A Critique of Milton Diamond’s Thesis
The professor emeritus of medicine from the University of Hawaii and head of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society, Milton Diamond, together with two Czech researchers Eva Jozifkova and Petr Weiss, maintains in an article “Pornography and Sex Crime in the Czech Republic“ in the online edition of the prestigious professional journal Archives of Sexual Behavior published by Springer and dated November 30, 2010 (location: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116701 and location: http://www.springerlink.com/content/v046j3g178147772/; location of summary: Springer. „Legalizing pornography: Lower sex crime rates? Study carried out in Czech Republic shows results similar to those in Japan and Denmark.“ ScienceDaily 30 November 2010. 10 February 2011 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130111326.htm) that the number of cases of child molestation in the Czech Republic has dropped with the acceptance of child pornography. For this reason child pornography should be legalized. Given the steep and controversial demand, the article is astonishingly superficial, and a broad international discussion is simply skated over. I have four points to criticize:
1. The statistical basis is very unreliable. If one considers that Diamond builds the idea of the legal acceptance of child pornography upon it, it is astonishing that for all practical purposes he does not discuss the unreliability and indeed the incomparability of the statistical basis. Can one really assume that recording all the cases of child molestation in the decades of communism, in the time after reunification, and today has taken place in a similar and reliable fashion? And that such is the case when it comes to an offence where the estimated number of unrecorded cases is very high and fluctuates widely? Yet if one wants to know how the data was compiled and controlled, and whether it is comparable, the only thing one reads is the following: “Data on the number of crimes reported were obtained from the Ministry of Interior.“ This excludes any possibility of scientific review.
2. Can a person actually produce a linear connection between the legalization of child pornography and a reduction in the number of recorded cases of child molestation, in particular when within the long term reduction there are fluctuations, with even a peak in 1995ff that lies above the number for the time prior to 1989? It is actually too simplistic if one looks at the basic political transformation the Czech Republic experienced, how complex modern societies are, and how difficult it is to receive reliable numbers in areas such as child molestation where the estimated number of unrecorded cases is high. However, Diamond does not even discuss other explanatory approaches or try to align other factors or subtract out what is an unacceptable method of sociological research. Diamond also indicates that the number of cases of child molestation first climbed from 1989 to 1995, and then fell from 1998 onwards. He does not provide an explanation as to why the legalization of child pornography first of all led to a decade of increase in child molestation and only thereafter to a decline.
3. Even if there were to be a connection between the acceptance of child pornography and the frequency of child molestation: The logic that one legalizes an evil because it helps to reduce another evil is very dangerous. Should we allow women to be beaten, in case it would demonstrably reduce the number of murdered women?
4. The viewpoint that child pornography is harmless and should be allowed, indeed even promoted, if its acceptance reduces the frequency of child molestation, breaks down with the fact that the production of child pornography is almost always associated with the molestation of children and all too often with child trafficking (and trafficking in women). This begins with parents who sell their children for temporary use and goes all the way to organized criminal rings and networks across all continents. It appears that the author does not know this or consciously omits it, although there is broad international discourse on this topic.
How naïvely Diamond argues is demonstrated in his conclusion: “We do not approve of the use of real children in the production of child pornography but artificially produced materials might serve.“
How can one speak in such a way that plays down the situation? And what does such nonsense have to do with science? And what does “artificially produced material mean? In adult pornography there is a large amount that is retouched, but genuine pictures and recordings as a point of departure are much cheaper than virtual productions. Whoever deals with the topics of child trafficking and sex tourism knows that enslaved children are available so cheaply that a high tech graphic artist would never be affordable.
5. Diamond is very biased over against colleagues who believe differently. At the very beginning of his article, he indeed finds a place to disparage other researchers who publish articles critical of the relationship between the use of pornography and sexual offenses (“extremists”) and to negatively label people who consider Playboy to be pornography (which has nothing to do with his topic). However, there is no place for a word against child molestation per se, or against child trafficking, child prostitution, child sex tourism, or other offences. In my opinion, this alone demonstrates how biased Diamond is – academically as well as ethically – and that in the end he has only found what he always considered correct.