One of the things we must constantly guard against is one or other of the special interest groups managing to carve out for themselves some juicy little rent opportunity. It might be landlords arguing that we shouldn't have business rates because that's a tax landlords pay. It might be that we must have very special pensions for MPs, the people who determine MPs pensions, because MPs are very special people. But all such attempts to slice a juicy little piece off the body politic, from our hides, are to be resisted. And the latest attempt to do so is riding on the horrors of child abuse.
The Amy and Vicky Act, which has been passed by the Senate and is now before the House of Representatives, seeks to secure damages for victims of online paedophiles who possess indecent images of them.
We find ourselves in the societally odd position of being in favour of child pornography because we are against child abuse. All the evidence there is points to the fact that the porn is, on balance, a substitute for the act. Thus the way to reduce the number of acts is to increase the number of images in circulation. Obviously, that should be created digitally, not in any form of reality.
However, leaving that aside, this proposal is in fact one of the most naked attempts at carving out a rent, at securing a steady and consistent flow of other peoples' money, we have seen:
The Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety – which includes the likes of the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children and the Children’s Society – will on Monday publish an open letter to Michael Gove, the justice secretary, urging him to study legislation being drafted in America that would force internet paedophiles to make financial reparations for their actions.
You get caught with child porn then you should have to pay damages for the pain caused to the abused child caused by the knowledge of your possession. Looks pretty tenuous to us and the courts have thrown the idea out. However, look a little deeper:
John Carr, the coalition’s secretary, said a new law was urgently needed. Estimates suggest that paedophiles in the UK alone could be holding between 150 million and 360 million images of child abuse. “Conventional law enforcement methods are not working in this area, so we have to look for new deterrents,” Carr said. “I think this could be a very effective one. If guys know they could lose their house or their pension, they’ll think twice.”
They can certainly see a golden pot of money there. Further:
They explain that it would also help to take some of the financial burden off the state. “The sort of financial orders we envisage might cover an element of compensation to the victim, but also make a contribution to the cost of any necessary therapy or ongoing support the abused victim might need. Typically, this would relieve the state of some or all of the cost of providing such therapy or support.”
Oh, therapy and support eh? Our word, wonder who might be the providers of that? Possibly:
The Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety – which includes the likes of the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children and the Children’s Society....
Well, yes, obviously.
So to tell the story in a simpler fashion: if you change the law as we suggest then there's a vast pot of money that can be confiscated by us urging the change in the law, which will keep us, those urging the change in the law, providing therapy and support services at fat hourly rates from now until kingdom come. With lovely pensions to boot and all without any oversight from anyone at all. Which is why we propose this change in the law.
The correct response to this proposal is a sustained outburst of that Anglo Saxon invective which so enriches the English language followed by a "No". Even a "No!"
For some reason we also want to say something about sex and travel.