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Don’t Ban Digital Child Pornography, Subsidise It Instead

There’s a good argument that instead of trying to ban digital child pornography we should be subsidising it instead. But such is the quality of the Great and the Good who rule us that it would simply never become law. The point is that porn reduces the acting out of sexual desires. No, not in every single case but the balance over the population is that this is so. Thus more porn means less of the actual crime itself that we’re trying to get away from.

Baroness Howe does not seem to know this:

Adults will be able to view computer-generated child abuse images online because of a loophole in new laws barring under-18s from porn sites, the Government has been warned.

Baroness Howe, a former chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, is leading a campaign for ministers to rethink the legislation, which she says “leaves the door wide open” for adults to view online violent porn and child abuse images that would be illegal to possess.

Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, she says it is an “extraordinary consequence” of the under-aged crackdown that such “incredibly lifelike computer-generated” child abuse images should be accessible online to adults.

This is because only “extreme porn” is explicitly banned to over-18s in the Digital Economy Act, which introduces new age verification checks for porn sites. Anything computer-generated or violent, including sexual violence against women, that would normally be banned from R18 videos would be exempt for viewers online under the Act as long as they had passed the new 18-plus age verification checks, says Baroness Howe.

We should not now be changing the law to ban this, we should instead be considering subsidising the production of such child pornography.

We’re well aware that the availability of pornography is at an all time high these days. What might be less obvious is that the level of sexual crime is falling, falling like a stone actually, and has been for well over a decade. Economists posit that there’s a link between these two things: that the technology of the internet has made the porn more available and this has led to a reduction in the level of meatspace sexual violence. In the jargon the question is whether porn and sexual violence are complements or substitutes. Does the first encourage the second or does it in some manner replace it?

The truth is always going to be complex: for some people will undoubtedly act out what they see while for others the fantasy replaces the real world activity. What we’d like to know is what is the overall effect? Or if you prefer, which effect predominates? The general supposition (backed by good evidence) is that porn is a substitute for the sexual violence, even while it may in certain cases prompt it. So far so good, this is reasonably well known.

What isn’t so well known is that the same effect appears to be true with respect to child pornography.

We really do have proof – science, you know that useful thought process, theory, evidence, science – that this is so:

Study carried out in Czech Republic confirms similar results in Japan and Denmark

Could making child pornography legal lead to lower rates of child sex abuse? It could well do, according to a new study by Milton Diamond, from the University of Hawaii, and colleagues.
Results from the Czech Republic showed, as seen everywhere else studied (Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sweden, USA), that rape and other sex crimes have not increased following the legalization and wide availability of pornography. And most significantly, the incidence of child sex abuse has fallen considerably since 1989, when child pornography became readily accessible – a phenomenon also seen in Denmark and Japan. Their findings are published online today in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The findings support the theory that potential sexual offenders use child pornography as a substitute for sex crimes against children.

Or another paper:

Pornography continues to be a contentious matter with those on the one side arguing it detrimental to society while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready availability of sexually explicit materials thereon particularly has seemed to raise questions of its influence. Following the effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed pornography to a society previously having forbidden it allowed us to monitor the change in sex related crime that followed the change. As found in all other countries in which the phenomenon has been studied, rape and other sex crimes did not increase. Of particular note is that this country, like Denmark and Japan, had a prolonged interval during which possession of child pornography was not illegal and, like those other countries, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of child sex abuse.

Quite how the substitution effect comes into play hasn’t been so intensively studied but then anyone with a clue about human sexuality would be able to grasp the essential point. Those who masturbate themselves into a stupor over piccies tend not to go out and attack or rape someone in pursuit of sex.

The argument against child pornography is that the children who pose – or are abused – for it are harmed. Purely digital production methods avoid this. Leaving only the argument about the effect of viewing the porn upon the viewer. As this is to make them less likely to attack or abuse then digital child porn is something we want more of. So, don’t ban it, subsidise it.

The logic is clear and simple here – pity politics will never allow it to happen, isn’t it?

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5 years ago

But, but, but, they might film real child abuse then rotoscope it to look like computer generated porn.

5 years ago

The inclusion of “depictions” in US porn law — creating contraband that involves neither Americans nor children nor even persons — proves that its authors are less about civil protection than thought control. Under the proposed UK law, “age verification checks for porn sites” means ID verification for web-surfing, and using child protection as an unassailable rationale to have government start monitoring individual web access. I agree that pols wrapping themselves in wholesomeness will never allow correct decisions to be taken. But look at what Tim is doing. We all want less pedophilia, which would seem to be the result… Read more »

5 years ago

Here’s the level of debate that this issue brings out ( No surprise the NSPCC is involved – want to protect their turf/income.

5 years ago

But, but, but, they might film real child abuse then rotoscope it to look like computer generated porn.

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