Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cartoon 'child porn' & 3D printer guns, the 1st Amendment protects them both

Judy Blume and Lolita, too

Posted by Chris Haire on Thu, May 23, 2013 at 3:50 PM

I feel for the gun nuts, I really do.

As I a staunch First Amendment freak, I feel their pain. I know what it's like to believe that the U.S. government has no right to tell you what you can and can't do.

See, I believe that Uncle Sam has no business silencing speech of any kind, no matter how inflammatory or repulsive. Speech is speech, and speech by itself hurts no one. Which is why I understand exactly where gun nutters are coming from when they argue that guns don't hurt people, people hurt people. I get it. I really do. I'm right there with you.

As I've argued before, the problem that a lot of folks have with the Second Amendment is actually a problem they have with the First Amendment except they don't realize it.

See, you can ban guns, but you will never be able to stop people from learning how to make them. The federal government may ban assault rifles, but someone somewhere will be able to tell you how to turn that plain old rifle into a fully automatic one. The cat's out of the bag. Information wants to be free. Knowledge cannot be unlearned.

A few weeks back, the U.S. government pretty much acknowledged that the problem with the Second Amendment was actually a First Amendment problem when they banned a website from distributing directions to make a handgun with a 3D printer.

Now, I know what some of you are saying: If these directions are not banned, then anybody — even convicted felons and young children — will have access to a gun.

While that's theoretically possible — 3D printers are ridiculously expensive — it's an irrelevant point. According to the First Amendment, the U.S. government can never prohibit speech — in this case a set of downloadable directions — or the freedom of the press — in this case the website in question. And as long as no one uses that information to harm someone else or to create a product that they cannot legally own — whether it's a 3D gun or synthetic marijuana — then the federal government has no business denying anyone the right to receive or transmit that information.

Which brings us to a recent report from Harv Jacobs at Live 5 News.

On Wednesday, Live 5 ran a report from Harv on "cartoon child porn." It was one of those stories that's designed to send helicopter parents into a what-about-the-children death spiral. The kind that forces them to make their kids wear bicycle helmets when they're riding their bikes in the driveway. The kind that forces them to drive their children to each and every play date, even if that play date is taking place down the street. The kind that makes them buy chastity belts and home drug tests and homeschool videos from Kurt Cameron. Ugh.

Now, I've got nothing against Harv. He seems like a fine enough fellow, but his cartoon porn report ignores the fact that this is a fundamental free speech issue. In fact, the report fails to mention the First Amendment at all. Granted, Harv comes close to acknowledging that this is a free speech matter, but he buries it in a down-with-activist-judges bait and switch. If he actually took the time to explain the issue, then he would have had to acknowledge that this was not, in fact, child porn.

But enough from me. Watch the video.

Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

OK. Now that you've seen the report, here's the central problem with Harv's argument: Cartoons aren't people. Cartoons aren't born. They don't enter elementary school. They don't hit puberty. They don't graduate from high school. They don't move back in with their parents after college.

Simply put: An underage cartoon cannot be forced to have sex with an adult because there's no such thing as underage or adult cartoons and cartoons sure as hell can't engage in sex, under duress or otherwise. It's an image. It's an idea. It's a thought. No one is harmed, and nothing happens. This is why the courts have not banned this type of "child porn." But if that ever changes, you can say bye-bye to Nabokov's Lolita, Judy Blume's Forever, and pretty much every single television show on the CW.

Now, if only Harv had taken the time to explain all of this, then I wouldn't have just spent the better part of my day writing a column that only guys who download cartoon "child porn" will applaud. Fuck those guys.

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