Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Difference Without a Real Distinction

Today, the proposition was laid before me that the consumer or collector of child pornography was a far lesser criminal than the actual child molester. After all, the consumer of child porn was not actually touching a child. My initial reaction was that this person was trying to split hairs where the difference in the two crimes was not that important. Quite frankly, his notion offended and angered me.

There was a rationality to his argument. After all, the consumer of child pornography is not actually TOUCHING a child. However, what that person is doing is just as bad. The consumer of child porn is still violating a child. It is his (I'm sure women can be child porn consumers too, but I'm going to stick with the male pronoun.) sexual desire for children that creates the market for actual child molesters to thrive. I believe that every time someone consumes a piece of child porn, they are violating that particular child all over again, even if they never physically touch that child. They are creating and expanding a demand for children to be victimized. After all, the child porn cannot be created without a child being TOUCHED by someone.

Just because he is not the one touching the child, he is not absolved of his involvement in the crime. Neither is his crime THAT much less severe than the actual child molester that it warrants a distinction. The child molester and the child porn consumer are two peas in a pod. Yes, they are different, but not different enough to make a real difference. Every piece of child porn that is consumed resulted in the physical violation of the child. It doesn't matter that he wasn't the one doing the touching. It's really only a matter of time until he does actually touch a child. That's the harsh reality.

Perhaps my vehemence is related to my own molestation by a stranger at age 11. I managed to overcome the shame and guilt, and the suspicion planted by my church at the time that it was God's punishment of me for having homosexual thoughts as my body plunged into puberty. My molester was never caught, although I'm pretty sure that had the internet been as developed then as it is now, he certainly would have had quite the collection of child porn.

My friend was dead wrong in his presumption. The child molester and the consumer of child porn are two sides of the same horrible coin.

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