Rule internalization is a horrible scourge throughout the world. It is utilizing a rule with only the rule itself in mind. Say a mother tells her daughter not to throw toys. Her daughter later throws a ball around while outside. Her mother then punishes her for breaking one of her rules. This is, of course, an absurd scenario. It is clear the reasons for the rule were that throwing toys can result in damage to the toys, hurt people in the process, and cause damage to furniture/items in the house. However, because the rule was stated more broadly than that, it technically applied to all scenarios, even throwing a ball outside. The girl violated the rule, but not the reason for the rule. This brings me to my main point.
This week, prosecutors in Greensburg, Pennsylvania charged six teens ranging in age from 14 to 17 with creating, distributing and possessing child pornography, after three girls were found to have taken photos of themselves in the nude or partially nude and e-mailed them to friends, including three boys who are among the defendants.
These are the real world results of rule internalization. This is what happens when people cease their thinking and become robotic in their ‘reasoning’.
These teenagers are not criminals. They do not deserve prison, probation, or to be designated sex offenders. Perhaps a persuasive argument can be made that they should be grounded from their cell phones, but they are not criminals. The reason for child sex offender laws is to prevent the exploitation of young individuals by older people who have some sort of authority mystique, whether it be through a job (teacher, coach) or through age – or just people who have the physical ability which allows them to act in perversion. The law was not designed to punish horny teenagers who willingly take pictures of themselves.
What’s more, in Pennsylvania “teenagers aged 13, 14 and 15 may legally engage in sexual activity with partners who are less than 4 years older”. Apparently these teenagers are allowed to have sex and, presumably, view each other naked. As soon as their nudity is placed on some sort of media device, whoa! Watch out! That violates a rule!
Authorities argue that bringing child porn charges against teens is designed to educate them about the dangers of creating and distributing such images, which could fall into the hands of commercial pornographers, pedophiles or others who might want to harm or exploit them.
That’s some pretty harsh education. “Why, Sally, I’m just trying to educate you. That’s why I am making you a felon, ruining your chances at a good college or job, and forcing you to be a pariah in society. You’re welcome.”
This argument makes no sense. Plenty of things could fall into the wrong hands. The children themselves could fall into the hands of a predator. I suppose (in the name of education, of course) children should be prosecuted for being children. That’s the only way we can prevent their exploitation.
The really disturbing thing here is that police obtained warrants to view this child pornography. Given the obvious fact that these teenagers were far from running afoul of the reason for the rule, the officers and the judge who issued the warrant should come under some scrutiny. These people went out of their way to find nude 14 and 15 year olds who may legally engage in sexual activity with the two other teenagers involved. They have no worthwhile basis for wanting to see these naked teens. If anything, that’s the most disturbing part of this all.