By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
But what, exactly, do vague words like "lewd" and "lascivious" mean?
In 1986, a California judge came up with five simple tests that he said separated a legal image from an illegal one. Each of the tests was designed to preserve childhood innocence -- while taking to task those who would exploit it. When children appear naked in pictures, the judge said, the viewer needs to ask: Is the focal point of the photo on the child's genitals or pubic area? Is the setting of the photo "sexually suggestive?" Is the child depicted in an "unnatural pose, or in inappropriate attire, considering age?" Does the picture suggest "sexual coyness or willingness to engage in sexual activity?" And, finally, is the picture "designed to elicit sexual response in the viewer"?
Today, nearly two decades later, these questions are still considered the legal standard. But even these tests don't apply to all situations. In one case, a judge determined that, even though the young girls shown were wearing clothes, the words "pubic area" could apply to the "uppermost portion of the inner thigh."
The idea of a one-size-fits-all definition of "sexual response" is also complicated. "One person's erotica is another person's belly laugh," Obenberger points out. "As a former thirteen-year-old, I can tell you that if I was desperate enough and there was nothing else in the house, National Geographic always worked great to jack off to. In the end, people will be aroused by whatever's available; you get your sexual kicks where you can. In Muslim countries, a guy will go wild if a girl shows her eyes."
There are even some situations when taking a photo of a naked teenage girl specifically to get aroused may not be wrong, either. "When I was seventeen, I took pictures of my girlfriend, and she was pretty fucking hot," Obenberger notes. "And I definitely did it for sexual gratification; I liked having a cute girlfriend. Does that make me a criminal?"
Most child-porn laws are also based on the assumption that a child is being abused, or at the very least exploited, when he or she appears in a pornographic image. As Colorado's law states: "The sexual exploitation of children constitutes a wrongful invasion of the child's right of privacy and results in social, developmental and emotional injury to the child." This is why the mere possession of a single piece of child porn is illegal. But what if no child is hurt?
In fact, what if there is no child? In 1996, Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act, specifically to prohibit the use of computer-generated pornographic images designed to look like real children. Although no one child was being abused, proponents claimed the dirty pictures -- even if fake -- could incite a pedophile to commit a crime against a child.
In April 2002, however, the Supreme Court concluded that the law was unconstitutional. Not only could there be no child abuse if there was no real child, the justices decided, but trying to guess, and then regulate what some anonymous viewer might think of a picture was perilous legal territory. "There are many things innocent . . .such as cartoons, video games and candy, that might be used for immoral purposes, yet we would not expect those to be prohibited because they can be misused," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
And that's the biggest conundrum with modern child-porn laws, critics say. Trying to guess and then prohibit what pedophiles themselves might find erotic forces everyone to think like a pervert. After all, certain pedophiles could easily find enough sex to satisfy them in a Sears catalogue.
Or on an innocent billboard. In 1999, Calvin Klein launched an advertising campaign for his new line of children's underwear. One ad showed two toddler-aged boys jumping on a sofa in their underwear. The picture ran in newspapers, as well as on a huge billboard in Times Square. There was an immediate uproar. One newspaper referred to the pictures as "provocative ads, featuring semi-nude kids." Calvin Klein removed the billboard the next day.
"I went back and looked at the pictures," New York University School of Law Professor Amy Adler wrote in a law journal article. "One of the little boys' underpants seem baggy as he jumps in midair. Is that an outline of his genitals, I wondered? It was then, as I scrutinized the picture of the five-year-old's underwear, that I realized I was participating in...a world created and compelled by child pornography."
Jennifer was the first trueteenbabe hired to appear on Jim Grady's new Web site. "I met Jim through an ex-boyfriend's friend; she gave me a flier," Jennifer recalls. It turned out she lived six houses from Grady's mother.
Jennifer, then seventeen, filled out the on-line application and sent in a picture of herself. She printed out the parental permission form and gave it to her mother and father to look over.
Recognizing that the parents' approval was essential to the success of his idea, Grady had been thorough. The ten-page permission package described everything from Grady's business plan to the process by which a girl would be hired and her pictures posted on the Web site to how she would be paid.