Student found guilty of 17 child porn charges expelled

Jonathan Wong. Image credit: York and County Press

Jonathan Wong. Image credit: York and County Press

The University of York student facing 17 charges of child pornography has been sentenced to a sixth month suspended sentence, and has been expelled from the University.

Appearing at York Crown Court yesterday, the student, who we can now name as Jonathan Wong, a 23 year old History student from Singapore, pleaded guilty to possessing child porn videography, some featuring girls as young as six. He was studying in England on a Ministry of Education scholarship.

As reported by Nouse earlier this year, Wong was found in possession of over 50 offending videos and photos, after two fellow Goodricke students became suspicious of a number of suspect files appearing on an open iTunes network account and reported him to the College porters.

Judge Steven Ashurst oversaw the 40 minute hearing where Wong was given a two year suspended sentence, attributed to the fact he had pleaded guilty and had no previous offences. Such a ruling means that if Wong keeps within the law for the designated sentence, he will not have to serve his time in jail.

He was also ordered to be placed under eight months of supervision and to be placed on the sex offenders register for seven years, as well as a lifetime ban on working with children.

Ashurst told the accused: “You acknowledge the images would be repugnant to all decent people.

“Your case and indeed your convictions, have generated considerable publicity in your own country. That will form part, in my judgement, of your punishment.”

Following his verdict, the University stated their “great regret that a member of the University has been convicted of these criminal offences”, emphasising that they “deplore all instances of child pornography and abuse.”

The statement continued: “Jonathan Wong has been suspended since his plea of Guilty at his initial appearance before York Magistrates. On the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor, University Council has permanently excluded Jonathan Wong on grounds of gross misconduct.”

His expulsion will mean his eight month supervision may have to be revised, as, without student status, Wong may no longer be entitled to reside in the UK. His Ministry of Education scholarship was also revoked last month.

31 comments

  1. does anybody know if the uni has a published list of what warrants expulsion? or is it a case-by-case thing? genuinely curious.

    i cannot believe he is only on the sex offender’s register for seven years. i don’t want to start a debate on the british justice system, but those thoughts/desires will be with him for a lifetime (unless he seeks serious therapy, even then it’s not 100% ‘gone’) so why is he on the register for a measly SEVEN years?! can any one clarify the reasoning for this?!

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  2. 21 Dec ’10 at 7:06 am

    Champagne Conservative

    @d:
    With just about any other crime, when somebody’s served their time, the slate’s wiped clean. They’ve repaid their debt to society- it’s perfectly fair for society to give them room to rebuild lives of their own.

    With Sex Offenders, on the other hand, one can download Google Maps/Sex Offenders Register mashup apps for their phone and find out the names and addresses of every single person on it within the immediate vicinity. They’re barred from entry into just about any job under the sun by dint of the easy accessibility of the register, meaning their lives are, now, forever ruined.

    Why should they be actively prevented from moving on with their lives? Letting them out *at all*, even while on the offenders’ list, renders them a risk to society- if we’re going to show some humanity, we might as well go for a measure of consistency.

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  3. http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/aso/ordreg/

    Also note in the Regulations:

    “Regulation 4: There is no regulation 4”

    :D

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  4. Why are comments allowed on this article when pretty much any similar article has had comments closed in the past?

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  5. @Why?

    I would assume it’s because Nouse are now allowed to name Wong. When he was still a student, they weren’t allowed to due to YUSU/university regulations. Wong was named on The Yorker because they are independent from the student union and therefore not bound by these regulations.

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  6. champagne conservative, i’ve tried to construct a sympathetic and balanced reply but i can’t. all i can say is that you’re clearly a ‘better’ person than me, cos i cannot think of anything decent to say about him. i am sorry i’m not doing your comment justice here:

    if you robbed my house, you’d have to declare that if asked by an employer. why can’t he declare that? i’d rather employ a robber than a peado. they don’t deserve to rebuild their lives, quite frankly.

    i’m glad. would you really want a peado working near/around your kids? i remember when i was young a girl from my class left school, and her parents moved up north. and at the same time there was that sun list released with the 50 faces on the front, and seeing it on the news. when i was older, i was told that one of those men was rehomed onto her street- she was molested by him. NO ONE on their road was notified about his past. how is that fair? you can’t disallow your kids from leaving the front door, but knowing there is a man outside who has no qualms on acting upon his sexual desires towards young girls does make you re evaluate what you allow your kids to do. i’d want an iphone app to tell me if my heart beat was irregular, or if my dinner was off…they’re beneficial to your general well being and your own safety?! it’s unfortunate that these people will get harassed, but to be honest i find it hard to muster up any sympathy for them.

    and to be honest, they SHOULD be prevented from moving on. why should they be allowed to wipe the slate clean? some kid is living out there with emotional, if not physical, damage from what’s happened to them. ok, this guy only indirectly molested a child but i still don’t see why he deserves a fresh chance in life.

