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We Must Make Virtual Child Pornography Illegal

2782 words - 11 pages

The Supreme Court lifted a 1996 act banning virtual child pornography. The six to three ruling, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, says the law violates First Amendment freedom of speech rights guaranteed to every citizen of the United States of America. Although many free speech advocates are shouting victory, many citizens across the country are lamenting over the loss in the fight against child pornography.

Child pornography has been present in society for centuries, but has only recently become more accessible through the development of the printing press and subsequently, the technology of the Internet. Until the mid-1990s, "illegal child pornography [had only] involved depictions of actual children engaged in sexually explicit activity" (ACLU), and virtual pornography had never before been an issue. This was before the Internet. The October 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act was put into place with the purpose of updating then-current child porn and sexual exploitation laws mainly because of on-line transmission and creation of child porn. The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 revised the previous child pornography laws, said the American Civil Liberties Union, by outlawing any "computer-generated depictions of children engaging in sexual conduct," or what is now commonly known as virtual child pornography. Virtual child pornography also includes any images presenting people who appear to be minors or adult bodies superimposed with the faces of children, often making it difficult to tell if the material is of a real child or not. These new forms of child porn were becoming prevalent on the Internet at the time because it was easily accessible and not yet illegal. The act therefore prohibited the possession, transmission, or distribution of anything suggesting "a child engaging in a sexually explicit act" (CNN). It was hoped this action might deter pedophiles from indulging in their fantasies and molesting children. Quick to validate the new law, Congress proclaimed that "child pornography is often used as part of a method of seducing other children into sexual activity" (Slade). Congress further went on to say that with recent technology, having the ability to alter and enhance sexually exploitive images might "render enforcement against pornography using real children impossible" because determining real pictures from enhanced picture had the probability of being a very daunting and challenging task. This strengthened the government's argument that the law had a significant potential to protect many children from molestation and abuse.

Child pornography laws instated during the 1970s were some of the first in the crusade to protect children from sexual predators. This was because most of national news magazines were printing detailed articles concerning child sexual abuse at the time. In just a few weeks, "a national campaign against the making and sale of child pornography exploded" (Finkelhor 1) and politicians took note....

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