Vice Squad
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Defiling the Collar

Thursday’s Trib also had a brief item about the arrest of an Illinois “youth pastor” as he attempted to enter Canada from Washington State – with a 16-year old girl bundled into the boot of his car! (I somehow felt that the British locution was required. Imagine his declaration at customs, incidentally.) The pastor allegedly had videotapes of the two of them involved, shall we say, and though the Trib article does not say so explicitly, the videotape appears to be the rationale for a charge of possession of child pornography accompanying a count of sexual misconduct. The youth pastor is 30 years old.

If he had been carrying virtual child pornography, he would have been OK on that count, at least -- according to a 2002 US Supreme Court decision. With the advent of the Internet, Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA). This short-lived amendment to earlier legislation outlawed the possession of computer-generated or virtual child pornography, i.e., images that were created without the use of real children. On April 16, 2002, the US Supreme Court struck down CPPA, on the grounds that the Constitutionally-valid rationale permitting a ban on “real” child porn – harm to actual children – does not directly apply to virtual child porn. “Pseudo-photographs” of child porn remain illegal in the UK, I believe, and for all I know, in Canada, too. Part of the rationale for forbidding pseudo-photographs is that they are used to help make “real” child porn, though British officials and others have also pointed to the potential for such images to spur child abuse by pedophiles. Another justification for prohibition is that the ban on actual child porn might not be enforceable if producers could falsely claim, with some credibility, that their depictions were really pseudo porn.


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