By Tony Casson
“What sorrow awaits the world because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.” Matthew 18:27 NLT
“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” Seneca
Many of you are familiar with a series of fast-car movies, the first of which was “Fast And Furious”. Those words also signify a disturbing willingness on the part of certain government officials to be as complicit in criminal activity as those they are trying to bring to justice.
“Fast And Furious” was also the code name given to a ‘gun-walking’ operation conducted by some members of the Department Of Justice in Arizona. Thousands of weapons were allowed to be sold illegally with the intention of tracking them to those who purchased them. It seems that “Fast And Furious” was the appropriate code name, for the weapons disappeared ‘fast’ and now the citizens of this country should be ‘furious’.
It was a misguided effort that has resulted in terminations, reassignments, and even a contempt of Congress citation for the Attorney General of the United States.
One of the weapons that was allowed to be sold turned up at the location where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered.
Putting weapons into the hands of dangerous criminals who are known to have a proven willingness to use them should be treated as a criminal offense, NOT as a misguided attempt at ferreting out criminals in a search for ‘justice’. The responsibility of law enforcement is to enforce and uphold the law, not break it. It is the responsibility of law enforcement to apprehend those who have committed a crime, NOT to create opportunities for crimes to be committed.
Succumbing to temptation does not relieve an individual of the consequences of their actions, but it could be argued that if it were not for the temptation the action itself might not have occurred in the first place. A person who commits a crime of convenience – or opportunity – is guilty, as is the one who planned it before hand, but if the opportunity can be denied; if the temptation can be removed; if the criminal act can be PREVENTED in the first place, should that not be the overwhelmingly preferred method of dealing with crime?
Preventative medicine is practiced and promoted as being more prudent, responsible, and economical than waiting for illness and disease to occur. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. And a doctor does not make people sick in order to create business for himself… that would be unethical, irresponsible, and illegal. The same should hold true for criminal activity. Crime PREVENTION should be the first order of business for those who make, enforce, and adjudicate our laws.
A bank does not leave its money sitting on the counter in the hope that no one will take it. It locks it securely in a vault.
A teacher does not leave the answer key to a test sitting on an unattended desk, hoping no one will cheat. They are locked away.
Nor does a jewelry store display all of its wares on open shelves and counters trusting all who enter their place of business to remain honest. They are kept under lock and key and removed as required.
We are all aware that banks are held up, test answers are stolen and sold, and jewelry stores are robbed. These crimes occur, but reasonable, responsible steps are taken to prevent them from happening in the first place. If any of these items were left out accidentally and they were stolen, the person leaving them out would be guilty of negligence, but not necessarily guilty of a crime.
But what if the item that is ‘left out’ is an item that is illegal to transport, distribute, or possess in the first place? If that item could be locked up to prevent anyone from picking it up, but is intentionally left out to see who comes along and picks it up, is the one who leaves it out guilty of negligence, a crime, or both? Is it RIGHT to intentionally tempt someone with something illegal just to see if they will succumb to the temptation? If the item itself is against the law to possess and possession of that item is PREVENTABLE, should it not be prevented?
Child pornography is just such an item. With available technology, the overwhelming majority of it can be prevented from ever reaching the computers in our homes in the first place. The technology also exists to first send a warning to the user that a transmission containing possible images of child pornography has been detected trying to reach their computer, giving them the opportunity to refuse the material.
Neither of these things is being done and as a result, the spread of child pornography and the exploitation of innocent children is being perpetuated in another ‘fast and furious’ attempt at luring individuals to crime through the use of acts that are, themselves, criminal. As a result of this irresponsibility, I submit that any corporation – such as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) – or government agency, or individuals belonging to any corporation or government agency that allows illegal material to reach its destination without attempting to prevent it or warn of its transmission is complicit in the commission of an illegal act and is guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. 2252 (A), distribution of child pornography. These same individuals and entities, because they have continued their illegal acts for years and have distributed to millions of individuals are also guilty of violation of 18 U.S.C 2252 (A) (g), which is operating a child exploitation enterprise.
In addition, civil suits have been filed by attorneys for many of the victims of sexual abuse who have been identified. Restitution in the millions of dollars has been awarded and those found guilty of possessing their images have been deemed liable for damages as a proximate cause of the emotional distress and trauma these victims have suffered. It only follows that a more direct contributor to the trauma of these children would be the very entities who can PREVENT most of these images from being viewed in the first place. That said, ISP’s and the U.S. Government should be held liable for civil damages as well.
Possession of illegal drugs is a crime. PROVIDING those drugs is a more serious crime. I see no difference here. Internet Service Providers and the U.S. Department of Justice are providing child pornography to MILLIONS of people resulting in the ongoing exploitation of innocent children. Anyone involved in these misguided attempts to create criminals rather than prevent crime is involved in behavior that is irresponsible, immoral, and illegal. Those who have the power to stop this horror and don’t should share bed space in the prisons to which they send the criminals they have created.