    *comment has been moderated

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  7. I would not be so quick to judge.

    Possibly the best way to understand these cases is to acknowledge that paedophilia is, at a basic level, a sexuality entirely analogous to any other. Society attempts to “control” this sexuality by ostracising, repressing and this sexuality, sweeping it under the carpet and coming out all guns blazing at the slightest peep. Meanwhile, paedophiles live in a world that celebrates sexuality, that now actively promotes that people need not be ashamed of who they are, that they have every right to their sexuality.

    I happen to have talked to hundreds of paedophiles, of all ages from 14-70s. It is quite distressing that virtually all go through a significant period of depression, and a good majority are driven to the brink of suicide by the way they are treated in society. Not only are paedophiles forced to deal with the suppression of their sexuality, but they effectively have to do so entirely alone, with no professional medical support, or support from freinds or family. Many are forced to live a lie, pretending they are hetero or homosexual. On top of this, they have to deal with a vicious level of prejudice and stigma, easily equal to any other in history.

    The act of downloading an indecent image cannot said to be said to carry 0 culpability. As an analogy, if you were caught speeding on an empty motorway, you’d probably put your hands up and say, OK – although in this case, I was probably putting nobody in danger, I realise that driving fast in general increases the risk of an accident and that’s why the law is there. This is similarly an issue of risk. An individual download surely does not act like voodoo, revitalising abuse as and when it occurs. Neither can most downloads be said to contribute to supply and demand. (Because much of the internet operates as a “gift economy”). It is an issue of a more nebulous “social awareness” of downloading that is the problem. By downloading an image you are taking a risk that you are contributing to this awareness, thus indirectly revitalising abuse in the minds of all abuse victims.

    However, the risk of being caught is surely very low. With all of the aforementioned issues in mind, I can absolutely understand why paedophiles are tempted to commit these offences. Maslow’s heirarchy of needs (and yes, I know it is not without criticism) puts “sex” on the same level as breathing, food and sleep. I challenge the (male) reader to go without masturbating for the next month. Try the next year. What about, suppressing your sexuality for a lifetime? Easy? You sure lucked out with your nice, convenient, adult sexuality, right?

    Possibly the worst “offender” in this instance is those people who brought Wong to justice, parading his activities out in public, scaremongering, reinforcing to the victims that they should feel afraid, very afraid, of the millions of sick freaks out their potentially downloading their images, indefinitely perpetuating their abuse.

    And meanwhile, those who criticise probably go back to their sexual partners, happily engaging in sexual conduct, while the paedophiles look on with envy. While none of this can make certain actions “right”, it surely suggests that such cases should be treated with more of a degree of sympathy. Certainly, while we tend to take a “victimological” view of these offences, I think the requirement for empathy definitely runs both ways.

    Incidentally, a recent publication in the “Archives of Sexual Behaviour” may be of interest.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/v046j3g178147772/

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  8. Oh and, d – while your example is saddening, it is unfortunately cherry picked and therefore IMHO not a great reason that sexual offenders do not deserve a second chance. Can you really extrapolate from a single example? There will always be people who commit horrific crimes, that doesn’t mean that they represent the majority, or even a significant minority.

    Surveys have shown that a minimum of around 20% of males have some sexual attraction to children, and around 5% would consider it a significant component of their sexuality. The figure for females is lower, around 3%. (If you want references, I can dig them out for you). That’s quite a lot. Next time you’re in a lecture, in a crowd, with friends, whatever, have a look around at people around you. Statistically, *one in five* of those people has at least *some* sexual attraction to children. That’s a lot. Hopefully it puts things into some perspective. This is why I advocate the alternative approach, allowing paedophiles to open up in society, instead of flat out trying to suppress it without even knowing who it is you’re up against. It’s destined to be a losing battle, particularly if you wrap up all your resources with the easy pickings, people who download off the internet, but don’t necessarily represent a source of fresh abuse themselves.

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  9. Nathan, though it is very unfortunate that some people are born with the pre-disposition to be attracted to children, you cannot excuse them and defend them just because it is not their fault they were born this way.

    True, it might all be genetics, and some people might be born paedophiles, unable to help it. However, they are still a danger to others around them.

    By the way, yours is a liberal use of statistics. Though one in five males may have at some point been attracted to children, it does not follow that one in five men around you have. Statistically, Chinese is the most spoken language – this does not mean that the majority of your classmates can speak it. My point being, who tells you that those with these tendencies are just as likely as everyone else to attend university, lead a normal life etc?

    A.

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  10. 22 Dec ’10 at 10:56 pm

    Harold Bloxham

    Well put, Nathan.

