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Anti-Pornography Guy Politicizes 10 Year Old Girl's Murder

from the and-get-virtually-everything-wrong-too dept

The adult film industry gets mentioned on Techdirt frequently because, as everyone knows, “the internet is for porn.” Typically, we get to write fun little stories about silly journalists believing horse-poop statistics on home pornography. Or else an ice cream company is suing an adult film studio over a porno-parody of their silly flavors. Those stories are good for a laugh because, let's be honest, there's something inherently funny about movies of people bumping uglies coupled with the far less fleshy world of news and IP law. What isn't laugh-worthy is when a tragedy occurs, such as the senseless slaying of a 10 year old girl, and the result is a bunch of grand-standing jackwagons lining up to use her death to promote their own false agenda.

Yet that's what is happening with the case of Jessica Ridgeway's murder, now that the accused killer is a young man who reportedly is addicted to pornography. Let's highlight one of the aforementioned grand-standing jackwagons, just so we can identify who is saying what before I get to the elephant-in-the-room-sized problem with his nonsense. Meet the ironically-named Patrick Trueman.

“News that the boy accused of killing Jessica Ridgeway is addicted to pornography will come as no surprise to law enforcement agents with experience in sexual crimes,” says Patrick A. Trueman, president of Morality in Media and former chief of the U. S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in Washington, D.C.

“Pornography consumption causes addiction and leads many, children included, to sexual violence. It’s high time the U.S. government took the issue of pornography seriously again and began vigorously prosecuting the major producers and distributors of hardcore pornography.”

Got that? Pornography, and the prevelance of it, is so directly to blame for murders like Jessica Ridgeway's that our government should be prosecuting producers. Note the lack of nuance in the statement, by the way. All pornography is lumped into this charge. Not child porn. Not porn that in any way depicts violence. Not fantasy rape porn. All porn. So says Patrick Trueman, who, as the president of Morality In Media, must have some evidence for his claims, right? Then we get to his next quote:

“We do not know and may never know exactly how much influence pornography played in these two crimes, but sexual crimes by minors do not happen in a vacuum; porn is almost always a significant contributing factor,” Trueman said.

Well, if that isn't the dream stance of a prosecutor, I don't know what is. He's essentially saying he doesn't have any clue what role pornography plays between the two crimes, but surely it must play some role (presumably because he finds coitus icky), so prosecute all the pornographers. Outstanding. Yet his silliness continues.

“When the U.S. Department of Justice gave up enforcing federal pornography laws, it gave up on our children. Now addiction, sexual experimentation mirroring scenes from violent porn videos, as well as sexual violence are all too common among children. Child-on-child sexual crimes, once unheard of, are also on the rise. The porn industry is directly responsible for these trends and the harm to our nation’s children. But law enforcement officials, such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who refuse to enforce anti-pornography laws, designed to protect children and society from sexual predators, bear much responsibility also,” he continued.

Yes, you read that correctly. The other group responsible for Jessica Ridgeway's murder is the Justice Department, including Eric Holder.

Now, that massive problem I mentioned with Trueman's logic? Well, his entire premise lies somewhere on the spectrum between “pretty dubious” and “ultra-mega-wrong”. The prevelance of the internet, on which pornography is so graciously widespread, has risen exponentially in everyone's lives since 1990. This includes its use amongst children, obviously. So, with the massive rise in access to pornography by adults and children, how are the statistics of sex-crimes correlating?

Well, for sex-crimes in general, they're dropping, and fairly significantly so. In the last 20 or so years, the United States has seen a 15% drop in forcible rape rates. That's despite the growth of internet use, and likewise the growth in viewing pornography, and also despite a culture change in which reporting rape and sex crimes is only becoming more acceptable (thankfully — though society still has a long way to go in encouraging reporting of such cases). And, if you want to drill down to child-on-child sex crimes, which Trueman focuses on, the data there doesn't support his claims either. According to that USA Today article:

The latest juvenile crime data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that arrests of juvenile sex offenders declined by about 25% from 2000 through 2009. That would mesh with a decline in child sex abuse committed by adults, as well as a decline in the overall juvenile crime rate.
But data from New York City, Florida and elsewhere indicates that the prevalence of child-on-child sex hasn't dropped noticeably.

