Addressing a Commenter

(Last Updated On: December 16, 2015)

I had intended to let this go as I generally feel that giving ignorant people the time to voice their views here is unbecoming of a professional art blog, but I have decided to address it in a post without letting the comment through, since I did not want to share this particular  commentator’s information with the public.  Consider it a kindness to her, since we have some passionate fans who might pursue the matter beyond this blog, and at that point it is no longer in our control.

This commenter has apparently made it clear that she has reported our site to the NCMEC, since she seems to be under the impression that no one has ever tried this before and that NCMEC is somehow unaware of our existence, which is absurd for a blog of this size and importance.  Nevertheless, I shall take on each of her points one by one, so that other readers will be aware of how ridiculous her position is.  Here goes . . .

I am not an artist;

That is resoundingly obvious, as pretty much any artist worth his or her salt would be well aware of the laws pertaining to these issues, which you so clearly are not.

I happened on your website by chance.

I somehow doubt that.  There are people who make it their business to search out and target anything that they consider offensive.  But, if you did happen here by chance, all the better, since it means our site is easily reached and available to everyone, as it should be.

Some of the artwork is beautiful and some is thought provoking.

And yet . . .

However, there are many many photos of young girls in full frontal nudity.

. . . as if the child’s nude body cannot be both beautiful and thought-provoking.  At any rate, these images are constitutionally protected art.  They are not pornography, even those which address youth sexuality in some way, and certainly those which feature simple child nudity.  Every image here has been vetted and recognized as art.  The vast majority of these images have been published in other venues.  In fact, almost all of them have been taken from books which are easily available, many still in circulation, or from other art sites.  We do not post images here unless we know where they came from and we know for a fact that they meet the legal criteria for art.  We have always been extremely scrupulous about this, and that policy will continue for as long as this site remains extant.

And yes some do have a “lascivious display” of genitalia.

No, they don’t.  To suggest this to be utterly ignorant of both law and art.  Simply because genitalia is visible does not mean that they are lasciviously displayed.  Lascivious display has a legal definition, and it requires an extreme focus on the genitalia and/or genitalia which is displayed in such a way as to be deliberately sexual.  None of the images here meet that definition.  If they did, then the artists who produced them would be in jail.  A few of these artists (like Jock Sturges) have been arrested on spurious child porn charges, but they were always absolved of any wrongdoing in the end.

Perhaps in and of themselves there isn’t a problem. But to group so many photos together in one website seems to me to be a potential pedophile’s paradise.

Whether it is a “potential pedophile’s paradise” is really in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?  I have little doubt that pedophiles have visited our site, just as I’m sure they have bought the books or visited the websites of the artists themselves, but so what?  It is not the intent of this site to cater to pedophiles, but if we net a few in the process of making our larger point, so be it.  We are not willing to sway from our course in the interest of avoiding a few people.  It is absurd to completely change our longstanding cultural values of artistic and philosophical freedom in the interest of curtailing the prurient interest of a few.  Moreover, I suspect many of the people who oppose this site understand this and are masking their real objections to the dialogue itself by slapping the child porn label on art because they know that it’s generally a quick and effective way to silence the debate.  But I do not frighten so easily.  I am better informed than my enemies will ever be, and that is why I know that, outside of a fascistic crackdown on the whole of artistic expression itself, they cannot win.

If these photos were of women, full frontal nudity, they could be teetering on porn.

“Teetering on porn” is a ridiculously vague description of what you find offensive, but whatever it is, it still isn’t porn.  Full frontal nudity, adult and child, has been a staple of art since the beginning of its history.  If one took the time to actually peruse this blog, they would soon realize that this is part of the reason the blog exists in the first place: to educate people to that fact.  And again, I suspect the real objection to our site is because it so effectively makes that clear.  Enemies of artistic freedom thrive on spreading ignorance and fear about the issues to which they object, but we can see through that ploy a mile away and are not susceptible to intimidation and threats, and we’re willing to call them out on it, which means that we are more dangerous to them than real child porn ever will be.  That’s exactly why this blog is so important and so valid, and why we persist in the face of great opposition.  Many of the artists we feature here are friends of the site.  They understand how vital our mission is, and exactly how unique we are in the artistic world, because most people who have tried what we are doing have caved at the first sign of trouble rather than faced down the fear-mongers like they should have.  We will not do that.

In siding with the conservative, I’ve reported your website to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Wonderful!  And when this site is still standing months or years from now, we can point to this fact, and it will only fortify our position.

Nothing, or something may come of it;

Yes, something will come of it: you and your ilk will continue to look more and more ridiculous for your astounding degree of ignorance of artistic and legal precedent.  So, please, by all means, keep inundating us with your uninformed and sanctimonious opinions and keep reporting us to people who have better things to do with their time than dealing with an art blog posting well-known and already legally vetted art, so we can keep strengthening our hand.

