The law bars not only the exchange of sexually explicit images of children but also any attempt to convince another person that child pornography is available. The law covers offers that do not contain actual pornography and even offers in which no pictures exist.Light of my life, fire of my loins! Every era must have its prohibitory fetishes, I suppose, and clearly kiddie porn is ours. The epidemiology of this endemic has always seemed to me to be a little suspect, and the moral distinction between raping a baby and filming a couple of sixteen-year-olds getting it on a necessary distinction that our moral crusaders uniformly refuse to make. What makes us so uncomfortable that we reach for the statute books is not so much children actually having sex, in any case, but the mere juxtaposition of children and sexuality, hence the ever-repeated (and now ratified) efforts to ban not only plain instances of exploitation, but also the mere suggestion, even if false, that kiddie porn, even if fake, exists. Well, there go my plans to retire on the proceeds of toddlerfisting.com.
Its pandering provision targets the person who "advertises, promotes, presents, distributes or solicits . . . any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe," that it depicts children engaged in sexual activity.
The provision is needed, authorities said, because it is often difficult to prove that pornography on the Internet involved real children.
I won't be making a new point by noting that so far as dangers to the children-who-are-our-future go, child-porn exploitation is fairly low on the list. Compare it to the more mundane and vastly more prevalent forms of verbal, psychological, and physical abuse that occur every day, every hour, in millions of American homes. The petty tyranny of family life is a misery no one wants to talk about. Is it worse to take pictures of a naked high school chick, or to make her pledge Vestal fealty to her daddy at a "Purity Ball" under the watchful eyes of a damnation-eager god? Perhaps neither one nor the other is worse in a meaningful sense, but you get my point. The lives of minors are a skein of coercion, and to pretend that the relatively rare intersection of childhood and pornography represents the most substantial danger to kids is lunatic. Children are beaten, abandoned, mocked, put down, poorly nourished. We can't teach half of them to read or do sums in their heads. We have an adoption system that operates with nothing less than a slave-auction economy. We have a foster care system that would make Kafka wince and call for rewrite. I could go on. The danger to children is not pornography, but childhood.