Monday, May 27, 2019

Terminology: CP versus CSEM

I have a whole series of posts on child pornography, often abbreviated as CP. Another more recent phrase for this is "child sex exploitation material", abbreviated as CSEM.

Certain earnest people will attack any writing which refers to child pornography. The objection is that pornography implies sexual enjoyment and consent of the actors or actresses involved. What is depicted in child pornography is instead the sexual exploitation of children, they argue, and it is vital to refer to it as such. You even read suggestions that anyone referring to "child pornography" is trying to minimize the harm to children from such material. It looks like some such people think anyone using the term "child pornography" -- or anyone who doesn't instantly agree to using CSEM when it is offered to them -- is not worth talking with. They are the Other or the Enemy.

I do not accept that the term "pornography" implies willing actors or actresses. All it refers to is material that is produced for purposes of sexual arousal. "Child pornography" implies that the people depicted are children. That's all. The term itself doesn't make any moral judgment. That doesn't mean anyone using it thinks it's good. It's just that you don't have to use terms with moral judgments built in, and productive discussion may be easier if you don't.

Consider for comparison the words "killing" and "murder". Killing does not make any moral judgment, while "murder" implies that it was morally wrong. Consider a controversial sort of killing -- capital punishment. Opponents call it "state-sanctioned murder". Supporters would reject that characterization, as they would feel it is just. Suppose opponents refuse to talk with anyone who calls it simply "capital punishment" without the "murder" part included. This is a guarantee that no discussion will happen. It seems counter-productive.

Suppose that those who oppose Donald Trump settled on a new name for him: "evil, despicable Trump", or EDT for short. They might insist that no one can simply refer to Donald Trump, because that implies he is not evil and despicable. This surely is a way to not have any conversation with someone who has entertained the idea that Trump has some good qualities.

In the case of child pornography, the problem is not so much the basic moral judgment as the fact that there is great variety in what is included under that label. Some concepts have a better-defined center than edges, and I think child porn may be a case. At the center of "child porn" is video of a child crying as she or he is brutalized sexually. That is clearly wrong. Hardly anyone would disagree. In that case "child sexual exploitation material" might if anything seem too bland. The problem comes around the edges.

Virtual child porn is made without any real children, but just computer graphics. Cartoon depictions of children involved in sex is child porn. There are cases of young teens who take sexually explicit images of themselves, perhaps to send to a lover. Some people would classify fictional text-only stories about children as child pornography. In some jurisdictions all of those things are illegal, but I believe none of them qualifies as child sex exploitation material.

Others might disagree, but we can't even have the discussion as long as "it's immoral" is included in the term we use to talk about it. "Child pornography" is one concept. When "exploitation" is part of any term for it, that is two concepts. It hurts clear thinking rather than helps.

I dislike the phrase "child sex exploitation material" and refuse to give up the phrase "child pornography".

In general I have a serious problem any time a group tries to change the use of language for political purposes and insists others accept those changes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Disorder? Orientation? That depends on why you're asking

In looking through my blog posts, I don't think I ever specifically addressed the question of how to characterize pedophilia. Sexual orientation? Mental disorder or illness or disease?

When pedophilia is discussed, a frequent debate is whether it is a mental illness or not. Those who especially detest pedophiles are likely to feel passionately it is a disorder, and some pedophiles will insist with equal passion that it is a sexual orientation.

I don't object especially to calling it a mental disorder, and I don't especially mind if people say it isn't an orientation. To me the question isn't what you call it but what you are going to do with the information.

To quote the Virtuous Pedophiles FAQ, "Terms such as mental illness and mental disorder are not precisely defined, and we doubt that they can be defined based on science alone. Values – our opinion of the desirability of a condition – invariably intrude on the decision whether that condition is a mental illness or merely reflects a difference with other people."

The key fact for me is that pedophilia is not a cause for shame. We don't expect people to feel shame for physical ailments such as cancer or diabetes. We mostly don't blame people for getting mental conditions like schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness -- and if we do we shouldn't. Sometimes people have some responsibility for an illness -- perhaps being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes. Many people who are HIV positive engaged in some risky behavior. Drug addicts could have avoided their situation if they had never started using the drug. In comparison, pedophiles are completely innocent. There is nothing we did to bring on the condition and nothing we we could have done to prevent it. There also seems to be nothing we can do to cure it.

