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NSW Child Porn Laws to Change. Australia, the Philistine State to Stay the Same

NSW Child Porn Laws to Change. Australia, the Philistine State to Stay the Same
HPD
  • On February 2, 2014

Yesterday it was announced that the NSW State government has received recommendations to change child pornography laws. The changes would mean that once it is has been established that material is unlawfully pornographic, artistic intention would not be considered relevant. With a multitude of Federal and State protections for child pornography firmly in place this punitive change seems set to make the lives of Sydney’s underappreciated art community even more difficult. Sean Maguire explores why we should focus on the intention and not the reaction.

Child pornography is a notoriously difficult crime and subject to define, a 2008 report on Child Pornography Law by Gareth Griffith and Kathryn Simon spent pages and pages attempting to do so, eventually summarising that:

“Agreeing that child pornography material is offensive to a high degree is easy enough. On the other hand, defining child pornography, legally or otherwise, is anything but straightforward”.

So even the experts find it difficult.

But what does have a much simpler definition is pornography itself.

The central classification being that what makes porn pornographic is the intent to arouse sexual interest.

Without that intent, we would have to rely on a person’s reaction to determine whether something was arousing or not.

Something that would be ludicrous considering the absolute breadth and number of weird and wonderful fetishes that exist- making it nigh on impossible to create something that doesn’t arouse somebody.

But of course it is on reaction and the idiotic precedent of Community Standards that we define whether material is pornographic or not.

Griffith and Simon describe that:

“In Australia…following the ‘community standards’ test applied by Windeyer J in Crowe v Graham the identification of harm is not an essential or defining indicia of child pornography. Rather, the test is whether the material at issue is, in all the circumstances, offensive to reasonable adults, this being a question of fact to be decided by the relevant Tribunal”.

What the hell can be deemed reasonable when talking about pornography?

Or sexuality for that matter.

The fact is that desire and arousal are such personal and automatic responses to certain stimulus that trying to explain them or understand them is an exercise in futility.

So again, for this debate to return to realms of rationalism we must go back to analysing the nature of intention.

And this is where we need to put our collective thinking cap on.

Logically if an artist such as Bill Henson (who was mentioned heavily in Griffith and Simon’s report) was a pornographer why would he exhibit his works at invitation only galleries?

Wouldn’t he only be inviting interest from the police?

And there’s one other point that people rarely seem to consider.

If you watch pornography and aren’t aroused- does that mean that it’s no longer pornography?

Of course not, because the material has the intention to arouse- just because it didn’t is a personal preference thing.

If you think about it, that stupid logic is exactly what is done in reverse when discussing whether art becomes pornography if it illicits sexual desire.

Finally, as another law looks likely to be passed which curtails the freedoms of representation and free speech, let’s at least try to remain sensible while we hurtle into the world of over-hyped emotion and fear.

 

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