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[17 Aug 2007|12:56am]
The Perverse Law of Child Pornography

Child pornography law presents the opportunity for a case study of how censorship law responds to and shapes a cultural crisis.
I view law and the culture it regulates not as dialectical opposites, but as intermingled. Child pornography law may represent only another symptom of and not a solution to the problem of child abuse or the cultural fascination with sexual children. The cross purposes of law and culture that I describe above (law as prohibition, which both halts and incites desire) may mask a deeper harmony between them: The legal discourse on prohibiting child pornography may represent yet another way in which our culture drenches itself in sexualized children.
Rather, the emergence of child abuse as a key social problem concerns, in part, its functions as a generative metaphor serving to displace other collective unconscious anxieties and contradictions in American society.
Child pornography law has changed the way we look at children. I mean this literally. The law requires us to study pictures of children to uncover their potential sexual meanings, and in doing so, it explicitly exhorts us to take on the perspective of the pedophile.

An illuminating read. And scary. I actually read through all of it rather than just skimming.
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[17 Aug 2007|10:46am]
As many of you might have guessed, I'm required to read a lot of old texts, ranging from the ancient to the antique to the slightly dated. When ever these texts contain more than historical facts or poetry, when they dabble with the author's thoughts on Life, the Universe and Everything, I've noticed a tendency in myself to ask two questions: is the writer aware of WWII and of the Internet.

Those have become sorts of milestones, against which I compare the development of human thought and culture. I had to read a few books of late 1960s social philosophy for this week's exam, and all of it just seemed to speak of a world that no longer existed. Humankind's capacity for spontaneous self-destruction and the creation of a forum that not only houses the bulk of human knowledge but also allows individuals to communicate anonymously, ubiquitously, uniformly and universally; those things have fucking changed us.

And we're only really starting to study the question of just how they have changed us.

In the 60s they posited in all earnestness that two people aware of the same facts and sharing the same perception of said facts could not come to disagree. You need pick any Internet forum, any one at all, and you'll see how they went wrong.

I often find myself both wondering what some of the great past thinkers would have made of these phenomena, and immensely glad that they never had to witness them. If the breadth of human cruelty toward humanity hadn't broken them, the Internet surely would have. Can you imagine Socrates trying to get himself heard on Eljay? Sure you can, there's one in every community.

This is one of the things I really want to live to see. How much for the better and how much for the worse we become for these things.
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