In connection to MTV’s decision to tone down its new show “Skins” rather than risk prosecution under child porn laws, Solon has an interesting summary of how the participation of children mainstream imagery has tested the boundaries of expression permitted in the “land of the free”. Most of the examples will probably be familiar to you, but it’s interesting to revisit the pictures in the current environment of fear encouraged by government and the media in their perpetual pursuit of self-serving public attention.
I watched the 1978 movie “Pretty Baby” last night. While I had already seen it soon after it was released, I don’t really recall any sense of shock at its content. This time, watching it in the context of today’s paranoia that a pedophile lurks behind every tree, I sincerely doubt the movie, if released today, would have seen the inside of a theater without serious editing.
While these examples are about child nudity, U.S. Justice Department has again moved the line so as to broaden their definition of a prosecutable offense, under the term “child erotica“. Under this strategy, Alabama photographer Jeff Pierson was indicted in 2006:
In a federal indictment announced this week, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Pierson, 43, of being a child pornographer–even though even prosecutors acknowledge there’s no evidence he has ever taken a single photograph of an unclothed minor.
Rather, they argue, his models struck poses that were illegally provocative. “The images charged are not legitimate child modeling, but rather lascivious poses one would expect to see in an adult magazine,” Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, said in a statement.
The ease with which the government can curtail free expression in the name of protecting children encourages more and more of it and, indeed, almost all internet censorship crusades worldwide currently leverage off the public’s enthusiasm to sign over their freedom in exchange for a vague promise of security for children.