Protecting Children From Porn

There's a new Michigan state register (at https://www.protectmichild.com/) in the works to create a database of e-mail addresses that cannot (under penalty of the law) be spammed with content that could be deemed objectionable to children, most notably porn. The database will extend to include pager and cell phone numbers sometime in the future. Right now, it's sort of like the national DO NOT CALL registry, but for electronic mail.

What happens is that parents and guardians write or phone in the addresses that their children and wards have access to. The project is in the registry phase right now, i.e e-mail addresses are still being compiled (as of July 1). The actual DO NOT EMAIL statute takes effect on August 1.

E-mail advertisers must, from here on in, crosscheck this state list before sending out their e-mail newsletter or advertising to ensure that they're not sending mail to an address that kids under 18 have access to. The penalties for infringement are reasonably stiff, not too much so. They're certainly stiffer than the ones for the DO NOT CALL register (I checked because I'm on that one).

Someone needs to send this to Capitol Hill so that our national legislators can see what a child-protection law looks like; for the next time they try to come up with a statute as half-hearted - supposedly well-intentioned, but flawed in design - as Title 18 U.S.C. §2257.

I believe that a noble, decent, and well-intended law/statute - at it's basic core - should do three things:

1. Lay down boundaries for proper conduct;

2. Seek to punish those who cross those boundaries; and in so doing

3. Do everything within its reasonable power to prevent transgressions in the future.

Everybody and their brother in the adult industry knows that the new 2257 statute regulations that just kicked in are a joke. The spirit of 2257, as it is expounded upon in the entire 110th chapter of that section of the US code, is to prevent the abuse of children, sexually and otherwise. Now it's one thing to require that porn content producers ascertain and maintain proof of identity and age for prospective adult performers. It would be irresponsible on the part of government and the adult industry not to keep up on such record-keeping.

As a matter of fact, long before the biggest underage actress hoopla came along, in the guise of Traci Lords, porn studios were checking IDs. (For those who don't know, Lords was an underage porn actress that "snuck" into the business and appeared in many videos. When the studios that produced her videos got wind of her actual age at the time of her performances, they pulled her content from store shelves.)

But this notion that a consistently enforced 2257 (like that which is imposed at the present) would have prevented the Lords incident is mistakable. 2257 would not have made her authentic-looking proof of age look any more fake. A lot of people may not believe this but the adult industry does a pretty good job of policing itself. The only way a minor could enter the industry is if he or she made a conscious decision to apply to be a pornstar, and took certain premeditated steps to make the dream a reality (in terms of obtaining said Ids). Where is the punishment for minors who knowingly attempt to enter the industry while underage?

I'm sure some manner of punishment, in terms of juvenile detention, would deter future mid-teens from trying to pass off some fake IDs. Isn't that what correctional facilities are for? The primary purpose of a prison or a detention facility should be (if a detainee can be salvaged or rehabbed) to prevent mal-behavior in the future, primary to punishment of said offenders.

The jailing of unwitting and honest porn execs (and I do know there are a lot of shady people in the business) for a crime perpetrated by an unethical minor seems highly unfair. It would be like punishing the makers of a completely legitimate pharmaceutical or hospital drug like opium because there are illicit dealers who dispense their products on the street. Are not only the offenders (the drug dealers) in this case punished?

Granted, under the Michigan law, giving admitted or intended pedophiles (who pose as electronic spammers) access to children's phone numbers and e-mail addresses is almost like putting a leash on a wolf and walking him right up to the sheep's pen. But you would be mistaken if you thought a pedophile determined to strike again would otherwise have no other means to re-commit his heinous crimes.

The Michigan statute just serves to lay down boundaries and define precise, justifiable repercussions for crossing such boundaries. In the end, the law does what it's supposed to do: protect the children and see to it (within reasonable expectation) that pedophile crimes don't happen again - by putting away and/or deterring would be molesters. On the other hand, 2257 as it stands does little to protect or serve anyone.

Finally, a child-welfare law (The Michigan Children's Protection Registry) that actually serves its purpose. If President Bush, Attorney General Gonzales, and the Department of Justice were not so hell-bent on ridding the US - or maybe the universe for that matter - of pornography in all shapes and forms, they would see that 2257 just doesn't do what they believe it will do. Or maybe they already knew that, and their mind set is bye-bye, see-ya to porn anyway?

And that heavy hand on the adult industry is about to get heavier now that the semi-liberal, semi-conservative Justice O'Connor just retired. But that's a story for another day?

The author is affiliated with Sex-Toys-Videos.com, and writes regular porn and sex toy articles for his blog page.

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