So, while there's less in the way of concrete super-damning data in the realm of child-on-child sex crimes, the general consensus is that its occurence is either dropping significantly, or not changing much. This doesn't seem to mesh with Trueman's warning klaxon about how pornography is turning all of our children into SVU suspects.

The conclusion is obvious, though no less anger-inducing. It would appear we do not have a child sex-crime epidemic on our hands. However, we apparently might have a grandstanding jackass making use of a high-profile tragedy for his own ends epidemic.

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Comments on “Anti-Pornography Guy Politicizes 10 Year Old Girl's Murder”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Because Batman: The Dark Knight was directly responsible for the shootings. You see, before blaming pornography specifically he could have looked at the larger picture and see how much the media outfits (I’m lumping TV, movies and much of entertainment in general here) are exposing the population to more and more sexual oriented (while not explicit) content. Not to mention violence. And heck, you see CHILDREN being pictured in movies and tv shows with ADULT-like behavior (such as young girls using high-heels and heavy make up or talking all the time about boys). Most of the kids in my childhood only got really interested in make up, dating and these kinds of stuff on their teens (usually 12-13 yrs old). But no, today I see little girls as young as 5 using fucking high heels. What-the-fuck.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m just pointing out other legit worries he could have expressed. However even if he did express those concerns it would NOT matter. The content is not at fault in any ways and you simply can’t regulate and forbid the cultural output for adults (yes, I am lumping general porn as cultural output because like it or not it is and has always been) just because of the children. Take precautions to avoid accidental exposure but do not block or try to dictate what’s produced. If the children are being exposed to such content it is NOT the producer’s fault.

And finally, if a determined person has some MENTAL DISORDER that prevents him/her from distinguishing reality from fantasy (yes, porn, regardless of how normal/bizarre/real/drawn it is, is pure fantasy) then it’s a problem of THAT person and you CANNOT deprive all the great majority of sane people from that content just because a loon found in it motivation to go shoot ppl or rape little girls. Ishihara (Tokyo mayor) and that stupid “Unicef-wanabe” branch in Japan are good examples of how this is wide spread in the world nowadays…

If you want to have a discussion about anything put down your moral police badge and hysteria and place facts and evidence on the table. Or else shut the fuck up.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, it actually depends on the couple (or group). Maybe you can do what you saw in “Super Deep Throat” with the girl you are dating with, maybe not. Most of us just don’t assume they are all like the porns we tend to watch. (as an example there’s bukkake, I dare you find a girl that feels comfortable with doing it. For free, no porn stars allowed. And in time: I find it plain disgusting to watch but I don’t condemn those who like it.)

Zakida Paul says:

Maybe he just needs to get laid?

There are millions of people who enjoy porn as a sexual aid to improve their sex lives and who will never go out and commit such crimes. Why does he ignore this? Oh yes, it goes against his agenda. This guy also seems to think that sex crimes are about sex when any Criminal Psychology student will tell you that it is not. If they were about sex, the person could just go and get a prostitute. Sex crimes are about power over the victim, something that porn has very little, if anything, to do with creating a desire for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Maybe he just needs to get laid?”

I’m more inclined to believe his problem is related to his pet subject, like Don Dongi mentioned in the comments.

I’m sure he wouldn’t mind showing the contents of his hard drive and the history of his web browsers since he’s so righteous on the topic. I’m sure he does a lot of “research” so he knows what kind of filth and smut is out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I say no such thing, and I don’t keep it on my hard drive. Anyone who keeps it on his hard drive is a fool, as that’s how a lot of people get caught. Removable media is made for a reason.
It’s not research for a book. It is for my own personal enjoyment in the privacy of my own home. And it’s also a way to say F*** YOU to the government.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re:

Sex crimes are about power over the victim, something that porn has very little, if anything, to do with creating a desire for.

