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Jul 24, 2011 3 Comments ›› admin

The arrest of Collectors host Andy Muirhead brings into focus an issue that has troubled me for some time: the law that makes it illegal to watch something – anything – on your home computer.

          Paedophilia is of course detestable. All those attacked are scarred for life. And what makes it even more terrible is that some of the children preyed upon can themselves become victims of the condition. Even if only a very small percentage of those attacked are so affected the spread becomes exponential. So the community is right in demanding an uncompromising response from the authorities.
          But attacking children is different from watching kiddie porn on a computer, however despicable we may find the practice. The argument that by doing so the viewer becomes a participant in the crime has merit. I presume it costs money to access the sites and that rewards the vile creatures who create the material. It might even be said that it encourages them to seek out new victims.
Moreover, the viewers know they are breaking the law and have to use roundabout methods to access the sites.
Nevertheless, I do feel uncomfortable with the concept that some pathetic characters among us – victims of a psychological compulsion and probably the survivors of paedophile attacks themselves – should have their lives destroyed as a result of watching something on their computers.  
For that is certainly what has happened to Andy Muirhead whom thousands of us have welcomed into our homes, and even our own Canberra Grammar School invited to speak to the boys about ‘success’. His life is effectively over. He might as well top himself right now. Yet there is no evidence so far presented that he ever interfered with a child.
So I wonder if there might not be a more measured – and effective – way of handling the issue.
Apparently the police have a highly sophisticated method of tracing these passive participants in the crime despite the sneaky barriers they erect. So having been alerted to their proclivities, would it not be more effective to put them under secret surveillance. If they are ‘active’ paedophiles, then they can be arrested and tried in open court.
But if their crime is only to watch, I suggest that is of a different order of criminality, one that does not deserve the effective ending of a life. In that case, I suggest, it would be preferable to develop a system whereby the offender is confronted by the police in confidence. He would suffer a very substantial mandatory fine and be required to reveal all aspects of his internet ring. He would also be warned that he was under surveillance. Any further offences and he would be charged in open court.
Alternatively, he could opt to fight the case in the public courts.
A Supreme Court judge would be appointed in each State and Territory jurisdiction to oversee all aspects of the police procedure.
I do hope this is not seen as going ‘soft on paedophiles’; but it is quite important in our society that the punishment fits the crime. I am concerned that there is more than a hint of witch burning surrounding the issue and in that atmosphere injustice is the rule rather than the exception.
I wonder if we are mature enough to open the subject for discussion.

 

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Comments

  1. Ray says:

    I must say, I agree. I never have seeked out this side of the internet, through my own moral objections, but it seems like there are a lot more things going on in his head, and I’m really, really hesitant to make his viewer=pedophile in my head. I’d rather let those whos task is to analyse him make that judgement.

  2. Asiah says:

    I am opposed to the name you use for recorded child sexual abuse ” Kiddie Porn” has an almost fun sound to it. ” Kiddie” and “Porn” are lighter forms of each word.

  3. C Markus says:

    Although the issue of privacy and censoring on home computers is at stake, I would argue that the overwhelming majority of the community has nothing to hide. Your article suggests, ‘… it would be preferable to develop a system whereby the offender is confronted by the police in confidence …’ I strongly believe some things such as child pornography should not remain hidden and am more than happy for the police to keep tabs on everyone’s data (which may sound like a comunist state) as lack of privacy for the safety of children in the community is of paramount and a small trade off really. Although your article is interesting, in some ways it sounds as though you are suggesting people looking at innappropriate content should be given a tap on the wrist and told they will be watched. Bringing light to a sick situation, I believe, is the only way forward to address a sickness/perversion in person that needs to be addressed. If a person was to be given a tap on the wrist and told to not do it again, I wonder how much help the person would receive? Would the person seek help? Also, in other cases of people found with illicit material on computers, some may have actually abused children too. Would these people put their hand up if confronted by the police and admit to doing so? I doubt it.

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