John Grisham causes ruckus with opinion on online pedophilia

Celebrated crime-fiction writer John Grisham has attacked America's judicial system for wrongly locking up men he believes 'accidentally' watched child pornography.

The best-selling author and lawyer - who penned novels like The Rainmaker, The Firm and The Pelican Brief - has given an astonishing interview to The Telegraph defending some child sex offenders, saying they have become victims of a legal system that has 'gone crazy'.

The 59-year-old then called for lighter sentences for those caught downloading images and videos of children being sexually abused.

'We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,' Grisham told The Telegraph.  (source)

Before you let your imagination run away from you, you should know how loose the Federal Government's definition of "child pornography" is. Basically, if they find in your computer even just one image of someone who looks like they might be 17 or under, the image is presumed to be of an underaged person and then all of a sudden the normal burden of proof gets flipped, and it's up to you to prove that the person isn't underage.

You probably know that when you delete an image, it doesn't disappear, it just becomes inaccessible by normal means and may be overwritten fairly quickly on a drive that's nearly full, or it could remain there for the life of the drive if he drives isn't.

Let's take a moment and distinguish between "child pornography" as defined by the law and "pedophilia" as defined by psychology. "Child pornography" consists of pornographic images of models 17 years of age or younger. So, technically, a model 17 years, 11 months, and 31days of age could be "underage" for the purpose of criminal prosecution, and the next day be perfectly legal to appear in the most sordid kind of stuff.

By contrast, psychology defines a pedophile as someone who craves sex with prepubescent subjects. So, generally, a pedophile wants sex with subjects anywhere from newly born to about 12 or 13 years of age. (When someone develops secondary sexual characteristics like pubic hair and breasts varies widely.)

Considering that so many of the porn images on the internet are of anonymous models, your chances of identifying the party and obtaining age verification are largely imaginary. If you have a taste for young women, but in no way lust after underage models, you are in constant peril of being charged with having images of underage models and might be subject to criminal prosecution.

Porn surfers who do much surfing (following their nose) will sometimes find themselves on a page with models who are clearly underage, and not just underage but in "pedophilia" territory. They quickly surf away without hitting any links, but those thumbnail images of 8, 10, 12 year old subjects are now in their machine and they are in violation of the law. Even if they delete them or wipe their drive, their local ISP is not their friend and will have a record of their being on that page.

I think it is this sort of offender we should be talking about. It sounds like Grisham's friend got onto a page where he could wander from the splash page (the opening page) and then into the site, where perhaps he looked around, simply satisfying his curiosity as to what this pedophilia thing is all about, doing so in a drunken state, something he'd never do when sober.

Well, he was stupid. I'm more concerned about the rest of us, who in no way lust after underage boys or girls, but do like the young look, if only because models of that age can seem so innocent and flawless. Liking innocence and flawlessness should not be a crime.

So, is the government prosecuting and incarcerating people who aren't really a threat? I believe they are.

I'll never forget something Bill Maher said one day: "When the government comes to take your rights away, they'll say they're doing it to protect the children."

What did he mean? Well, often it seems that government offices all the way up to the Supreme Court turn a blind eye to clearly unconstitutional enforcement when they, rightly or wrongly, feel children are in peril. This goes all the way from child custody and support issues to enforcing child pornography laws.

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Blah blah blah:

Definition: 1. silly or pretentious chatter or nonsense. 2. a feeling of boredom, lethargy, or general dissatisfaction.

Seems to be a tangled web of discussions going on. A discussion - should the government imprison people for stumbling into child pornography (of course not). A metadiscussion - is Grisham's friend guilty of actively searching out child pornography (perhaps?). A meta-meta-discussion - should Grisham at all defend his friend from what he sees as unfair persecution (it's certainly within his rights, and I think it's something a good friend ought to do).

Until the discussion is untangled it's pretty much hopeless to continue. 

True enough, however I found the meandering discussion uplifting. Cool heads with a hot topic makes for interesting reading.

There are two sinister things going on: 1. Actual paedophilia and profiting from sex acts performed on unconsenting persons (children)., and 2. A rabid hypocrisy surrounding the sexualization of children.

Some of the above discussion reminded me to point out this video: Here is a rather dry but nonetheless interesting documentary about a prison for paedophiles by Louis Theroux: http://watchdocumentary.org/watch/louis-theroux-a-place-for-paedoph...

Regarding the sexualization of children outside of diagnosable paedophilia I wonder how much of our taboo///titillation situation is due to reaching some sort of maximal distance for culturally extending childhood away from biological predeterminates? In other words, is the cultural delay of maturity now so far from biological maturity that there is some sort of cultural rubber-banding happening as a result of that tension?

In other words, is the cultural delay of maturity now so far from biological maturity that there is some sort of cultural rubber-banding happening as a result of that tension?

I think so. In the distant past, when lives were short and desperate, there may have been a necessity for mid-teens to be sexually eligible. And this was true as long as the average lifetime topped out at 30 or 35. In modern times, that necessity is no longer there and so we extend childhood into the late teens and early twenties.

 A line has to be drawn somewhere.

