Sexual Intelligence

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Everything is Now "Potential" Child Porn

Destroying kids in order to save them reeks of Moral Panic.

It's official--every picture with a minor in it is now "potential" child porn.

Imagine this perfect storm:
* A mean-spirited Sheriff's Department with too much time on its hands;
* A school run by spineless bureaucrats;
* A population of compliant students' parents;
* Detectives who apparently think "innocent until proven guilty" is SO over.

They all came together last week at Big Bear Lake High School in Southern California. After the school's annual yearbook had been out for a while, someone discovered, in the background of a photo of a school dance, a couple in which a young man had his hand under a young woman's clothes.

The school, displaying exactly the kind of moral weakness and lack of character everyone criticizes in our young people, decided they were obligated to call the Sheriff's Department.

The Sheriff's Department, licking their chops over the chance to be on the Lord's side of a teen sex scandal, leaped in, declaring that the photo's background "could involve penetration," and therefore "could be child pornography." Without anything as messy or expensive as a trial or even a judicial opinion, they demanded that all students bring their paid-for yearbooks back to school, or face the risk of felony prosecution.

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(Note: If you're wondering about the Separation of Powers that are the crowning glory of the American system of government, the two-century old arrangement has apparently been suspended in San Bernardino County.)

The school totally cooperate, throwing both the students' rights and the school's dignity under the bus of CYA--"cover your ass."

And, this being America--where we're SO eager to get the government off our backs and out of our lives, where we're SO independent and mistrustful of authority--1,000 yearbooks were returned. Every one of the parents who supported this should be ashamed. This being suburban Southern California, these parents are the same electorate who are afraid that the Second Amendment is all that stands between them and tyranny. The yearbooks were turned in without a single shot being fired.
* * *
This is the decade of destroying children to protect them. It's the decade of arresting teens for emailing sexy photos of themselves, turning them into Registered Sex Offenders. It's the decade of arresting teens for having sex with each other, turning them into Registered Sex Offenders. It's the decade of arresting and expelling 6-year-olds for "inappropriately hugging" classmates, turning them into "at-risk juveniles."

It's a disgusting Moral Panic. The Fear of Child Porn has gotten completely out of hand.
* * *
We know it's a Panic, because laws that were designed to protect kids are now being used to destroy them, along with some of the basics of our adult system of government. And most people don't even feel bad about it.

The bizarre behaviors of Sheriff's Departments, state legislatures, school districts, and "morality" groups are not about protecting kids. They're about responding to Panic. This is about adults, not about kids. It's about frightened people reassuring themselves that they're safe; that they're doing everything they can to make a changing world less confusing; that they're "erring on the side of caution" (as if there are no negative aspects to that); and that we specifically aren't letting the niceties of the Constitution or common sense stop us.

It's like a kid insisting on being a good Boy Scout by helping an old woman across the street even though she keeps saying she doesn't want to go. He swears he's taking care of her--but he's really taking care of himself.
* * *
Of course, child porn is a real problem, and it needs attention and solutions.

But "child porn" isn't a photo of two teens groping, and the danger of child porn--of the physical and emotional exploitation of vulnerable children--isn't posed by two teens groping. Prosecutions like this trivialize real child porn, and they do absolutely nothing to stop it. In fact, by diverting precious resources and distracting people with nonsense, busts like this are an obstacle to reducing real child porn.

How I wish this country could be concerned about a sex-related problem without freaking out. That would be a great skill to teach today's young people. Instead, they're watching how adults deal with our fear--by trying to destroy the kids. We can expect the same from them in 20 years--dealing with their fears about kids' safety by destroying a new generation--to save them, of course.

By the way, what exactly was that picture? Or at least, what exactly did it show? No, you can't have that information. The government has decided, without a trial (or a judicial order), that the picture is too dangerous for you to see--and so you can't judge the school's or government's behavior for yourself. All we know is, sex is dangerous. And so from cowardly ABC to the salacious Huffington Post, there will be NO film at 11.

 

Marty Klein is a certified sex therapist and licensed psychotherapist. He has written five books and 200 articles about sex; his TV appearances include 20/20 andNightline. more...

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