Like we've said before, "oh, think of the children" is a magic phrase around these parts. Uttering it excuses you, in our culture, from the surly bounds of logic and proportion.
Case in point: Radley Balko offers the story of Evan Daniel Emory of Michigan, who fancies himself a humorist. Emory videotaped himself singing a harmless song to schoolchildren. Then he doctored the video to make it appear that he was singing a profane song to children, and put it on the internet. As the preview to the video itself makes clear, no actual children were exposed to naughty words in the classroom.
But what does that matter? Just as it was once treason to imagine the death of the king, it's a terrible crime in our society to put children together with profanity or violence or sex, even only in our imaginations. So Emory, thanks to Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague, is charged with a felony.
Tague said Michigan law 'provides penalty' for those who actually manufacture child sexual abusive material "but also has a provision for those who make it appear that the children were actually abused."
Perhaps the children have some sort of civil cause of action against Tague for depicting them in a false light (as enjoying an obscene performance) or for misuse of their right of publicity. What's an eight-year-old's right of publicity worth? Tague ought not use unsuspecting schoolchildren as set dressing in his productions, and I don't care who set the example for him.
But charging him with a felony premised on the idea that he made it appear that children were abused? That suggests a frankly demented society. Movies are full of scary-ass kids — the Children of the Corn, that head-spinning puking chick in The Exorcist, and the entire oeuvre of MacCaulay Culkin. But if perfectly normal kids can drive adults into frenzies of witch-burning barbarism just by existing, then we really don't need horror-movie tropes to make kids scary, do we?
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017