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Checking Child Pornography
The Supreme Court considers a pandering case.

Monday, October 29, 2007; A14

MICHAEL WILLIAMS boasted in an Internet chat room that he had pictures of himself engaged in sex acts with his daughter, a toddler. He told another person in the chat room that he was willing to provide a link to the photos in exchange for pictures of other children in provocative poses or acts. His vile claims were monitored by an undercover cop; federal law enforcement officers then obtained a search warrant and found on Mr. Williams's computer photographs of children engaged in sexual acts.

. . . Those pictures did not exist, but prosecutors concluded that Mr. Williams had violated the law's prohibition against knowingly advertising or promoting "any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe, that the material or purported material" is child pornography.

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. . . prevailed before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which found the law vague, overly broad and in violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.



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Hard to argue for a man such as Williams, but what on earth does "any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe, that the material or purported material" is child pornography'"actually mean?

Purported material? Something that has "the often specious appearance of being, intending, or claiming" to be "information or ideas?" A "plausible but false" appearance?

Who the hell wrote this Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003? Even the acronym is phony--it would be correctly written PROTEECT.

In an effort to be touchy-feeley and warm and cuddly so far as babies are concerned, the Washington Post has come down absolutely on the wrong side of the debate.

"We reach this conclusion with some concerns that the pandering law could be used to ensnare serious artists and academics who deal with difficult or controversial subject matter, or even parents who innocently take photos of their children," opines the Post.

Oh, do we? Tell that to legions of divorced fathers who have been falsely accused of abusing their own children and have had their visitation taken away without due process. Due process in such badly conceived law is not even possible. How does one prove a negative? Have you stopped photographing your 2-yr-old in the bathtub? Why on earth should I, your honor?

This is legislation that ruins lives by innuendo, that tears broken families into smaller bits by the insinuation of impropriety.

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"Most compelling is the government's profound interest in protecting children," the Post blathers on.

Like its refusal to insure uninsured kids. That certainly is compelling evidence of profound interest. Does anyone check these editorials against a stupidity indicator or even an elemental fact-book or are they merely meant to sound huggable?


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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)

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