A yucky but interesting issue

Stuff reports:

A man has been jailed for watching cartoon videos of elves, pixies and other fantasy creatures having sex.

Ronald Clark downloaded the Japanese anime cartoons three years ago, setting in train events that would see him in court in Auckland and jailed for three months for possessing objectionable material, and sparking debate as to what harm is caused by digitally created pornography.

Clark has previous convictions for indecently assaulting a teenage boy and has been through rehabilitation programmes, but the video nasties he was watching in this case were all cartoons and drawings.

He says the videos came from an established tradition of Japanese manga and hentai (cartoon pornography), a massive, mainstream industry in that country.

They weren’t even depictions of people – Clark’s lawyer Roger Bowden described them as “pixies and trolls” that “you knew at a glance weren’t human”.

Bowden said the conviction for possessing objectionable material was “the law gone mad”.

However, while the cartoon characters were elves and pixies, they were also clearly young elves and pixies, which led to concerns the images were linked to child sexual abuse.

Anti-child pornography group ECPAT Child Alert director Alan Bell said the images were illegal because they encouraged people “to migrate from there to the real thing”.

It is a difficult issue. Should possession of a digitally created image be illegal? Does it encourage migration? Or can you argue it is a safe outlet? But what if the digital images are not of pixies and trolls but are of young children, and look life like? Do you want a law that says you can download digitally created images so long as they do not look too realistic?

In the end my yuck factor wins out, and I think you can’t have a dividing line between actual images and digitally created ones. It would make it too difficult to enforce the law, as you might then need to prove a photo is of real people.

Also the fact that Mr Clark has form for child abuse is relevant. The Sensible Sentencing Trust reports:

Clark was convicted in the Hamilton High Court on charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, attempted sexual violation, five charges of indecent assault, plus a number of cannabis sale and supply charges. The victims were three boys aged 11 to 13 and he had supplied them with cannabis and then taken advantage of them. He had started a relationship when the first complainant was 11 and abused the boy regularly for a year. A second boy was 13 when he replaced the first one. Judge Spear stated nothing good could be said about Clark, who had shown no remorse and continued to deny the offences.

The offending resulted in a 10 year sentence in 1996.

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