Pedophilia is rare (perhaps one percent of the male population), it very often causes distress, it is a risk factor for sexual abuse of children, and it certainly is considered undesirable by society at large and not just a difference from other people. So it's reasonable to call it a disorder -- as long as we are very clear it is not a cause for shame.

Is it a sexual orientation?

Google Ngram viewer confirms my sense that "sexual orientation" came into public awareness recently (roughly 1970). It was for the specific purpose of describing homosexuality in terms other than a disorder. Some scientists might say it specifically concerns the gender or sex of who you are attracted to and nothing else.

Other scientists might say a "sexual orientation" is a persistent sexual attraction to an entire class of people. And children are certainly an entire class of people. Scientifically, pedophilia shares with homosexuality many things: both are set early in life without regard to life experiences, neither is highly heritable, and no one has found a way to change either one despite decades of serious efforts to do so.

The gender/sex-only position seems to be a popular among LGBT activists. Partly they want nothing whatsoever to do with the stigma that comes with being associated in any way with pedophiles. You could also argue that sexual orientation now has a political meaning that goes beyond the scientific. "Sexual orientation" might have among its implications that it's just fine and perfectly OK to act on your orientation to have sex with willing partners. Pedophilia would not meet that definition.

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatrist's 'bible', 2013) includes this passage:

If individuals 'report an absence of feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety about these impulses and are not functionally limited by their paraphilic impulses (according to self-report, objective assessment, or both), and their self-reported and legally recorded histories indicate that they have never acted on their impulses, then these individuals have a pedophilic sexual orientation but not pedophilic disorder.'"

They evidently felt that it was either an orientation or a disorder but not both (though why isn't obvious to me). Due to a storm of protest, they changed "sexual orientation" to "sexual interest". I figure this was due mostly to pressure from LGBT activists. But they didn't back down from saying it wasn't (by itself) a disorder. It sounds like "sexual interest" is intended to cover the same scientific ground as the broader definition of sexual orientation.

Another reason to make something a disorder is that insurance won't typically pay for treating something that isn't a disorder. And since pedophiles do frequently feel guilt, shame or anxiety around their attraction, it might help to be able to call it a disorder to get coverage for treating those things.

It's also possible that "sexual orientation" has entered the legal system and has specific associated rights and privileges. In that case, I would say that it is right to exclude pedophilia since those drafting the legislation clearly didn't have pedophilia in mind when they wrote the laws.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Compare: subway molesters and CP viewers

Anyone who looks at child pornography is going to make people uneasy, to say the least. It engenders in most people anger and disgust, which has in turn led to harsh penalties for simply possessing any such material. But as I have <written before>, men who just look at it -- never creating, distributing, buying or even commenting -- are an interesting case. The harm they do is hard to detect.

What do we expect ordinary men to do who have a strong sex drive? Try to fulfill it with a willing partner is the first choice. But if they cannot find one, we expect them to masturbate while looking at pornography. What do we expect a pedophile to do -- a man who knows he cannot possibly find a truly consenting partner? Much of society assumes he will just molest a child. Barbra Streisand's controversial remarks suggest <that was her assumption>. Yet we know that a great many of us pedophiles do. Some of us strive hard not to fantasize at all. Others make a strict point of fantasizing only to freely offered, innocent images. But others look at pornography, just like ordinary men -- except in their case this is highly illegal. A child was harmed when it was made, but it is very difficult to trace any direct harm to a man who is all alone in his bedroom bringing up a video made ten years before and viewed thousands of times.

A pedophile who looks at child porn is nowhere near as bad as a hands-on child molester, but he is also not a "virtuous pedophiles" poster child. His viewing is highly disrespectful to the children involved, and he is a part (if a very small part) of victims feeling upset knowing their images are being used again and again for erotic purposes.

With this background in mind, I'm always on the lookout for ordinary guys who get in trouble expressing their sex drive in inappropriate ways without being out-and-out rapists.

So we have this <recent story>, titled "Serial Sex Offenders Are a Big Problem on Subways. Should They Be Banned for Life?"

Authorities in New York are frustrated because there are men who "grope, grind, molest or indecently expose themselves" on subways, and repeat the crime over and over again. Since the crime is only a misdemeanor, they rarely serve significant prison time.

The women and girls who are the victims of these crimes are suffering a direct sexual assault. There are people who would like to punish the men more harshly, but so far the penalties are only modest. Why the lenient treatment? Some people seem to feel that these subway offenses just aren't that serious. They are expressions of a sex drive -- unacceptable expressions, but the motive of the men involved is not mysterious. On the other hand, the behavior is common. Authorities reasonably fear that if they gave out significant prison terms for such crimes, the prisons would soon fill up and overflow.

