How much of our resources are we going to allocate to people who give and receive horrible pictures, as opposed to supporting children who are abused in their homes, supporting children who cannot afford school supplies, who wake up and go to school on an empty stomach, and who are turned away from doctors' offices because their parents were unfortunate enough to get laid off and lose healthcare benefits? Is this what we are about as Americans? We celebrate giving our tax dollars to billionnaire oil companies, yet are offended that we might set aside tax dollars to cover childrens' health initiatives, to provide healthcare to poor kids? Are we so concerned about a little man who looks at naughty pictures, that we consider the children as being repeatedly victimized with each view of a disgusting and offensive image, yet charade as victorious when we eliminate SCHIP, reduce funding for public education, cut AFDC, cut Head Start, etc.? What is more offensive to me is that people would justify a 31-year sentence -- electronic monitoring is still a sentence -- as their concern over the exploitation of sweet, innocent children. No. They are just disgusted at the taboo of child porn -- and for good reason -- but they are reacting to their powerful emotional disgust, and later justifying it as concern over the children. If we as society were truly that concerned about the plight of children, we would be doing many many things better for them. If tomorrow our Executive Branch decided that movie and music violence encourages real violence, and that all images or recordings of violent acts, even their depiction in movies when they are not real, are also deemed violations -- then how many of you would be facing a 16-year sentence from your latest blueray collection of action/adventure, shoot-em-up, and psychodrama/horror movies? Would the audience have been so outraged by Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction if instead of seeing skin, she were shot and exposed the inside of her thorax? To be clear, child porn is discusting and immoral. But compared to the punishment for other offenses, 16 years plus 15 years seems awfully disproportionate -- maybe even cruel and unusual -- to other crimes where people directly and intentionally harm children.
But 16 years in Federal Prison and 15 years of home electronic monitoring after that? And $3 Million fine? This man's life is over. Over. A fine that large is designed to guarantee that he will never own anything. Ever. What is the incentive to even work and be a productive member of society? He will never be able to own a car, a house, or anythign else that has potential resale value. It would be levied upon and auctioned to go toward the $3M debt. He will never be able to build credit, and will never be able to save enough money to "get ahead" on any payments. He will forever rent or lease automobiles, and rent or lease an apartment. The possibility of marriage? Well, in most states, only if a potential wife would be willing to have her own income levied upon until $3M is paid. Meanwhile, children are being abused and the abusers hide behind our own social conventions where we tell ourselves to "mind our own business," or they hide behind our own conflict avoidance and complacency. Before the last administration's unprecedented insurrection into our private lives, to possess or share such images would not have been a crime -- not even a misdemeanor. Sick, twisted, disgusting, and immoral? Sure. But punishable by Federal Incarceration? No. And you have to do your own soul-searching here. Why did we all share links to images on the Internet of the pictures and videos from tornado damage a few weeks ago? If some of the links contained warnings that human remains were visible in some of those pictures, would you have clicked to follow it? Why? If we want to end child victimization, why don't we intervene sooner? Two-thirds of children IN THE UNITED STATES are poor. Two-fifths of them are in families that are at or below the poverty line. Most of them grow up in loving families and turn out alright. Some of them, however, go to bed hungry at night. Yes, in the U.S., and yes, in EVERY SINGLE town of 30K+ population. Some of them live in inner cities, whose parent(s) are not at home because they are either working or missing.
I am not saying it is OK to download or send child porn. It is not. But 16 years in Federal Pen? Forever been branded as a Federal Felon? Let's compare. In most states, child molestation is 5 years in state prison. Rape with aggravated assault is 5 to 15. If it's your wife, it's usually dismissed, or plea-bargained for little or no prison. I understand that "dealing" in child porn encourages people to keep making it, and the acts of making it hurt the children. There is no excuse or justification for that. But this man did not touch a child. Did not even approach a child, or even exchange messages in e-mail or chat with a child. (If he had, he would have been charged with many more crimes, including criminal solicitation of a minor and attempted child molestation, etc.). I have read more details from the court records, and no, he did not strike a plea bargain. He pled guilty of receiving and sending images, with no deal, but on his own cognizance. There is no indication that he paid for these images, nor that he sold them -- and I guarantee you, receiving one penny for such an image would have received him many more charges. But he didn't conduct a business of porn. He did not sell porn. He did not create porn. SOMEWHERE OUT IN THE WORLD, and in many places in the US, there are people who are exploiting children by creating these images. Where are THEY? Roughly one out of ten women will by physically assaulted by another male. Very few of them are even charged, and those who are charged are not often convicted. Children are abused every day -- many of their neighbors or their classmates' parents know exactly what goes on in their homes behind closed doors. But they do nothing, taking a "none of my business" position to permit them to avoid any unpleasant conflict in their own lives. We turn our heads. Meanwhile, children are hit, bruised, burned, broken, sexually abused, and too often, repeatedly raped -- by a neighbor, a church deacon, an uncle, brother, a parent, and even priests or preachers. We look the other way -- often even these children's MOTHERS look the other way. When these children become teenagers or early 20's, where the suicide rate is several times greater than the homicide rate, we merely report in the paper that a teen "died in his sleep" or "passed from heart failure," and no investigation goes forward. When a social worker investigates a possible child abuse case, and children are removed from their parents, it incenses the public, and the media reports how Big Brother is breaking up families, invading a family's privacy, interfering with the parents' privacy and choices of corporal punishment, . . . But in this case, a man recieved and sent images from the privacy of his own home, never laid a hand on a child, never contacted or attempted to contact a child. Not to say that what he did is okay -- let me be clear, it is not.