Reply To: Troubling consequences of federal child pornography laws


Robin Vander Wall

Thanks for your comment, Robert. Typically a comment such as yours would be rejected since this is not the appropriate forum for you to attack people who are merely advocating for their constitutional rights. But, your points are worthy of being redirected since, like many people, you’ve totally blown past the concerns expressed in Mr. Extein’s article (which was published by the Huffington Post).

Disproportionate sentencing is always bad policy. And NARSOL opposes sentences that are far and away greater than the crime that was committed…most especially when the people disproportionately affected are generally not the creators of child pornography, but people who, by and large, end up viewing, downloading, or possessing child pornography as a consequence of addictive behavior. Behavior that can and does respond to treatment whenever treatment is provided (as opposed to decades in prison). “Self control” is an easy solution to a fairly complex problem. You would be laughed out of therapy were you to suggest that as the solution for treating opioid addiction or even alcoholism. Clearly, you’ve never dealt with addictive behavior and it has never affected your family. You’re very fortunate in that regard.

With regard to child pornography broadly understood, there is no clear or concise definition for it from one jurisdiction to another. You may have in your own mind what the definition of child pornography is, but you might actually find it just as shocking to learn that there are people who have been convicted of very serious offenses for possessing images that are hardly “pornographic” in the manner in which you, subjectively, understand them to be. The devil is in the details there. And public policy that is fundamentally premised on the basis of hysteria and visceral reactions to every person’s subjective understanding of so-called “child pornography” thrives on vague terms and vacuous definitions. In sum, it’s politically powerful because it draws its strength from raw emotion rather than reasoned understanding and precisely defined terms. And it is destroying people and families along the way.