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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's to Worry About a Little Child Porn?

Mark Leno is a California state legislator who spearheaded a failed effort to let sex predators caught with fewer than 100 pieces of child porn get a kinder, gentler response. Fewer than a hundred? Not a problem. What's a little child porn among friends, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. A glimpse of the world according to Mark Leno. Let's be clear. "Child porn" is not obscene photos that belong to children. No, it's images of minors (anyone under the age of 18) engaged in sexual conduct. Fewer than 100? Let's not get all bothered: that was Mark Leno's contemptuous response to those who, yes, have a problem with that. So Mark Leno goes and gets busted by an intrepid California journalist named Jill Stewart, who wrote about his "let's not get uptight about child porn" attitude. Leno wasn't pleased. Becasue the facts weren't on his side, he launched a smear campaign against Stewart claiming that she had assassinated his character. Leno righteously declared that his bill (California AB 50) "would allow possession of a single image of child pornography to be charged as a felony, whereas current law allows for only a misdemeanor, regardless of the quantity possessed." Guess what? Leno's telling the truth. Keep guessing: Leno's statement masks a fundamental lie. Originally he favored the 100-or-more threshold. Only after Stewart and other journalists went public did Leno agree to the single-image penalty. Leno's AB 50 is a weakened version of other California legislation (AB 231) to strengthen sexual predator laws. Instead of bringing that bill to a committee vote, Leno introduced AB 50, which allows the court’s discretion in sentencing various crimes, including a first offense distribution or possession of child pornography as a “wobbler.” This means that the offense can be considered either a felony or misdemeanor – not just a misdemeanor as current law requires. Great news for kids at risk. Leno also said no to legislation to designate continuous child sex abuse and attempted sex crimes to the list of crimes that automatically designated a sex offender as a sexually violent predator. This is a guy who makes no secret of his belief that child predators should not be ostracized but rather given a chance "get on their feet and get a job and to be able to move forward for themselves" so they won't reoffend. Earth calling Leno: A long term study of child molesters in Canada revealed that 42 per cent were reconvicted of sexual or violent crime during the 15-30 year follow-up period. Here's the truly crazy part. Mark Leno is the main mover behind California state legislative efforts to legalize gay marriage in California. That's a cause whose success depends on backers convincing Middle America that sexual orientation is irrelevant to parenting skills. "Hi, I'm Mark Leno, making the case for gay marriage and for trusting pedophiles to reform if the rest of us would just stop being so darned judgmental. We won't go snooping on your computers if you won't go snooping on theirs. Deal?" Would the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children choose Michael Jackson to be their spokesman?