True. On the other hand, I think it can have something to do with preventing its ultimate enactment for some by providing a (relatively) harmless fantasy outlet for such a desire.

Anonymous Coward says:

as usual, anything that enhances what the reporter wants to come about will be used, therefore, the entertainment industries are losing money, so ban file sharing and piracy! people are fucking each other, so ban pornography and having kids!

the man is an obvious idiot! how the hell people like him become head of anything is beyond me!

Zos (profile) says:

i can’t find any mention of this story, except on some fringe religious sites.
I notice you didn’t link to where you were pulling the quotes from. I’m assuming that’s because you didn’t want to give him the page hits i guess? I’m just having trouble finding the grandstanding part, google barely knows who he is, so he can’t be making huge waves exactly.

Seems a bit strawmanish, i mean, i can randomly go find someone saying stupid things about any subject imaginable on the internet.

Zos (profile) says:

if anyone would like to go troll the comments..erm. i mean educate the misinformed, heres a few spots running it:


….and that’s it, all the other links just seem to scrape charisma news, except for the original press release.


out_of_the_blue says:

Meanwhile, the US murders children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s the total picture for your “crime statistics”. It’s arguable that those with such violent tendencies have gone where the crimes are almost unnoticed; the war is almost unreported in the MSM, except for the baseless incitement to another against Iraq. For those too squeamish to commit the crimes, there’s endless “war porn”. Dick Cheney was said to get off on videos of people being tortured.

And most people make themselves blind to the total picture. You don’t want to know about the million murdered by the US in Iraq, the increase of birth defects there probably from depleted uranium bullets, the “collateral” damage” of children dying just from illegal drone attacks — just endless horror. So you turn on your 3 screens of sports, drink your beer, and turn off your mind.

Mike and Timmy have never known actual misery and just wanna have fun, so they down play real horror (if mentioned at all), and they (and other regulars here) cast any attempt to limit pornography as a Mistaken Moral Crusade.

But morality is the basis of civilization; you undermine it at peril. We’re way down the slippery slope, and you guys still yell: “you can’t legislate morality!”

Time is coming when The Rich shake off the few remaining restraints and act as immorally as they wish, so that it affects YOU. But you’ve disarmed yourselves by ignoring morality and letting The Rich get away with every sort of crime: economic, civil, criminal, and wars.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Meanwhile, the US murders children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DUDE find your meds, and pop a dose… Think of the children…

So if your Rich your immoral? is that the crux of your arguement? And if you against Legislating Morality (yours not mine) then we are contributing to the downfall of what again?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Meanwhile, the US murders children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But morality is the basis of civilization; you undermine it at peril. We’re way down the slippery slope, and you guys still yell: “you can’t legislate morality!”

But – we are right – you can’t legislate morality. Morality is about doing the right thing because of your own inner beliefs – not because someone has made a law about it. The latter is merely compliance – and it stops the moment law enforcement is removed. Since the rich can generally buy their way around law enforcement only real morality can keep them in check – not the phoney kind that comes from laws.

How many of the ten commandments are backed by laws?

Only two absolutely (murder and theft). Two more are enforced in certain circumstances (perjury and keeping the Sabbath). The other six are left to the individual (unless of course you think that Saudi laws against adultery are a good idea).

Milton Freewater says:

Child-on-child sexual crimes ...

“Child-on-child sexual crimes, once unheard of”

They were only unheard of because adults didn’t listen when kids tried to report them. They happened, and often.

Adults and children alike have become more comfortable with talking openly about inappropriate contact when it happens. Our increased comfort level with pornography is a side effect of this new mentality.

Now, we just need to clarify the distinction between addiction and attraction. You become addicted to heroin and cocaine, but you’re wired to compulsively want sexual activity.

cm says:

Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

Thanks, Techdirt, it’s been nice reading you. You were down to the last few websites I could view without being assaulted by news of horrifying events, but I see now I have to stop reading you after this disturbing post. I just have a psychological problem wherein I can’t do this for now.

