Oh dear: Barbara Ellen edition

Barbara Ellen doesn\’t seem to quite get it.

For me, this is what the George case has highlighted. She and her cronies were active abusers. However, armchair paedophiles are not committing a lesser crime. With this in mind, would it really be so hard to up the ante with these mouse-clicking cowards (huge fines, more thorough policing, blocking technology) to scare off the easily scared?

It\’s not that she has to be an expert in the law: but if she\’s going to write about it perhaps she might try finding out?

The act of putting an image into your browser is publication of that image. It isn\’t mere possession, or looking at it. It\’s publication (the legal argument runs that before you looked at it there was one copy of the image, on the server or your hard drive: while looking at it there are two. Hey presto, you\’ve published it).

It\’s exactly the same justification that reading an article on the internet is publication of that article in the jurisdiction where your browser, and you reading it, is.

In short, we already have ferocious laws about those who \”merely look at\” child pornography. Which, if you\’re going to write about how fiercely we should deal with those who \”merely look at\” child pornography, is arguably something you should know.

8 thoughts on “Oh dear: Barbara Ellen edition”

  1. The “publication” argument is an attempt by the Police to get easy hits.

    At what point do you stop such an argument ? If you open a book, are you “publishing it” because the light reflecting off it causes an image to be displayed on the back of your retina ? What if you show it to someone else ? What about the pattern in your brain ? If not, how are these different – it is still ‘creating a copy’ ?

    If so, how is it different for possession ? It is not physically possible to read something or even open it without creating a second copy.

    Now, of course, this may be transient – (except of course the recorded brain pattern isn’t transient), but then so is the copies produced as you view it on a screen – some of them – cached bitmaps are more transient than others – bit patterns in your video cards memory.

    More importantly, it is incredibly easy to publish such things without knowing.

    It is trivial to produce a web page which will put any image you care to name into your browser cache, and it is almost indetectable (the simplest way is to scale the image to a 1×1 pixel ….. it looks like a full stop or a bit of dirt on the screen) – you can even load it hidden so it isn’t ever displayed at all at any side *but* it is still in your browser cache (and the Police do prosecute for this kind of ‘viewing’).

    The police riotously abuse these terms IMO. The test for publication (versus viewing) should surely be a concious effort to do so – photocopying, sending on a disk, copying a DVD, whatever – the definition of ‘publication’ above is against the intent of the original law, I would suggest, which is to distinguish between users and producers of the product.

  2. Yes, but the Righteous are in charge, and determined to satiate the press in full witchhunt mode. This daft woman is just the vanguard.

    Expect mobile phone bans on nursery workers soon as well..

  3. In days gone by, you actually had to be individually offensive to people’s sense of decency to make them wish you ill. Now, by the magic of the Internet, I find myself wishing harm on a woman whose existence I was hitherto utterly unaware of. Barbara Ellen: this article offends me and I demand you suffer sanction for it. Who are you to deny me?

    Under Common Law (and, I would argue, under any system of natural, rather than arbitrary, justice) there is an elementary principle that for a crime to have been committed there must exist an injured party. When you start punishing crimes in potentia there is no limit to which the law can extend. We allow exceptions (for example it is an offence merely to drive drunk, even if you make it home safe and sound without an accident) but even here these exceptions are horribly problematical from an ethical standpoint. How can we legitimately punish actions that have thus-far not caused harm, without recourse to a ‘greater-good’ standard and simultaneously retain the notion of individual liability?

    Lest this be adduced as being supportive of child abuse in any way: a) that’s logically fallacious b) fuck off and die

  4. “Expect mobile phone bans on nursery workers soon as well..”

    Very important step, that. Because people who are prepared to sexually abuse children clearly have respect for the law.

  5. “How can we legitimately punish actions that have thus-far not caused harm, without recourse to a ‘greater-good’ standard and simultaneously retain the notion of individual liability?”

    Because harm can mean more than actual injury: putting an innocent third party at substantially higher risk of an injury is also harm.

    Of course, that argument is the one seized on and pushed as far as it will go. So looking at child pornography is “harm” because “it creates a market for those who do the real harm to children.” And then looking at synthetic child pornography is “harm” because “it.. err.. um.. normalises the act of creating the.. err.. um… look, it just does, OK?”

  6. Even if you ban Mobile Phones, there are innumerable cheap gadgets you can buy that will record video footage which are less obtrusive.

    Not that it matters. For all the paperwork, forms, CRB checks (useless) etc. what matters is competence.

    And even with that, sometimes, sh!t happens.

    Anyone who says “if it saves one child”, incidentally should be immediately shot as that kind of thinking has destroyed countless already.

  7. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Tell me, how did anyone know what these images contained? They know because they looked at them. It therefore follows that all the police officers and all the Crown Prosecution staff and all the judges and all the jurors and anyone involved in the case in any way whatever is a kiddie-fiddler.

    Prosecute the scum now!

    Except how are we to do that without viewing the images, and therefore etc…

    I suppose we could claim to be famous film directors, or prophets of a religion that is above the law.

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