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.