THE NETHERLANDS—The subject of virtual child porn is red hot in The Netherlands at the moment as a pair of sex therapists argue that it should be legalized so that pedophiles can use it to relieve their sexual urges. The Dutch "outlawed all sexual representation of children in 2002, even imaginary child porn, because technology made imaginary images too realistic," reported Michael Allen in a post on Opposing Views.
But Rik van Lunsen and Erik van Beek, both of whom work at the Amsterdam University Hospital, have argued for allowing potential child sex abusers be allowed to "view drawings or computer-generated images of children to 'regulate their desires'."
For Van Beek, it all comes down to the best way to "regulate" sexual urges. "I think that repressing your fantasies can lead to frustration and ultimately, for some types of pedophile, to a greater likelihood of doing something wrong," he said, adding, "If you make virtual child pornography under strict government control with a label explaining that no child was abused, you can give pedophiles a way of regulating their sexual urges."
Van Lunsen argues that the law fails to distinguish between individuals who have these desires. "We don't make enough of a distinction in public debate between 'healthy' pedophiles, people who are not pedosexually active, and delinquent pedosexuals," he said. "We're not responsible for our thoughts or our fantasies; we're only responsible for one thing, our actions."
Not surprisingly, they are getting some push back. Psychotherapist Jules Mulder said changing the law will "certainly increase the likelihood of going through with it [sexual abuse]," and Gerdi Verbeet, a former parliamentary speaker, said, "It's really not a good idea. It would be an enormous responsibility for the government."
Currently, according to Sky News, "Creating, owning and sharing such images is punishable by up to four years in prison."
In the United States, by contrast, the legality of virtual child porn had supposedly been dealt with years ago when the Supreme Court ruled in Ashcroft v FSC that it was legal on First Amendment grounds. With the passage of the PROTECT Act of 2003, however, the issue was revived and apparent contradictions between the latter legislation and the ruling in Ashcroft have yet to be resolved. There has been one successful conviction under the PROTECT Act for virtual child porn.