It seems like a new firestorm is ignited every year in the Libertarian party regarding child exploitation. This year it happened early.
No party offers a silver bullet to address every problem. But on this very important one, The Libertarian Party doesn’t even have their guns loaded.
On January 19th, Podcaster Tyler Bluntman (Tyler Breen) posted a video to his Facebook page stating the consumption and proliferation of child pornography should not be a crime, so long as you were not the original content creator. Breen stated that watching a video does not create a victim.
While Breen labels himself as a Constitutional Conservative, he is largely followed by Libertarians. This video resulted in a debate exclusively within Libertarian circles.
Joe Burnes, of the Texas Libertarian State Committee, wrote in defense of this assessment:
“Off the cuff, possession of ANY video is a victimless crime. The crime happened when the producer created the video. Forest for the trees. This is like going after everybody that smokes pot but leaving alone the distributors. Sure, it’s disgusting that anyone would own child porn, but jailing them for it won’t stop a damn thing. Up the penalties for creating child porn and there won’t be any around to be able to be owned.”
There are several things this particular viewpoint completely ignores.
First, the pornographic media content was the intentional final product. The consumer creates the demand. It was produced specifically for distribution and consumption amongst pedophiles. It absolutely has a victim, and continued consumption and distribution continues to perpetuate that child’s victimhood.
Second, this is erroneously likened to marijuana consumption in Burnes’ statement. It’s not a valid comparison because throughout that entire transaction of purchasing marijuana, there is no victim.
And this is where relying on the Free Market to fix every ailment in the world falls horribly flat.
“Prohibition leads to Black Markets. That doesn’t solve anything!”
This line works great for actual Victimless Crimes, such as the failure of the alcohol prohibition, personal drug use, and voluntary sex work. Removing prohibition from these activities is to make them tolerable or acceptable to society, as they don’t cause harm to other parties. The Libertarian Party is, and always has been ahead of their time on that front.
This is not, and should not ever be the case where a real victim is being exploited. Especially a child who does not have the ability to consent. That’s where Libertarians are far behind the curve, and have yet to leave for the boat that they’ve already missed.
The Libertarian Party appears to have a difficult enough time as it is holding members accountable to their NAP Pledge, let alone entrusting that experiment to an entire society who never bought in to begin with.
As laws are punitive, they have effectively and will continue to punish people who engage in this activity. Libertarianism doesn’t have an answer to match this.
Imagine if you will, that you took your child to some daycare, or a dentist, and that person you trusted took pornographic photos of your 5 year old.
The person who did this goes to jail. Great.
But the photos they took are fair game. They get passed around the dark web, and now on the regular internet; now that distributing child porn is no longer a crime as long as you were not the individual who took the pictures.
Imagine that following your child around for the rest of their lives. Imagine people recognizing your child in the grocery store, now that the possession of child porn is acceptable, so long as a few select virtue signaling Libertarians get to hide behind “BuT i DiDnT sAy i CoNdOnE iT!”
This isn’t simply an appeal to emotion. This is actually the future some Libertarians want.
But even the ones who don’t proactively want this future still appear to settle for it. Because while Libertarianism is great on the Victimless Crime front, they are not equipped to handle crimes that involve a victim. Not just child exploitation, but any crime with a victim.
Libertarianism is an ideology reliant on compliance, but is absent a means of enforcement. An absence of enforcement makes consequences optional. I’ve never seen a realistic blueprint for Libertarian enforcement where victims are concerned. I’ve never met someone who would pay an optional fine, or do optional jail time.
Personally I believe a number of bad actors flock to Libertarianism not because they’re Pro Liberty, but rather because they’re Anti-Consequence. A number of people in the Libertarian Party would be the first to become pirates under a Libertarian society. They see the party’s sole reliance on good faith as a way out.
“But the free market would find a way” is not an answer. It’s not a plan. It’s not a way of addressing the allure of action without consequence. It does nothing in regards to normalizing the perpetuation of a crime with a victim. That’s a problem.
If decriminalization worked not only with victimless crimes, but also with crimes involving victims, then I’m sorry to say we fought a bloody Civil War over absolutely nothing. The North simply could have legalized slavery like the South did, and everything would have magically worked out. The South wouldn’t have needed to attempt Secession. The union could have been unified in their goal of normalizing slavery to somehow end it.
If that sounds stupid, that’s because it is.