Sunday, October 19, 2008

You're your own sex offender

The United States sadly has far too many stories like this. Sadly too many on the conservative right is only too quick to resist any reforms to address it.

Cases of child sexual abuse are always cause for concern, when children are violated and harmed it rightfully causes outrage. The law is based on a simple precept, that those under the age of consent only engage in illegal sexual behaviour because they have been forced or persuaded by some perverted adult. It is, of course, a nonsense. The law draws a line for certainty and to protect (and deter) against such activity, but it doesn't draw a line between sexual innocence and precocity.

This is why law and order conservatives ought to think carefully before they embark on mandatory sentences, mandatory sex offenders' registers and the like.

A New Jersey girl of 15 has been arrested for taking nude photos of herself and distributing them. You see she has a cellphone with a camera, as do many (if not most) her age, and so she snapped away and forwarded them on to some of her peers. Incredibly, she has spent a weekend in jail and is charged with producing child pornography (illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material), a second-degree felony, and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony. She could face being a registered sex offender and being required to register her address for 20 years, and being screened for a whole host of employment.

She is being treated no differently than if a man twice her age had done it. Why? Well combine the understandable visceral outrage about sex offences against minors, a complete wilful blindness about the sexuality of minors (who have always shown off and experimented in fairly harmless and embarrassing ways) and zero tolerance for crime, and these things slip in.

Worse "the investigation into the incident remains open, including exploring whether charges will be filed against the minors who received the photos." Yes, you didn't even ask for it and you're a criminal!

Yes, there are problems when children are violated, yes it needs to be deterred, but this?

and it isn't just because it is in Licking Valley - I kid you not.

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