Thursday, March 1, 2007

I Can't Claim To Be Surprised

The guy being held on kidnapping and child molestation charges for kidnapping little boys in Missouri now has another set of charges to deal with:
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Missouri man accused of kidnapping and molesting two boys was indicted Thursday on federal charges he took pornographic pictures and videos of one of the youngsters. The indictment marked the first federal charges against Michael Devlin, 41, a former pizzeria manager from the St. Louis suburbs.
Devlin is charged with kidnapping and other offenses in the 2002 abduction of Shawn Hornbeck, who is now 15, and the January abduction of 13-year-old Ben Ownby. Both boys were found in Devlin's apartment Jan. 12.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said the six-count indictment alleges Devlin photographed and videotaped a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts between 2002 and this year. Two other counts allege he took the minor to Illinois and Arizona with the intent to engage in sexual assault.
I've definitely changed my stance over the years. I used to think that the most effective strategy for dealing with this sort of material was to leave it legal so that sellers couldn't use the Fifth Amendment as a way to refuse answering questions concerning from whom they received it. Prosecution of producers could then be based on the abuse of the children, rather than the production of the trash.

The Internet has changed the situation on this strategy, because it has made it possible for such materials to be produced anywhere and distributed anywhere--and with sufficient anonymity that a distributor could honestly say, "I have no idea." Increasingly, I am comfortable with the idea that making child pornography criminal is a way to tell those who find such materials exciting or interesting that they are sick, and there is no place in our society (except in a prison cell) for people like them. It's a moral statement of repulsion and disgust, and a way to tell such a person, "Back into the closet. We can't make you go away until you actually break the law, but your interests are filth, and we do not want you to ever think of this material as anything else."

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