Monday, December 03, 2007

Manitoba Mandates Child Porn Reporting

Did you know you're mandated by law to report child abuse? I didn't. I knew that professionals such as doctors and teachers had to, but I didn't know that Joe Blow citizen must or be fined $50,000.

Now Manitoba wants to tack on mandatory reporting of child pornography onto that piece of legislation (I wasn't clear if this was still being debated or had passed). The Verdict with Paula Todd debated that issue last night on CTV Newsnet, and I was rather surprised by her final arguments on whether or not this was a good idea, given the questions she'd been asking during the show. I see that they've structured the show like a trial with opening arguments from a couple of guests, a review of the questions, then her closing argument. The way they talk is also very lawyer-like. Great rationalizers all.

What I don't get is why a law like this is required. If over 90% of child porn cases are discovered through citizen action and only 9% from police discovery, then why do we need mandatory reporting? It seems the citizenry is already on the reporting bandwagon. One proponent of the law says it takes the burden off people, but I see the opposite. One would be burdened with the idea that big brother is watching. Right now, the obvious case you may stumble across on the Internet is a no-brainer to report. The less obvious, with no law breathing down your back, you can think about and decide on your own whether to submit it to police. Well, I suppose the law would take the burden off your need to think. You'd just report anything and everything, which would be OK if cybertips.ca had unlimited resources to review each and every tip with wisdom and the appropriate time for those cases that even police and judges wouldn't be able to categorize as porn. Much of the debate centred on the fact that courts cannot agree on what is child porn vs. art, outside of the obvious cases.

Several of the guests said that this law would not lead to reporting of photos developed at Black's by proud parents showing off their baby in a bathtub and that in fact it had not happened. But wasn't there a case about this very thing? Didn't a photo developer employee report innocent pictures to the police, who promptly arrested the parents for porn pictures of their kid, and only later admitted it was just the usual pictures parents take of their kids? And aren't police now telling parents to buy a photo printer and print off their own photos in the safety of their own home?

Others poo-poohed the idea of witch hunts, and another said if one innocent child is rescued because of this legislation then who cares about the innocent parents whose lives are ruined by false accusations. So nice to be a lawyer and dismiss the destruction of another human being so cavalierly. You know what happens to people accused of child molestation or child porn falsely? No matter how strong the evidence as to their innocence, no matter how much police or prosecutors say categorically that the accusations were false, most people still view the accused with suspicion. The man found guilty of killing his niece because of the testimony of disgraced pathologist Charles Smith, was recently found uncategorically innocent by all the lawmakers. Yet his brother still believes he killed his kid, otherwise why would the police have arrested him and the courts found him guilty in the first place? The law can never clean the mud off. And what does the law care anyway, they're not the ones with the mud on them.

As for witch hunts, they're already happening through the use of mass e-mails. Someone accuses a guy of inappropriate behaviour, e-mails it to all her friends, and soon it's become a telephone tag story blown out of all proportion. As in communist countries, a reporting law only encourages such venal behaviour. I frankly cannot see a law being needed to report child porn. Decent people are going to report it; "bad" people won't, law or no law. The child abuse law was required because historically societies saw what happened between parents and children as their own business. But through education and reportage, that attitude is changing, that we are all our child's keepers. Child porn though is not considered a parent-child issue. I doubt it ever has been. Societies have historically reviled pedophiles, and so there's no need to change attitudes. The attitude is already one of revulsion and instant clicking of that "report to police" key. There's far too much government policing of our lives as it is. We're being infantalized by laws like these, and infants don't take responsibility for their own behaviour. It's not a good trend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe people should report this stuff to the police, but why oh why does everyone have to be forced when there already doing what needs to be done, this is a huge waste of time and money, there are other areas on this subject that need much more attention, decent people WILL report so whats the problem? did someone drop the ball? NO! in fact 90% is pretty darn good if you ask me heck 75% is still good but its not that low, its time we stop having our time wasted, who is responsible for this law idea anyways?

I don't know about everyone else but im sick and tired of the law being thrown in all our faces like were children that can't walk across the road without some law holding my hand the whole way across, like im gonna go run into traffic, after all... WE ARE
ADULTS!!! no law maker is more responsible then the rest of us just because they have a government job, the same goes for the police, its not like were not all on the same side or at least 90% of us.
ty.