Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sexting: Nobody's Business Except the Sexters and their Parents

You've likely heard about "sexting" - teenagers sending photos of themselves, naked or partially unclothed, to themselves via their cellphones, and then being arrested on "child pornography" charges in states ranging from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and Alabama. A Google search today shows nearly 700,000 hits on "sexting". Mike Galanos raves about the horrors of sexting just about every night on CNN's Headline News.

Here is why is this public furor, in particular the arrests, arising from sexting are wrong - and dangerous:

1. Sexting does not entail an adult endangering a minor. Adults are not involved. If the photos were used by adults, or predators, then police involvement would be not only warranted but rightfully obligated.

2. Use of police authority to stop sexters reduces the police available for cracking down on dangerous predators who abuse, kidnap, and kill kids and teenagers - real crimes, in contrast to sexting, which is an act between consenting teenagers. Obviously, if the act was not mutually consenting - if a teen used such pictures for cyber bullying, public ridicule, etc - that would be a completely different matter.

3. The First Amendment prohibits the Federal government (and the Fourteenth Amendment extends this restriction to state and all other governments) from interfering with freedom of speech and press. A photograph is a kind of press (in this case, used for private, interpersonal rather than public purposes).

4. Parents have a right and obligation to know what their children are doing, and talk about it to them if the parents deem it objectionable. That's a far cry from being arrested!

5. What do these arrests teach our children? It says that, when they do something which brings them pleasure, which hurts no one, the government has a right to step in and arrest them. That stikes me as the kind of lessons the government meted out in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - not in the United States of America.

I hope the courts throw each and every one of these cases out - a Federal judge already issued a restraining order on the Pennsylvania prosecutor last week. Give the prosecutors and police a stern warning: keep your focus on crimes, that's what the American people expect of you.

Barna Donovan & Ernabel Demillo interview me on Culture Wars about sexting;
starts a fews mins into interview

I talk to the Truth on Earth Band about combatting cyberbulling
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