I wish you hadn’t written this post.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

“When you manage to read without your moralist veil you’ll be welcomed back.”

Just Another Limey is right: this has zero to do with my morals. In fact, I wonder why you thought it was about a “moralist veil”? As I mentioned in other replies now, I can’t read about horrifying events like a child being murdered because of significant emotional pain that I go through due to it.

It’s a vulnerability of mine as compared to the average person. That’s it.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

I am incredibly confused here. Did the post offend you? Are you saying that you just can’t read a site that might have adult subject matter involved? Do you think I wrote something inappropriate or false?

Considering the topic, I thought I wrote this up from a reasonably mature standpoint (and this is ME we’re talking about). Unless I unwittingly included something offensive, not sure what the problem is?

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

Then I must actually ask this question: what type of news media (newspaper or online news website) do you get your news from? Most of them report on crimes, and yes, they will include crimes involving the deaths of children.
Did you lose your child? Not meaning to pry here, but even if so…I still find it hard to understand how you can find it hard to even read about child deaths in the news. For example, I know four girls who have all told me they were raped. I have no problem reading stories about women being raped. Neither do they. Yes, its a horrible thing.

Basically, what I’m trying to understand is your apparent choice here to say “Well, if most news media report child deaths, I won’t listen/watch/read them”. That means you pretty much will never bother consuming news articles at all, for fear of reading about a child’s death.

cm says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

Yes, you have it right: I avoid as much general news as I possibly can. I have no TV, I don’t listen to radio other than music (and barely that), I read no newspapers, and what I view online are blogs about tech, IP, science, and some finances. In this way I usually do fairly well about staying in the dark.

And it’s not that I can’t deal only with children’s deaths (I not only have not had a child die–I have no children at all, nor will), it’s that I can’t deal with any reports of egregious suffering, cruelty, etc. Murders of any person are very high on that list, but it does seem particularly tough if it is a small child.

I also have very little social contact and my friends and families have been asked not to share news stories with me.

I occasionally have something accidentally break through, and then I feel I haven’t sealed off the edges tightly enough.

IrishDaze (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

Having a too-highly-strung sense of empathy is not a freaking “mental disorder.”

While this person might not be well-adjusted to his society (hell, he might need therapy or medication, we don’t know), he’s taking seriously-inconvenient steps to adjust his environment to protect (and possibly promote) his own mental health. Good for him.

I have to tell you, “Oh, so it’s some sort of mental disorder” is SERIOUSLY harsh and more than a little antagonistic. It’s also dismissive and passive-agressively confrontational … The implication is “Your thoughts don’t matter because you’re broken.” You quite effectively invalidated someone you don’t even know.

I see later you post another apology that comes across as MUCH more sincere than this one does, and I am glad for that. The second post, the one that seems sincere, is what motivated me to make this post … Because, if the second apology IS sincere, you might just care that what you said above was truly (and unecessarily) mean.

cm says:

Re: Re: Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

I can understand your being confused. No, I don’t think you wrote anything “inappropriate” or offensive (though, as was pointed out, using the terms “grandstanding jackass” in the context of a horrifying event is not in the best taste perhaps). And it’s not that I can’t read about anything “adult”, like about pornography.

No, what has put me off is I can’t emotionally deal well with stories of children being murdered. Or anything similarly horrifying, particularly in which humans harm other humans or animals.

This is not *your* fault, but mine. I am frustrated that I can’t read your site because I rather like it and follow IP topics as a kind of hobby, but I just have to protect my mind. Some news events have put me in a very painful state of mind for 48 hrs or more, and I just can’t allow that for the time being if I can help it.

Does that help clear it up?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

“Does that help clear it up?”

Yes, absolutely, and thanks for the clarification. Unfortunately, the story was on point with Techdirt’s focus, but I do understand not wanting to read about this stuff.

What I would suggest is that hiding from these stories (and I don’t mean that petulantly) can do more harm in the long run than whatever distress you’re saving yourself from. Choosing not to see tragedy has oft times in history perpetuated that same tragedy.

