Child pornography as a wedge issue for attacking other freedoms

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The potential to use child pornography as a wedge issue for attacking other freedoms is one justification cited for legalizing child pornography, or for applying constitutional free speech protections to it. Lew Rockwell argues that if the state is unleashed to solve the problem of child exploitation, "The power will not be used to solve the problem, but rather to intimidate the population in ways that people will find difficult to object to":[1]

The goal of the state is to find some practice that is universally reviled and pose as the one and only way of expunging it from society. The best example today is child pornography, a grim and ghastly industry that every decent person would like to see eradicated from the earth. But in the name of doing so, the state invades everyone's privacy, controls speech, interferes with families, and otherwise uses the issue as a wedge to eliminate every freedom.

It has been argued that "The free speech war is won/lost at the battle of childporn."[2] The logic behind child pornography laws is used to also support other restrictions on speech. For example, a Huffington Post writer remarks:[3]

Those who claim to "defend free speech" when they defend the right to post hate speech online, are in truth backwards. Free speech isn't an absolute right; no right is weighed in a vacuum. The court has imposed numerous restrictions on speech. Fighting words, libel and child pornography are all banned. Other countries merely go one step further by banning speech intended to intimidate vulnerable groups.

A Talking Points Memo author likewise argues:[4]

As long as revenge porn is legal, it is legal for a man that you've rejected to force you into a relationship with him anyway, and a sexual one at that, as he uses your body for sexual ends against your will online over and over and over again. With this understanding, we've already got laws limiting the trade of child pornography.

Even the right to take photos of children in public is being attacked:[5]

When press images of children are taken without consent, they are clearly intrusive – and provide a cultural context in which non-consensual images and, by extension, other non-consensual behaviour, are more acceptable. . . . Holly Dustin, director of EVAW, says these images are "part of the culture in which child sexual abuse happens . . . "

Eric Posner suggests:[6]

Consider a law that makes it a crime to access websites that glorify, express support for, or provide encouragement for ISIS or support recruitment by ISIS; to distribute links to those websites or videos, images, or text taken from those websites; or to encourage people to access such websites by supplying them with links or instructions. Such a law would be directed at people like Amin: naïve people, rather than sophisticated terrorists, who are initially driven by curiosity to research ISIS on the Web. The law would provide graduated penalties. After the first violation, a person would receive a warning letter from the government; subsequent violations would result in fines or prison sentences. The idea would be to get out the word that looking at ISIS-related websites, like looking at websites that display child pornography, is strictly forbidden.


  1. Rockwell, Llewellyn H. (30 April 2008). But What About the Children?. Mises Daily.
  2. Falkvinge, Rick (7 September 2012). Three Reasons Child Porn Must Be Re-Legalized In The Coming Decade. Before It's News.
  3. McElwee, Sean (24 July 2013). The Case for Censoring Hate Speech. Huffington Post.
  4. Marcotte, Amanda (17 October 2013). Angry, Abusive Men Still Have Free Speech Without Revenge Porn. TPM.
  5. Cochrane, Kira (26 February 2014). The fight against the sexualisation of children. The Guardian.
  6. Posner, Eric (15 December 2015). ISIS Gives Us No Choice but to Consider Limits on Speech. Slate.