The Hunt

5 06 2008

According to today’s Sydney Morning Herald, dozens of Australian men have recently been arrested for offences related to child pornography. Offending images were found downloaded on their computers and their punishment, in part, is to have their names (and, in one case, photograph) published for all to see. These people should burn.

I am not referring to the so-called “paedophiles”, of course; I’m talking about the journalists and photographers responsible for destroying their lives. This is a witch-hunt in every possible application of the term. Third-rate columnists and stringers – some of whom, themselves, hide their mediocre writing behind a veil of anonymity – write to an audience of weak-minded cowards whose one great satisfaction is a feeling of natural superiority over those whom they would condemn. Nobody, in this sordid affair, has given a moment’s thought to the fact that there has never been an individual responsible for choosing their own sexual preferences.

Such a defence clearly does not extend to those who actually deserve the epithet, “paedophile”. I am not vindicating those who have actually raped or molested children in any way. Yet rapists and murderers frequently have their names withheld from the newspapers – and justifiably so – until the conclusion of their trials. Men who choose the path of least destruction – those who would satisfy their appetites without harm to any other – have their names blandished on the newspapers and their careers destroyed for no reason other than the fact that their preferences are “wrong”.

Finding children attractive is, it seems, the greatest crime in Australia today. A world-renowned photographer, Mr Bill Henson, was recently indicted over non-sexual photographs of children, taken with the permission of the children and the consent of their parents. His gallery was closed and he is to be prosecuted under both state and federal law. The only reason for this is that those who find his photographs arousing may use them for “unsavoury purposes”. His career may well be ruined but if it stops another man from masturbating then that is apparantly acceptable.

I cannot help but feel emotional about this issue: I despise the disintegration of our values into a Nazi-like morality. I detest this sanctimonious prissiness that seeks to point the finger at sinners and stone them for their crimes. While the police should be quietly seeking out the manufacturers of child pornography, they are instead noisily defaming those who have looked at it. If witch hunts throughout history have taught us anything, it is that there is an insidious evil in this world, but that it manifests itself in the hunter and not the hunted.

Addendum: Some good news. Mr Bill Henson has been vindicated of the erroneous charges brought against him and his photographs are returning to the gallery. It seems that, finally, art has triumphed over stupidity.

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2 responses

13 06 2008
Jen

For what it’s worth, I agree. I’m of the firm belief that people should be allowed to try to satisfy their desires as long as they’re not hurting anyone else (and I do mean hurting in every sense of the word, not just physical).

14 06 2008
Simon Holloway

Yes indeed. And if people are to be indicted for viewing pornography, a participant in which may not have been consenting, then most of this country deserves arrest. Pornography is an exploitative industry, but the guilt does not rest with the passive observer.

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