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Should I notify the authorities?

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There is a certain individual in my life who is a totally worthless parasite, literally worse than worthless in terms of human value, who is very dangerous and who I hate with a raging passion. Suppose, hypotehtically, that I just found out that said invidual has a hard drive full of kiddie porn. Should I notify the authorities in this hypothetical situation? My main reservations are the facts that it's not really any of my business and that I would just be ratting him out, and that if he gets thrown into prison, it will probably be a death sentence for him. I would love to see him incarcerated, but not raped/killed, which would be the likely result of incarceration. Thoughts?

Edited by cliveandrews
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I am horrified that you would even ask, instead of just doing it. The reason why he might be assaulted in prison (though the myth that all child related offenders are is false-most prisons do a good job at protecting them) is that sexually abusing a child is considered the most vile crime, by almost everyone.

A hard-drive full of child porn (as opposed to a few clicks in his browsing history, which might be accidental-though I never in my life have come across child porn on the Internet) is clear proof that he is a sexual predator of children, fully complicit in the abuse of every child depicted in that material on his computer.

As for the rat thing, let me ask you this: would you appreciate it if, in case someone assaulted you, a police officer came to your help, or would you rather he minded his own business and let you be beaten or killed. If it's the former, wouldn't it make sense that you do what you expect from others, and help those children out? Remember, the material might actually help the authorities to find and rescue them as well.

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Preventing child abuse/explotation is not at all your business, even when you can easily prevent it? If you are at all interested in justice I would think it is enough "your business" to report him to the authorities.

If he is indeed guilty, the fact that he might get raped or killed should not too much of a concern (personally I wouldnt at all care if he gets raped, if guilty he probably deserves it). His possible death should only really be a concern on the chance that somehow he is innocent but was found guilty wrongly..

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(though the myth that all child related offenders are is false-most prisons do a good job at protecting them)

Rape is extremely common in prisons whether you're a child related offender or not. Anybody who can't defend himself against a rape will get raped. The prisons generally turn a blind eye to the problem. As the prisons get more crowded it gets harder and harder to get placed in protective custody.

A hard-drive full of child porn (as opposed to a few clicks in his browsing history, which might be accidental-though I never in my life have come across child porn on the Internet) is clear proof that he is a sexual predator of children

uhhhhhhh I don't know about that...

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Rape is extremely common in prisons whether you're a child related offender or not. Anybody who can't defend himself against a rape will get raped. The prisons generally turn a blind eye to the problem. As the prisons get more crowded it gets harder and harder to get placed in protective custody.

Any proof?

uhhhhhhh I don't know about that...

You do need to understand the relationship between the person downloading the material and the crime to know about that.

The people accepting/purchasing those materials are encouraging/facilitating the crimes, by doing that. He is a participant in the crime, the same way someone who orders a murder is, or someone who is a fence for stolen goods is.

And by the way, he knows exactly what his actions are causing (he is experiencing it first hand), and he chooses to do it anyway. If he wanted to, he could stop doing it.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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You do need to understand the relationship between the person downloading the material and the crime to know about that.

The people accepting/purchasing those materials are encouraging/facilitating the crimes, by doing that. He is a participant in the crime, the same way someone who orders a murder is, or someone who is a fence for stolen goods is.

What if there is no exchange of money? How do you facilitate the crime just by downloading the material if you don't pay for it?

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I've never known Objectivists to capitulate to the law arbitrarily. Does viewing child porn Objectively qualify one as a child sex predator?

I don't see how it could. There are plenty of other labels you could apply to such a person, but predator isn't one of them.

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In short, yes. Possession of child porn is a violation of the law.

I'm going to put on my devil's advocate hat here for a moment, so bear with me.

In a culture like ours, which is rife with irrational and rights-violating laws, you can't simply jump from "X is illegal" to "I have a moral obligation to turn someone in for doing X." Suppose the guy had a few ounces of marijuana? Possession is against the law; would you turn him in?

Second thought -- is the child pornography of a type that required the exploitation of actual children to create, or is it literary? The major justification for banning child pornography is that its creation requires violating the rights of children, but that isn't true of literary pornography. The secondary justification for banning child pornography is that people who find it arousing are sexual predators who will likely go on to abuse real children themselves -- but is that a valid justification? That looks like a case of putting people in prison for something they might do in the future, and that's a pretty dangerous principle to endorse.

Please don't take anything I've written here as approving of child pornography of any kind -- it's absolutely vile and disgusting and anybody who finds it arousing is a sick and worthless human being. But I fear that that sense of emotional outrage might be leading people to take shortcuts in their thinking about the right course of action here.