These crimes are against adult women, and on balance society has so far reluctantly concluded there are just too many offenders to punish them harshly. It makes total sense that when such crimes are committed against children instead of adults, harsh punishment is appropriate. But what about when the crime is against not children but just the images of children? At present, harsh punishment is still seen to be appropriate. We pedophiles do not choose who we are attracted to, but we do have control over what we do about it. In the case of viewing child porn, they have made a choice that most people find uncomfortable -- but it is a choice not to harm real flesh-and-blood children.

I don't have a strong opinion about how harsh a sentence New York should hand down to its subway sex offenders. My concern is the relative penalties given for CP viewing as compared to groping, grinding, molesting and indecent exposure. The harm from the first is indirect and elusive, while each instance of the second upsets an actual woman directly, right as it happens. Remember too that some of those females on the subway are themselves minors. Some who developed early are probably 10 or 11 years old.

Aside from the flimsy idea of each viewing of CP actually harming the original victim all over again, the main justification offered for harsh CP penalties has been that its viewing is a stand-in crime for harder-to-prove hands-on sexual abuse. Recent studies all show that this is nonsense -- a great many men who view child porn never molest children.

CP viewing is not a good thing to do. But it is not just to punish CP viewers who hurt no one more harshly than men who hurt real women with their groping, grinding, molesting, and indecently exposing themselves.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pedophiles watching YouTube videos of young girls

Recently YouTube <has come under attack> for <allowing pedophiles to openly watch> and comment on the videos of young girls.In response, YouTube has eliminated many comments, banned repeat commenters, and removed many of the videos too.

How can we fit this into a broader context? The classic case of pedophiles getting sexual satisfaction from images is child porn. The case that comes most readily to mind is some crying child being forced into oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. It gets distributed widely. Most people abhor that, including a great many pedophiles.

Here we have more complexity. No one alleges the girls posting videos are being forced into anything. Their intentions are innocent. They are the ones who choose to distribute their videos and hope lots of people will view them.

What sparks the most outrage here and fuels calls for action is what pedophiles do to make their presence known, by way of suggestive comments or timestamps pointing to revealing moments in the videos. Most pedophiles I've read online roundly condemn such behavior. They agree that children shouldn't have to read those things. They have no objection to removing the comments and banning frequent commenters.

However, the other aspect of the situation is that the popular videos got thousands or millions of views in comparison to a few hundred a video would get if it didn't have any revealing content. As with most videos, those who comment are a tiny portion of those who watch. Even if the only trace they leave is an increment on a view counter, these pedophiles outrage people too.

YouTube algorithms are inherently value-neutral, and those algorithms detect groups of people and the videos they would like to watch. Here they have correctly identified a group of pedophiles.

Part of YouTube's response has been to delete many innocently offered videos that have revealing moments in them, not just to disable comments. But you can be sure they have missed a great many and that girls will post new ones. What should we think of those pedophiles who now and in the future will watch and never comment?

Large segments of society hate pedophiles just for existing, and nothing I could say would move them. However, there are also social liberals, who are guided by the idea that as long as no one is being harmed, people should be left alone to think, write, watch videos, and fantasize as they please. I say they should not be disturbed by the men who watch girls on YouTube and make no comments. Maybe they should even welcome it.

Science suggests maybe 1% of men are pedophiles. What do we actually expect them to do? Sit home, miserable, hating themselves, never going out in public where children might be present, never even looking at Hollywood movies with attractive kids in them?

We expect that ordinary men will go out and date and have sex with the people they are attracted to. That is the last thing anyone wants to tell pedophiles to do. When they do, police are on the case as best they are able.

Aside from pursuing women, we know what else ordinary men to do. They will look at lots of porn. Before the age of readily available adult porn, men had calendar girls, swimsuit editions, and cheerleaders. No one doubts that attractive women help sell things.

Some pedophiles do find child porn on the dark web. Children are harmed when the porn is made, and law enforcement is on the case as best they are able. But as the rough equivalent of adult cheerleaders, we now have pedophiles thinking sexual thoughts about videos posted by young girls doing things young girls are generally happy to do. This should surprise no one.