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  11. Thanks Harold :)

    A –

    I was never entirely excusing anything. I’m simply looking at things in a way I believe is proportional. And in fact, I’ve actually done the calcs on this, so I do have some basis other than just hand waving ;) It is regrettable that making such a statement tends to be understood that I don’t fully empathise with abuse victims. That’s really not the case at all. I just think it’s unfair to lump orders of magnitude times more responsibility on individuals than, in all fairness, they are really responsible for, however immoral one might consider the actions at face value.

    “True, it might all be genetics, and some people might be born paedophiles, unable to help it. However, they are still a danger to others around them.”

    Firstly, as I tried to say before, I think many of the problems are at the very least are greatly magnified, due to the way society treats and misunderstands paedophiles, not ipso facto that they have an attraction to children. It is not great that we treat paedophiles (who did not choose their sexuality) the way we do, and then put all the blame on them when the inevitable happens. If we reached out in support, and a paedophile *still* went and offended, that would be different.

    I also do actually believe that in general, the degree of danger is greatly exaggerated. Many paedophiles understand what is abuse and, quite independent of legal threats and social pressure, choose to restrain themselves anyway.

    “By the way, yours is a liberal use of statistics. Though one in five males may have at some point been attracted to children, it does not follow that one in five men around you have.”

    Firstly, I know you didn’t pick me up on this but just to note an error I only noticed once i had hit submit – unfortunately in editing my previous comment I removed the word “males”. Of course, averaged over males and females it is less than 1 in 5.

    To respond to your concern, OK, technically what you say is true. There will always be a certain amount of skew in particular groups. But in this case I think it will generally be small enough to be negligible. The reason is that evidence quite plainly shows that paedophilia has the characteristics of any other sexuality, and should thus be distributed in a very similar way. I do not think it is disputed in any literature that paedophiles come from all walks of life. My own experience has actually confirmed this; just to give a handful of examples of the variety, I have talked to a paedophile who lived off the dole earning pocket money as an escort (legally), another who was president of his student union, another with really quite grand political aspirations, who later vanished for fear that his communication may put his career in jeopardy. I have no difficulty in imagining that in most random groups you will get a similar proportion of paedophiles.

    Incidentally, the surveys I was specifically referring to were anonymous surveys done on college students. There is an excellent discussion of this in the book “Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children” by Sarah Goode (which I would recommend). It’s probably better to point you towards this book than to replicate what it says here. But if you don’t have the inclination to look it up, to point you in the right direction, see Briere and Runtz, 1989, Smiljanich and Briere 1996 and Becker-Blease et al. 2006.

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  12. Firstly, I’m glad that you’ve been able to talk to hundreds of paedophiles. I’m certain that this hasn’t skewed your view at all. But there’s a difference between children and adults and there’s a difference between following through with attraction and letting it lay aside. I am attracted to some people and occasionally I may find a situation in which that attraction can overflow between us. Paedophiles shouldn’t. If the person that I was attracted to was too young to agree intelligently, or indeed mentally incapacitated for some other reason, I would not have sex with them. It would be rape.

    “Surveys have shown that a minimum of around 20% of males have some sexual attraction to children”

    And the second point I want to address is the extremely dodgy usage of statistics. There is no way that 20% of the male populace is attracted to children. You later refine to say it’s of college students. But what age of child? I can believe that 20% of 18 year olds are attracted to some 15 year olds. That’s not a concern of mine. However I do not believe that 20% of 40 year olds are attracted to some 7 year olds.

    What Wong, and others, have done is include children younger than ten in actual sexual intercourse. “As young as six”, he has pleaded guilty to. I agree it is not as bad as many others, since he only owned them and did not, himself, actively rape children.

    “On top of this, they have to deal with a vicious level of prejudice and stigma, easily equal to any other in history.”

    No. Really, no. The word “prejudice” implies unfair stereotyping. The Jewish people during the holocaust found a prejudice so strong that it slaughtered many millions of their population, despite being as innocent as the rest of the population. Hitler, on the other hand, is remembered in history as despicable for these actions and that is NOT prejudice. Likewise when it comes to this issue, paedophiles are NOT prejudiced. People who are attracted to 15-year-olds and do not act upon it are not harmed. But people who rape 6-year-olds, and people who gain sexual pleasure from finding and storing these videos, are not innocent of crime and deserve punishment.

    And anyone who argues against that point is a sickened and sickening human being. The same, almost equally, applies to bestiality. There are other sexualities, many of which are natural and perfectly acceptable and many of which are greatly disturbing and caused by psychological disorders. Society should not just accept everything solely because it exists and you really need to take a look at your own opinions before you fall into that same moral vacuum.

    *comment has been moderated

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  13. @anon

    No one is excusing Wong’s behaviour, and certainly not Nathan. Child pornography is legally a criminal offence, and perhaps morally undefensible on any account due to the child’s defenceless nature and inability to give consent.

