Tag Archives: child abuse and neglect reporting act

The bourgeois hypocrisy

Lira hissed through her teeth—a disappointing, face-contorting habit, I wanted to say but didn’t.  “That’s irrelevant. Men are the ones that buy porn. The consumer is the oppressor.”

I paused, studied her face for a credulous moment, and thought politics, the global order. “Do you own a cell phone?” I asked. I knew she did having watched her scroll through it several times, but she didn’t answer, instead giving me an I’m-thinking-of-your-next-move look. “Ever think about who assembles those things and what wages they make?”

She rolled her eyes, said, “Here we go,” as if knowing my path.

“What would you say if I said that all your electronics purchases are made on the back of unfair labor practices in the developing world; that your cosmetics are made possible because of animal cruelty?”

She gave me a lazy-eyed stare. “Apples and oranges,” she replied.

I paused. “Really? That’s your rebuttal, a tired fruit metaphor?”

“You’re changing the subject.”

“It’s not a subject. It’s called context.”

“Context my ass. It’s a specious argument, Dr. Pierce, You’re saying the average consumer has as much culpability as a sex offender. That’s bullshit. No one would buy that argument.”

“Not in this society, maybe, but only because people here are hypocrites. The consumer is the oppressor, you said.”

It’s a shame that talk moves quickly sometimes, because I wanted to patronize her saying ‘specious’, which sounded impressive, like something a law professor would say—maybe that guy from the bar, I considered. Actually, I didn’t want to patronize Lira. I just wanted to argue some more.

–passage from  Venus Looks Down On A Prairie Vole

Maybe it’s the rhetoric of certain politicians currently reminding me of the polity’s gullibility, but I can’t let this go: one of the reasons AB1775 passed so easily through the California legislature was the notion that users of child porn enable child pornographers. Assuming you haven’t read my twenty or so other blog essays on that subject, let me remind that AB1775 is a 2015 law that re-writes the California civil code relating to child abuse reporting, apparently for the first time in 35 years, after the original Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act overlooked the issue of child porn, I guess. The new law allows–no, compels–mental health professionals to report to police clients/patients who view child pornography. Specifically, it mandates reporting with respect to that which depicts the sexual conduct of a minor (as in anyone under the age 18) over an electronic or digital medium. Genius. Now we have to violate confidentiality when teens sext one another.

The other pretext for this law was/is the unsubstantiated claim that such a measure will “crack down on child porn”. In other words, it will crack down on child porn to report to police individuals who, in the context of a psychotherapy session, talk about their child porn use, or e-mail pictures of their junk to their partners. For some this law will lead to humiliating discussions with unctuous adults who will educate about how to respect self and others. Boys will be schooled on how to respect girls’ bodies. Girls will be schooled on how to respect girls’ bodies. Some might criticize the circular nature of decision-makers’ interventions. Decision-makers will blink in confusion because they won’t know what circular reasoning is.

For others (men, basically), the law will lead to their arrests, their job losses, their ostracism from society, the sudden loss of custodial rights with respect to their children; the convenient awarding of full custody to another likely informant, the other parent. In case you think these are good things (and you probably do), one other likely outcome is that such individuals, following the adjudication of their cases, will be mandated into mental health treatment (this is hilarious!) wherein–it is presumed–they will honestly disclose further their history of child porn affinity and commit themselves to healing, trusting fully the confidentiality of the psychotherapeutic space.

This law will have no effect on the sociopaths who produce and distribute child pornography, any more than a generation of arresting pot smokers has won the drug war. People like me won’t be reporting such people to police because…how should I say this…THEY DON’T GO INTO THERAPY, IDIOTS!

For all the politicians who voted for this bill; for the lawyers who wrote it having consulted with maybe two therapists in San Diego County who also believe in things like conversion therapy for gay people; for the right wing politician who fronted (“authored”) the bill, declaring it would “crack down on porn”, scoring cheap points with an illiterate constituency determined to scapegoat society’s sexual miscreants because it doesn’t understand real social issues; and for all of you who enable poverty and economic exploitation in developing economies everyday of your lives with your electronics hoarding, drooling consumerist habits, I have the following message:


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More on that law

So the dialogue continues on the new law AB1775, the surreptitious addendum (from the POV of therapists and others who will actually have to follow it) to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, which decrees that “certain persons” who fail to report to police or a department of social services those who “access, stream, or download through electronic or digital media (material) which depicts a child engaged in obscene sexual conduct” are committing a misdemeanor. Obscene sexual conduct is defined in California Penal Codes 311.2, 311.3, 311.4, and 288.2, among others, and refers to various sexual acts, including the broadly termed “lewd and lascivious acts”, which is in turn defined as that which touches intimate parts of the body (sexual organs, buttocks, breasts of a female) and is “intended to arouse, gratify the lust of another”.

Most of those chiming in on my association list-serve are commenting on the absurdities of this law, pointing out (rightly) that this law will disrupt therapeutic episodes, ruin the lives of people unnecessarily, while doing little to prevent the proliferation of child pornography–the supposed purpose of the bill. The most ardent of critics argue that advocates of the bill lack compassion for those who struggle with porn addiction. Their opponents respond, without apology, that critics are supporting the wrong people (versus victims of child sexual abuse) while delivering motivational harangues about the scope and seriousness of the child porn problem. We are informed of cults, divisions of government–the CIA–who are perpetrating ritual sexual abuse of thousands of children; recruiting children for an army of sex…anyway, something like that. Advocates of AB1775 employ the logic of demagogues: in the 50s they would have justified blacklisting suspected communists by pointing out how many people Joseph Stalin was killing.

I think the issue is not so much one of compassion as common sense. Despite three months of asking, advocates of the bill are yet to give a sensible answer as to how the reporting and subsequent persecution of individuals viewing obscene material will stop those who produce the material. We are told isolated anecdotes of hard drives confiscated, images discovered, and through those images, the locations of victimized children are determined. Really? I wonder how many times this sort of intervention has occurred, and who gave the tip-off(s), which begs the question, why do authorities need therapists to provide the tips. And does it occur to anyone governing sex offender treatment that if someone is referred to said on the back of an episode in which a mental health professional tipped off police about child pornography use, why should such an individual thereafter trust the therapeutic process?

In deference to my esteemed colleague and crusader against ritual abuse, I declare that I’d actually be happy to report the CIA for sexual abuse to my local offices of Child and Family Services, though I don’t suppose the investigation would get very far. Meanwhile, I should get back to my office and prepare for some sessions with adolescents (wrong people) who present with more commonplace habits. You see, I need to explain to them the new law. I need to explain that the law specifies “child” as a minor, and so if they look at pornographic material depicting persons of their age group, I have to report them to authorities. However, if they look at a pornographic image of someone ten years older, then it’s all good. Also, I must warn that if they insist on sending pictures of their junk, breasts, zits on inner thighs and so on, then I might have to report that behavior also. Welcome to the new world order. I hope their generation is smarter. I doubt it.

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