Conceivably watching such things would incite pedophiles to go out and molest real girls. But the truth is that most pedophiles don't want to harm anyone. A great many would never come close. But even for those who may be at risk, if they can satisfy their sexual desires without harming anyone, the vast majority will. They will outnumber those few who will be motivated to do worse.

This isn't just speculation. The <series of studies> by Diamond and his colleagues looked at a series of situations where child porn was very difficult to obtain and suddenly became easily available. You might expect this would lead to a big increase in child sex abuse. But in case after case, child sex abuse either stayed the same or actually went down. However bad watching child porn is, abusing a child in person is worse. In the present case we are not talking about child pornography, but girls making YouTube videos, doing things girls like to do, and hoping for attention and views.

We should also consider the rights of the girls (with their parents' consent) to make and post videos with innocent intentions. Their freedom should not be curtailed because of what some men might think while watching them.

Most people would rather not think about pedophilia at all. They are rightly moved to take action when pedophiles harm people, and we can include here leaving rude or sexually explicit comments on videos. But even if all comments were disabled, girls' innocent YouTube videos will leave us with indirect but strong evidence of the existence of pedophiles satisfying their sexual desires by looking at pictures of girls. Nothing could eliminate this entirely, and girls who don't like the possibility can elect not to post. Others may decide they won't let other people's fantasies deter them from doing what they want. Others may not even care, or even figure that if they happen to improve someone's private fantasy life, so much the better.

Shocking as it may seem, the enlightened conclusion should be that there is no need to be upset by pedophiles thinking sexual thoughts about girls in innocent YouTube videos.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Perfect Pedophile

What would a perfect pedophile look like? Of course I'm talking about a perfectly ethical pedophile, not "the perfect child molester" on the model of "the perfect criminal". Also, all humans are imperfect in countless ways, so a more accurate description of the goal would be a person who handles his pedophilia perfectly. And let's assume a male pedophile attracted to girls, to keep things simple, and an exclusive pedophile, to keep this challenging -- no sexual attraction to adults. Enough with the preliminaries.

The perfect pedophile would be at peace with his sexual attractions. He would feel no self-hate based on something he did not choose. He would not struggle to change what cannot be changed.

He would realize that his only sexual outlets are solitary ones. Since sexual satisfaction is a good thing and unresolved sexual tension is stressful, he would masturbate fairly often to thoughts of the small girls who he is attracted to. He might also use some visual aids. He would strictly avoid child pornography, but would understand that mainstream child actresses and fashion models are freely offering their images to the world with no sexual overtones. The fact that he finds the innocent pictures alluring poses no ethical problem.

As regards real children, it goes without saying he would not molest them. His goal would be to never act in any way differently than a friendly adult who had no sexual interest in children. He might form a friendship with a small girl if she was interested and her parents approved, but there would be no secrets, and he would scrupulously follow the rule that he would do nothing he would not do if the parents were there watching every interaction.

The perfect pedophile described above violates no laws. But he also violates no social norms and causes no waves. He is undetectable.

The perfect pedophile might also decide that he would for his own peace of mind rather avoid children in his life as much as possible. Even diabetics with complete self-control might elect not to hang out in candy shops.

Even if his pedophilia remains undetectable, there could be imperfections behind the scenes.

A perfect pedophile would not seek out child pornography. If nothing else, it poses a very serious legal risk to him. My impression is that this is the most common way that pedophiles in the internet age are imperfect.

Another way a pedophile could fall short of perfection is in feeling some temptation to act, including simply acting in ways that could make others uncomfortable. This nearly perfect pedophile would be aware of his feelings and make sure that if they seemed to be going in a direction inconsistent with his friendly, innocent presence he would do his best to stay out of any such situations. He might decide to limit his participation in family activities with nieces and nephews, even if other adults pressure him to keep participating.

A pedophile who refrains from sexual activity with children is meeting the most important requirement of handling his pedophilia well. He is virtuous. How realistic a goal is this? For an exclusive pedophile, this means lifelong celibacy. The idea in certain circles today that this is a nearly impossible goal is a recent one. Most religious traditions recognize a class of people who choose celibacy to focus exclusively on service or contemplation. Notable examples are Buddhist or Hindu monks and Catholic priests and monks. Pedophiles are forced into this condition instead of choosing it freely, but there are analogs among ordinary people too. Some people are physically or emotionally unable to engage in satisfactory sex with a willing adult partner, and somehow they manage. Very few become rapists.