Still, I wouldn’t presume to tell you what’s in your own best interests, so I guess I understand your point of view….

cm says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

Good, glad to clear it up.

I accept “hiding” as accurate and not petulant at all–because hiding is just what I am doing, and have been doing, for a bit over 3 years now. Techdirt and about 3 other sites were the only online sites I was allowing myself, and of course no TV, my friends and family know not to mention news to me, etc. Near total media blackout on “general” news.

I think in my case, my “hiding” policy will likely have zero effect on the rate of tragedies in the world, though I could see if everyone adopted my policy it could. It’s a work in progress, and I’ve assumed I’ll only need to keep “shields up” for some limited time until I’m in a better place psychologically. Time will tell.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

I can absolutely understand the psychological torment and anguish you would be going through in reading stories like this, and even after three years the pain for some (like yourself is too hard to bear.

Different people take time to go through the grief process, otherwise we would all be the same and as weird as ummm DH 😉

Though if you have been ‘hiding’ as you yourself put it, you are slowly but surely poking your head out again. You can see this by the conversation you have had with commentators who replied to your first comment. Someone who is fully hiding would not of replied and tried to explain everything. Congratulations you’re slowly but surely allowing yourself, even subconsciously, to think, analyse, and come to terms with what you went through.

Good luck!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thanks, it's been nice--farewell

“Enjoy life with your head in the sand.”

Yes, I *do* enjoy life a lot more with my head deep in the sand, and have now for about 3.5 years. Your sentence seems to condemn me and your father for this, though perhaps I am reading in too much. It works for me for now, and I wouldn’t condemn anyone for adopting this psychological strategy as needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Psst, studies have shown that there’s a strong link between how religious an area is, and how much money they spend on porn per capita.

The more religious and moral the area, the more they spend on porn.

So given how those who go after porn tend to be very religious… does that mean that they’re secretly looking at porn? Just like secretly gay politicians who openly oppose gay rights while secretly engaging in gay sex & gay affairs themselves.

Just Another Limey (user link) says:

The data is inconclusive

“for sex-crimes in general, they’re dropping, and fairly significantly so. In the last 20 or so years, the United States has seen a 15% drop in forcible rape rates.”

But not so in Europe though where rates are static, falling or even rising. I can’t see any correlation between serious sex crime and ANY notional variable such as GDP, national development, perceived liberality (look at the figures for Scandinavia, where you can buy porn in sweet-shops)…

Trueman is spinning.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Here's a thought...

Well, for sex-crimes in general, they’re dropping, and fairly significantly so. In the last 20 or so years, the United States has seen a 15% drop in forcible rape rates.

Here’s a radical concept…
If the statistics show that then maybe, contrary to the moral-high-ground-brigade’s constant chest beating, the wide availability of porn on average helps prevent sex crime rather than causing it.

I have no doubt that in some cases porn leads to violence, but I’d risk a reasonable wager that in a larger number of cases the easy availability of the fantasy escapism of whatever (icky or otherwise) subject one wants provides more of a safety valve for thoughts/feelings that might otherwise be physically expressed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Here's a thought...

I have no doubt that in some cases porn leads to violence

I have a lot of doubt about that. I don’t doubt that people who are prone to sexual violence are more likely to enjoy violent porn, but I equally don’t doubt that if they couldn’t find that porn they’d be just as (or more, according to some studies) sexually violent.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Here's a thought...

Fair comment – bad wording on my part, what you said is pretty much what I was trying to get at. What I meant is that the porn comes first and the violence later, but like you say the fact that it’s porn is likely irrelevant and if it wasn’t porn it’d be some other trigger for the pre-existing crazy.

Show the average American teenage male a condom and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.

