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This is an edited version of a response I sent to someone who told me, anonymously, that he was drawn to look at images of sex with children.

I don't think it is wrong to distribute "child porn" images, even when they [depict] children rather than adolescents. However, making them is wrong if it involves real sex with a child. For the sake of opposing sexual abuse of real children, I suggest that you boycott the images that involve real children. Imaginary children can't be hurt by drawing them.

I can't suggest any way you could talk publicly about your prediliction without being the object of a witch hunt. Americans go nuts where they imagine that children are in danger, and in their frenzy they exaggerate tiny risks — look at how they jail parents for letting children go to the park or stay home without an escort.

To be sure, a child faces the danger of sexual abuse mainly while at home. But not while home alone with no members or friends of the family present.

2016 note: I support prosecution of those that perpetrate real abuse (sexual or not) of real children. By "real" I mean specifically that I do not follow states' definitions of these terms. In fact, some states stretch the terms to the point of absurd injustice. There is a tendency to define adolescents as "children" and define all sex involving adolescents as "sexual abuse". Infantilizing adolescents is harmful to society in many ways.

Since this is an ethical question, not a legal one, the question of the right definitions is for us to consider, not for states to dictate.

Copyright (c) 2015, 2016 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.