That said, my reaction is that if the child porn is photographic or video -- i.e. it is evidence of the abuse of actual children -- you should report it. Think of it this way: you have evidence that a crime has been committed, viz. the sexual abuse of children. That's what you're reporting to the police. I assume you would do the same if you found the same evidence in the possession of someone you liked rather than someone you despised.

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I've never known Objectivists to capitulate to the law arbitrarily. Does viewing child porn Objectively qualify one as a child sex predator?

Whether you choose to call him a "predator" or not, he is guilty of a disgusting, serious crime and you should turn him in.

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I've never known Objectivists to capitulate to the law arbitrarily. Does viewing child porn Objectively qualify one as a child sex predator?

I have no problem saying that one who intentionally views child pornography, for intentions one views pornography, is a sexual predator, a pedophile; this is true of the general definition of these two terms, and as they are defined in law.

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What's with all the use of words like 'disgusting' and 'vile'? Emotionalism has no place in this situation.

I used those terms as evaluations, and I think they're precisely applicable. I also find it somewhat ironic that you would accuse me of emotionalism for a post which was specifically arguing against emotionalism in this situation. It makes me wonder why I even bother.

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I have no problem saying that one who intentionally views child pornography, for intentions one views pornography, is a sexual predator, a pedophile; this is true of the general definition of these two terms, and as they are defined in law.

In my state, it's legal to have sex with a 16 year old girl, but if you watch a video of her having sex, then it's child pornography and you're a sexual predator?

Edited by cliveandrews
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Do note that in all of this you assume that he found a site with child pornography on it and does not report it.

From what I understand, a lot of CP is distributed through P2P sharing, which is decentralized and not tied to any website.

Also, what does that have to do with whether his actions should be considered a crime or not?

Unless you're saying it's a crime not to report a crime. But then you're only talking about the method of acquisition as a crime, not viewing or possessing the material.

Edited by Myself
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What's with all the use of words like 'disgusting' and 'vile'? Emotionalism has no place in this situation.

I didn't say disgusting, only vile. That's not a description of emotions, but a moral qualifier.

What if there is no exchange of money? How do you facilitate the crime just by downloading the material if you don't pay for it?

You provide encouragement to the person performing the physical act itself. There is no difference between being there and cheering him on and sitting at home and downloading his work. Both constitute complicity.

In my state, it's legal to have sex with a 16 year old girl, but if you watch a video of her having sex, then it's child pornography and you're a sexual predator?

You're a sexual predator if the person in the video did not give her fully rational consent. In the case of a 16 year old, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that she might not be capable to fully understand what she is doing, so yes, you could be a sexual predator. I certainly can't fault any law that sets the age of consent at 18. (and it even makes sense to set the age of consent for porn at 18 even though the sex one is 16, since porn has implications beyond just having sex)

But the differences in age of consent in different states have nothing to do with our discussion of child pornography, and the ethics of reporting it. Why bring it up?

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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If (hypothetically) all he did was view the material, what is his crime? The crime of looking?

If he intentionally downloaded the material, whether he looked at it or not, then his crime is possession of child pornography. If he unintentionally ended up with some small amount of it on his computer, then he should not be prosecuted. However, like Jake mentioned earlier, I've never come across child porn on the internet so I don't know how one would unintentionally get it on your computer. In any event, this guy apparently has a hard drive full of it, so we're not talking about someone who innocently stumbled into possessing this material.

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I believe that you should not, because as you indicated in your original post, your interest in this case is entirely irrational, and it would be as good for your purposes if he were hiding income from the taxman or growing marijuana (acts which are also illegal). Your interest is clearly in destroying the life of a person whom you despise as a "totally worthless parasite, literally worse than worthless in terms of human value, who is very dangerous and who I hate with a raging passion." What you should do is have nothing to do with this person, and also I would suggest that you seek some sort of psychological guidance regarding your raging passion. From what I can tell, if there were a gas leak in his house and you knew that within a few minutes his house would explode, killing this person, you would do nothing to save his life. That is not rational behavior.

There is a separate question about whether a rational and moral man would be doing the right thing in turning him in to the authorities, perhaps because he concludes that the act in question is a wrong act and that the act is correctly classified under law as a crime. That man would not be driven by raging passion and hatred. But first, you have to address the question of whether the act is properly a crime. Not all evil acts should be classified as crimes; indeed, if you were to turn the guy in, given your reasons for doing so, that would be an evil act, but it should not be a crime.

Generally speaking, moral conclusions are not founded on raging passions.

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