A less obvious cost to exclusive pedophilia than celibacy is loneliness -- being without a partner to share a life with. Adult relationships are often possible. One typical way is with a partner who is not very interested in sex, and the pedophile can make the sex work even though his attraction is minimal. However, many pedophiles -- including those who are non-exclusive and feel genuine sexual attraction to an adult partner -- are uncomfortable feeling like they are keeping a big secret from their partner, so they feel a relationship is not possible for that reason. Others confide their pedophilia to potential partners, and the great majority of the time that is the end of a budding relationship. In the end, many pedophiles are unable to have a life partner.

Of course good lives have far more to them than sex and partnership. Career, friends, extended family, service to others, sports, hobbies -- all are open to the perfect pedophile as they are to anyone else. It's a fair guess that there are many men out there who could have sex with women if they wanted to, but are so busy and engrossed with other things that they don't get around to it.

I have been close to a perfect pedophile, but I am not exclusive. I was also aided greatly by not realizing it until I was over 50, and had already been married and raised three daughters. (The idea of a pedophile being perfect by never at any point realizing his condition is an intriguing one, but not of much practical importance.)

No one can be perfect. But handling pedophilia with near perfection is entirely feasible, and a great many pedophiles do it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Twitter Pedophile Debate

Breitbart ran an article yesterday trying to get Twitter to ban pedophiles, and without any regard even for what we actually say. As a result, the virpeds Twitter account has gotten a flood of notifications in the past day. Of course Twitter is not a place to resolve much of anything in the brief messages allowed. So I'll try to make sense of the parts I've read.

First, the off-the-deep-end pedophiles who say sex with kids is just fine. From a distance, pedophile haters might see this as part of what "all those pedophiles" want. It isn't, and it's a vital distinction. The vast majority of the pro-pedophile people making tweets are completely clear that we do not seek to legalize or normalize having sex with kids. We're often just as horrified by the consequences of child sex abuse as anyone else.

Next, the off-the-deep-end anti-pedophiles who say all pedophiles should be killed. Child sex abuse naturally enrages people, and I'm sure it feels good to say we should all be killed, especially if you don't understand the distinction above. I think more moderate anti-pedophile voices recognize you can't actually go around killing people who may well never do anything wrong.

So the next anti-pedophile message is, "You're disgusting, so be quiet!" This is an understandable reaction. We were all raised with the idea of sexual attraction to children is disgusting. Many non-offending pedophiles feel the same way, and we hate ourselves deeply. Contemplating suicide isn't exactly universal, but it is very common. Some of the anti-pedophiles get to the point of grudgingly accepting our existence as long as we hate ourselves and empty our lives of any goal other than making sure we don't offend. We accept that the need not to offend is the keystone on which everything else depends, but with that firmly in place we do have lives to live.

Another reaction is, "Stop being that way! Go see a therapist and fix yourselves -- make your attraction to children go away!" Here the vast majority of scientists will agree that it can't be done. Highly motivated child sex offenders have been working with highly motivated therapists for decades now, and the fundamental attraction does not go away. In this one respect it is like homosexuality -- it is set early in life and can't be changed.

Another reason offered for keeping quiet is to not "recruit" pedophiles. No one wants people saying, "Hey, pedophilia -- that sounds new and edgy -- I think I'll try that identity on for size. Thanks for showing me a new option!" If it's ever happened I've never heard of it, and it must be extraordinarily rare. Sexual and romantic attraction is a powerful force, and around puberty all people become aware of who they are attracted to: straight men and women, gays, lesbians, and pedophiles too. All but the most extreme social conservatives recognize that sex education is not the cause of kids thinking about sex. They also know that gay men and lesbians are not recruited by publicity about the existence of gays and lesbians -- but they might recognize what has always been there and feel great relief and empowerment.

One main hope we have is that pedophiles will similarly hear a Virtuous Pedophiles message, recognize themselves and that they are not alone, and feel relief and empowerment. Email to VP reveals this every day. It is not the empowerment to have sex with children -- for many that is a rock our lives are built on, far more certain than who we discover we're attracted to. Instead it's the empowerment to recognize our attractions, recognize that others feel them too, and learn from others how to live a decent life.

Scientists and clinicians have observed that pedophiles are likely to offend for the first time when they are desperate, isolated, and feel they have nothing to lose. Loud, angry anti-pedophile voices suggest society will despise them for finding kids attractive. There is no room left for being further despised if they molest children, so why not give in to temptation? Protecting children requires that pedophiles know society does care -- that they are accepted if they do not molest children, and condemned if they do.