Let us examine the following scenario:
An armored truck is traveling on the interstate when its rear doors pop open accidentally. Several bags of money fall out onto the highway, spilling their contents. Hundreds of motorists stop and begin stuffing handfuls of money into their pockets, caught up in the moment. A police officer happens upon the scene and begins to arrest people as they try to leave. Of course he manages to detain some, but he only stops a fraction of those who took advantage of the opportunity. The damage has been done. They are guilty of a crime, but the crime obviously was one of opportunity. Had the doors not popped open, their crimes would have gone uncommitted. Since they popped open accidentally, no crime was committed by anyone inside the truck, although there certainly was negligence. But what if they had been opened intentionally?
The ‘doors’ to child pornography have been intentionally left open in order to catch as many of those as possible who succumb to temptation. This is wrong. But can the ‘door’ really be closed? What do we need to do to close and lock them? I am not a very technologically savvy individual, but a couple of news stories I have read make it very obvious that there IS a way, the way is known, and it is purposely NOT being used to prevent the exploitation of innocent children and the ruination of tens of thousands of lives.
First, let’s look at something that happened in south Florida earlier this year. The Southern District Director for Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) was arrested for possession of child pornography. What I found fascinating was HOW he was caught. AOL was his provider and they run software that apparently all ISP’s do that scans all images transmitted through it servers looking for child pornography. The software reads the ‘digital fingerprint’ of the data and can tell which images contain child pornography. What a great idea! This means they stop it before it ever gets in our homes, right? Wrong. They simply allow it to proceed and then notify the FBI. In other words, they opened the door of the armored car intentionally.
The first point in my argument is that if these images passed through servers that belonged to AOL and were identified, then they were allowed to pass through the control of AOL. If AOL’s servers detected child pornography, which is illegal – we are not talking about a freedom of speech issue here – and yet they did nothing to stop it, then from that point onward, AOL DISTRIBUTED child pornography. They had identified it for what it was, they had it in their control, they could have prevented it from going any further and they did nothing. This would also make them responsible for any of the trauma endured by the victims in those images through their negligence in not preventing the commission of a crime that they were aware of.
Another story I read more recently was regarding services Google provides to its users in China. It seems that searching for certain words or phrases in China can lead to the government cutting the user’s connection. As a service to their users, Google now has warning ‘flags’ that drop down and inform their user of the possibility of the loss of connection when they type certain words into the search field. It should be a very simple thing to provide the same type of warning ‘flag’ when certain phrases used to search for images of child pornography are typed in. Something to the effect of:
WARNING: The use of certain search terms could result in
the intentional or accidental downloading or viewing of child
pornography, which is a serious crime. Penalties for these
crimes could result in imprisonment for terms of TEN YEARS
In the case of the transmission in progress, if the material isn’t going to be blocked completely, at the very least a warning ‘flag’ should pop up prior to the completion of the transmission. Something to the effect of:
WARNING: Your Internet Service Provider’s software has detected
images that may contain child pornography being sent to your computer.
The possession of child pornography is a serious crime punishable by up
to 10 years in prison or MORE.
DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE?
If you click ‘YES’, your name will be forwarded to the FBI.
Obviously, such a warning should give pause to all but the most determined individuals. Perhaps the very ones in need of the most help or posing the most threat to society.
These things can be done. The images can be stopped completely, or at least a warning can be given. A last chance to come to your senses and return to decency. Proceeding can destroy peoples’ lives. We require a warning on cigarettes for goodness sake. How many lives can warnings such as these save?
In speaking with men around me, I asked if such a ‘flag’ would have provided some sort of wake up call. All answered without hesitation that a warning would have woken them up. Our individual morality and character can be debated all day long, but if these things are not implemented to help those who seek, or stumble, into immorality and a road that leads to ruin, we should consider those who OUGHT to be the primary focus here. Above all else, the protection of innocent children should be the objective.
Using every tool that is available, the victims of child sexual abuse whose images circulate on the Internet should be protected from further victimization and exploitation. The technology exists to stop, or at least severely limit, the spread of these pictures that myself – and many, many like me – wish had never crossed our computer screens. Protection of the innocent should be our first consideration. This is what everyone always claims, and yet the technology to do these things I suggest has existed for years. Those in charge have decided it is best to allow this filth to spread in the pursuit of justice. This time, they are wrong. They are exploiting the children of this country. How would you feel if the children they were NOT protecting were YOURS?
We can never control the thoughts that may run through people’s minds, nor should we try. But if we can control what they see, when what we are controlling is illegal, immoral, and destructive to all involved, then we have no choice BUT to do it. To do anything less, no matter what the justification may be, is not only wrong, it is simply illegal no matter what anyone may think.
Tell Internet Service Providers and the United States Government that it is time for a NECESSARY INTRUSION into our lives to prevent the spread of this epidemic that is killing our families and placing our children at risk. Tell them that it is time to LOCK THE DOOR ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.
There are, of course, UNnecessary intrusions into our lives. The sex offender registry, in the manner it is now being used, is such an unnecessary intrusion that, again, puts YOUR children at great risk. I will try to explain what I mean in a future article.
I thank you for your time.