I must admit that I was horrified to learn that John Grisham, a noted lawyer and novelist, had made this comment about child porn:
"We have prisons now filled with guys my age, 60-year-old white men, in prison, who've never harmed anybody (and) would never touch a child," Grisham said during a conversation about high U.S. prison rates. "But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons and went too far and got into child porn...."
I have always respected Mr. Grisham and his work, and now, even though he has retracted his statements, the harm is done.
Mr. Grisham, in an obtuse sort of way, was trying to support some unnamed "friend" who he claims got caught up in a sting operation. However, what he is missing -- and what all those who think looking at or watching child porn is not a crime are missing -- is the children who are victimized and stigmatized by this awful trade.
Children as young as 3 and 4 are often shown as sex objects in child porn and even those who are older do not often have the "choice" or the capability to make a "choice" to be involved. This is a clear and simple form of predation.
When recently, Variety published the exposé that many famous stars had been scandalized by private nude pictures of them being posted online, the uproar was immediate, and rightfully so. This was an invasion of their right to privacy. But who can speak up for these children who, in almost all cases, are victims not just of invasion of privacy but of outright predation, and often worse forms of sexual deviance? Jennifer Lawrence has taken a strong position about the leak of her photos and I applaud her for doing so... but would she also be willing to speak out about the children victimized by a similar release of pictures of them nude and in horribly compromising situations? I invite Ms. Lawrence to join me in speaking out about this larger problem because her voice will be heard by a greater audience than mine alone.
The children victimized by child porn have no voice, and Mr. Grisham should be ashamed of himself because the "crime" may not be, in his eyes, just looking at this material... but as a lawyer he knows that the real crime is the material itself and that those who "look at it" create the market for such material. In the end, the children suffer much more than the porn viewers who might end up in jail.
At World of Children Award we have a song written for us by a young man who had been traumatized as a youth. The words of that song go like this, "Are you listening? Can you hear children's voices ringing in your ear? Can you hear them when they're crying in the quiet of the night?"
Mr. Grisham, please open your ears and listen. I know you will hear the children crying at the same time as these "poor innocent men" you speak of are laughing and cavorting around.