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Pirate Party: Cartoons are not child porn

Pirate Party: Cartoons are not child porn

Published: 05 Aug 2010 12:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Aug 2010 12:02 GMT+02:00

Sweden's Pirate Party said on Thursday that child pornography should be permitted in cartoons. The law should focus on 'real criminals' abusing children, its leader said.

"We want to be extremely clear in that we do not want to legalize any form of the handling of child pornography," the party's leader Rick Falkvinge said in a statement.

Falkvinge expressed regret over comments made in an interview with Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme on Wednesday admitting that he "expressed himself clumsily".

"It is a restriction on freedom of information to forbid anyone to have - just possess - pictures, text, sound and so on. This was discussed a lot in 1999, before this ban was due to be imposed. In retrospect, we can only conclude that the critics were right on every point," Falvinge told Ekot on Wednesday referring to the new law adopted in Sweden in 1999.

Falkvinge continued to call the law toothless and the party's election manifesto includes the demand for a change in the law and he argues that there is support for the party's position.

"The debate emerged when a man was convicted for the possession of animated comics," Falkvinge said. "In an open society you can not forbid someone from drawing their fantasies. That is our main point in the issue, that we can not have thought crimes in Swedish law."

The Pirate Party has been roundly criticised for its manifesto position and for Falkvinge's comments. But in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Thursday, law professor Madeleine Leijonhuvud gave qualified support to the idea:

"The Pirate Party's demand that comic books should not be child pornography crimes is one that I share - albeit with a completely different underlying outlook than that I have met in discussions with its representatives," said Leijonhuvud, who took part in the consultation process surrounding the 1999 law.

Leijonhuvud argues that child pornography legislation should be framed along the lines of the crime of receiving stolen goods, "an offence framed in its the context of its subsequent participation".

"The only reasonable course of action is to regard pictures of the assault on children as a further crime against the affected child," she said explaining that the 1999 legislation, which was amended as late as 2009, classifies the crime instead as a public order offence.

Leijonhuvud argues that legally it is important to recognise the market aspect of the crime in that the demand for child pornography is directly connected to the assaults committed to obtain it, and as such its possession should be classified instead as a sexual offence in the statute book.

"It is important to recognize that it is the children exposed to this spread of violence that are the victims, those against whom this conduct is directed."

As cartoon images of fictional children have not been preceded by an assault and are simply the figments of an individual's imagination as Falkvinge argues, then if the crime were classified to reflect a sexual offence they would not be illegal, Leijonhuvud explains.

The professor recognizes that modern technology enables the manipulation of pictures and could thus complicate proving that a real child was involved but argues that if the law were considered similar to the handling of stolen goods then all that would be required is to establish the existence of "reasonable assumption that another crime had occurred".

She underlines that it is already a crime to abuse a minor (under 15-years-old in Sweden) to make sexual poses, extended up to 18-years-old if the posing is deemed to harm the child's health and development.

Pirate Party vice-chairperson Anna Troberg told The Local on Thursday that the party wants to see legal resources directed at tackling "real child pornography" and to stop making criminals of large numbers of other innocent people.

"The current law is wasting resources chasing pretend criminals and should be focusing on real child pornography, with real children involved, not manga comics, holiday pictures and so on," she said.

Troberg recognized that modern technology allows for the manipulation of pictures and that even cartoon animations could depict real life situations and children, but argues that the police have the technology to establish the difference.

"The problem is that they focus on the pictures and not the victims and waste masses of resources," Anna Troberg told the Local. "We in fact want to go further to tackle the spread of child pornography and propose the closure of offending websites with the help of economic crime legislation."

The Pirate Party was formed in 2006 campaigning on a platform of copyright and patent reform and privacy issues. The party gained 0.63 percent of the votes at the 2006 general election and 7.13 percent of the votes in the 2009 European Parliament elections, winning two seats.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:23 August 5, 2010 by Rebel
Just wondering, those airport scanners -- couldn't those be considered child porn when done on under-age passengers?
14:40 August 5, 2010 by eZee.se
"The problem is that they focus on the pictures and not the victims and waste masses of resources"

Well said Anna, or to put it in another way, the idea is to treat the sickness not the symptoms.
15:00 August 5, 2010 by Nemesis
On the bais of that, I support the arrest and immediate jailing of anyone who is a member of the Pirate party.

