According to Ohio state law, convicted child pornographers are required to carry a Tier 2 sexual offender classification, requiring registration as a sex offender for twenty years. In this case, a teen girl from Licking Valley High School is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.
In case you made it this far without passing judgment on “yet another child pornographer,” the girl charged is fifteen years old, her “criminal tool” was a cell phone and MMS (multimedia messaging service). Her “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material” were nude photos of herself. Putting those together, you can deduce that she took nude photos of herself with her cell phone. The Licking County prosecutor, Ken Oswalt, has received reports of 20 similar cases among school age teens, and he has been traveling to the area schools with an assembly program that discusses the consequences of such actions.
While the teen girl who sent these nude pictures of herself to others via MMS is not alone, she has been the only person arrested. She also spent a weekend in jail awaiting arraignment and a bond hearing. The statute she has been accused of breaking has exemptions in place that allows parents and/or guardians to take pictures of their naked children for a list of acceptable purposes. Interestingly, the statute does not provide the same exemption for the child themselves. While the consequences for her have already been laid out by the prosecutor in the charges, the recipients of her messages may be also facing prosecution for their passive role(s) in this incident.
Part of the Republican Party platform to be voted on at the national convention this week is language that calls for a crackdown on the porn industry.
Before we jump the gun on anything, it’s worth noting that the party platform isn’t binding. The GOP platform has called for lots of things Republicans don’t actually endorse, so we probably shouldn’t panic too much…yet.
So, if it’s not binding, what’s the problem with having issues like this in the platform? Here are a few reasons:
1. It distracts from the real issues.
Today the news isn’t talking about a massive budget overhaul. They’re talking about how Republicans want to prevent adults from accessing pornography. We have a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. We are fighting wars we can’t afford. We are heading toward complete fiscal ruin, and Republicans want to talk about banning porn? It’s nothing more than a distraction to take our eyes off of what’s important.
2. It gives politicians an excuse to expand government.
When a Republican decides it’s time to make legislation to control the behavior of others, he’ll have an easier time getting support for it when it’s part of the platform. Legislators can use the “well, it was in the platform, so I supported it like a good little Republican” excuse and support the expansion of government without fear of blowback from the party.
3. Protecting me from myself is not a legitimate function of government.
There is no scenario in which keeping an adult from viewing pornographic material created by consenting adults is a legitimate function of government. Whether we’re talking about state or federal government, that type of law is inappropriate.