I've been a long-time fan of John Grisham's writing. As I told a friend recently, he is the only secular fiction writer, and one of the few fiction writers at all, whose books I have actually bought and kept. Typically, other than classics or children's books, fiction has been a genre I read from the library, review copies, loans from friends, or more recently, e-book freebies. Occasionally over the years I've purchased super-bargains at used book sales/stores, usually passing them on to others when I'm finished.
John Grisham, though, was different. I was a huge Grisham fan in my young adult years, and I've built up quite a collection of his books in my library.
Not long ago, however, I told Billy I was finished. Done. Gathering up my Grisham books and tossing them all.
Not a BoycottI'm not calling for a boycott. I'm not even making some sort of statement with the act of ridding my house of them. I just plain don't want to see them. I don't see myself ever reading Grisham again, and just seeing his books in my shelf turns my stomach.
They remind me of things I'd rather not think about. The fact that someone with the education and life experience and public standing of John Grisham would express the views he recently expressed about child pornography and those who view it appalls and saddens and disturbs me tremendously.
Long Way to GoHis comments are a reminder that despite more resources on all levels devoted to investigation and arrests, despite longer, tougher sentences for those convicted, despite all the progress that has been made, we are still far, far from where we need to be in this battle.
According to his recent interview in the London Telegraph, Grisham feels that America is jailing far too many people for viewing child pornography. I struggle to understand or believe that someone with a background in the law is really as naive or uneducated about these issues as John Grisham lets on in his recent Telegraph interview. However, perhaps the good that will come out of his horrific remarks will be that through the outcry generated, our society as a whole will become more educated about the horrors of child pornography.
Myth vs. TruthHere are some of Grisham's points from the Telegraph article. My responses are in bold type.
1. So many men are being charged as "sex offenders" now that "they put them in the same prison. Like they're a bunch of perverts, or something; thousands of 'em."
Those who view child pornography are sex offenders. They are perverts. As I said in part 1 of this post,
"...the world of child porn goes far, far, FAR beyond 16-year-old girls dressed up like 30-year-olds and naked baby pictures. Child porn involves children from infants to teens being forced and coerced to perform all manner of heinous acts. These acts go far beyond what those who have thankfully been sheltered from that world could possibly imagine"There is absolutely nothing normal or okay about adult men or women viewing children as sex objects. Period.
2. Current sentencing policies fail to distinguish between "real world abusers" and those who download content.
I'm not sure exactly what Grisham means by "real world abusers". I'm guessing he means those who actually assault children. I have several responses to this.
First, Grisham seems to be of the mistaken belief that child pornography is a victimless crime. Child pornography is not a victimless crime. Not only are the children involved victimized in the initial production of the materials, but every expert I've ever heard or read on this topic has said the same thing: every time that material is viewed, that child is victimized all over again. Once that material is "out there", there is no getting it back. For the rest of that child's life, that material is there, most likely being viewed over and over again.
Second, those who download content are the ones driving the market. If there wasn't an audience (often a paying one) for this type of content, production would dry up. So whether the offender ever touches a child or not, he or she is partially responsible for the atrocities being committed.
Third, the Telegraph article discusses the controversy surrounding seeming sentencing injustices between those who actually assault children and those who download content. Supposedly there are instances in which those who download content are receiving harsher sentences than those who actually assault children. If that is so, then the answer is not lighter sentences for those downloading content, but tougher sentences for those assaulting children.
3. American prisons are now full of "sixty year old white men...who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child."
Seriously, Mr. Grisham? I sincerely hope that the majority of those being incarcerated for viewing these heinous acts against children have not ever touched a child; however, statistics are not in his favor on this. The addiction to pornography is like many other addictions: it takes more and more to get the high. In the case of pornography, the perversions viewed must continue to escalate to satisfy the addiction. In many cases, viewing alone eventually ceases to provide the needed high and the offender then escalates to actual abuse.
Something is Better Than NothingAlthough I'm tossing my Grisham books, I'm not suggesting anyone else do the same. I'm not calling for a boycott of Grisham's work. As I said earlier, I simply can't look at them anymore. It makes me physically sick.
I started this post weeks ago and had to stop midway through because the subject matter sickened me to such an extreme. When I posted part 1 yesterday, I posted it with a rather abrupt ending because I simply wasn't up to any more involvement with it at that time. As I've re-read the Telegraph interview and worked to finish this post today, I've had similar struggles with physical revulsion.
But...it needs to be said. If people with the standing and influence of John Grisham are so uneducated (or perhaps in denial?) about this issue, then we have a long, long way to go in educating our society about the true dangers...yea, horrors...of child pornography. And someone...or many someones...needs to stand up and refute the dangerous untruths being spread by such a public figure.
On one hand, I feel as though I've said too much in this series, been too graphic; on the other, I realize that some degree of graphic honesty is necessary to get the message across, and I'm really not sure I've said enough. I'm sure there will be those reading who will feel I've erred on one side or the other. This is one of those times, however, that I feel like saying something is more important than saying it perfectly.
If you agree, please feel free to make this an effort of "many someones" by sharing this post using the social media buttons below, or the "pin it" button above.
I would also love to hear your thoughts on this issue in the comments. (Please keep them clean, as I reserve the right to delete anything inappropriate.)
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