Wednesday, January 15, 2003

One more reason I have faith in Pete Townshend, and hope he'll soon be cleared. He writes passionately and with customary intelligence about his own experience of sexual abuse, the fatal experience of close friends, why he doesn't want to see them repeated in others. I wish his curiousity about child porn hadn't gotten the better of him, but his earlier statements -- bolstered by this older article -- do suggest to me he's telling the truth. My hope is that this unfortunate incident will give a platform on an important issue, provided people will still take him seriously. They should -- as he points out in this article, it's very, very easy to stumble onto porn without meaning to, and it's equally get caught in the wide net of a witch hunt.

I may seem unusually concerned or interested in this matter. Here's the reason. Over last summer, my wife and I were totally stunned to see on the news that an older friend of ours in another town -- a family friend, albeit one we hadn't seen in years -- had been arrested for possessing child pornography. It was, as is often the case, a total shock to everyone who knew him. He was a well-known Boy Scout leader, a friend to many, and as likable and inoffensive a person as can be imagined. Cruel irony: on the day of his arrest, a local news station was actually preparing a report on him, a feature story on the beloved scout leader of twenty years standing.

Since then, we have waited for the other shoe to drop, for further news that -- in addition to public disgrace -- he had more skeletons in the closet, that there would be children who would allege he had harmed them in some way. So far, thankfully, nothing of the sort has occurred -- which actually shouldn't surprise anyone who know him. Unfortunately, one terrible surprise is often the the tip of the iceberg.

Saddened as we were by our friend's story, I was saddened more by the fate of the children who had been captured in those images, whatever they were, and I prefer to never have to do anything but imagine them. As Townshend points out in the article, this particularly malefic form of commerce thrives on a willing public somewhere -- and surely must be vigourously prosecuted, although I can only hope that in the case of my friend justice is tempered with mercy, consideration of an otherwise clean slate, and perhaps psychological help.

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