Simpsons Porn = Child Porn?

Australian Court says yes:

CARTOON characters are people too, a judge has ruled in the case of a man convicted over cartoons based on The Simpsons, in which children are shown having sex.

In the New South Wales Supreme Court today, Justice Michael Adams ruled that a fictional cartoon character was a “person” within the meaning of the relevant state and commonwealth laws.

Now, I am not at all familiar with the Australian legal definition of “person” is, so I’m not going to quibble with the Court’s interpretation. I just want to note three things:

1) It’s ridiculous from a policy standpoint. My sense of anti-child porn laws is that child pornography was bad because it involved the use/abuse of legal minors who by definition cannot consent to being photographed/videotaped in sexually oriented ways. Our concern is with the effect child porn has on children and rightfully so. Why then does Australia come to this conclusion? Perhaps they see it as a slippery slope- you start with naked Lisa the cartoon character but you quickly move onto naked Lisa the real underage girl (you’ll have to pardon my reference to rather discomfiting material). That’s a legitimate justification only insofar as there is any evidence suggesting that that transition occurs. I doubt their reasoning dealt with such considerations. I guess the broader question I want to ask is should we be, as a policy matter, outlawing pornography that deals with cartoon children? What if the cartoon are hyper-realistic, but no children were involved in its production? I am admittedly uneasy with the issue as one moves away from the rather absurd Simpsons “porn” towards hypothetical pornography that realistically depicts children. Of course this discomfort runs into a deeply held belief that behavior that does not hurt other people should never be regulated or restricted. Essentially, Mill’s Harm Principle.

2) Really? You were watching Simpsons porn? And now you’re in court defending it. Ouch.

3) Maggie? Did she really have to be included in the video? Not only is she an infant she literally never ages.

Edit: It also occurs to me that the argument may be made that consumers of child porn are more likely to molest children. I have two responses to this argument:

1) If they are going to in fact molest children (and break a really strict law), the fact that cartoon child porn is legal or illegal is likely immaterial. They’ll get it anyway since they are demonstrably not very concerned with legal sanction (or estimate a low probability of being caught, more likely).

2) The question remains (and I hope it always remains a question since testing it would involve some nasty stuff) whether child porn encourages or staves off pedophilia. Much like the video game violence argument, we don’t know if child porn is a “safety valve” or simply fuel to the fire.

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One response to “Simpsons Porn = Child Porn?

  1. The only reason I think porn photos and films of children should be illegal is that they exploit children. That makes the photos and films, in essence, evidence of exploitation.

    Can’t say that about drawn or animated images, unless it can be proven that they were created from live models. So as distasteful as I feel these drawings and animations are, I don’t think they should be illegal. They are simply drawings and animations, even if they do depict child sexuality, child explotation, and even incest.

    I found Tijuana Bibles silly and uninteresting, and I find this new phenom so also.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tijuana_bibles

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