I once had sympathies with the Pirate Party. How I support there immediate arrest without bail.
17:37 August 5, 2010 by vladd777
Well that's one party that's definitely been crossed off my list!

We will reap what we sow!!
17:37 August 5, 2010 by Taxalien
The pirate party is full of communist who don't understand capital and interest and who would love to confiscate and render the investment into immaterial rights null and void. Their response to "but it costs money to produce a movie which needs to be recovered" is "we don't care, anyone can produce a movie if they like" and musicians and others have no legal right to expect to be paid...

Just like the Sovietunion...
18:02 August 5, 2010 by Kaethar
The pirate party finally makes sense! ;)
18:06 August 5, 2010 by eZee.se
To the 3 comments above me:

Do you honestly think having a parody picture of Bart or Lisa Simpson nude equals to possession of child porn?

Because the above example is exactly what PP says is *not* CP- and no children were harmed by someone having a nude (parody) picture of said child.

@Taxalien, you are so wrong on so many points I dismiss most of your comment as trolling and recommend you visit the PP website if you are not trolling.
01:02 August 6, 2010 by zircon
Why would anyone need child pornography when you can have wives like Margot W?
06:30 August 6, 2010 by here for the summer
having sexual images of children whether cartoon or actual is harmful to society. It will encourage people to take such actual pictures and enable to unhealthy sexual fixation on children at the least and at the worst encourage sexual abuse. Is it an accident near 100% of the people arrested for child sex abuse have sexual images of children in their possession ?

Why is Sweden society so reluctant to protect it's children ?
09:24 August 6, 2010 by teslar
@here for the summer

By the same argument, having graphical depictions of murder, whether actual or not, would be harmful to society. In fact, any depiction of any illegal activity, whether actual or not, would be harmful. Do you own any action movie on DVD? Horror movie? Any crime novel? You pervert.

You can't just single out child porn as the one crime where even imaginary depictions thereof are illegal - if you believe that harm comes from such a depiction even if not real, you have to be consequent and apply it to all crimes. Never mind a cartoon of a naked Lisa Simpson for instance - award-winning movies like Pan's Labyrinth (pure fiction) or Downfall (based on fact) depict child murder!! Why would that be OK in your world?

As for your final argument - near 100% of people arrested for any crime have used toothpaste at some point in their lives. And 99% of all murders in the United States happen within one mile of a McDonald's. Are you going to forbid toothpaste and shut down McDonald's too now? I recommend obtaining a basic grasp on how to use (and, more importantly, not to use) statistics before making such claims.
10:19 August 6, 2010 by Lars J
In what way are the Pirate party "communist"? Their ideology is clearly liberal. Not fake liberal like "FolkPartiet" but true liberal. Even if there are only three focus questions right now the direction of the party is towards a minimal night watchman state. Government should not have more control over the individual than necessary. That disqualifies the orwellian surveillance state that is currently manifesting in Sweden and Europe.

There was a time when even the Moderat (M) party was against big government. Those days are over. Today you need to read the party programmes with magnifying glass to discover any difference at all between the red-green block and the orange alliance block. In this depressing situation the Pirate Party comes as a breath of fresh air.
17:53 August 6, 2010 by eZee.se
@here for the summer,

When I was younger I used to download comics like Batman as they were not available in the country where I was residing.

Perhaps you should read a few of them yourself, at times the images depict murders and torture of absolute savagery committed by (comic) serial murderers as well as (comic) super villains such as The Joker, Strawman etc - on children as well as adults, brilliantly (and artistically) drawn by DC Comics in vivid colors.

By your logic because of those books there should be hundreds/thousands of crimes committed to mirror those images - and Batman comics should be banned as well.

That makes absolutely no ****ing sense.

As pointed out above, you'll need to ban nearly all horror/thriller and action films as well.

While I am 100% with you that _actual images_ cause harm - you will have to wait till I got completely crazy to say that comic images is child porn.

(And by the way, I am a person who totally supports castration for people who exploit children and/or increasing penalties 10fold for _actual child porn_ pedos, peddlers as well possession and distribution)
02:19 August 7, 2010 by zircon
People can't handle professionalism. That would be too technocratic.
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