Pedophilia is a condition that is never chosen and that cannot be changed; that is beyond our control. But we do have control over our actions, and take in dead earnest our obligation never to offend against children. But then we also have lives to live, and a path out of self-hatred is a good start.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Lessons from mass shootings for CP viewing

A matter of great concern to many people in the US is the string of mass shootings that goes on year after year. They garner media attention. They shake people's confidence that they live in a good society if such things happen. They motivate calls for more restrictions on firearms.

Surely a key motivation for these shootings is the knowledge by the shooter that they will get attention. Call it fame or call it infamy -- people will notice them. The news stories and gruesome images resonate with certain angry men who realize that it could be their mug shot appearing all over the national news. News organizations give lurid details because they get attention and generate revenue when people view them. What motivates those viewers? Surely it's largely the thrill and horror of it -- a sort of prurient interest in violence.

One vital step we could take to prevent such shootings is to give them less publicity. We don't want to literally suppress the news, but a brief story giving just the location, the weapons, the count of those killed and wounded would convey what the public needs to know. No footage of the scene, no interviews with survivors or bereaved relatives, no mug shot of the perpetrator.

I think it's time to appreciate the gravity of the situation and apportion the blame. People who make such videos or decide to release them are directly responsible for future deaths. But they only do this because it makes them money. So the ultimate moral responsibility falls on each and every person who consumes such videos -- their viewing of it motivates the coverage, and the coverage motivates more perpetrators. The fact that there are millions of other viewers makes no difference -- each one should view it as their personal moral responsibility.

But we need to go beyond moral responsibility to decisive legal action. We should also make it illegal to make such stories, and illegal to view them. Even for viewers, a fine is not enough. A prison term of several years would be a fitting punishment for each act of viewing. Yes, you heard me right -- several years of prison for viewing sensational coverage of mass shootings. Surely I have lost my mind?

Consider for comparison the crime of simple viewing of child pornography. Society treats the viewing of such material as a serious crime calling for years in prison. This sentence is called for even when the viewer hasn't paid anybody, hasn't made anything, hasn't sent anything to others, hasn't made any comments encouraging the production of more, and even if the images in question have been viewed thousands of times by other people. The key rationale is that the viewing fuels a market for making more child pornography. But if you accept this rationale, the justification for similar penalties in the case of mass shootings is stronger.

Most child pornography is made to be traded within a small group of despicable people for their own purposes. Wider attention is irrelevant and often unwelcome, as it increases the chance that someone might recognize the children and get the makers in serious trouble. In contrast, mass shooters are directly motivated by the prospect that they will be famous. The news organizations that would make them famous are directly motivated by the revenue from the views of those who want to see it.

In an open, free society, the government does not interfere in people's lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The most common reason is that they are harming others.

Making child pornography is an example of child sex abuse and is rightly criminal for that reason. But the harm caused by viewing it is much less clear. Average people hate the idea of child pornography at a gut level and want to find justifications for stamping it out in any way they can. But if they are committed to civil liberties, they have to find a justification based in harm. People will often say that viewing child porn creates a market for more. The comparison with viewing news video of mass shootings makes it clear how flimsy and preposterous this is.

Other justifications offered for draconian punishment for child porn possession: Victims are harmed every time someone views a video -- this requires spooky action at a distance, as no one can draw a line from an act of private viewing to the head of the victim. Viewing child porn stands in for the crime of child sex abuse -- in fact, the correlation is not that strong and a free society does not punish people for things that are merely correlated with crimes. Viewing child porn will cause people to go on to molest children -- the relationship is far from clear and there is <some evidence in the opposite direction>. In any case, a free society does not punish people for reading or viewing things that might lead them to commit a crime.

There is no justification for the viewing of child pornography being a crime in a free society. It is a crime only because people hate pedophiles. A free society does not punish people it disapproves of if they aren't harming anyone else.

There is legitimate moral concern -- I tend to agree that viewing child porn for sexual gratification is a morally repulsive and disrespectful thing to do.

But there is also a legitimate moral concern about viewing sensational footage of mass shootings -- there a causal link with future violence is clear. Perhaps those who condemn pedophiles for viewing child porn should first look at their own moral failings. Individual citizens who want to prevent mass shootings could organize and lobby the news organizations, threatening to cancel subscriptions and shun the advertisers unless they stop giving such detailed attention to these stories. How many people do?