Monday 8 December 2008

World Gone Mad?

OK, I'll open with a brief disclaimer: I in no way condone the distribution child pornography or the exploitation of minors. OK, now that's over on to the post

I am with Neil Gaiman in believing that the Australian legal service has made a catastrophic blunder and created a ludicrous precendent by convicting a man of child pornography offensive for possessing naked images of Simpsons characters.

But Justice Adams agreed with the magistrate, finding that while The Simpsons characters had hands with four fingers and their faces were "markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being", the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

The characters from the Simpsons need to be considered as people under the Law?

To take an idea from the post by Neil Gaiman above: are we going to need to consider Grandpa Simpson's pension rights as well?

Even in the case of more realistic depictions I would argue that as long as no real child is harmed no crime has been committed. The argument that availability of such images could potentially cause future child abuse seems to be a step too far. If we are going to convict people for things they might do in the future with no evidence that they were planning anything of the sort should then we are on a very slippery slope. Where are the lines drawn?

In the US, the CBLDF do a great job of protecting free speech; however AFAIK no such organisation exists in Australia.

It is not uncommon for laws to stray beyond their original bounds. There have been numerous cases of peoples civil liberties being infringed on when laws introduced with the intention of preventing terrorism have been applied when no terrorism is involved. Child pornography seems similar in this regard. Like Terrorism, no right minded person can possibly try to defend it; however we need to overcome our personal distaste or we will be setting dangerous precedence that can come back to bite us in future.