Thursday, January 7, 2010


The New York Daily News has this report on the artist, Michaelangelo, no not that one, the pedophile photographer who finds himself in U.S. District Court facing 15-30 years for child porn.  Yes, Judge the pictures of me sleeping with an 11 year old girl on my laptop are real, . . . yes, Judge, she's a minor, but I took the pics in Colombia, . . . and these images are ART.

Goodbye, Michaelangelo.

If you look at local news websites around the country which I do, you endlessly encounter reports of men being prosecuted on child porn charges.  Hell, occasionally there's an adult woman in the mix.

A couple of thoughts occur to me:  the wide-dispersion of computer technology in the late twentieth and first decade of the twenty-first century (is there a verb I can use here without using a pun?--oh, well) exposing a lot of pedophiles?  Secondly, trying to justify, rationalize, excuse child porn sure faces steep odds, at least in this country. 

These observations might sound incredibly obvious to you but for those of us who grew up in eras that preceded the personal computers, child porn existed--in fact, as an attorney who brought hundreds of actions arising out of the sexual abuse of children, some of this pre-digital garbage was discovered as part of the lawsuits.  I don't know the numbers, but according to Wikipedia, since 1997, the number of images on the internet has grown an estimated 1500%! Computers did not create child porn, but computers created the resource for law enforcement to identify and prosecute consumers of this material.

Years ago I brought a claim against a step-father on behalf of his newly adult child.  Of course, the defendnat denied abusing his step-daughter.  I set the defendant's discovery deposition; just, before the scheduled examination one of the defendant's ex-wives (for another amazing story of a disgusted wife click the link)delivered a manilla envelope with dozens of black and white images that appear to have been processed in a basement darkroom.  During the depositon, I pulled image after image out of this manilla envelope this defendant visibly wilted.  His attempted explanation, ART!  He compared the photos to the work Robert Mapplethorpe.

Um, I'm not an art critic, (well actually I am), but this was not the work of an artist.


  1. Historically, the words "artist" and "artful" were also used to describe a person who engages in duplicity, who is emotionally and psychologically "artificial." I.e., a "con-artist" or professional liar. So maybe these creeps have it right after all....

  2. One of the 'Bucks Boys is a distinquished American artist, I was totally bummed that he didn't come in this AM, because I wanted to talk about Michaelangelo, no not that one!

    Gayle, I know you know that there are nuances to "art" tha encompasses eroticism of youth, and in fact outright pornography. I don't mean to suggest that artists shoudl consider these subject taboo, but the criminal law in this area relates to the protection of children. An artist wishing to depict the eroticism of youth will get prosecuted when they exploit children. A real artist can explore these subjects in the same way that an artist explores violence, death, murder, rape--they don't commit the acts, or if they do they get prosecuted.

  3. absolutely amazing

  4. "The eroticism of youth" is very different for artists than violence, death, murder, or rape. No actual underlying crime is necessary in order for an image of a child that can be perceived as erotic to result in a long jail term for its possessor. And except for child pornography, even images that do document an underlying crime (say, murder) can't constitutionally be censored unless they meet the stringent definition of obscenity. In short, the eroticism of youth can simply not be portrayed in the photographic medium; those few photographers who do so, even in a situation where there is no underlying crime and the child is not harmed, will find their work readily censored and are at serious risk of being prosecuted. Think, for example, of Richard Prince's 'Spiritual America' which was removed from an exhibition at the Tate Modern after a warning from police.

  5. Anon. 8:25, excellent point. Thank you for posting.

  6. I was talking about this post with a friend who mentioned the work of Sally Mann who photographed her nude children--I believe the children as adults have expressed a feeling of exploitation, although the daughter continued to do nude life-modeling.