    In reality, pedophilia is a much more complex psychological and sexual issue to address, which I will not claim to understand. I do not follow Nathan’s argument that one cannot choose his/her sexual preferences, or that pedophiles are victims of circumstances that they cannot control. But I simply agree with Nathan that there is a sense of hypocrisy in the way society deals with (child) sex offenders, and that they do deserve a second chance.

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  14. anon

    Not wishing to hijack the comments, I’ll be brief and this is my last comment.

    “And the second point I want to address is the extremely dodgy usage of statistics.”

    With respect, your criticism of my analysis simply claims “dodgyness” and asserts a gut feel that “There is no way that 20% of the male population is attracted to children”. In the current climate, how could a gut feel provide an accurate assesssment? Who would admit to it? In fact, the questionnaires asked respondants about their attraction to “small children”. In one, 5% reported feeling the need for an institutionalisation of their attraction. There is a certain time invariance of sexuality. I also draw on general experience in extrapolating for age. Based on everything I know, I do not believe what I have said above is misleading or inaccurate. In fact, I said it precisely because it’s an interesting and surprising result that does run contrary to initial intuition.

    “Likewise when it comes to this issue, paedophiles are NOT prejudiced. People who are attracted to 15-year-olds and do not act upon it are not harmed. But people who rape 6-year-olds, and people who gain sexual pleasure from finding and storing these videos, are not innocent of crime and deserve punishment.”

    When it comes to “raping a 6 year old”, I *absolutely believe* that the majority of paedophiles would never dream of such a thing. That you come right out and talk as if this is the sort of thing a paedophile might typically do is a prime example of the unfair stereotyping you claim does not exist.

    I’m afraid that the idea that people who simply don’t act upon it are not harmed is false. Many, especially those who are *only* attracted to children, *are* badly affected by what they have to soak up and live with. Some turn to self harm or suicide, while a good majority go through significant depression.

    “What Wong, and others, have done is include children younger than ten in actual sexual intercourse. “As young as six”, he has pleaded guilty to. I agree it is not as bad as many others, since he only owned them and did not, himself, actively rape children.”

    Wong plainly did not “include children younger than ten in actual sexual intercourse”. He downloaded an image. That involves transferring 1s and 0s over a network connection. I don’t care that “real children” were at some point invovled to create that data. This subsequent act in and of itself would have had a negligible to nonexistant effect on real children, had this case not beeen pulled into the limelight. In downloading images, I would be willing to bet that Wong never intended that anybody discover his actions, let alone any children involved. He has acted on a human impulse *that we all have*, based on the knowledge that the probability that his actions would feed back to the victims was almost 0. As far as I am concerned, he has certainly not provided any meaningful demonstration that he has the capacity to hurt, let alone to rape.

    We both agree that downloading child pornography should be a crime. What we disagree on is this: in downloading an image, how much responsibility does the downloader incur for child abuse? I base it on what I believe to be a proportional chunk of the responsibility for abuse held by the individual downloader. I believe the only fair way to measure this is to divide the responsibility amongst all downloaders, thus making the answer: almost nothing.

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  15. I agree, to a certain extent, with what you are saying Nathan and it seems that you are better informed on the subject then i can claim to be. However, part of the sex register list and the possible jail time that pedophiles face is not only for retribution for the crime that has been committed but also to prevent it from happening again. If pedophilia is, as you say, a human impulse and a natural sexual state for some, it endangers those around them as long as they have this impulse, and I’m assuming that its not something that can be taken out of someone through therapy etc. thus one could argue that they should get a longer sentence. I agree that they deserve another chance but seven years on a list and no jail time- on one one hand, as he did not actually assault any children himself, seems fair but on the other hand if he does have the attraction who is to say that he will not continue to do worse in the future.
    As for many pedophiles having severe depression, I don’t doubt it and it is awful but that does not mean that the problem they have is any less dangerous to others. Another point made was that many pedophiles would never actually harm a child but that does entirely depend on individual personality and it is not something that cannot be changed, many people don’t mean to harm other but they can change or do so without thinking (crimes of passion). I would say that you are right in that it is a human base sexual desire that drives pedophiliac actions and maybe the solution to the problem, rather then driving it under with repression and punishment, is to face it in the open. An idea but not likely to happen with all the stigma surrounding the issue. Difficult.

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  16. Nathan
    As the partner of one the “offenders” who brought Wong to the attention of the police, I can assure you that they were not attempting to scaremonger, gloat or parade anyone’s private life in public but were acting as a concerned citizen attempting to protect potential harm coming to children. Are you saying that when a possible child protection issue occurs we should ignore it as it may violate the privacy of the abuser?

    I hate to say this but theoretical instances, statistics and other academic debate and mumbo-jumbo don’t really come into it when someone’s safety comes into play. Get a grip.

