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Fury as top Pirate calls for end to child porn ban

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Fury as top Pirate calls for end to child porn ban
18:17 CEST+02:00
Rick Falkvinge, the founder Sweden's Pirate Party, has found himself in hot water after publishing a lengthy polemic calling for the legalization of child pornography.

falkvinge.net/2012/09/07/three-reasons-child-porn-must-be-re-legalized-in-the-coming-decade/" target="_blank"> In a lengthy post published on his personal blog at the weekend, Falkvinge outlined "three reasons why the ownership of child pornography must be legalized in the coming decade."

The man hailed as a "pioneer" of the European Pirate movement which champions information freedom and argues against copyright protections argued that the ban on owning images of children being raped was "an open wound in the tradition of the enlightenment and the freedom of information."

He said that as long as this ban remained in place, there would always be bans on other kinds of information.

Falkvinge's treatise drew a sharp rebuke from the German Pirate Party, which distanced itself from his statements.

The Swedish Pirate Party founder "clearly got tangled up in his own thinking," said Bernd Schlömer, chair of the German Pirate Party, the German Express newspaper group reported on Monday.

"Like society in general, the digital community needs to cooperate and have a functioning legal system."

Berlin Pirate Stephan Urbach said Falkvinge's blog post disqualified him as a serious political activist.

According to Falkvinge's argument, the rapid development of new eye glasses-shaped smart phones such as Google Glass would, in combination with other web-based services, allow anyone's walk in the park to be broadcast live online and in real time.

"So, on your lovely stroll in the park, you turn a corner, and to your shock, see a 12-year-old being brutally raped right in front of you," Falkvinge explains.

"WHAM. You are now a criminal, guilty of recording, distributing, and possessing child pornography."

Moreover, according to current criminal codes in some countries, the act of web-casting the rape would carry a higher penalty than perpetrating the rape itself.

Falkvinge also reflects on whether current bans on the possession of child pornography are in place because "we want to catch child rapists and molesters" or because we're "uncomfortable" with the existence of child porn and want to "legislate it out of existence".

"I also have a very strong feeling that the ban is in place because we'd like to pretend that things like this don't happen, and legislate it out of our field of view, throwing actual victims of crime to the wolves in the process. That's not worthy," he writes.

Falkvinge also contends that current anti-child porn laws "turn a whole generation into sex offenders" by not differentiating between a video depicting the rape of a 7-year-old and one showing two 17-year-olds engaged in consensual sex.

"Why are one of the most horrible things and one of the most beautiful things in the world considered one and the same by the law?" he asks.

The Pirate Party founder admits that he started watching porn when he was only 10-years-old, but imagines children seek porn out earlier in part due to easy access via the internet, something he characterizes as "natural".

Falkvinge also takes aim at child rape laws.

"Technically, most people growing up today lose their virginity through rape. I say 'technically': they lose their virginity through rape because legislators have redefined 'rape' to include consensual, voluntary, loving sex between people of typical age of sexual debut," he argues.

He goes on to liken efforts to censor child pornography with banning books, seeing the debate about whether or not to ban child porn as the next battle ground regarding the freedom of information.

"Today, we have an open wound in our constitutionally protected right to speak freely that is being infested again and again," Falkvinge explains.

"Child pornography is horrible and awful from every angle and in every aspect. But it is not dangerous to the fabric of society. Censorship and electronic book burning, however, is."

"The overall freedom of speech is won or lost with restoring freedom of information and, as a result, re-legalizing possession of child pornography."

Falkvinge served as head of the Swedish Pirate Party from its founding on January 1st, 2006 before stepping down in 2011, five years to the day after the party was founded.

The newly published argument is not the first time Falkvinge courted controversy with statements about the legalization of child pornography.

In August 2010, he was forced to clarify his and the Pirate Party's position on child porn in relation to statements he made related to a high profile case in Sweden involving a man charged for possessing manga-style cartoons depicting naked children.

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