Yesterday I read a story in the Ottawa Citizen about a 27-year-old Gatineau man who was convicted on child pornography charges. Police had found on his computer about 2,000 animé images of children having sex with adults or other children, plus three photographic images. Animé is Japanese cartoon-style drawings. (I’m not sure whether his drawings were animated or not – if so, I guess they could collectively make up a single cartoon.)
A psychiatric assessment indicated that he did not meet the criteria to be deemed a pedophile. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends, plus three years probation and 20 years on the sex offender registry.
Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that the three photographs didn’t exist, and that the man did meet the psychiatric definition of a pedophile. Do you think he is guilty of possessing child pornography? What if he had drawn the animé images himself, or painted a picture – from his imagination – depicting a child in a sexually graphic situation?
I don’t think we get much choice in who or what we’re attracted to. We only have a choice in what we actually do. It’s not a crime to be a pedophile – someone who is sexually attracted to children – as long as you don’t act on it.
I’m willing to bet there are plenty of pedophiles out there who have never touched a child sexually and never will. Whether it’s because it’s illegal, or because they fear the humiliation of getting caught, or because they don’t want to hurt children, I don’t know. But they don’t sexually abuse kids. By the same token, they might avoid child pornography as well, either because it’s illegal or because real children get hurt in the making of real child porn.
But drawings? Isn’t that going a little too far?
What if we had the technology to monitor people’s fantasies? Should those be subject to our child pornography and obscenity laws too?