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  17. agreed anon. of course child safety/anyones safety shouldnt be ignored.

    However to those talking about ‘theories’ then what about the theories of escalation?? you look at child porn and the buzz loses some of its thrill so you escalate to something worse…… i think the fact that the guilty person got caught peeping on underage girls in toilets and then escalated to watching porn shows that he cant be rehabilitated and should be locked up. i also think that its an absolute INSULT to men when you say 20% of the male population have sexual thoughts about young children. it feels like you’re trying to justify your own thoughts and feelings…. i think your argument about his privacy is disgusting. you obviously don’t have children otherwise you wouldn’t think lie that. destroying a childs innocence for the sexual depravity of someone else is digusting and i think you’re disgusting for what feels like trying to defend him…

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  18. I can’t help but think of the general laws of supply and demand common to any product management. If there is an interest and demand for a particular product then supply will increase to meet that demand or prices go up. Cost isn’t particularly relevant here so I will not go into that aspect but ultimately if demand decreases past a certain point, or ceases to exist, then so will supply. If each and every person were uninterested in looking at this kind of material, sharing it and lusting over it then supply would in turn cease. What would be left is the individual acts of child abuse that deserve severe punishment. As users of the end product they DO ultimately play a part in the continued production and distribution of such material and that is a simple fact. With regards to the fact that it is a state of affairs one is born with or born into that may well be the case. However, it is acting upon this in any manner that is most lawfully and morally wrong. If an individual has an strong interest in fire, perhaps first setting a small fire in the house, then in the garden, then bigger, eventually to satisfy the desire they have choices. Either, the individual can pursue it down unhealthy paths dangerous to others or manage it and control it in other ways, perhaps working in demolitions etc. However, if the initial desires cannot be maintained or focused in a way that is not a danger to others (and it is a simple fact as explained that merely regarding such materials mentioned) then they cannot be deemed socially acceptable. People are born with all number of desires but ultimately it is up to individuals to control and maintain themselves so as to avoid danger to others. This individual has not done this. They have pursued a path that either through direct or reverse causation ultimately has a negative impact on the welfare of others. Thus they deserve far worse than a sympathetic ear. I am reminded of a gentleman with similar compulsions in Bournemouth whom upon realizing the nature of his lust turned himself into the police with warning that he was concerned of the threat of escalation. He received help and as a result has not acted upon them either through viewing or acting out such actions against others. The mere fact that we are born with or have triggers released that cause such desires is no justification for acting upon them or thinking of them as right. I do not know of any serious view that maintains such nihilistic and atomistic attitudes with regards to social policy. It is a sickening crime and a sickening act that allows an individual to react to such impulses in any other way than to seek help, especially when they will have been aware of the moral weight of said impulses. Commentators here have provided no such justification and the statistics so liberally sprinkled across comments are not founded or backed up by any meaningful or worth while source. Such individuals should think long and hard about their motivation for trying to seek such public approval.

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  19. Apologies, I know I said the previous would be my last comment but… Perhaps the commenters above would like to wipe the blood from their eyes then reread my comments.

    “Are you saying that when a possible child protection issue occurs we should ignore it as it may violate the privacy of the abuser? ”

    (This is also addressed at S.) Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you are the first person to bring privacy into it. As has been pointed out above, I am “justifying” nothing. I never suggested that wong should not have been prosecuted. I am saying that his treatment is grossly disproportionate to his individual contribution to abuse, not that he made no contribution.

    P – you compare the responsibility incurred by downloading an indecent image to that of an act of arson. This might be true if you sum together all of the individual contributions, but what is the *individual’s* responsibility? In fact, the individual responsibility is so low that I challenge you to find a single other comparable crime. I do in fact have a *quantitative* way of measuring these things, but unfortunately I’ll have to refrain from posting it for now.

    To respond to your comment about “serious views”, my experience has been that the public and media reaction to any other than the expected viewpoint is sufficient to suppress academic expression of any other than the “accepted” viewpoint, also the reason that I am sadly forced to post anonymously here myself. Funding bodies are reluctant to fund research which promises to deliver “unexpected” results, as it is perceived that it will reflect negatively on themselves. What results is in my view a particularly serious curtailing of academic freedom. Behind closed doors I have noticed significant resistance to ‘accepted’ views.

    To respond to your final sentence, I do not appreciate the underhand jab. In fact, the reason I argue as I do is firstly because I believe that current attitudes render child protection very ineffective, and secondly that the treatment of paedophiles in general is immoral, hypocritical and unacceptable. Do those who *can* control their feelings (which I believe is a significant majority) deserve the treatment they receive? Do those who have committed certain offences deserve to have their actions blown out of all proportion?

    I am picking up a vibe that it is only those who have offended who receive this treatment. I do not accept this for a minute. In fact,it is my view that the treatment of paedophiles is an aggravating factor for offending, yet we as a society dust off our hands of all blame and use the existence of offences as a “justification” for this continued treatment.

