It will continue after she dies.
Flanagan likes personal liberty. There will be none for Amy.
Let Flanagan be vilified by former friends or defended by the distasteful. All that matters is that we understand “porn logic” for the heartless fraud it is.