the graying of kiddie porn?

Writing in Friday's Wall Street Journal, Garance Franke-Ruta argues that the age of consent should be raised -- for "providing erotic content":

It is time to raise the age of consent from 18 to 21 -- "consent," in this case, referring not to sexual relations but to providing erotic content on film.

Current federal laws bar the production or possession of erotic images of individuals under 18. These laws are hardly a matter of long custom: The first was passed only in 1977, after a spate of interest in child pornography, and until superceded in 1984, only covered those under age 16. A variety of state laws add their own controls on youthful sexuality, trying to keep minors free of exploitation by defining the age, usually under 18, at which adult consent may be freely and responsibly given.

In certain obvious respects, 18 years is old enough to ward off the threat of "child porn." But the "Girls Gone Wild" problem concerns adult porn: At what age is a girl ready to make that decision, one that she will live with -- technologically speaking, at least -- for the rest of her life? A woman of 18 may be physically indistinguishable from one who is 21, but they are developmentally worlds apart.

Yes and a woman of 21 may be physically indistinguishable from one who is 25, but they are also developmentally worlds apart. The same could be said about the difference between 25 and 30. Nevertheless, Franke-Ruta argues that "there ought to be a law" -- to save women from their own bad judgment:
...a 21-year-old barrier would save a lot of young women from being manipulated into an indelible error, while burdening the world's next Joe Francis with an aptly limited supply of "talent." And it would surely have a tonic cultural effect. We are so numb to the coarse imagery around us that we have come to accept not just pornography itself -- long since routinized -- but its "barely legal" category. "Girls Gone Wild" -- like its counterparts on the Web -- is treated as a kind of joke. It isn't. There ought to be a law.
I'm wondering how a law like that would work. Considering that young people often film each other, suppose an 18 year old films an 18 year old. Are they both to be arrested, or only the one holding the camera? Aren't both just as culpable? How could such a statute be written without pushing childhood further and further into adulthood?

So, once possession of erotic images of humans under 21 becomes a crime, if a guy and a girl (or two guys, or two girls) exchange pictures of each other, they all go to the slammer, right? In order to "protect" themselves from "indelible errors."

Um, but isn't having a criminal record even more of an "indelible error" than an appearance in an irresponsible college film?

What is entirely unclear to me is whether the 18 year old is a provider or a victim. Certainly, it's easy to see actual children as victims of child pornography. But 18 year olds are not children under criminal law, and this is a criminal statute which is being advocated. So what do they become? Adult victims of crime to which they consented (and in which they conspired), but for which they may not be prosecuted? What I want to know is if they film and sell their own pictures of themselves, who gets arrested? Who goes to prison?

It's probably worth pointing out that Ms. Franke-Ruta is on the "left." But is she on what Dinesh D'Souza calls the "cultural left," that's destroying the country and inflaming traditional Muslims?

I think D'Souza should embrace her, for what she's advocating is a major leap forward towards the goal of ending pornography. (In the name of infantilization, of course.)

But who's going to protect the 21 to 25 year old children?


AFTERTHOUGHT: It occurs to me that a huge percentage of erotic imagery depicts persons aged 18 to 21. If that were made illegal, countless millions of Americans would become criminals overnight.

Might that be the idea?

MORE: I don't know what Garance Franke-Ruta's exact positions are on abortion. But assuming she's against things like parental notification and the rest of it, might this be a good time for her to revisit the issue?

I mean, under what theory are 18 year-old women too immature to consent to subjecting their bodies to a camera, but mature enough to subject their bodies and fetuses to a scalpel?

UPDATE: Jon Swift thinks Franke-Ruta's proposal to raise the age of camera consent does not go far enough:

Can a girl of 21 really know what she is consenting to when she signs a release form for a pornographer? Does she really understand what the ramifications might be later in life? That is why I propose that we raise the minimum age of consent to participate in pornography to 65.

I think by 65 a woman has finally attained the maturity necessary to weigh the pros and cons of participating in pornography. Since she will most likely be retired or on the way to retirement by that age, there is little danger that such images will come back to haunt her in her career.

There are also excellent career opportunities for senior citizens.

Read it all!

posted by Eric on 05.06.07 at 02:08 PM










Comments

It sounds like the kiddie-porn prosecution industry is suffering from a lack of growth. Nothing like expanding the boundaries to spur more employment!

Fritz   ·  May 7, 2007 1:55 AM

I do find it odd that the people proposing such laws think it's just fine for someone aged 18 to have sex with any random adult, or group of adults, in any number (in series or parallel) ... just so long as nobody's taking a picture of it.

If someone of that age is not "adult" enough to consent to having their picture taken while having sex, it seems obvious they're not "adult" enough to have sex at all.

(Plus, if the age limit is raised to 21, "barely legal" doesn't go away. It just becomes 21-year-olds, not 18-year-olds. As long as there's a limit, people will want pornographic actors just the legal side of it.)

Sigivald   ·  May 7, 2007 6:05 PM

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