    I do not believe this is a one dimensional trade off – more acceptance equals less child protection and vice versa. In fact, I believe that more acceptance would lead to *better* child protection.

    S – I am not sure you could call wong’s actions an “escalation”. I wouldn’t call peeping a lesser offense than downloading porn. Not only must wong take full individual responsibility for the effects of his actions, but he also has a direct connection with the victims. Besides, how many men do you know who do *not* download porn? If all wong has done since that incident is download porn, that sounds like he’s in pretty good control of his sexuality to me. (Although, it is somewhat in the interests of the media to dress up this “peeping” incident, so I’m not entirely certain what to make of it.) You may also like to read the link I posted on my first comment to a recent publication.

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  20. Would just like to clarify, when I said “Besides, how many men do you know who do *not* download porn?” I meant, how many men do you know who do not succumb to the temptation from time to time. I didn’t mean to imply that because most download adult porn, it should therefore be acceptable to download child porn. The fact that somebody downloads porn does not indicate to me that they are “out of control”.

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  21. i feel that there is a difference to men or women downloading porn if its between MUTUALLY CONSENTING ADULTS and not of children that have been destroyed physically, emotionally and mentally! And therefore i would suggest that if a person who did download children being forced to have sex with adult men/women is out of control. I feel downloading videos of children being raped and downloading videos of consenting adults are separate issues. call me crazy if you want….

    I also feel that considering wong has been through some form of rehabilitation process and goes on to watch children get raped and abused then yes it is an escalation. By which point your case of him getting rehabilitated and being allowed to live like any civilised person in society is horrible. He does not deserve that human right.

    I feel if you ever have children that there is no way on gods green earth you would ever justify what they had done. If your child got raped by someone and pedophiles like wong were out there watching it getting any form of gratification to one of the worst crimes out there, you would not under any circumstances try and justify it, try and suggest that he should be forgiven. i feel you would do no such thing and condemn such a vile piece of scum that adds to the child sex trade.

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  22. Nathan, take away every tiny drop of water from the ocean and soon enough you will find there is no ocean at all. That is what i’m saying. The comparison stands not on merit of some subjective view of the hierarchy of crimes but on the somewhat more black and white case of activities that result from or in harm to other and those that don’t. Granted that there is still a scale and a threshold but the case discussed here does not even come close to such a centre mark. This has nothing to do with buying into media values or hype but the core and essence of decent, universalisable moral principles. I do not believe for one second that there is a maxim, a principle or theory that could be taken seriously that does not attribute a serious level of responsibility to the end users of anything gained through immoral means, especially when the end user is aware of what is involved in the acquisition and production of such material. I do not doubt for a second that there is some more complex psychology and sociology that leads to the existence of these people and their desires but this does not deem anything about the desires acceptable. It is, perhaps unfortunately, perhaps not, the case that all people are not created equally. Some are born with a far greater burden to bear. Those who find themselves with such a susceptible mentality fit into this category but being born with such a challenge or developing it later does not remove or even hinder the strength of their moral requirements. Is it worse for someone who has no sexual desire to touch children to do it than for someone who does? I think not somehow. The concern resides with the impact upon those children and as has already been discussed, however minor the impact of any given individual regarding this material, it is still a negative impact. When each of these ‘minor’ offences is brought together what we are brought to is the ‘major’ offence which is, as im sure we’d all agree, horrific. The aim of prison, whilst on the one hand is to keep the public safe and to provide suitable punishment, is, on the other hand, to rehabilitate individuals. Many criminals commit crimes for compulsive purposes, with diminished responsibility etc etc but this does not take away the reasoning and requirement for punishing them. Shall we perhaps treat serial killers of certain types in such a forgiving manner? Frankly a person of a more severe disposition than I might indeed regard all these individuals as abhorrent and this has nothing to do with media.

    Let me just boil it down though. This guy has not been looking for help. This guy has not been trying to seek forgiveness. This guy HAS been surfing the internet looking for images of small children getting abused so that he can get his rocks off. Ultimately, he has taken pleasure in the suffering of others, broken the law (whether you agree with it or not) and he has willingly allowed himself to be a part of a sociological group deemed through any number of causal, correlational or even intuitive sets of analysis to be a higher risk to others, specifically an at risk set of individuals, namely children. I wonder about, perhaps wrongly, about your own attitudes towards this for the fact that you seem to have no emotional grasp on the effects on children and seem rather more hung up on those of the perpetrators of certain types of crime. I will assume you have no children as I cannot imagine how you could be so isolated from the innocence that these people fantasize of stealing.

