Just because it’s tasteless doesn’t make it child porn

This is one of those stories. The kind that gets my blood boiling. The kind where I read it, take a step back from the computer, pour myself another glass of my beverage of the evening (tonight, it happens to be iced tea), shake my head, and say “Wow.”

Dr. Marty Klein’s blog Sexual Intelligence features this story of Evan Emory. Evan did something that, in all honesty, is patently devoid of anything resembling good taste or decency. Frankly, typical college fraternity exploits are in better taste than this.

From Dr. Marty’s article (by the way, in keeping with my convention of referring to the “good guys” by first names, I hope nobody minds if I call him that):

Last month, Evan received permission to play a song for a first-grade class. Under the watchful eye of their teacher, Evan sang “Lunch Lady Land” and, with school permission, videotaped the event. So far, everyone wins.

This stupid jackass goes home, edits the video, and splices in shots of himself singing sexually explicit lyrics, so it looks like he’s singing that to the kiddies. The lyrics, by the way, are not about them. He apparently thinks it’s hilarious–sophomoric humor on steroids. Three days ago he puts it up on YouTube with the disclaimer that “no actual children have been exposed” to the song.

The blog post goes on to state that Evan has been charged with, in essence, making kiddie porn, and is facing 20 years in prison. And this is the part I take exception to. As tasteless as this as, I don’t think he should be subject to criminal sanctions. Has he entered the “I deserve to have the pants sued off of me by angry parents” zone? Most definitely. Does his reputation deserve to be tarnished for a good long while? Damn right.

Does Evan deserve to be tagged “child pornographer” and get stuck checking the “yes” box next to “have you been convicted or pled guilty or no contest to a felony?” on job applications for the rest of his life? No way.

I’ll relay the best personal anecdote I have here. My late grandfather (he passed away in 2002) was an avid photographer. We had a trailer out in the country where we’d go on some weekends, which was a good three-hour drive from Houston. (We were able to receive Austin and San Antonio TV stations, if that helps give you an idea of about where it was.)

Anyway, one of the aftermarket modifications to this semi-permanently-parked trailer was a porch built around two sides. We’ll call them the north and east sides, with the front door on the north side. On the east side, there was a water spigot that extended some couple of feet above the porch. Just the perfect height.

So my grandfather got the idea to do some trick photography. He had me pose in front of the spigot and cup my hand about crotch-high, with my pants still on and zipped up. With the spigot turned on, a picture taken from the right angle would look like I was urinating, with the spigot and pipe leading to it nowhere in sight. (And, I might add, with an unrealistic stream for someone my age.)

I’m not sure what became of the picture, and yes, I will admit it was in pretty poor taste. But I thought it was hilarious, and I’m assuming my grandfather did too. The drug store photo clerk probably got a chuckle or three as well. (This is back when we still had Eckerd drugstores, which incidentally is quite probably where he took this roll to be developed.) I don’t consider myself abused from this incident. Not in the least. We made a picture together that was as funny as hell, even if my grandmother and whatever other relatives that saw it disapproved.

The only reason I can tell this story today is because my grandfather can’t possibly face any legal action for it, having passed away some eight years and change ago. And I think that’s sad. But to answer the question I know some of you are asking, no, I don’t think he would have posted it to Flickr, at least not as publicly viewable.

And of course, I wouldn’t dare take a similar trick photography picture of my kids today. It is a shame that we as a society have literally gone crazy with the passange and enforcement of sex-related laws. In fact, there are so many silly laws based solely on intent, solely on “he/she thought it was a minor, therefore he/she is guilty.”

It’s a real shame otherwise good people like Evan Emory find themselves facing felony charges, for things that in all honesty shouldn’t be crimes. And again, this shouldn’t be a crime. Ripe fodder for a barrage of civil suits, yes, but not a crime.

Again, Dr. Marty hits it on the head:

Which child was sexually abused? None.

What harm has any child experienced? None.

If any child has been “harmed,” has that child been “sexually abused?” No.

So, two points in conclusion.

Even though he does not deserve a felony conviction for it, and I honestly hope the charges are dropped, shame on Evan Emory.

However, the real villians here are the superintendent, John B. VanLoon; the principal, Lowell Whitaker; and prosecutor, who curiously is not mentioned by name in any of the news stories I was able to dig up. They deserve a much bigger “shame on you.” At least ten times as big, if not a hundred. So, shame on Mr. Whitaker, Mr. VanLoon, and the still-anonymous Muskegon County prosecutor. And shame on everyone who wants to see Evan get a criminal conviction on a charge he does not deserve.

Mean, thoughtless, and tasteless: PETA crosses the line

Momlogic.com reports on what may well be the single biggest lapse in good judgment ever to come out of the infamous “animal rights” organization PETA: a billboard with an obviously overweight woman in a swimsuit (depicted from behind, neck to small of back) and the tagline “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA.”

I can’t believe even PETA would stoop this low. This is flagrantly sexist; I don’t know how CBS Outdoor (formerly Viacom) allowed this to go up, or who PETA bribed to get this out there in this medium. That alone costs PETA much of the credibility they might have otherwise had.

PETA assumes plenty of facts about the majority of cases of obesity that have simply not been proven. There are many cases of obesity out there that changes in diet alone will not solve. I, personally, believe exercise plays a far greater role in losing weight than diet. I dismissed the Atkins diet as the fad that it is (was?).

As some evidence of this, people may think it ludicrous that professional sports franchises gave such high allowances for meals on road games–the NFL’s allowances from 2007 were $17, $25, and $43 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner respectively, probably a bit higher in 2009 due to inflation. Few consider the possibility that the activity levels of many professional athletes actually justify $17 for breakfast, etc. Yet that is probably the reason for the meal allowances being as high as they are! (In the particular case of the NFL, weight is actually an advantage for some positions and so players would need to maintain their weight, specifically eating enough to lose as little as possible. I wouldn’t exactly expect baseball, basketball, soccer, or hockey players to eat like birds, however.)

Until there is hard evidence that a vegetarian or vegan diet alone will result in weight loss with no other changes in lifestyle, the responsible thing to do is for PETA to remove their billboard. Of course, this is the same PETA that has no problem with splashing red paint on fur coats just to advance their ridiculous extremist view. So I’m not sure PETA will ever do the responsible thing. I retain my optimism, however.