Offences out of kilter

March 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The maximum penalty for possessing a book about growing marijuana will be higher than actually growing marijuana, the Law Society has told MPs considering a hard-hitting new bill.

A Parliamentary Committee is hearing submissions on a law change which would increase the penalties for possessing, importing, exporting or making .

It was targeted at child pornography on the internet but submitters told the select committee this morning that it would capture a broad range of images or publications.

Law Society law reform committee member Graeme Edgeler said that a book which instructs someone on how to grow marijuana was encouraging a crime and would be considered objectionable.

“If this increasing sentence goes forward, the maximum penalty for possessing that book will go up to 10 years’ imprisonment, whereas the maximum penalty for running a growing operation is eight years’ imprisonment.”

The maximum penalty for possessing images of bestiality would also be increased to 10 years in jail, compared to seven years’ imprisonment for committing bestiality.

Mr Edgeler said that if child exploitation was the target of the bill, Parliament could consider whether there should be separate child pornography sentences.

This is the sensible thing to do. I’m all for increasing penalties for possession and supply of child sexual abuse images. But the problem with this law change is that are increasing the maximum penalty for all objectionable publications to 10 years, and that is a far wider group of publications. The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 defines an objectionable publication as:

  1. the exploitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes
  2. the use of violence or coercion to compel any person to participate in, or submit to, sexual conduct
  3. sexual conduct with or upon the body of a dead person
  4. the use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct
  5. bestiality
  6. acts of torture or the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty

Now logically possessing a publication that depicts an illegal act should carry a maximum penalty no greater than actually undertaking the act. Raping someone is far worse than possessing a publication that shows someone being raped, for example. Both are horrible, but they are not the same thing.

So the bill before Parliament proposes a maximum 10 year penalty for possession of an objectionable publication. So what is the maximum sentence for the actual acts that are deemed objectionable to publish.

  1. child sexual abuse – 14 years
  2. rape – 20 years
  3. necrophilia – 2 years
  4. golden showers and coprophilia – not a criminal offence
  5. Bestiality – 7 years
  6. torture – 14 years

So you see the problem. This law would have the maximum penalty for possessing a photo of necrophilia as 10 years, but the actual act of necrophilia as only two years.

Most bizarrely, one category of objectionable publication is for something that isn’t even illegal – golden showers and coprophilia. Two adults can legally golden shower each other to their hearts content, but if they take a photo of themselves doing it, then up to 10 years jail!

The purpose of the law change is to increase penalties for possession of child sexual abuse images. I support that totally. The bill should be modified to increase penalties just for that sub-section of objectionable publications. Having a maximum 10 year penalty apply to all objectionable publications is way over the top.

For the avoidance of doubt, I find all of the above activities repugnant or repulsive. My concern is sensible laws.

 

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17 Responses to “Offences out of kilter”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    Two adults can legally golden shower each other to their hearts content, but if they take a photo of themselves doing it, then up to 10 years jail!

    If they take the photo that’s creating an objectionable publication, a more serious offence than mere possession, currently with a maximum penalty of 10 years, to increase to 14 years under the bill.

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  2. Manolo (13,341 comments) says:

    A lawyer’s wet dream (pun intended).

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  3. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Maximum sentences are one thing but what’s the average sentence for possessing objectionable material?

    This guy was sentenced to less than 2 years imprisonment for importing objectionable material. He may have received a significantly longer sentence if he’d committed the acts depicted.

    http://www.customs.govt.nz/news/stories/Pages/mansentencedaftersmugglingchildobjectionablematerialsayscustoms30052011.aspx

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  4. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    EEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeew!

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  5. peterwn (3,150 comments) says:

    IMO There should be a Crimes Act offence carrying a heavy penalty for those possessing / trading child porn where real children were likely to be involved in its creation – on a par with child sec organised tours ocerseas.

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  6. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Earlier in the week we found out that the UK GCHQ spies intercept Yahoo video communication and take and save a screen shot every five seconds. It was reported that about a fifth of the screen shots included nudity. Which means that the British government are responsible for probably the biggest collection of child nudity ever created. And it is likely that NZers are in that collection.

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  7. thor42 (909 comments) says:

    What a STUPID bloody law.

    What about the many hundreds of videos on *YouTube* about marijuana? Is the government going to have a “hit squad” set up to search for and remove *those*?

    Never mind that marijuana laws are being relaxed around the world. This proposed law flies in the face of all of that.
    Ridiculous.

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  8. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    What about the many hundreds of videos on *YouTube* about marijuana? Is the government going to have a “hit squad” set up to search for and remove *those*?

    It depends on the context. Not all videos about marijauna will encourage or promote criminality in a way that can be justifiably banned. I included that as an example because I little while back I searched the censor’s database to see the titles of banned books and there was one marijuana book, as well as another, available on Amazon.com, which appeared to promote the breeding and training of dogs for dogfighting.

    When the maximum penalty for possession of these books was a $2000 fine, or maybe technically, a few months in prison, this was probably justifiable. If it ever was justifiable, I don’t think it can be now.

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  9. Albert_Ross (246 comments) says:

    Peterwn, what about child porn which does /not/ involve real children in its creation – which arise purely from the creator’s imagination?

    Murder is a terrible crime, not one that anybody would want to condone or encourage, and not one that I could ever imagine wanting to do myself. But I frequently borrow books about murder from the library, and I own several more – P D James, Reginald Hill, that sort of thing. Writers win awards and make money from writing them.

    What exactly is the difference?

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  10. Ed Snack (1,734 comments) says:

    To support Albert_Ross, there are also books about child sexual abuse, just as a single example, Lolita, which is widely available. To be consistent people owning or even reading such books should get minimum 10 year sentences, surely ? Or is this whole “objectionable material” with regard to created images and stories simply subjective nonsense ?

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  11. OTGO (510 comments) says:

    On any given night on the telly you can see pretty realistic scenes of people murdering people. By comparison what you don’t see is scenes depicting consensual sex between two or more people. And even if you could current moral standards would call it pornography.
    So violent depiction of ending lives OK.
    Depiction of a beautiful scene perhaps creating lives not OK.

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  12. RRM (9,435 comments) says:

    4. the use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct

    The “in association with” part of that, and everything after it, appears to assign a lot of power to words that seem to be pretty open to interpretation…

    So presumably the sort of porn where one chick’s pissing on another are ok, so long as the one getting pissed on has a smile on her face and (therefore) doesn’t feel degraded or dehumanised?

    No reason for asking, none at all.. :oops:

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  13. RRM (9,435 comments) says:

    Related posts:

    3. Urophilia

    :lol: Good old Kiwiblog…

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  14. kowtow (7,599 comments) says:

    philuria?

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  15. wrightingright (138 comments) says:

    This is rather messed up, these laws are going to *DO HARM* to the very people the politicians claim they’re going to be supporting. The children!

    http://falkvinge.net/2012/05/23/cynicism-redefined-why-the-copyright-lobby-loves-child-porn/
    http://falkvinge.net/2012/09/07/three-reasons-child-porn-must-be-re-legalized-in-the-coming-decade/
    http://falkvinge.net/2012/02/14/sex-tech-and-harm-to-children/

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  16. corrigenda (142 comments) says:

    Well, that will shut down every library in the country as they all have books depicting murder, arson, home invasions, shootings etc. Silly bloody politicians. Sometimes I think Guy Fawkes had the right idea.

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  17. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    The gateway to the police state

    I had just heard a new prison has been built in Sth Auckland.

    Now I know why.

    Stricter and stricter censorship under the guise of public morality. All dictatorships have these laws. Fabian Socialism comes an inch at a time until a society is unrecognisable.

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