8/27/2009

The Puritans in the Age of Cellphones

Our laws to "protect" teenagers from sex just can't seem to catch up to the 21st Century. Or rather, they seem to be stuck in the quaint window of the mid 20th Century when teenagers were thought to be asexual.

In Tucson, two 13 year old boys were arrested on misdemeanor "child pornography" charges because one of the boys received a nude photo from a girl and passed it to his friend. Never mind the fact that the photographer was the girl herself and she knowingly disseminated the photograph and did so in a way that was easily shared.

The girl in this case faces no charges whatsoever for producing child pornography. The police decided not to file felony charges against the boys because they said the boys were not "aware" that receiving and sharing the photo were a crime. Yet, you can be sure that the police will force the boys to be registered as sex offenders for life meaning their entire adult lives will be destroyed by this.

Meanwhile, the pubescent stripper will get off scot free despite being the catalyst of the illegal activity. Furthermore, she will be treated by police and adults as a "victim" despite the fact that she willingly took photographs of herself without clothes and willingly distributed it to others hoping to arouse sexual interest.

I am constantly amazed at how our puritanical roots continue to lag behind our real world. First of all, 13 year olds are sexual. I know, it's terrible to consider given our short memory spans as adults but once those hormones start pumping we do begin to think about sex. They are not "children" in the sense that they are non-sexual beings anymore. In fact, in the United States the average age of first sexual intercourse at 16.9 years old. In lower income brackets that average drops to 12 years old!

If we must prosecute teenagers for engaging in sexual activity - including fantasy activity such as looking at nude photographs created by the subject of the photograph as a way to titillate a prospective partner - then we must also prosecute the person creating that photograph for creating pornography.

In this case, if the boys are going to be arrested for receiving and distributing child pornography then the girl should be arrested for making and distributing child pornography as well. What's fair is fair.

Otherwise, we need to realize that 13-year-olds are sexual beings and treat them as we would adults who have nude photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends which is simply to not get involved.

This is a case where the parents of all involved needed to sit them down and have a good talk and deal with a natural fact of life given a new spin because of technology. Instead, our police are acting as the parents in ways that will wreak the lives of two people while the other party simply walks away.


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