I’m sorry and I know you disagree, but we’ll let a third party decide.

Please.  Stop with the patronizing nonsense.  You may be many things, but sorry is not one of them.  Admit it: you have no qualms with trying to destroy us.  And third parties have already decided.  This site has been in existence since February of 2011; we have already faced worse threats than you and we are still standing proud, just like this little girl . . .

Diego Sandstede - Malena

Diego Sandstede – Malena

12 thoughts on “Addressing a Commenter

  1. In addressing the “potential pedophile’s paradise,” I fully agree and think that is a good thing. Don’t lynch me yet. Give me a moment. The art here is not presented in a lascivious manner. Instead, its merit is discussed in a scholastic structure. By attracting paedophiles to the site and presenting them with the non-sexual view, it can be hoped that they will be infected by it and see the artistic impressions presented to them rather than the perversion they came for. In other words, a subtle form of brain-washing.

    By pointing out eroticism in children, people like them are sexualizing kids and contributing to the cognitive distortions that are at the root of paedophilia. By pointing out the innocence, we are de-sexualizing them. Which is the ideal we should be pursuing?

    • Yes, I cannot deny that pedophiles must visit/have visited this site. There is not enough science to speculate intelligently on this condition (if I may call it that), but whenever possible, we should consider the factors that contribute to it. It is all too easy to regard these people as unfeeling monsters and then go into denial when we ourselves are emotionally moved by a child’s charm or beauty. I think part of the problem is our society’s tendency to confound beauty or nudity with sexuality and to further confound things by applying a perfunctory adult interpretation of sexuality to the girls’ appearance or behavior. By presenting girls in the context of this site, readers will hopefully regard them as people worthy of respect and not merely as tools for sexual gratification. It would be a disservice to sexualize or de-sexualize them. We should simply honor them for who they are and allow them to express their sexuality in a way appropriate to their personality and level of development. And extreme caution should be exercised when speculating on their proper interaction with adults.

    • It is slightly irritating when the Editors raise more often than necessary controversial topics such as paedophilia, and each time only to give their personal opinion without any backing documentation. It becomes a real annoyance when some readers use that as an opportunity to present, with a dogmatic tone of “knowingness”, statements that are both ignorant and offensive to the people concerned.
      TKBIK, you know nothing about paedophilia, you never met an ordinary paedophile, you never discussed with one, you never made the effort to listen to what they have to say, nor to read studies made about paedophiles outside the judicial system. Your description is just media caricature, psychiatric pathologizing, stigmatization, plus the hidden fantasms lurking in the minds of too many self-righteous heterosexuals. You can’t imagine that they could be decent, intelligent and sensitive people.
      Your claim of “the cognitive distortions that are at the root of paedophilia” is just an insult to the intelligence and sensitivity of minor-attracted persons. Scientists have found no consistent origin for that sexual orientation, and you certainly don’t know better. The psychiatric concept of “cognitive distortion” just means “they think differently from us”, in the 13th century it was called “heresy”.
      Now you think that when paedophiles visit Pigtails, they “come for perversion”, and not for the “artistic impressions”. You can’t imagine that they could appreciate the beauty of children from an esthetic point of view, in the same way that heterosexuals sometimes appreciate the beauty of women with an esthetic mind.
      On my blog I have received marks of appreciation from people with various orientations: heterosexual men and women, a lesbian, a trans lesbian and several “girl lovers” (with varying ages of predilection), the latter being the most vocal. For what? Mainly poetry and scholarly studies, without any single piece of erotic material, neither visual nor textual; and nudity is represented by only 4 paintings whose “post-impressionist” style is very far from a “detailed anatomical view”. So where is the perversion?
      It should be better to stop this idle nonsense chatter about paedophilia and return to art and culture, otherwise those who “think differently” will come to redress their reputation and launch a big debate with lots and lots of scholarly documentation.

  2. Just out of curiosity, if the proverbial feces hit the fan and some serious claim was made against the site, what legal obligation, would the site or the host have regarding identifying visitors/users (IP addresses, email)? Would the site just be taken down? or would they try to rig up charges against the owners and/or everybody? I don’t want to give the detractors ammo or ideas, but should people be worried when visiting here?