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  23. ……………….Oh, and forgive me for being patronising but please do provide a convincing account of how my being more OK and sympathetically understanding of my neighbour’s sexually deviant desires, for example, will make my child safer when deciding whether to leave them playing in the front garden or not. ‘It’s fine’ I say, ‘he has a mental impairment or psychological difficulty and it would actually be discriminatory of me if I were to change my behaviour around him, especially near my children. Who am I to judge or care that when he goes to bed at night he touches himself thinking of little Jimmy playing with his trucks in the garden. He doesn’t pose a greater threat to my child than my other neighbours who go home and bang their husbands, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends like more traditional folk.’………………………….(apologies, my beer and the unconditional love of my child is now kicking in and I can see i’m getting all silly and overprotective)…………………

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  24. This whole discussion is idiotic and pointless. Stop speculating on the human condition and go do something useful with your lives, you vacuous slobs.

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  25. P – I’ll respond to your previous post later, but actually your second one is actually easy. Of course, I cannot claim to know the exact effect of pretty large changes to chaotic systems, but I can have a good guess.

    “please do provide a convincing account of how my being more OK and sympathetically understanding of my neighbour’s sexually deviant desires, for example, will make my child safer when deciding whether to leave them playing in the front garden or not.”

    The truth is, your children are more likely to be abused by somebody you never suspect had those sexual desires to begin with. Being more sympathetic and understanding will allow paedophiles to be more open about their sexuality. It will give you a greater chance of knowing about it. (I am pretty confident that given the chance, many paedophiles would be open about their sexuality. I have seen many speculate on whether they should come out to close friends, only to be advised against it). It will also allow paedophiles to be more comfortable in finding help to deal with their feelings, and for paedophiles to feel more comfortable in accepting help instead of rejecting society and forming cognitive distortions, like many do. (You mentioned one person earlier, which as far as I know is very unusual. Most paedophiles are scared stiff about telling anybody, let alone turning themselves in to the police, and especially while they are still teenagers or young adults).

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  26. Thank god im not a slob of any description

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  27. Surely the only thing more vacuous, pointless and idiotic than having a debate in an online forum related to a specific literary piece would be bothering to read through the lot, passing judgment on the authors and then ALSO bothering to comment on the condition of others rather than immediately taking one’s own advice?!?!?

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  28. //Wong plainly did not “include children younger than ten in actual sexual intercourse”. He downloaded an image. That involves transferring 1s and 0s over a network connection. I don’t care that “real children” were at some point invovled to create that data. This subsequent act in and of itself would have had a negligible to nonexistant effect on real children, had this case not beeen pulled into the limelight.//

    Nathan, I genuinely appreciate your willingness to be empathetic in your discussion of pedophilia, but the above-quoted claim is positively absurd. To reduce child pornography to a series of “1s and 0s” is so casuistic and inhumane that it threatens to undermine your entire argument. If Mr Wong had instead gotten his hands on some polaroids of child rape, would you refer to them as “mere celluloid and paper”?

    The dissemination – NOT just the initial creation – of child porn is a crime. It’s a shame that you’ve got enough humanity to empathize with the perpetrators, but not enough to recognize that their victims’ rights are violated *every time* the offense is repeated.

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  29. Jim –

    I have never argued that the distribution of child pornography should not be illegal. In fact, if you read my first comment, I argue that it *should* be.

    The reason I may seem to be ignoring the victims is because I am talking about what I perceive to be the social victimisation of offenders/potential offenders, reaching far beyond the ordinary limits of proportional punishment, not the victimisation they themselves participate in. This does not mean I do not appreciate the latter! Just that, two wrongs do not make a right. What I am arguing here is that common interpretation of these offenses introduces hyper-exaggerated or false inferences about what an offender has practically caused, their motivations, their inclinations etc. In my view this acts as a “justification” for treatment of offenders/potential offenders *in society* that I consider victimisation in its own right.

    Take anon’s claim for example: that Wong “included children younger than ten in actual sexual intercourse”. What does that say about Wong? Perhaps that in downloading images, it was his intention to physically assault the children in the images? That he didn’t consider the feelings of the victims before downloading the images? That, in, fact, he DID physically assault the child by downloading the images? These are what I consider to be absurd suggestions. That is why I challenged back, perhaps with a deliberate temerity, that Wong’s actions were to download 1s and 0s. I apologise if this was misleading – I thought it was obvious that I was using it as a sort of metaphor for “you’re making connections that go way beyond any physical possibility, think about it”. I certainly do not state that this is the *limit* of the effects. In this case, there is certainly a trickle of information contributing to a wider social effect, but in my view not one anywhere close to the scale or significance that anon was suggesting.

