1. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Gah!! How explicit should a story about child abuse/pornography be?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Cdn Writer, Jun 22, 2020.

    This is a royal pain in the ass. I'm working on a story involving child pornography, the goal being to try and inspire some new techniques/technology to deal with this issue.

    Ain't going well.

    The problems so far:

    1. I set the story to start in 1965 - present, and I keep finding myself solving yesterday's crime with today's technology. Lots of rewriting.

    2. A few of the people who are bringing their kids to the pornographer, they're doing it because the choice is basically to either die from starvation or let someone molest their kids. They are turning out much more sympathetic than I want them to be. Sigh. This can be dealt with by having them any like reality parents, pushing their kids.

    3. The pornographer, I have him going to jail, suffering, and then getting drafted by the good guys to help catch other pornographers. He's the ultimate bad guy at the start but then the story reveals he's been through this himself and he's doing this job because it's what he knows so he's evil because of circumstances, not because he woke up one and decided to be evil.

    Now, here's the problem.

    The beginning of the story, the photos are what I would call basic. I describe them as becoming more explicit but not graphically explicit.

    I am working with two victims/survivors of child abuse who did have child sexual abuse images of them taken and one of them has been saying that my descriptions are too basic, that child pornography is much, much more explicit than what I am describing especially as the industry matured.

    We are discussing a specific scene in the book where an older child is forced to victimize a younger child. I keep dancing around the sexual aspect and trying to focus on the emotional impact on the two children, the terror of the younger child, the resignation/fear/disgust/whatever of the older child.....and the feedback I'm getting is that it needs more physicality to the description.

    Maybe I suck at writing emotionally charged scenes?? Possible.

    I DO NOT want a graphic physical description of the sexual abuse that is taking place.

    What else can be done? Physical descriptions of violence between children - "Billy punched me in the nose!" Or "Sherry pulled down my pants and paddled/spanked my bottom!" Are ok, I think as long as they are not done to excess - "Sherry pulled down my pants and used a belt to whip me!"

    But sexual violence between children at the direction of adults? I don't want to do this....but it is what people have experienced, it is what is done in some videos/photos......

    The closest I could see getting to sexual violence *MIGHT* be an adult who survived this life, works as a prostitute and is killed by a crazy john during a bad date.

    Any advice, suggestions? How do I honour what my consultants have experienced, drive home the horror to my readers and not be too explicit?

    The scene basically has the pornographer telling "John, do IT to Nathan." And then the pornographer focuses on Nathan's terrified facial expression. That's it for the scene. Later, the scene is referred to by law enforcement - "We caught him watching this video of one kid hurting another kid."

    **For those who weigh in, please be aware that this particular website does not allow graphic descriptions of sexual activity between children and adults. It's not what I want anyways so please, none of this.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    If I could suggest a book, I recently read The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. There are no cameras present, but it might give you an idea of what is expected/acceptable when dealing with this subject matter. It's a very well written book. It stays with you. The descriptions are comprehensive without being overly graphic. In other words, you know exactly what's happening to her without having to read porn. I would highly recommend it as research. It also gives you a glimpse into the mindset of a willing or at least complacent participant in the torture.
     
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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Don't let your consultants in on the creative process. Ask them questions, but don't let them see what you're writing, unless you want feedback on something very specific. I've learned not to let anybody in on the creative process—it always screws things up. Don't let it become writing by committee, or let people second-guess your own instincts about how you want to write it. People will always want to get involved, and usually they have the best of intentions, but most of them know nothing about writing stories, and they have very different ideas than you do about how to approach something like this. It's your project, and it needs to always be under your creative control with no interference.

    In fact I would let some time go by after consulting with them, so the ideas settle in and become your own, before you begin the writing. If you need to ask questions several times, I would do this each time, maybe work on the outline or something but don't do the actual writing until enough time has gone by that you aren't overly influenced by things they've said.
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Here's my two-cents worth. How explicit you should be depends upon the audience you're writing for, and the genre you're writing in.

    You're asking us about the details of a few scenes, but you haven't actually told us much about the KIND of story you're attempting here. What's the focus going to be? Solving a crime? Rehabilitating a criminal? Helping victims of child abuse deal with the trauma they suffered? Telling the world what child pornography is like?

    Who is the POV character in this story, and what is his/her perspective?

    Although I haven't read the book Rzero refers to, that might be a very good place to start. Read other books in the genre you've chosen, and see how they deal with explicit sex and violence.

    I also totally agree with Xoic about writing by committee. I'm concerned that you seem to already be getting feedback from people who think you're not being explicit enough with your physical details. Hmm. Why do they seem to think it should be more explicit? If your scene comes across as being 'coy,' that could be a problem that's easily solved. But if they were hoping to read details of the abuse and were disappointed the details weren't there? If they are the actual victims of child abuse themselves (as you imply), why would they want the explicit details to be there? Don't they realise that, in addition to creating outrage from certain readers who 'need to know what actually happens', these details will also attract readers who enjoy the idea of child porn?