The "line" should not be an age - it should depend upon the circumstances and should revolve around the word, "coercion". The "system" simply looks the other way when a not-too-bright 18-year-old is coerced into sex by another 18-year-old, but a willing 17-year-old, intelligent and perfectly capable of choosing to have sex, is assumed, by law, of having been coerced. Prosecutors and judges should with charged with making intelligent decisions without having every detail of the circumstances being prescribed in law - especially since lawmakers are seen as the lowliest form of life in our society.

so we extend childhood into the late teens and early twenties [via law and convention]

It's not being properly recognised that human physiology does not follow this. It sees sexual  maturity being reached in the early teens. The whole of the population is being asked to ignore that fact while the effects of this ignorance bubbles through into every aspect of society while we busy ourselves trying to sweep teen sexuality under a bulging carpet.

The "line" should not be an age - it should depend upon the circumstances and should revolve around the word, "coercion". The "system" simply looks the other way when a not-too-bright 18-year-old is coerced into sex by another 18-year-old, but a willing 17-year-old, intelligent and perfectly capable of choosing to have sex, is assumed, by law, of having been coerced. Prosecutors and judges should with charged with making intelligent decisions without having every detail of the circumstances being prescribed in law - especially since lawmakers are seen as the lowliest form of life in our society.

While I sympathize with your "solution," I think it's impractical and essentially contradictory to the level of intrusiveness into people's sex lives most of us would find tolerable.

If a 19 year old wants to have sex with a 17 year old and wants it to be "safe sex" in the legal sense, what should s/he do, go to the prosecutors office and propose a "what if" ("What if we do such-and-such? Will you want to prosecute me?")

Should people have to have sex under threat that there are no understandable rules covering such encounters because it ultimately comes down to some bureaucrat's opinion?

It's not being properly recognised that human physiology does not follow this. It sees sexual  maturity being reached in the early teens. The whole of the population is being asked to ignore that fact while the effects of this ignorance bubbles through into every aspect of society while we busy ourselves trying to sweep teen sexuality under a bulging carpet.

Actually, I think current law does recognize that human development doesn't occur at the same rate for every person, so just as with driver's licenses we determine an age where people, as citizens, have a right to use or abuse a car. We recognize that lessons about driving need to be learned on the road that can't be learned sitting at home not driving. Sex is much the same. 

Anyway, we can't stop teens from having sex. It's much easier to keep them from driving.

I recall reading about a child pornography case involving only consenting adults. As I recall, a 22 year old man made a sex video with his consenting 19 year old girlfriend and posted it on a porn web site.The ma n was four years and a few months older than his girlfriend.

Legal age of consent for sex in his state was 18, However, The state had enacted an internet pornography law defining adult age as 21 and older.He was arrested and indited on child pornography charges.

Can you find a link to the case. I'd like to know the outcome. Was he convicted or exonerated?

Anyway, I'd like to know what state has an Internet pornography law with an age limit of 21. As someone who was actually in the industry for a while as a photographer, the only age of consent I ever heard required was 18. I'm not even sure a state can make the age of consent higher than the age at which one can vote. Some states have lower ages of consent.

What follows is from Wikipedia:

Age of consent 16 (32 states): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia

Age of consent 17 (9 states): Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana (as of april 1st 2014

Age of consent 18 (10 states): Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin,1

In Pennsylvania, the age of consent is 16. If the minor is under the age of 18, the adult can be charged with "Corruption of a Minor". This is a misdemeanor. If the adult is in a position of power (teacher, clergy, or Police for example), this is a felony. Even though the age of consent is 16, it is still a crime until the age of 18. Because of this, Pennsylvania is normally listed as if it had an age of consent of 18.

Some states have exceptions to the law for people below the age of consent if their partner's age is within a specific range. This range is often between 2 and 4 years. Some states allow minors who are below the age of consent to consent to sex with their spouses if they are married, but not to anyone else.

Pennsylvania is interesting, because one can get consent from and individual of 16, and it is legal consent under the law, but one can still be charged with a crime if the younger partner is under 18. Not sure how that works.

Unseen,

I had to read up on statutory rape law a few years ago, because my stepdaughter (16 at the time) was having sex with a 19 year-old boy. It turned out that most statutory rape definitions, which vary state by state and most include a "Romeo and Juliet" clause making an exception  for consenting sex between a minor and an adult if the age difference is within a certain range, typically 4 years.

As I posted above: "Some states have exceptions to the law for people below the age of consent if their partner's age is within a specific range. This range is often between 2 and 4 years. Some states allow minors who are below the age of consent to consent to sex with their spouses if they are married, but not to anyone else."

Interesting corollaries include things like these...

Take a couple with a 16 year old and a 20 year old who are legally married and they have a 3-way including an 18 year old friend. That third person could be facing prison time and registering as a sex offender.

Take another couple with a 17 year old and a 19 year old who is stationed overseas. The 17 year old sends the 19 year old a naked photo. The 17 year old may be guilty of distributing child pornography and the 19 year old of receiving it and having it in his/her computer. Their being married will likely make no difference.

BTW, this is perhaps unrelated, but all over the country teens are being arrested and sometimes convicted on child porn charges for sexting.

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