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Modifying laws dealing with “indecent images”

1 Comment 2nd July 2010

In the sexual offences act, "indecent images of children" needs replacing with something more representative of disruption to society. This is likely to be more complex than current laws. The basic problem is that the scope for interpretation of "indecent" is routinely being abused, leading to a form of "legal discrimination". And the public are none the wiser. This is limiting the protection of children by the significant diversion of resources towards cases of dubious value, actively and intentionally contributing to a public misunderstanding of paedophilia as a group, and ruining the lives of many who should be considered moraly innocent. Of course, there are many, many effects in reality, which I'm not going to go into here, but the more you look into it, the more you realise how badly we're… well, getting it wrong.

I'm not talking about people who have obviously accrued large collections of serious child pornography. If you thought I meant that we should be legalising that, with respect, you probably have a lot to learn. All I'm saying is that justice should be proportional to the disruption caused to individuals and society by an offence. Many indecent image convictions are based on actions for which such disruption is practically 0. At the moment the situation is far from adequate, with even "making" (i.e. causing to be displayed on a computer screen) a single "level 1" image portrayed as a "serious" offence, and branding somebody a sexual offender.

Why does this matter?

Laws pertaining to "indecent images of children" desperately need modifying. Much of the public have no idea how benign "indecent" images can really be. Much of the public would quite reasonably think that the extraordinary powers granted to police agencies to deal with this sort of material were used reasonably and responsibly. Not so. The scope of interpretation for "indecent" is abused by zealots, attracted by the legal and socially acceptable ability to exercise enormous amounts of prejudice, who keep the public throwing money at their feet with propaganda. There is no definition of an "indecent image". An "indecent image", that can get somebody branded a sex offender, could be a cartoon, or an image of a child taken in a legitimate situation. What is more, an image is not either indecent or decent. The same image could be counted as either decent or indecent, if the context is shown to be "inappropriate", for example, if an otherwise "decent" images was found on the hard drive of a suspected paedophile.

Much of the public has no idea as to the levels of ignorance, propaganada, immorality in making such convications and in police public relations. Scenarios like the above are not uncommon, and are added to the statistics to "justify" and "prove the necessity for" these actions. Most of the public think that a 'paedophile' is somebody who has, or is likely to have, abused a child. These laws are leading to discrimination and ad hominem convictions. It's no better than the crusade on homosexuality before the 1980s, only even more insidious, as paedophiles are, as a group, falsely painted as purveyors of abuse and immorality, lending this "justification" of harm.

Well, I tried to write a more comprehensive explanation, but it always gets too long. "Indecency" alone should not be a basis for a serious crime. I ended up with this more superficial one. it needed saying though, so there you have it. You heard it here first, you'll probably hear a lot more about it in the future.

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One Response to Modifying laws dealing with “indecent images”

  1. M says:

    Another excellent article. Level one images are quite frankly open to any form of interpretation. Nudity I understand but erotic posing? That could mean anything. With level one images are we by any chance, talking about the sort of images where, if the children in them appeared the same way in public, there’d be no problem? If those children appeared the same way in public, would it count as indecent exposure, lewd conduct, or some such thing?

    Frank Fisher put it perfectly:

    Level one is essentially about skin – and the British have always equated skin with sex. The more skin you show, the more sexual is the content – when the issue became children’s skin the debate became, literally, hysterical and often anyone who questioned the automatic equation of nudity to indecency was shouted down as an apologist for paedophiles.

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