Is child pornography always bad? - (12/3/2019)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Henry came into the pharmacy and motioned for the pharmacist to come over to him. “Did you hear about my buddy, Dave?” Henry whispered. “He was busted for child porn. I did not know this about him. I guess that was something he kept private. No one knew anything about it except him.” Being in a small town, the pharmacist did hear this distressing tale. In fact, when the police arrested Dave, he said to the officer, “It’s just that it floats my boat. I am not hurting anyone!”

A person who is compelled to look at erotic images of children has a complex and felonious personality disorder. Many child porno aficionados rationalize their behavior, not viewing themselves as predators or exploiters of children. Considerable controversy swirls as to whether compulsive sexual behavior, such as viewing pornography, constitutes an "addiction." Meanwhile, the explosion of obscene Internet sites that post progressively more disturbing images affects some viewers in a way that mimics drug addiction. As with any addiction, the addict needs more and more of his poison to get the “kick” he or she craves. In other words, they have an angry monkey on their backs.  

Addiction is a tricky word. One can be addicted to alcohol, which is theoretically okay if one sits in his house and gets smashed. But if he gets into his car while intoxicated and kills someone, that is where society steps in and takes action. Isn’t it the same with child pornography? One can sit in one’s dark room and watch and not bother anyone else. Isn’t it just one’s own problem? When one watches child pornography, one is witnessing a crime being committed. The viewer recommits the crime every time he (or she) views that photo or movie. In kiddy porn, one is a spectator of abuse in its basest form. These are not consenting adults on the screen. They are toddlers and teens. 

The Supreme Court of the United States positions child pornography as "legally obscene", a term that refers to offensive or violent forms of pornography that do not have the protections of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. These are not home movies of your child innocently diaper-less in her baby pool on the deck. An educational book, such as “Everybody Poops” by Taro Gomi, is not child porn. What is pornography? "I know it when I see it," said US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964 to describe his threshold test for obscenity in the Jacobellis v. Ohio case, which challenged a theatre owner’s right to show the ribald Louis Malle film, “The Lovers.” 

So, affirmative! Child pornography is always bad. It is bad for the viewer, the producers, and especially damaging for the children depicted in these scenes. Where are they now? Are they functioning normally? Are they now kiddy porn fans like Henry’s buddy, Dave? The pharmacist was not sure about Dave’s past, but many indulgers of child porn were sexually abused as youngsters. Are there drugs or other treatments? Yes, such as antidepressants, drugs that reverse male sex hormones, and psychotherapy. Treatments only work if the patient desperately wants to be helped. Court-mandated therapies usually fail. As shown by Dave’s defense that it is just his “kink,” it is often too late.

Presently, loss of liberty is the only deterrent. Life on the outside will not be pleasant for Dave. And once in jail, his life will be in peril. The pharmacist does not feel anger toward Dave, only sadness. 

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a registered pharmacist, medical writer, and principal at 


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