Monday, June 2, 2008

when the one thing you want is the only thing out of your reach

This, recently posted on the JIRA SL5B issue:

    silverdrake sparrow mentioned US code 18 pursuant to pedophilic presentation, and, after reading through that, in all fairness I have to comment on one additional line therein that may be getting missed.

    Seems a fairly recent change. From section 1466A(c):

    Nonrequired Element of Offense.— It is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exist.

    While Cliff Commons' answer to the Lindens' official response--"Tolerant amusement and belittlement with no action"--seems pretty accurate from all observations, that line is pretty damning overall. If applied even loosely, it means that now in the U.S., minors do not have to actually be walking around somewhere for individuals to be considered breaking the law. This would, I believe, include pictorial representations beyond actual photography, then--like drawings, paintings, and virtual-world avatars.

    I still protest this issue--I still think it should be fixed, and that SL's child avatar groups should have been allowed a group build project for SL5B. But I will freely acknowledge, that one line in the law makes many things--even things appearing fairly innocent--concerning child avatars problematic.

And why yes, I do expect to be attacked for that. Probably from both sides. But I felt it had to be mentioned--if we're going by US laws on this, the US laws are far more scorched-earth defensive and hysterically shrill than the UK's pedophilia laws, for example.

Or Japan's.

...actually, let's not bring up Japan. Japan's pedophilia laws are...odd.

You know what would be the ultimate irony in all this, at least for me? That both celebrations occur on a Sunday, when I'm floating in limbo anyway, and can't attend either of them.

It would figure...

[Update: I've had a response on the JIRA I think is worth posting, along with my reply.]

From Cliff Commons:

    The line you mention is out of context. The representation whether of a real child or a "cartoon" one, still has to be doing something defined as being wrong by the rest of the act. It is the part the Supreme Court let stand this time..and has to do with "pandering" They assumed that a prosecutor could tell from context if the depiction was meant to appeal to the baser instincts of the viewer. Personally, I think they give prosecutors way too much credit for common sense, and the issue will soon be back based upon the dissents...but people could still be hurt in the meantime. ie..underwear ad's are long as they are not promoted as "sexy". Romeo and Juliet is ok whether it is done by minors or adults playing that is "art". The idea that they mean virtual worlds are not allowed to have portrayals of children doing childish things is...well...insane?

    Yes.the US now has joined much of the rest of the western world in being unable to tell the difference between real and unreal. But we are not talking of LL allowing a knocking shop for minors. I suspect they turned down a couple of playgrounds.

[I had to respond, I'm mouthy that way.]

    Cliff: I'm not saying that's my understanding of the issue, I'm saying that that one line being included in the act may be what the Labs are trying to prevent--that yes, a simple depiction of a virtual child does not automatically equal pedophilic representation (which is, I also believe, the whole *point* behind this issue in the first place), *but* that that virtual child seen *in context* with anything not automatically 'age-appropriate', per se, or involving sexualized behavior, may equal pedophilic representation and as such be actionable. Whether said child exists or not, in 'real' form.

    And the *last* thing the Lindens want is to be taken to court.


    That being said--the celebrations will be held on PG, not Mature sims (which is a separate problem, but one I won't deal with here). By and large, even with the invitation of the 'celebration of diversity' the Lindens pitched on this, most exhibits, if not all, should comply with being 'all ages friendly' and at least generally inoffensive. So why were the child avatars of SL not allowed to participate in the celebration of the culture they *are*, in fact, participating in by remaining participants in Second Life as a whole?

    And thus, we're back to why this issue exists in the first place. Because for many of us this issue *is* severely impacting our ability to interact with the grid, and Linden Labs as a whole (because I'm firmly convinced creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust causes just as much a halt to service as actual server failure).

[And an addition from Gordon Wendt:]

    Emilly, people are putting too much weight into this celebration then if they're letting it define their entire SL expereince, I'm guessing that many residents don't even know or don't even care about the festivities (I know I didn't know until this issue came up on the forums), yes this is unfortunate, yes this is yet another unfair marginalization of of the child SL community, you will not get any argument from me on that however this is not LL preventing you from being on the grid or even being at the event just submitting your own build which with all the publicity now about LL's discrimination you'll probably get more space and more people visiting your alternate celebration.

[To which I'll say here--but not on the JIRA posting (because that's not germane to the discussion at hand), that I'm not a member of the child communities. Hells, I didn't apply to build anything, and at most, would have been a wanderer through the SL5B builds once, if that.]

Keep y'all posted as it continues...

[The other complication in all of this? People keep downgrading the status, bringing it back up again, downgrading it again. So now I have to think. Is this issue a 'showstopper'? Showstoppers are generally defined as something that restricts all residents from even logging in, or that ruinously impacts the SL experience.

[So. Can I log in, even though my ability to fully utilize the SL5B celebration has been impaired? And that answer is yes, yes I can.

[But, is my ability to fully utilize the SL5B celebration impaired? Yes, yes it is. So...maybe this issue
should be simply Major, not Showstopper?

[Either way, people should
stop upgrading and downgrading it, the yo-yoing is making me dizzy.]

[And in yet later news, perusing for new replies on this issue, brought me back to the more than 25 groups issue, filed an amazing number of months ago, all things considered. I still have to decide which groups to gut, which to keep, if I get another group offering.

[In point of fact, we developed a partnership with another builder who had the space to let us build really
large things, and the only group I felt I could cut at that point was Caledon: the Musical. So much for my participation in that project...that would've been fun, and would've helped the SLRFL. But in a choice between business groups and 'fun' groups--even if the 'fun' in question is charitable and run by very talented friends--the 'business' groups tend to win...]


Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I remember the whole depiction of "virtual" children in a sexual context was one of the things brought up during the Age-Play Clearances last year. Ironically the news story that mentioned that people had child AVs having sex was German and under German law, depictions of virtual sex is perfectly legal. RL child porn is banned but drawings or digital images of make-believe are perfectly legal.

Not so the US obviously.

But over here in Aus we're having our own legal battle looming over what is paedophilia with award winning photographer Bill Henson having had some of his work seized from an exhibition and is currently awaiting a decision whether he will be charged with the creation of child pornography.

I've seen some of the photos in question. Yes there's photo of a naked 13-year-old girl. Confronting, sure, but it aint porn.

It does reinforce my belief that people are idiots.

Emilly Orr said...

Yeah, remember the days when anyone photographed naked could be considered we're even losing our sense of humor about naked adults, here.

I think the main problem still comes back to, we're not actually talking about ageplay in the sexual sense, here. As has been said ad nauseum, almost all of the sexual ageplayers were not a part of, nor interested in non-sexualized child play. And by the same extension, almost all of the SL child community has zero interest in sexual behavior online.

Yet they're still tucked out of the way like that crazy maiden aunt who had those odd mental issues--not to be exposed when company's present, don't you know.

And as we are learning, SL's all about seducing corporate sponsorship now. Gods forfend they actually pitch an active thriving intelligent userbase, instead of happy consuming little proles, to their potential clients.