Free Expression and a Satisfied Society: What Child Pornography Laws Really Protect


Motion pictures portray childhood sexuality by pushing the elusive and controversial line between free expression and exploitation. While child pornography laws protect real children as subjects in overtly sexually exploitative motion pictures (kiddy porn), in practice, due to issues of interpretation, application, and accessibility, free expression in mainstream motion pictures is supported more fully than child protection. Recent Supreme and Circuit Court decisions allow the motion picture industry to more freely portray childhood sexuality without fear of expression becoming illegal. Thus, as our social history illustrates, the societal awareness of the sexuality of children is all the more satisfied. Legally through what it consumes and where it places its implicit and explicit interests, society supports the sexualization of children. Concomitantly, filmmakers respond with motion pictures that feed society’s desires and push, if not exceed, the bounds of legitimate free expression. The perverse and unintended consequence is that crimes against children continue because child protection efforts forever languish in this history.


Constitutional Law

Date of this Version

November 2006