Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The "N" Word

Recently I came across a site, ostensibly about a mathematician, which turned out to have a hidden link on the main page. The hidden link went to a pile of images of various and sundry nekkid chicks, celebrities with their boobies or vajayjays falling out of their clothing, etc.

Then I saw the folder with a suspicious title and my uh-oh meter went off. Despite my better judgment, I looked, and the folder contained a hundred or so images. The half-dozen or so that I looked at all showed naked children. Not doing anything sexual, most were girls (who looked to be around 7 or 8) posing naked. Some with makeup on.

There was also a text file explaining why it was safe to look at these pictures, since they were legal and not child pornography. Maybe that's true, but I challenge anyone who is not a pedophile to look at those pictures without their skin crawling off.

As it turns out, it is kind of difficult to report inappropriate content. After some searching I ended up filling out a form on the Center for Missing and Exploited Children site (which the FBI site sent me to), but I never heard anything back, so I'm not sure if anything was actually done.

Although, if it's not technically "child pornography", is there anything to be done? The Center for Missing and Exploited Children site says that, "Under federal law, child pornography is defined as a visual depiction... of sexually explicit conduct, where it depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene... and such depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Artistic value? My favorite photographer, Sally Mann (link), has taken beautiful black and white photos of her children, which do literally have proven artistic value (her photos sell for thousands, hang in museums, etc). However, in some of the pictures she took her children were naked, and she did get into a bit of trouble for it (link).

So, if some people can get all offended by Sally Mann's art, and obviously some people think the photos I found are just fine and dandy, then where is the line to be drawn, and who is to draw it? When it comes down to it, both Sally Mann's pictures and these creepy pictures are the same thing: deliberate, posed photographs of naked children.

I guess the difference is in the eye of the beholder. As foul as it seems to me, I'm sure there are some people who look at Sally Mann's art and see a naked child; and to them, that means sexual arousal. I suppose it might be less likely to happen with her art rather than with pictures specifically taken for masturbatory purposes, but ultimately, does it make a difference?

I question the wisdom of a legal system that says that pictures of naked children (that don't show overt sexual activity) are always legal, but I don't see how there is any way to make Sally Mann's beautiful artwork legal and this creepy weirdo's photos illegal, regardless of how obvious it is to me that Sally Mann's photos are art, and vital, and the weirdo was trying to sexualize a child.

Maybe I should be all like: It's not my kid so what do I care. Or, alternatively, get an "I heart PMS" button for my camo vest and take my machine gun out for a nice, juicy, pedophile-killin' spree (if you wear camo, they will not be able to see you sneaking up on them in their van parked across the street from the pre-school).

Obviously, I am aware that there are lots of ugly things on the internet, but I didn't expect to find this kind of thing hidden on a normal-looking website.