Show the average American teenage male a lug wrench and his mind’ll turn…

– West Wing (Aaron Sorkin)

Ed C. says:

The moral rage machine

Step 1: Take a social issue that has been in a downward or flatline trend for over a decade.
Step 2: Find a corresponding social issue that has been in a upward trend for the same timespan.
Step 3: Fund one or more bogus studies to show that #1 is actually on the rise, and that #2 is to blame.
Step 4: Find at least one case as a poster child for your cause.
Step 5: Use #3 and #4 to get media attention and to hound lawmakers for stricter laws.
Step 6: Fund one or more new studies to show that #1 is now really on an upward trend, ignoring that #2 is now in a downward or flatline trend.
Step 7: Use #3, #4 and #6 to get media attention and to hound lawmakers for stricter laws.
Step 8: Repeat #6 and #7.

Anonymous Coward says:

I really wish people would realize that porn or video games or TV don’t lead people to commit violent acts. It’s either a decision the person makes, or a sickness/compulsion that forces them to do so.

There’s such a thing as personal responsibility and for some reason it doesn’t seem to exist for a lot of people these days – it’s always outside influences that “made me do it.”

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

“Well, for sex-crimes in general, they’re dropping, and fairly significantly so. In the last 20 or so years, the United States has seen a 15% drop in forcible rape rates. That’s despite the growth of internet use, and likewise the growth in viewing pornography…”

There are many who think that porn provides an outlet for sexual and violent tensions. It may be that the drop is because of the growth of Internet use, rather than despite it. Or at least in part.

IrishDaze (profile) says:

"Child-on-child sexual crimes"??

What bugs me MOST abt this (that hasn’t already been said, that is) …

The use of the phrase “Child-on-child sexual crimes.” This phrase connotes 7 year olds sexually assaulting 5 year olds. Of COURSE such a thing was “once unheard of” … Because such a thing is much more rare than people like Trueman would have us believe.

The (relative) rarity of actual child-on-child sexual abuse is not something I can find a citation on, but think of it this way: We know that sexual abuse (including but not limited to rape) is a power trip expressed through sexual aggression. If a pre-pubescent (i.e. a child) needs/wants to exercise power, isn’t that child much more likely to set something on fire, hurt an animal, or beat up another child? The power-tripping pre-pubescent isn’t likely to sexually abuse another child unless acting out sexual abuse from personal experience simply because sexual activity isn’t in the child’s frame of reference yet (unless through experienced abuse).

In other words, until puberty begins, the physical machinations of sex or sexual abuse aren’t likely to occur to the person needing to exercise power if the person hasn’t already been sexually vicimtized in some way.

So, the word “child” in Trueman’s quotes makes me twitch. There’s a huge difference between a pre-pubescent child and a pubescent or post-pubescent adolescent, yet people keep using the word child to describe legal juveniles. 7 year olds playing doctor, 13 year olds making out, and an 8 year old sexually abusing a 5 year old are completely.different.universes. of situation.

Child-on-child SEX (which I can only interpret as involving adolescents) is static or down, as is child-on-child (again, I can only interpret this as involving at least one adolescent) sexual ABUSE. This, while we’re talking more openly abt sex and sexual abuse, mainstreaming pr0n more each day, and generally thoroughly saturating our culture with adult references and conflicting messages abt the appropriateness of all of it.

We must be doing SOMETHING right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Has anyone considered that these things are created and packaged for public consumption. Maybe this is the next attempt by the MPAA to take over the internet. I find myself in the position of being harrassed by the government and have an admitted pornography addiction.

I fear they are inventing crimes to go after people they don’t like, because I KNOW I never did anything to anyone. Yet, they will probably get away with whatever they plan to do. I am small and powerless to stop it, and I think they’ve tried to kill me before.

Rekrul says:

When I was about 10 or 11, I found where my father had hidden an issue of Playboy and used to look through it every chance I got. I borrowed R and even X rated magazines from friends. I’d scour the HBO guide looking for movie description with the “N” signifying nudity. When I got on the net, I quickly discovered the alt.binaries newsgroups dedicated to porn. On any given day, I might do a Google image search for a particular adult topic and spend a while looking through the images.

Why haven’t I raped or killed anyone yet?

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