Anti-Pornography Guy Politicizes 10 Year Old Girl’s Murder

The adult film industry gets mentioned on Techdirt frequently because, as everyone knows, “the internet is for porn.” Typically, we get to write fun little stories about silly journalists believing horse-poop statistics on home pornography. Or else an ice cream company is suing an adult film studio over a porno-parody of their silly flavors. Those stories are good for a laugh because, let's be honest, there's something inherently funny about movies of people bumping uglies coupled with the far less fleshy world of news and IP law. What isn't laugh-worthy is when a tragedy occurs, such as the senseless slaying of a 10 year old girl, and the result is a bunch of grand-standing jackwagons lining up to use her death to promote their own false agenda.

Yet that's what is happening with the case of Jessica Ridgeway's murder, now that the accused killer is a young man who reportedly is addicted to pornography. Let's highlight one of the aforementioned grand-standing jackwagons, just so we can identify who is saying what before I get to the elephant-in-the-room-sized problem with his nonsense. Meet the ironically-named Patrick Trueman.

“News that the boy accused of killing Jessica Ridgeway is addicted to pornography will come as no surprise to law enforcement agents with experience in sexual crimes,” says Patrick A. Trueman, president of Morality in Media and former chief of the U. S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in Washington, D.C.

“Pornography consumption causes addiction and leads many, children included, to sexual violence. It’s high time the U.S. government took the issue of pornography seriously again and began vigorously prosecuting the major producers and distributors of hardcore pornography.”

Got that? Pornography, and the prevelance of it, is so directly to blame for murders like Jessica Ridgeway's that our government should be prosecuting producers. Note the lack of nuance in the statement, by the way. All pornography is lumped into this charge. Not child porn. Not porn that in any way depicts violence. Not fantasy rape porn. All porn. So says Patrick Trueman, who, as the president of Morality In Media, must have some evidence for his claims, right? Then we get to his next quote:

“We do not know and may never know exactly how much influence pornography played in these two crimes, but sexual crimes by minors do not happen in a vacuum; porn is almost always a significant contributing factor,” Trueman said.

Well, if that isn't the dream stance of a prosecutor, I don't know what is. He's essentially saying he doesn't have any clue what role pornography plays between the two crimes, but surely it must play some role (presumably because he finds coitus icky), so prosecute all the pornographers. Outstanding. Yet his silliness continues.

“When the U.S. Department of Justice gave up enforcing federal pornography laws, it gave up on our children. Now addiction, sexual experimentation mirroring scenes from violent porn videos, as well as sexual violence are all too common among children. Child-on-child sexual crimes, once unheard of, are also on the rise. The porn industry is directly responsible for these trends and the harm to our nation’s children. But law enforcement officials, such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who refuse to enforce anti-pornography laws, designed to protect children and society from sexual predators, bear much responsibility also,” he continued.

Yes, you read that correctly. The other group responsible for Jessica Ridgeway's murder is the Justice Department, including Eric Holder.

Now, that massive problem I mentioned with Trueman's logic? Well, his entire premise lies somewhere on the spectrum between “pretty dubious” and “ultra-mega-wrong”. The prevelance of the internet, on which pornography is so graciously widespread, has risen exponentially in everyone's lives since 1990. This includes its use amongst children, obviously. So, with the massive rise in access to pornography by adults and children, how are the statistics of sex-crimes correlating?

Well, for sex-crimes in general, they're dropping, and fairly significantly so. In the last 20 or so years, the United States has seen a 15% drop in forcible rape rates. That's despite the growth of internet use, and likewise the growth in viewing pornography, and also despite a culture change in which reporting rape and sex crimes is only becoming more acceptable (thankfully — though society still has a long way to go in encouraging reporting of such cases). And, if you want to drill down to child-on-child sex crimes, which Trueman focuses on, the data there doesn't support his claims either. According to that USA Today article:

The latest juvenile crime data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that arrests of juvenile sex offenders declined by about 25% from 2000 through 2009. That would mesh with a decline in child sex abuse committed by adults, as well as a decline in the overall juvenile crime rate.
But data from New York City, Florida and elsewhere indicates that the prevalence of child-on-child sex hasn't dropped noticeably.

So, while there's less in the way of concrete super-damning data in the realm of child-on-child sex crimes, the general consensus is that its occurence is either dropping significantly, or not changing much. This doesn't seem to mesh with Trueman's warning klaxon about how pornography is turning all of our children into SVU suspects.

The conclusion is obvious, though no less anger-inducing. It would appear we do not have a child sex-crime epidemic on our hands. However, we apparently might have a grandstanding jackass making use of a high-profile tragedy for his own ends epidemic.

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