December 22, 2024

Last words

Just in time for Christmas, mainstream media outlets jumped on the whole "kid makes own kiddie porn" meme. First, CNN had a video segment (which I can't find and link to now) on and how it could be the perfect place for predators who want to eat your children to lurk. The piece didn't bring up any actual instances of predatory behaviour on myspace (except to mention those freaks who want to be friends with like, everyone!) just hinted at the possibility that it could happen. So watch out. And the Today Show had a teaser for a segment they were going to be running one morning this week. The tag went something like, "A teenage boy made his own kiddie porn--we'll show you how!"

Perhaps more interesting (and less predictable), people have been pointing out the odd role the New York Times reporter, Kurt Eichenwald, played in the webcam story. Like the other adult men who eventually came to physically victimize this kid, Eichenwald also spent some time grooming the underage Justin Berry, setting him up for the story. Then, he turned into custodian, helping the kid come clean off of cocaine and pot. Then, he essentially turned agent of the state, helping Justin become a federal witness.

Slate's editor Jack Shafer discussed it eloquently earlier this week in "The New York Times Legal Aid Society." Interesting, says Shafer, that at the same time Kurt Eichenwald was actively involved in getting the feds to pay attention to his little teen camwhore, Judith Miller was in jail for explicitly refusing to do the same thing.

In other words, Eichenwald helped convince Berry to quit porn and quit drugs. He found him a lawyer. The lawyer, in turn, persuaded federal prosecutors to give Berry immunity for serving as the state's witness.

What extraordinary intervention! The analogies aren't perfect, but imagine a Times reporter encountering an 18-year-old who had been thrust into the illicit drug business at 13 as a consequence of his neglectful family and unscrupulous dealers? Would he help the young man leave the drug trade and find him a lawyer at a Washington firm who is "a former federal prosecutor," as Eichenwald did Berry? Not likely. Would a Times reporter extend similar assistance to an 18-year-old female prostitute? An 18-year-old fence? A seller of illegal guns? No way.

To the argument that Eichenwald deserves our praise for aiding the adult Berry, who has been victimized, I offer this counterargument: Hasn't the Times put the next reporter assigned to the online pornography story into a nasty jam? Will the just-turned-18-years-old subjects expect future reporters to 1) help get them a lawyer who will 2) assist them in becoming witnesses for the prosecution, because Eichenwald helped Berry? Will online pornographers and other allied criminals now regard reporters as agents of the state? Don't be surprised if they start treating reporters as cops.

In any case, I continue to think about Justin Berry and his webcam. About how people can agressively, ruthlessly be a part of their own victimization.

I'm also a little jealous. I never made hundreds of thousands of dollars. I never got invited to computer camp. People didn't buy me tons of computer gear off amazon (though they did send me first editions of books of poetry and little ceramic sculptures of puppies, and many bought copies of my incredibly pretentious chapbook of poetry, "Veritas et Excrementum," at a $100 a pop), and no one threatened to kill me (though one man in Michigan would send me hand-written letters detailing how he would like to kill me and then what fun he was going to have with my dead body) and I never got to do blow and have sex with Mexican prostitutes while my dad filmed us so yeah its safe to say I'm a little jealous.

UPDATE: Okay, this is the creepiest article ever!

Posted by jason at December 22, 2024 09:25 AM
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