New Mexico Attorney General Would Rather See Sexting Teens Treated As Sex Offenders Than See His Funding 'Jeopardized'
from the christ,-what-an-asshole dept
Teens sexting can't be addressed by existing laws. Law enforcement -- which far too often chooses to involve itself in matters best left to parents -- bends child pornography laws to "fit" the crime. They often state they're only doing this to save kids from the harm that might result by further distribution of explicit photos. How exactly turning a teen into a child pornographer who must add his or herself to the sex offender registries is less harmful than the imagined outcomes cited by law enforcement is never explained.
Over in New Mexico, legislators are making an honest attempt to keep sexting teens from being treated like sex offenders. And it's law enforcement that's leading the opposition to the proposed changes. The bill would continue to uphold harsh penalties for actual child pornographers while decriminalizing sexting between teens.
The New Mexico Attorney General is having none of it, as Reason's Robby Soave reports:
"I cannot support an amendment that weakens protections for teenagers from predatory activity, creates a dangerous new child exploitation loophole, and places New Mexico's federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force funding in jeopardy,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas in a statement, according to the Alamogordo Daily News.This statement is not only ridiculous, but it shows the AG is more interested in budget lines than the future of teens who do the sort of things teens are inevitably going to do. Balderas is explicitly stating that he's willing to sacrifice young lives in order to secure his task force's funding. That's just sickening. In Balderas' world, sexting teens are nothing more than a revenue stream.
As Soave points out, the legislation still contains harsh punishments for child pornographers and does nothing to create a "loophole" for accused offenders. What it would do is keep teens from being charged for exchanging explicit photos with their peers by carving out an exception for photos exchanged by teens ages 14-17.
There's nothing logical about applying sexual predator/child pornography laws in this way. But Balderas has helpfully explained why many law enforcement officials are more than happy to do exactly that. There's good money in chasing down child pornographers -- a criminal act reviled by a majority of their constituents. Anything that might jeopardize these funds -- like treating sexting teens as a disciplinary/educational problem rather than a criminal one -- is to be rejected out of hand.
Soave notes Balderas was so incensed by this threat to his funding that he and his staff walked out of the hearing in a show of outrageously stupid, callously self-centered solidarity. Balderas may want to play hardball with child pornographers, but he's also shown he's more than willing to fuck a few kids himself when there's money on the line.