In the Name of the (Not) Law

You don’t call the fire department when you put out a candle, and you don’t call the police station when your little brother takes your toy. You don’t make things sound so dramatic because the firefighters and police officers need to be able to respond to actual issues, like real fires and real criminals.

While the situations may be different, the same rules apply to exploiting and frivolously using the phrase “child pornography.” This is a prime example.

The students of Big Bear High School in Big Big Lake, Southern California must have been excited to get their yearbooks at the end of the school year. But they probably weren’t very excited to find out that school-distributed books could possibly get them arrested.

According to CBSNews,

The background of a school dance photo shows a 17-year-old boy’s hand inside the clothing of a 15-year-old girl in a way that suggests sexual penetration. “The photo was taken at a dance and the suspect and victim are not the focus of the photo. They are in the background and likely didn’t know they were in the photo,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman.So students received this yearbook with a somewhat lewd scene taking place in the background of a picture. Sensibly, the school decided to issue a total recall on the yearbooks. Students would be able to either get a refund or get the offending picture changed. What about the students that don’t turn in their yearbooks, maybe looking to keep the picture around for a laugh?

Well, then they might be charged with possessing child pornography. Seriously.

Detectives looking into the yearbook incident have issued warnings to students that they could be in possession of child porn if they keep the offending yearbooks.

Is that a joke? Recall it for taste, recall it for setting a bad example, but don’t recall it for “child pornography.” Labeling that background image as child pornography does a disservice to real, actual child porn. It encourages people to just throw the term around, completely reducing the potency of what it is. Just because a there’s a naughty picture in a yearbook does not give someone the right to threaten criminal action against the people possessing “child porn.” That’s disgusting.

If a 17-year-old girl snaps a picture of herself in the mirror and sends it to her boyfriend, it’s called child porn these days. If the same boyfriend opens up the text and receives the message, he can now be prosecuted as a sexual offender for having the picture. For the rest of his life he would have to go door-to-door in his neighborhood, alerting them that he is a sexual offender. This happens.

Stop calling ridiculous things “child pornography” to make a situation more dramatic. Stop it. Stop taking away importance from the actual term. Let the teenagers sext; let the teenagers be teenagers.

Oh, and in case you missed this gem from the highlighted story: The sheriff’s department labeled the people in the picture as the “suspect” and the “victim.” At a high school dance, apparently there are suspects and victims when it comes to the dance floor. 

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