Sunday, April 21, 2002

Pornography victimless?
Listen to these horror stories

        Last Monday, I asked a question about child porn: “When I hear people say porn is harmless, I wonder what the children with the lifeless eyes would say?” I've been getting answers all week.

        Some are bone chilling, others are heartbreaking. A few made my skin crawl. Names are withheld to protect the innocent.

        A mother in Northern Kentucky told how she learned from the FBI that her brother-in-law was using her son, 3, and daughter, 4, for porn he peddled on the Internet.

        “They have nightmares,” she said. “My son screams in his sleep, "Don't hurt me.'”<

Uncle Molester

        The “favorite uncle” liked to baby sit, she said. “My children's pictures could be anywhere.”

        He pleaded guilty and will be sentenced June 17, facing up to 20 years. “That's not enough,” the mother said.

        “It's just terrifying to wake up one day and realize your life has changed and it will never be the same.”

        A local teacher told a harrowing story of being abused as a child in an empty Sunday school classroom by a kiddie-porn ring at her church. She was told to tell no one or her family would be killed. And if the victims didn't smile for the camera, they were tortured with electric shocks.

        Yes, this stuff actually happens.

        She wrote: “So, in answer to your question, what would that child say? Porn is evil. All forms of it. I was exposed to Playboy-type pictures (to show that mommies and daddies think the pictures are good), then pics of children. Then naked children. Then naked children touching each other and adults, and so on.

        “It was how the abusers convinced me that it was OK, that lots of children and grown-ups were in these kinds of pictures and that it was fun and a way to show you love somebody. All the people were smiling. And I would smile too. Only I found out too late that those kids didn't really want to smile. They had to, to protect themselves or their families — a responsibility far too great for such small, fragile shoulders.

        “I shudder to think how many of my fellow abuse survivors have given up, zoned out, killed themselves or become abusers themselves.”

"How sad'

        Vickie Mushaben, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, helps 26 victims at the Hope and Freedom Center (513/891-0497). She said such stories are not unusual, and many victims have multiple-personality disorder.

        “They've lost all trust in human beings,” she says. “God is the only one who can go back and undo the damage completely.”

        A few readers insisted porn is harmless, even “healthy.” But that “Playboy philosophy” has eroded cultural taboos that once protected women and children. From crude and nude “family hour” TV to adult book stores and child porn, we've defined deviancy down so far we're off the ladder.

        Finally, after years of neglect by Janet Reno, Attorney General John Ashcroft is battling child porn. That's how the FBI caught “Uncle Molester” in Northern Kentucky.

        But the U.S. Supreme Court just gave a green light to the porn industry by striking down a ban on computer porn. The court said “virtual” kiddie porn is OK because it's not real people.

        The victims of porn are very real, with real scars. Ms. Mushaben knows what they would tell the Supreme Court.

        “How sad.”

        E-mail: Past columns at


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