Blown To Bits

Legislative Sanity

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 by Harry Lewis

Tamar Lewin of the New York Times reports that some state legislatures are showing some common sense about sexting. They are recognizing that it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense to prosecute a teenager on child pornography charges for snapping a cell phone photo of herself and sending it to her boyfriend. If the perpetrator is the same as the victim, it’s like prosecuting a failed suicide as attempted murder.

Legislatures are so often happy to have old laws applied to new technology as long as they expand the scope of criminality. Perhaps in these cases they recognize that the kids doing the sexting could be their own children — as many as 20% of teens may have done something similar. Nice to see the pattern reversed, and for the problem to be treated as one of education and parental responsibility. The criminal justice system is not the vehicle for fixing whatever is going wrong here.

Also on the child pornography front, Japan, which apparently does not take real child pornography very seriously, is cracking down on Manga (cartoon) child pornography. A weird inversion of values. The Economist reports that an American court recently convicted someone for possessing Manga child pornography, which I should have thought was hard to do in the US, given the emphasis on harm to the victim. Apparently the grounds are obscenity, which is still illegal, though rarely prosecuted, in the US.

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