    My own feeling is to decide, for yourself, exactly what you want the book to do. If you pick a controversial topic, as this is, you have to accept your approach won't please everybody. Make sure the 'story' is straight in your own head. And don't forget the old adage: write without fear; edit without mercy. Once your story is done and you know what you've got, you can then edit the details to fit into the type of story you've written, taking into account who you intend to sell it to. If you don't intend to sell it AS pornography, however, you'll need to realise that finding some non-explicit way to convey the experiences the children have had is going to be necessary. Focusing on their fear, their sense of betrayal and pain, their feelings of worthlessness that might even be suicidal, and maybe on the after-effects of their experience they still suffer as adults might be the way to go.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  5. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    There's a debate about an anime series I adore, the Monogatari series, and it has to do with how the younger female characters are portrayed (unless you also want to talk about the infamous "toothbrush scene", in which case we thrust ourselves into the glorious debates about portraying domestic abuse, inappropriate relationships between family, etc).

    Tl;dr, the philosophical underpinnings are about whether or not the sexualizing of children is being encouraged, if it's a self-aware commentary, if it's condemnable but still fair-game under the umbrella of free speech, if art reflects life or if life reflects art, the value of satire, is there a victim involved, etc. More aptly, it is a Pandora's Box of philosophical debate.

    There's the door to the debate room. I don't think I've opened it yet, but my point is that YOU (@OP) need to decide where YOU stand, and then stick to your guns. Nobody can do that for you. All anybody can do is pose their best arguments for whatever it is that they themselves believe on this topic. Ultimately it's up to you to found your position. So, I encourage you to do that.

    I can tell you this: if you wrote a 500 Days of Sodom fan-fic in which Humbert Humbert is the main character and POV and all the other characters are children, I wouldn't burn you at the stake, nor would I call for police to raid your home, nor would I stroke my suspicously phallic shaped ego and lead a crusade to have you deplatformed and all the rest. I just wouldn't buy the book, or if I did, I'd ask for my money back.

    But if you're deliberately encouraging that kind of illegal activity, rather than saying literally anything else about it, then you have found where I, personally, draw the line.

    Of course, something tells me you possess a bit more tact than that, according to what you've shared so far @Cdn Writer.


    Food for thought.

    EDIT: Other practical considerations would include if or how you want it published.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    My worry is that the author might be inadvertently encouraging that kind of illegal activity. Out of a desire to create empathy with the victims and outrage against the perpetrators, an explicit work is also likely to encourage people who are attracted to child abuse. It's a fine line.
     
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  7. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    And so it is that the two mainstream sides of this "popular" issue have been excellently encapulated for the OP. When a certain niche group of people quip "Orwell's 1984 was as much a blueprint as it was a warning", this is what they mean.

    Another member on here posted a status that expresses the idea that you can't please everyone. My advice to the OP is to consider the different arguments and opinions presented in this thread, to investigate this topic further with their own research, and to figure out where they stand on it. But no matter where you stand on it, somebody is going to disagree. I think if one isn't yet ready to live with that, then they should hold off on writing it.

    Ultimately the question the OP asked can only be answered for themselves, by themselves.

    It isn't until the OP figures that out on their own, that they can then confront the following questions, like "will I be able to share this on a writing forum" and "will this be publishable given the content".

    In my Humbert humble opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Damn, shit just got real in here!

    I've hinted on another of your threads @Cdn Writer that child pornography rings are often not investigated for political reasons. Sometimes they're affiliated with the wealthy and powerful, or there's some kind of graft that gives the pornographers immunity. Police are either ordered to stand down or threatened if they try to investigate. Look at how the grooming gangs keep getting away with it for years (decades?) in communities where it's well known what they're doing, but there's no investigation until and unless one is somehow forced (and I don't pretend to know how that happens).

    Look at all the other government 'Wars On...' such as on drugs. Often the real reasons behind them are not what the public is told. I think if you want to solve the problem you need to have a deep understanding of these kinds of issues that surround the subject.

    I'd say if you want to try to show a more effective way to catch the crooks, you need to first really understand the behind the scenes, the corruption, the incompetence, and all the rest that goes on—the dark underbelly of law and order. I also think you need to really think about what constitutes a 'better way'. The last I recall you said something about installing spy chips in all consumer cameras to bring police busting in the door if the camera's sensors detect suspicions activity. I don't know how things work north of the border, but your neighbors to the south value freedom, and don't allow 1984 style police-state spying of that nature (I suspect Canada doesn't either). Before police can investigate a crime, they need reasonable suspicion one has been committed, and they also need a warrant before they can enter and search. Hopefully you have or will come up with a better way than that. Sorry to be blunt about it, but my earlier hints didn't seem to get through (as far as I can tell anyway).

    Plus people will just use older cameras or learn how to deactivate the spy chip before using it. All of this would need to be taken into consideration before you as an author could say you have a viable solution to the problem of child pornography that will work better than what's currently being done. That's a very bold claim with a lot connected to it.
     
  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    The way I think you should look at this sort of issue of explicitness with graphic content is that you shouldn't focus on how explicit you can be before it's a problem, but how explicit you actually need to be to convey whatever it is you're conveying. If you include explicit content largely because you think you can get away with it, you're much more likely to run afoul of being seen as crude, inappropriate and/or insensitive.
    There's nothing wrong with explicit content, but it carries baggage that means you need to make sure it's pulling its weight. Sex, violence, abuse, discrimination— all these things are serious issues to varying degrees in varying ways and if you include them in a way that's not proportionate to the meaning they add to the work, you are likely to come off as trivialising them and using them for a cheap spectacle. More explicit content can be powerful if the context provides clear meaning— such as a lesbian sex scene that emphasises self-empowerment and defiance, or frequent racial slurs and dogwhistles in a movie about fighting racial discrimination.
    You could even compare it as an issue to exposition in a story. You don't just load your story up with exposition to the point where you think you can get away with it, you add it where it serves a clear purpose.

    The question I would be asking in your position, then, is first, like what Jannert said, what exactly you are trying to accomplish here— thematically, tonally, narratively. And then, ask what degree, what context and what kind of explicitness will help you to achieve those goals, and what is just going to be added spectacle.
    I would only include explicit sexual elements to the extent that they add significantly to the audience's understanding of the nature of child porn. I wouldn't add it just to confront people with just how graphic it is, but only where it helps to illustrate the problems and causes of it. I'm not sure exactly what that would mean, and I think it's best for you to work that out mostly by yourself. But for me, that would mean erring on the lower end. I think you're more likely to have problems being too explicit than not explicit enough. It's child porn. It's pretty damn explicit no matter what.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Mentioning the political connection is a good addition to this discussion. And also something to consider if you are writing about the difference between attitudes today and attitudes decades ago. The UK is rife with examples of high-profile people who got away with connections to child porn and child abuse and other sex-related criminal activity because the attitude of the 'time' allowed it to be shoved under the rug. Sir Jimmy Savile, Sir Cyril Smith, etc. Their activities were suspected—or even known about—at the time, but they weren't investigated or prosecuted, for political reasons.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Loose among the lambs by jay brandon is another good example of how to handle these themes without being too explicit.

    the other thing i'd say is that people who've been there are not your best advisers at this point... unless abuse survivors are your target market, which it doesn't sound like they are, they could be steering you wrong... as an author you want your scenes to be realistic, but this isn't the same as them being a completely accurate portrayal of a the truth, they should be real enough to engage the reader without being so graphic that they put them off... and your ideal betas are people from the market to which you want to sell the book.

    Talking to the survivors by way of research is a good idea, but they shouldn't be determining what the book is like (you might want to use them to sensitivity check afterwards, but at that point you just want to make sure that you've not written anything offensive or wholly wrong)

    Also on the issue of how you get over just how revolting the content is without describing it, the reaction of the law enforcement officers watching it is one way, rather than a flat 'we caught him watching a video of this kid hurting this other kid' you could go down the lines of

    "Christ on a pogo stick sarge, we caught the sick bastard watching this video..there was this kid and he was being made to...do shit to this other lad ... first he whipped him with a belt then he..." Bob's swallowed a heave " i tell you sarge I aint no pussy, ive seen some shit but this..." Bob's face went grey as he clapped a hand across his mouth

    "Don't you puke on my floor" Sergeant smith said shaking his head "I guess i better talk to this sick puppy myself"

    Not the best writing i know but i'm sure you get the idea, - to communicate that whatever is on the tape is so disgusting that it makes hardened police officers sick to the stomach, without actually telling the reader what 'it' is
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  12. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Let's strip away the reaction and projection and judgment this provokes for a moment, and consider the story itself. If you need to write this, and you want the reader to buy into it, you can't undersell or oversell it. I'm talking about immersion, selling the reader on the idea of staying in the world you portray, regardless of how they hate a character or an issue.
    As such, the sex itself is the gun that can only be fired so many times before it breaks suspension of disbelief. If you're looking for shock value, that ship has sailed (the entire armada) and sunk. If you POV the perpetrator, you might get one shot if you're a true master of the readers' sympathy. If you want a few shots, it's gotta be from the victim's POV, a dark journey for a long story, where the reader is the victim.
    If a safer world is coming, get the victims and the reader out of the darkness and misery in a timely manner so we can move on to your solution or resolution. Today's audience knows when they're being messed with or drowned in someone's vision.
    I had a similar quandry in representing sexual behavior and I chose to take an op-ed approach, writing from the side of what I was uncomfortable with. An eye-opener, no mistake. The story becomes about the victims instead of the issue of what happens to them. Whatever you decide, get to the core of this: Trust and Suffering.
    For a child, there is no fixing what's broken, beyond a minuscule point. The only way to protect a child is for everyone to keep them in sight, 24/7. Zero opportunities for abuse. Prevention and dissuasion are pathetic next to vigilance, full stop. Vigilance, then Empowerment, if it's about the kids.
    Anyhoo, I'm curious to know more about the story of your story.
     
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  13. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Wow.....well,, at least there's a lively discussion happening!

    To start with, one of the major problems I am having is that I have what may end up being contradictory goals - I didn't think they were when I started this project.

    The main goal I had was to provide some options that law enforcement could use to track down this material and destroy it, then I also wanted to show victims/survivors that there was life after the abuse.

    One of the laws in USA/Canada at the moment is that if an individual is found to have accessed a child pornographic image of child X and that child/adult (usually adult) has been identified, the child/adult will be notified and can sue the offender in civil court for financial damages. The law as it is written is presently saying that an individual who views a child pornographic image has committed an offense against the victim/survivor and in addition to criminal charges, they can also face civil penalties for their conduct. This money can be used to start a business, pay for therapy, whatever.....it can be a significant amount because one image has usually been viewed by multiple people.

    In order: (There is some overlap, sorry!)

    I have all of those goals in one degree or another - solving who committed the offense, rehabilitating one of the pornographers (he'll be employed to catch other pornographers so that my regular guys can stay sane, during the ending of the book, I do have a scene where victims become survivors when a court passes a sentence and awards them compensation.

    I have multiple POVs. I have one of the pornographers taking a central role, he's the one who starts this and then gets out of the direct action but still gets paid behind the scenes; I have a victim that grows up to victimize others by becoming a pornographer, and I have several law enforcement types that....honestly, are merely copies of characters from Law & Order's Special Victims Unit until I flesh them out. I am strongly leaning towards having one of them being involved as an abuser when she was a teen. Most likely a babysitter and then during the investigation this person is found out. I am envisioning the pornographer is killed, the victim who victimizes others is redeemed somehow, and the law person is fired but catches on somewhere as someone who found out what they did was wrong and is now educating others.

    With regards to the consultants I am discussing the book with, they have been through this experience. I want the situations described in the book to be true to their experiences because it's the only direct information I have - I've never seen child pornography in person, nor do I want to. I want to use what I've read in textbooks and what survivors have told me to make this real.

    NO!! I am not going to sell this as pornography. I'm hoping it will spark ideas for law enforcement that can help to deal with this scrounge and wipe it out. I'm not that smart though......I'm mostly throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall and hoping that something will stick.


    No. I definitely do not want to approve of this behaviour or encourage it in any way, shape or form. I am taking what I KNOW has happened historically and I am using those developments to investigate them and the people involved by law enforcement. I do keep finding myself applying current technology to past crimes.....sure, it could have solved X or Y IF the police did A or B....but "A" or "B" was not available to law enforcement 20, 30 years ago so.....hence where my re-writing to death comes in.

    I'd love to have it published, raise awareness of this issue, end up in the hands of some investigators who might read it to see what kind of shit the general public thinks they do and then they stop and......"Hey...you know, that author has a point! Would this work?" That said, I really doubt that I am that smart but who knows.


    True. I will point out that if people want to get their jollies in this manner, there are survivor websites out there where victims/survivors of child abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, neglect) all post "survivor stories." A basic google search will show a ton of stories. I got a few ideas that might work there.


    I am taking a simplistic approach to a complex problem, at least to start with because I don't have the first idea where to start looking at the political issues. I find it a little puzzling that such reviled people seem to have so much power. If you take Larry Nasser (gymnastics team doctor) as an example, he was molesting the girls under his care for years (a decade?) and it was reported multiple times but nobody did anything about it. Then, someone acted and.....BOOM!! He's serving multiple life sentences in prison and all the other people around him are being sued for allowing this to happen...where's all this political power he's supposed to have?

    The potential solutions that I have so far are:

    some type of a computer chip installed in a digital camera that can recognize when the camera is used to take an inappropriate photo. These chips in the cameras, they already have code that tells the camera whether the subject has brown hair, red hair, or blue or green eyes. Is it really that difficult to program a computer chip to recognize when it is being used to take a photo of a naked child? Can't that photo be flagged somehow when it is shared on the internet so local law enforcement gets first look at it? Doesn't this technology already exist and is being used by NASA to study the solar system? Doesn't the NSA or the CIA talk about being able to read a license plate on a car in Pakistan? I'm thinking when the hunt for bin Laden was going on. I'm pretty sure the movies "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Snowden" made references to this technology. Maybe it's hyperbole or maybe the NSA and the CIA have technology that the rest of the investigative branches do not. Yah, people will remove this chip or use an older camera within a month of this technology being introduced.

    a physical scanner at the entrances/exits to the schools. I saw an example on a television show called "Border Security" which showed passengers in an airport taking off their shoes and walking through a scanner which was able to pick up if they were smuggling drugs in their stomaches or under their clothing. It was very non-invasive and I thought it had real potential to identify kids who attended schools that might be experiencing physical abuse because the scanner would find severe bruising and broken bones. This technology does exist. The problems are the cost of the scanners, the potential health risks to the kids, and the privacy issue. Also, it can only indicate that there's something to follow-up. An investigator or a doctor needs to follow-up. It could be the kid plays full contact football or was in a car accident. It could also be that someone's pounding on this kid.

    facial recognition technology. This also already exists. Currently, when law enforcement seizes child pornographic images, they are sent to the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) who have a database of images already in their computers. The new images are uploaded and scanned by computer for possible matches, then when possible matches are made, a human double checks. If these victims/survivors have been identified, they are notified and they can go after the new perp in civil court for financial damages (In USA & Canada). I'm taking it a step further - if the schools take photos of their students for student id cards, why can't these facial images be uploaded by the school to the NCMEC database and then the database goes to work and possibly finds a match? They could end up identifying a current victim who is being used in child pornography and help him or her? This was actually done in one case but the investigators had zeroed in on one specific school in one state. I'm saying, do it nationally. If it helps save one kid, is there really any harm done?


    Those three solutions all use current or at least recent technology so they would not work in anything set prior to 1990 probably.

    The privacy issue is a big one, I will agree but all any of this technology can do is point law enforcement in the direction of a potential victim. They still have to investigate, gather evidence, apply for a warrant and the conduct a raid of the premises and search for any illicit material that could prove that "perp #1", "perp #2", etc have engaged in illegal activity. Then after all that, they have to charge the individual and the lawyer needs to get a conviction.


    I find myself agreeing with you - "it's pretty damn explicit no matter what" - and I think I've been immersed in this subject too much - I forget how abnormal it actually is just because I have done so much around the topic.

    Wow.... How much political power can one person have? Or is this more the situation that Sir Jimmy had compromising photos of Sir Cyril and blackmailed him into leaving Sir Jimmy alone? Or vice versa? Once this is out there, don't they lose all their political capital? Surely no one is returning Sir Jimmy's or Sir Cyril's calls right now?
     
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  14. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm still not entirely sure who this book is aimed at. I think when you can answer that question, a lot of your other uncertainties will vanish. You're not writing pornography ...but who do you envision buying your book? If you can get a clear picture of that, you'll know how to aim it. I presume this isn't non-fiction. So what kind of audience would you expect?

    It might even help to get a copy of Writer's Yearbook (recent ...doesn't have to be this year's) and look through at what the agents and publishing houses are looking for. It might help you to focus the work.

    As for Sir Jimmy and Sir Cyril. They're dead. It's only after they died that their perverse behaviour 'came out.' Including the fact that many prominent people either knew or guessed what they were doing. But Jimmy was a big charity fundraiser, which gave him 'access' to all sorts of helpless people and children in special homes—really a nasty piece of work—and a very famous TV presenter as well (Jim'll Fix It, Top of the Pops, etc.) Sir Cyril was a Member of Parliament. Not hard to see why his own party would want to keep his depravity hush-hush. Which they did.

    A witch hunt does nobody any good, but folks need to realise this kind of perversity not only happens, but it can happen at very high levels. It might be a factor to work into your story.
     
  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I don't know much about that case, but I'd say maybe he had a lot of power at the school and local community? And when it went to a larger setting he had no power there. But many of the people involved do have a great deal of power, in the shady behind-the-scenes way where people trying to do their jobs suddenly get disappeared or their families get threatened.

    As for the rest, the way it works in the US anyway, it's illegal to put spy-surveillance technology into consumer electronics or other devices and basically treat all citizens as potential criminals. Nobody wants to be constantly spied on just in case they turn out to be terrorists or something, though of course we already have a good deal of that going on with the NSA, the TSA etc. But I believe it's totally unconstitutional to basically treat all citizens like criminals until proven otherwise, in fact the constitution is built on the opposite principal—we're all to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. The NSA is pushing it pretty far on that front of course, and they're using the terorrism thing to do it. Government power grabs always start that way "Oh, sorry folks, we need to set up checkpoints and search all houses, and we know it's an inconvenience, but it's necessary right now due to the current crisis, and we promise it'll all be over in a jiffy." Then decades later, it's still going on and the political party has expanded their power even more using similar tactics. People are aware of these tactics, and don't like seeing them in the beginning stages. It's often the beginning of that slippery slope toward tyranny.
     
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  16. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    @Cdn Writer I got to listen to a couple of the journalists who first broke the news talk about the Larry Nassar case at a conference last year. Another person was a professor I had, and while she hadn't directly worked on the case, she did PR work for MSU at that time. She explained that the atmosphere quickly changed so that nobody who worked at MSU was allowed to speak to the media, and everything had to be directed to a select few people at the very top while they conducted their sham of an investigation. Textbook damage control in any bureaucratic structure.

    The ironic part is that the entire institution is far more damaged and stained by playing those sorts of games, as opposed to being as transparent and cooperative as possible from the outset. If one's not careful this can easily become obstruction of justice. You may have some luck in tracking-down loopholes or something in what constitutes as obstruction of justice, but I'm not a lawyer, so I won't even pretend to understand that mumbo-jumbo.

    The jist is that the coaches who were sending their gymnasts to him reacted with a mixture of disbelief if their gymnasts reported on Nassar, as well as confronted a personal wish to *not* believe it. This is only natural, as the first thing one of those coaches would think is, "Oh my God, I've been inadvertently assisting this creep." They may worry and seek to cover their own asses, perhaps fearing that they will somehow get charged with something, or lose their jobs.

    Of course, some of those high-level gymnast coaches are abusive to their gymnasts already, just not in a sexual way. Verbal and physical abuse at the highest competitive levels. In those cases, it isn't hard for me to imagine that they just wouldn't give a damn. "Stop your whining. Go out there and start practice, unless you don't want to make the cut." Their own parents may be equally cold and unconcerned.

    I'm not an expert on the case, and I do not mean to feign as if I am, but that should give you a basic, surface-level idea of what goes on. The ball becomes very difficult to get rolling, but once it does, it's similarly nearly impossible to stop. You should definitely read more into cases like this, and even cases of sexual misconduct that don't necessarily involve children, like Weinstein.

    Another thing to consider is the personal embarrassment, trauma, or even "Stockholm Syndrome" the victims can experience.

    As a matter of course, the issue of evidence calls into question how such things are handled in the courts, such as with what gravity testimony is treated compared to hard-evidence. You play a dangerous game convicting people of things on hearsay and gut feelings (I am not referring to the Nassar case in particular, but just in general). That way *my* takeaway from reading The Crucible, anyway.

    You seem to be concerned with seeking ways of evidence gathering. But as others have pointed out, you're up against those who'd rather not live in a dystopian police state, and would sooner accept the possibility of some bad things occurring for the sake of maintaining basic human privacy.

    From my point of view, one answer might be in addressing the *atmosphere* as I mentioned earlier, and encouraging people to take action rather than hide or cover-up. So in other words, a solution that's more oriented toward adjusting human behavior and psychology.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  17. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Now that it's clear you're writing about law enforcement and criminal investigation of evidence, I have thought about what that might need to convey: the warped and vile nature of the behavior itself. In this case, that might be officers reflecting society's shock and disgust at some human behavior. I think this basically means one shot from the shock gun.
    The larger theme is of control.
    Control over human behavior is just as much a violation of Trust as any other violation of our humanity. This means the need for a major non-destructive change in society is begging to be explored.
    Is your story just catch and punish the bad guys from the personal POV of the investigators? Good choice for drama.
    I took on a major change to society as a theme, and it is a Whopper of a beast! My solution is basic, and global, in terms of Show, and a pain in the ass to write in scenes and dialog, in terms of Tell. It will take a while for me to put it into a fun romp for readers.
    If your issues are local to the crime-team, I recommend against the wider view. Give us a good bop over the head and then on to business. I sorta get a Seven vibe atm.
     
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  18. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Mod hat on here: Just a word of caution. We need to ensure this excellent thread sticks to the topic of how CdnWriter should deal with his story dilemma, and not get diverted by the 'politics' of child abuse in general. I accept some blame here, in that I got drawn into explaining the JimmySaville, CyrilSmith situation. But I was suggesting that this sort of 'political' whitewashing of criminal behaviour might be worked into CdnWriter's story.

    By 'political' I didn't mean party politics, so much as clout/power politics. Movie/TV producers protecting a bankable 'star' from investigation. A high-profile charity protecting its most lucrative fundraiser by pretending things aren't happening that they know ARE happening. Bosses protecting star employees. Good old boys networks, etc. Groups refusing to confront other group members, even though they know bad stuff is happening (which can include party politics—as in the case of Cyril Smith.) This kind of 'politics.'

    Anyway, onward and upward....
     
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  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Well, speaking from a logical perspective, wouldn't the parents sell themselves to porn before their children? I mean, if money is that tight, there would seem to be more food options than "molest their kids." I get what you're saying, but a story about parents pimping their kids to diddlers better have an overdose of irony, irreverence, and black comedy to it... I'm not sure a serious examination of the emotions here would be very entertaining.
     
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  20. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    What if the parents are ugly though and can't or just don't want to make porn? Some parents suck. I'm not even making light. Some parents do unconscionable things with less motivation than poverty. If you combine sociopathy and hunger, you might have parents willing to pimp their kids. Parents do sell their kids in real life all over the world.
     
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  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    And since when do people do things for logical reasons? Especially when it comes to pimpin' out the kids.
     
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  22. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    These two, the messages were posted while I was replying to the others and I apparently missed them - sorry! I don't think I realized it at the time. I didn't mean to ignore you.



    Ha! I did make a stab at that particular approach in my last workshop entry, "Discovering Evil" or "Finding evil" but there was some feedback that hardened police officers would not react in that manner. That written, your dialogue is a LOT better than mine! If I develop the dialogue so it is more like yours, it might work. Worth a try.



    The very, very rough outline I have been working with, a couple realizes there's a market for younger and younger models and go into business for themselves by advertising in a skin magazine for $200 for girls for a one day nude shoot (this was an example from a social work textbook I read years ago) and mothers & fathers singly or together brought their daughters. My understanding is that this was motivated by money in the textbook but I am rewriting it so that the parents are more motivated by their kids becoming famous than money because I felt the poverty/money motivation made them too sympathetic - poverty can motivate some of them, but not all of them.

    There are two, three scenes here which are driving me crazy in terms of how explicit I can/should be:

    1. The pornographer is saying to mom #1 that he wants her 7/8/9/10/11/12 year old daughter to sit or stand in certain poses. The more explicit the pose, the more money she'll get.

    Solution: Have the pornographer indicate existing poses in an adult skin magazine and tell the mom to tell the daughter to pose like A, B, or C, etc.

    2. When law enforcement of this issue is in its infancy, having the investigators discover what they have found. At some point, there is going to need to be a description of what is in the images they seize.

    Solution: Big Soft Moose had what seems to be the perfect suggestion which I quoted above. Showing the investigators reaction to this material. What I need to figure out is how this would be seen back in the 1965 - 1985 era before this was considered a crime. Nowadays in the era of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and #MeToo! it's a bit hard to remember that this was not always considered a crime. I really have a hard time with that - how the hell was this ever not called a crime?

    3. As the story develops the child pornographer steps back from the day to day life of the business but he still gets a cut and the people running the day-to-day, they are catering almost exclusively to a market that wants violent sexual videos. They are going to be on the "most wanted" posters for the sheer number of videos/photos, the violence....

    Solution: Still working on it. I want the investigators to catch the people doing this and to follow the money back to the criminal mastermind - even though he may not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, he is the one that got the ball rolling back in 1965 or whenever. He's the guy they want to put in jail. I also know from my research that this is the history of this crime - it starts off rather innocently by which I mean it is just a photo of a naked child and then it becomes more and more explicit and violent especially when video cameras came out. You can look at a movie like 8MM with Nicholas Cage for an example of how violent the films can become.

    One thing I am playing with is, maybe this is better as a television show or movie? It's easier to show on celluloid than it is to write it....?
     
  23. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Now, the current posts - I'm catching up on a lot today!

    The general public would be my goal. I want as many people as possible to buy my book so that it is widely read and awareness of the issue is front and centre of mind. I can take a stab at people having the political power to protect themselves during the investigation:

    "Sarge, this parcel we intercepted, it's being sent to #10 Downing Street! That's the official residence of the Prime Minister of England!!"

    "Ooooh boy......I gotta call this in.....sit tight til I figure out what the protocol is here...."

    Yah, I can see the law isn't going to go near the political establishment especially the very, very top of the establishment.



    Yes, Larry Nasser had power - UNTIL it came out and then everyone ran away from him to cover their own asses. I have a very hard time believing that it went on for so long.

    The spy-surveillance technology, the work around for that is to somehow sell or gift equipment that is equipped with this technology to the bad guys rather than having it in every piece of equipment. This should be possible - IF - the investigators suspect someone of doing this. They can focus on that particular individual or group and gather the evidence to convict them.



    I'm familiar with the organizations that have staff accused of wrong-doing closing ranks and covering their asses by getting rid of the most immediate and lowest hanging fruit. It's difficult to speak up when the people that sign your paycheque are the people who seem to be protecting the baddies because they raise significant sums of money for your institution or because they have dinner with kings and presidents, etc.

    I do think there is an element of disbelief about some of the crimes that are being perpetrated against children by everyday people. You know, you read about people buying/adopting kids on the black market because they can't have biological children, that's a "feel good" story that I think most people want to believe so they do. Then there's the occasional story about some guy that kidnapped a girl and kept her as a sex slave, that's a one off. It's difficult to believe but because it happened *once* it's possible to believe it. It's not like it happens everyday - or at least you don't hear about it happening everyday.

    But then you have something like a child pornography ring where multiple children of both genders are being victimized on video. That photograph, that video, THAT IS PROOF it happened right there! That's one of the main reasons why I choose to have the baddie a pornographer - if he was just a random serial rapist/killer, well, there's probably an explanation for why he didn't do it - "Sure, his DNA was on the dead prostitute's body! He was with her that night! Then he left her - ALIVE - and went home....look, he's on videotape entering his private garage at ______ am and then here he is again at _______ am entering his private elevator." - but if you can link someone to several hundred thousand images of a crime.......how the hell do you lawyer your way out of that? Especially if you have people who provide evidence against you and victims who identify you as the pornographer?

    You may not want to believe it......but how do you deny it? How do you prove it didn't happen? And I am fairly certain that a lawyer would advise a client caught with that much evidence against him or her to take a plea bargain and plead guilty in hopes of a reduced sentence.



    The original story was going to be a criminal mastermind developing his business and eventually being caught. I wanted a crime that hadn't been done before - murder, drug dealing/drug smuggling, sex trafficking, all been done. So I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? Have the baddie be a child pornographer and the investigation can locate him - the issue is going to be TOO much evidence, not too little. It's going to be overwhelming for the investigators......where do you start??

    The POV as I envisioned it was going to be:

    The pornographer/eventual criminal mastermind

    A victim turned pornographer

    An investigator chasing the criminals

    An investigator who is chasing the criminals and during the investigation, they find photos of her (former babysitter) with one of her charges from years ago.

    At the conclusion, the very end, some of the victims who are awarded financial damages by the courts and also get to see the criminals led off to serve multiple life sentences in prison.



    This is something that I have been missing - I've been struggling with how the average person would accept this....well, they weren't told about movie star #1's awful behaviour or rock star #3's horrid treatment of teenage female fans because the studio or the record company wanted to protect their investment in the movie star, rock star, etc.


    You'd think so but I've found that some parents see their kids as a resource they can use to get themselves out of a jam. Also, there is a market for younger and younger flesh in the skin trade. Pornographers will pay more money for 7 year old boy or girl than they will for a 25 year old man or woman. It's possible to make hundreds of dollars (or it was) in a few hours of work. For an adult to make that kind of money it would take more time. Which is better from your perspective as a parent? $200 for two hours of nude shots of little Suzie or little Gary. Or maybe one full day for yourself in a photo spread for a skin magazine that might pay anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on how attractive you are and what the pornographer is willing to pay.

    If you somehow convince yourself that this is ok, it keeps a roof over your head and food on the table, and well, it's just a photo....how bad is it really? Then once you start, it's hard to pass up "easy" (for the parent) money and once the pornographer knows that parent A is willing to have little Suzie get naked on camera for photos, it's not that hard to progress to the point where the pornographer can say, "Lil Gary's getting too big for photos. But if you want to make some more money, there's this video I want to do...."


    True. There is a movie, 'Sold" with Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame which looks at parents in a Nepalese village that sold their daughter to a brothel in Thailand. It happens. It's more common in third world countries than it is in first world countries like USA or Canada. Most of the cases I have heard about in first world countries, the parents have other issues like substance abuse or alcoholism which is driving them to desperate measures.


    I actually do see a logic to it. People need money to pay the rent and put food on the table. They have a resource - a child - that can be used to further this end. Even the pornographer I have starting this out, I envision him being laid off from his job, he's an amtuaer photographer and he needs money. If he starts taking photos and selling them to magazines.....what do magazines want photos of? There is a market for awesome sunset photos, awesome landscape photos etc but there are problems with this:

    1. Everyone with a camera can do this....sure some people will take awful photos but there's bound to be some gems in the pile if you have 50,000 people taking photos.

    2. With that many photos available, there's not much money in it. You have to have incredible talent, be able to market your photos, and you have to produce spectural photos every time.

    So, he's desperate and finds this niche. It takes off from there. When he starts, it's not a crime. It becomes a crime as time goes on and by then it's too big. He can't walk away from that kind of money; plus potentially he may have employees (the parents) who are depending on him so he does have some loyalty to pay them for their work.


    I don't see the pornographer as evil, at least not at the start. I see him as desperate and it develops from there. The part where I see him turning evil is when he makes the decision to continue in the industry despite the fact it is becoming more and more violent and destroying more and more innocent children.


    Wow, this entire thread is really helping to flesh out my thought process. I'm definitely seeing some new directions to take things.


    THANKS ALL!!
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I can't find attribution and don't remember where I ran across it, but there's a quote that says "The family is the most criminal cell".

    It means that a family is like a little cell of lawlessness inside a larger society. A house is almost sovereign territory, most people don't really know what goes on in their neighbors' homes. And, again from shows like Cops, you see the end results of decades worth of unsupervised behavior coming to a head on what's usually the worst day of someones life (the day the police bust down the door). That's when it all comes to light.

    Inside the family unit the law has no idea what's going on and doesn't care, unless and until it grabs public attention in the form of a call from neighbors seeing or hearing strange things that they can't ignore anymore. And families are often despotic tyrannies. Many parents are only marginally well-adjusted enough to pass as normal socially, but within the sealed domicile they take out their psychological failings on the most vulnerable and least likely to report them. That's always the children. This is one of the big failings of the nuclear family unit—you have 2 people considered adults who have married and bought a home and they have kids, and they raise them in complete isolation from any other adults aside from occasional visits. Previously extended families would live together, so if the parents suffer from some kind of issues there's relief from grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. Plus there was supervision—all these other people who could see what was going on—it wasn't such a dark secret. And before that there was the idea that "it takes a village to raise a child". Literally kids were raised in the open in village squares or tribal centers where many surrogate parents were always there. It was in societies like these where psychological health flourished, and in modern times it began to deteriorate systematically.

    Until modern times selling the kids into various forms of slavery was very normal. Kids take a lot of resources to raise and some parents just aren't equipped for it. Plus, a fact hardly discussed in polite society, some parents don't like their children or even hate them. One of the big defense mechanisms of psychological conditions is projection, getting rid of your problems by putting them on somebody else and scapegoating them in order to ritualistically kill off your worst traits. Of course the traits turn up again, but hey, maybe there's another little victim you could sacrifice to make yourself feel better for a while? Parents have a lot of issues, and unfortunately the kids often end up suffering for them.
     
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  25. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    An interesting question, even if it was rhetorical.

    One defense I've seen is that who and what they're attracted to is inherently biological. An argument in support of nature, not nurture. And so isn't it horrible that somebody was predisposed to commit a crime, or live in a constant state of torment of being constantly surrounded by something they can't have?

    Of course, such a defense doesn't seriously try to suggest the client isn't guilty. Rather, its design is to build sympathy in tandem with a plea bargain.
     
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