    • Hi, Don. You can be certain that, if by some bizarre turn of events that I was arrested for presenting perfectly legal art on a blog, it will be a cold day in hell before I give the authorities any information I may have about anyone related to this blog. I am prepared to spend my life as a political prisoner if I have to in order to defend the right to depict and view this stuff. If the fact that my reply to the commenter doesn’t prove how serious I am about this, I hope this reply does the trick. As for what would happen to the site itself, I do not know. At the (theoretical) point where I was arrested for my involvement with this blog, you can probably ascertain that the authorities would stop at nothing to catch everyone involved, would shut down the blog and would label it child porn. But if they arrested me, they would have to arrest the artists as producers, and I am fairly certain that the authorities are not prepared to haul all of the problematic artists on this blog into court, because there is a near 100% chance they would lose the case, as they inevitably do with actual artists. Know your art history, folks! Artists win their cases 99.99% of the time. That’s a nearly impossible precedent to overturn–they know it and I know it. It would be a grave mistake for the authorities to pursue a passel of world-renowned artists in order to try to put a handful of people away. They aren’t going to do it.

      • Unless the USA falls into fascism, I don’t think that Pip will ever be jailed for propagating art. But the site could be blocked in some countries (such as Russia now), and harassment by vigilantes as well as computer attacks on the site could increase.
        Anyway, authorities do not need to arrest Pip in order to know who visits the site or corresponds with him, they already monitor closely the Internet, there is no electronic privacy, unless you use complicated methods with strong encryption and proxies and virtual connections.

  3. I’ve seen exhibitions of art that deal with death, mental illness, sadism, animal cruelty, disease and flayed human corpses – all of which are accepted because the artists manage to find something beautiful and meaningful in their grim subject matter, and because Art is an important medium of knowledge and exploration and as such no field of human experience should closed to the scrutiny of Art.

    Except that some people think that there should be ONE exception to this: children and their sexuality/sensuality. This is a subject that too many think is no longer legitimate to think about, never mind depict.

    It has to be expunged from our consciousness that children can have bodies with senses that are capable of sensuality and , god forbid, sexuality. Like New Speak it is an item of our mental vocabulary that is being written out of our conceptual dictionary.

    Those who’d shut down the freedom of artists (and of their audience) to address and explore a subject (provided they don’t break the law in doing so) are trying to control what issues and questions can be pondered, thought about and experienced through the proxy of art.

    Only someone who hates art or hates children could be offended by the content of this site.

    • Yes, they DO hate children. Real children with real bodies and senses. They only love their spurious Victorian-like image. They give it an awesome positive name. It’s innocence. Therefore, they label all real things that won’t fit into their setting as filthy and guilty.
      But these are not real children. And they can only scare kids into this mindset. They use biased language, they shame. And it’s them who are genuinely cruel to children if they won’t fit in. Ever heard of “treatment” of kids who were labeled as sex offenders?
      So yes, they don’t love children. They want ownership of their bodies and their minds. That’s why they have to take over children’s minds so they become what moralists think they should be.
      So, in their perfect world that would be okay to love children as long as they don’t expose themselves “indecently”. Or better, both adults and children themselves should be oblivious to the facts of their anatomy and psyche. Only then they are worthy of admiration, depiction and even allowed to think about. Even better, in their perfect world children would be born without genitals and “impure” thoughts, preferably in pajamas.

    • I wish there were more outlets for children’s own expressions of sexuality. Lamb’s book was extraordinary and eye-opening but as adults most of the interviewees self-censored out of embarrassment or shame. Responses ran the whole spectrum, sadly it gave the impression that sex (the act itself) was a let down compared to the wild things they did as kids. That freedom and experimentation (hell, even the fun) were just flights of fancy. I still want to know how children really feel and what they think in the present. The burst of excitement in a stolen first kiss or that animalistic aggression when they wrestled the neighbor kid on the lawn. That age when they want to marry their father or mother. If art lets them express themselves without shame or punishment what would they create? Beyond “sexting” and selfies, something deeper. Children are being bombarded right now with confusing choices and labels, trans-this and homo-that…things they aren’t ready for but are supposed to be freeing and liberating, but again it is adults forcing kids to pick a sexual identity without exploring or experimenting on their own (because that’s still forbidden). An adult’s painting or photographing a child in a provocative pose is sometimes hard to defend, but an unfiltered honest piece by a child would be awesome to see. It might be a sobering reality for some, shocking, or rather blase to others, but any “de-mystification” would help all sides to have a more realistic view of kids. A spontaneous statement made before the world, and society, shouts them down and for once grown ups actually listen.

  4. Those who object to pictures of nude people for no reason other than that those people are nude say more about themselves than about the pictures.

    Speaking for myself, I can admire the beauty of the human body regardless of age, sex, or race, without feeling any sexual desire or arousal. I enjoy looking, but I’ve never wanted to do more than just look.

    I believe that this is called having an aesthetic attraction without having a sexual attraction, and I’m surprised that it seems so rare.

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