    Coming to your point, technically speaking, after some reflection I am not actually sure that it is SO clear cut that a victim’s rights (as currently defined) have been violated when an image is downloaded, although the offender has certainly exercised a right they do not have. But even if we assume the victim’s rights were violated, I would argue that this observation alone does not actually add much. Every time a law is broken, somebody exercises a right they do not have, or somebody’s rights are infringed. All that tells you is that some sort of retribution is in order, not how much. Surely it is a pretty good rule of thumb that somebody should be treated in proportion to the *practical* detriment for which they are responsible? Taking Wong’s actions to the victim either physically or in the imagination (“what would the child feel if they knew about this”) is surplus to his actual contribution, and therefore should *not* be used to assess them.

    Perhaps to put a sense of proportion on this, by my calculations, p2p networks alone account for the transmission of around 300,000 images/frames of video of child pornography *per second*. This is an underestimate, as the figures I used are almost certainly biased towards higher level pornography, and of course a significant amount of traffic takes place on non-p2p bandwidth.

    The big problem really is, that this is a very asymmetrical situation. You have one victim but potentially millions of perpetrators. And I agree, this is a problem. Either it seems unfair on the victims, who never gain restitution by seeing weighty prosecutions, or it is unfair on the perpetrators, who committed their offenses in the context that they *are* a drop in the ocean, and receive punishment in excess of their individual contribution.

    One solution is of course to crank up the severity of sentencing, so that all perpetrators receive a severe sentence, if they are caught. It may be disproportionate, but at least everybody is on a level playing field. If this is the case, is it not only fair, once an offender has finished his sentence, to let them rebuild their life?

    Yet another reason that I would be supportive of a social shift (of many, yet unmentioned!) is in an attempt to tame this discrepancy, which I believe would simultaneously have a positive effect on the way the victims themselves relate to the offences and the offenders, as well as help offenders to control their behavior. (Although of course I am not suggesting it would make all the problems go away.) Certainly, I frequently throw my hands up in despair at the authorities, and even particular individuals in academia, who perversely seem to actively engage in disseminating exaggerated, selective information, and generally act to encourage victims to feel ever more victimised.

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  30. Nathan,

    I am not going to comment on here again, I simply have one point to make, if a man looks at a naked image of a women on the internet because of his own sexual urges and becomes aroused, if the afore mentioned woman was to suddenly walk out from the computer screen and manifest herself as a living breathing woman then the man in question is likely to attempt to have sex with her, because if he is aroused by the image and the idea of her, then he would be attracted to the real thing. if wong is aroused by images and videos of young children then he is likely to be attracted, unfortunately to real life young children. the problem is a grown woman of able mind can think for herself and can refuse a mans sexual advances, a child can not. this is why this crime is disgusting, yes wong might only have looked at images but if he is aroused by children then he’s aroused by children, and if he gets the opportunity to have a sexual encounter with a child, without being caught, then he will, and there is nothing to say he hasnt already done so. therefore he has contributed to abuse because he has already taken the first step down that road, so there is no hypocrisy being showed here. yes his sexual urges may not be his fault and yes on this occasion, as far as we know, he didnt hurt anyone, but the child used to make the video, if she was committing sexual acts on herself or on another didnt want to be put in that position, by downloading these images he has actively sought to ensure that abuse in that sense continues and unfortunately, although you may argue differently, if he looks at pornographic images of children and is sexually attracted to children, then he probably wants to have sex with a child which ever way you argue it, and that is harmful, scary and dangerous, and that’s why i believe paedophiles should be treated as they are. in fact i would argue its not good enough.

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  31. Personally I find comments like “they don’t deserve to rebuild their lives, quite frankly.” and “By which point your case of him getting rehabilitated and being allowed to live like any civilised person in society is horrible. He does not deserve that human right.” to be almost as disturbing as paedophilia in themselves. Both the comments and the crime are indicative of the same attitude, i.e. that it’s acceptable to ruin somebody else’s life to make yourself feel better. The idea that justice’s purpose is retribution is, in my opinion, one of the most disgusting yet widespread conceits in society today.

    And the comment, “I’m glad that you’ve been able to talk to hundreds of paedophiles. I’m certain that this hasn’t skewed your view at all.”, is just moronic. How can one possibly hope to understand an issue when one refuses to listen to the perspective of the people one disagrees with?

    Finally, ‘tim”s assertion that “if a man looks at a naked image of a women on the internet because of his own sexual urges and becomes aroused, if the afore mentioned woman was to suddenly walk out from the computer screen and manifest herself as a living breathing woman then the man in question is likely to attempt to have sex with her” is completely off the mark, in my opinion. Becoming aroused to an image is entirely based on one’s biological response to stimuli, and the fantasies one imposes on said image using one’s imagination. The overwhelming majority of people – even, I imagine, of people who look at child pornography – understand this. If the object of one’s lust were to step out of the computer screen and were to act in any way aside from the exact way in which the viewer fantasised them as acting, one would most likely be incredibly embarrassed and apologetic and would try and leave. Masturbation and sex are two completely different things, with completely different motivations.

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