I originally posted this 3 years ago. The only reason I am reposting this is because of the significance it had to me personally. Posting this article literally changed my life. I was disciplined by my employer at the time and the whole thing gave me the courage to leave a hostile work environment and join Disklabs and, subsequently, move to the USA.
My opinion of the act has not changed. I think that the whole thing is utter madness. I was called naive for my opinions the first time I posted this but I really think that the supporters of this act are naive. Naive to think that such a broad act would be enacted without any overly-anxious CPAs (Crown Prosecution Attorneys) trying to take advantage of such a law to make a name for themselves. The only reason I took this down after originally posting was because my livelihood was being threatened and I had my young family to think about.
So here it is. If I rewrote this I likely wouldn’t say some of the same things, but the sentiment is the same.
Around a year ago we reported a story on Forensic 4cast that, at the time, we thought was insane. Little did we know that we were about to be subjected to something equally as stupid.
In December 2008 Judge Michael Adams of Australia’s appeals court ruled that pictures, depicting imaginary cartoon children engaging in sexual behaviour, were considered to be indecent pictures of children and an unnamed man was sentenced as a result.
At the time Simon and I discussed the story and laughed it off believing that such a story must surely be a one-off and surely would never be repeated. Sadly, at the time, we were not aware of a new bill that would soon be passed into law.
The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 has a fairly innocuous title and, for the most part, it deals with murder, infanticide, suicide, and other items. Chapter 2 of part 2 of the act discusses prohibited images of children. At first the act discusses what constitutes a prohibited image of a child, exclusions, and defences, the ‘normal’ stuff. However section 65 is entitled ‘Meaning of image and child’ and this is where sanity and sense seem to disappear.
Quoted from the act:
(5)“Child”, subject to subsection (6), means a person under the age of 18.
(6)Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if—
(a)the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child, or
(b)the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child.
(7)References to an image of a person include references to an image of an imaginary person.
(8)References to an image of a child include references to an image of an imaginary child.
Simply put, a picture only needs to look like a child in order for it to be considered a child under UK law. Why is this important? Glad you asked.
Why do we prosecute people that download and store indecent pictures of children? It is because it is child abuse. When people view such material they are contributing to a problem by creating a demand for these pictures and movies. This inevitably leads to more of this material being produced and more children being abused. Under the new law people will be prosecuted for having pictures of fictitious, imaginary children engaged in sexual activity. Where is the abuse in this case? How can a cartoon character be given the same protection, under law, as real human children? Their is no crime! No one is being deprived of anything and no one is being hurt.
One of the arguments put forward by Judge Adams, and others behind the enacting of this law, is that these pictures “fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children”. While this may be a popular theory I do not accept it. Where is the evidence of this? Show me a man that has gone out and abused a child because he has downloaded Simpsons porn. Where is the government study showing that this is the case? Unless I’m mistaken there was no real analysis done before the bill was written. If someone could point me to this I would appreciate it. However, let us also bare in mind that, even if that is the case, these people have still not abused anyone. They will effectively be prosecuted under the assumption that they will, one day, move from fantasy to reality and start abusing children. I can not agree with this way of thinking. I think that this section of the law shows the failing of our country to educate and assist people so that they do not become embroiled in child abuse. Does the British government really believe that the majority of people that look at ‘cartoon’ porn will eventually become paedophiles? If the answer to this is ‘yes’ show us the evidence. If the answer is ‘no’ why bring the bill in the first place?
This is the problem with a few laws that have been passed in recent years that affect our work.
Last year the Criminal Justice Act was brought in which criminalises anyone creating/downloading/distributing extreme pornography. This was strange because people can now do certain things in the privacy of their own home, but if they take pictures of these things they will be breaking the law and leaving themselves open to prosecution.
I, personally, don’t care for ‘cartoon porn’ but I don’t understand the need to make criminals out of people that do.
The Coroners and Justice Act is set to come into effect in April 2010. The section to which I am referring can be found here: