Fiction News - Biased and Misleading Vice Article

Hi all.

Earlier today, an article was published by Vice, a news publication that had built a name for itself using cutting-edge, investigative journalism, documentary-style on-the-boots reporting, and well-written articles that challenged the status quo and compelled their readers to think outside of their comfort zone.

But this article is not that. This article is an egregious and repugnant departure from that, and it’s as manipulative and biased as the rhetoric it’s trying to promote, all the while including patently false information about the subject matter at hand.

I’ll paste a link here, and maybe we can get some productive dialog going on.

Below is an email I wrote to the editor-in-chief for Vice World regarding the matter.


The article starts off with backstory and testimony by a “Takashi Kato”, a man convicted of over 11 contact child sex abuse offenses over the course of 24 years, followed by a brief overview of exactly what lolicon/shotacon is, as well as the controversies existing behind their content, their legality and how Mr. Kato would interact with them.

It goes on to quote Mr. Kato directly, where he describes the cognitive distortions he had and that the “law was the one that was wrong”. followed by pointing out that Japan was the “last of 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (a coalition of nation states within the United Nations)” and had not banned the mere possession of CP/CSAM until 2014.
While it is true that Japan did not outlaw simple possession of CP/CSAM until 2014, it shouldn’t go unsaid that receipt, production, importation, sale, and distribution of said materials have been criminal throughout various prefectures of Japan since the late 1980s, with existing prohibitions on such content being expanded upon and enacted at the national level in 1999, with very little dispute or resistance. in 2014, they extended this ban to encompass ‘mere possession’ as well, not necessarily out of pressure from the world (though that was there), but because not criminalizing the mere possession of such materials was observed to have a meaningful effect on the government’s ability to properly enforce the law, even though ‘receipt’ was still illegal.

The author includes these points so close to one another so she can emphasize what she perceives to be a “socialization effect” brought on by the legality and availability of these materials, a heinous and grotesque attempt to overstate the social problems that Japanese society has had with regard to their decision not to ban mere possession of such materials, all the while feeding into this false hope that, should these fictional works be banned, that it would have an effect on the way Japanese people view children.

Discussion goes on from here to discuss the legal controversies as they relate to the lack of scientific evidence to support the contention that such materials have a relationship with harmful/abusive acts, which would justify legal prohibitions against such imagery.
The article then asserts that “anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise” (likely referring to the testimony of Kato) and then using this a springboard to focus on those critical of lolicon/shotacon and would want to see it banned, while closing with “Scientific evidence is also impossible to obtain, they say, as any experiments testing the comics’ effect could further harm children.”

This is a rhetorical tactic often employed by pundits or political idealists trying to validate or promote their own, or someone elses worldview by presenting some sort of meaningful link with a real-world issue punctuated by a preclusatory dilemma which is skewed to one side. It is also simply wrong.

The author is making an overstatement of the importance of Kato’s position, backstory, and testimony on the matter, and more, without due consideration of his psychology in relation to his consumption of these images and how they relate to society as a whole.

Individuals like Kato, as unfortunate as it is to say, will offend without regard to the availability of these outlets. Studies have consistently failed to illustrate a link between the etiology of sexual offending behavior and the consumption of pornographic imagery or fantasy engagement.

Very little academic research delving exclusively into whether a connection between lolicon/shotacon, or other forms of distinctly fictitious images, have been conducted becuase, as one might easily point out, individuals like Kato are an anomaly, and make an insignificant minority of child sex abuse cases, and of those who do, the veracity of their accounts varies, with many offenders trying to off-load the burden on “the culture” surrounding these modes of expression to earn a lesser sentence.

These facts surrounding this subject matter have been consistent among researchers and clinicians throughout the years, with those specializing in researching the effects that actual CP/CSAM have on contact offending behavior.
This research has ultimately lead to the recognition of an ‘offender typology’, which is broken down into contact offenders (COs), CP/CSAM offenders (CPOs), mixed offenders (MOs), accompanied by their own sets of risk assessment profiles. CPOs are considerably less likely to engage in offending behavior and be more pedophilic, while COs tend to fluctuate on whether they are pedophilic, and MOs tend to exhibit both high levels of sexual interest and moderate to high degrees of CP/CSAM engagement. MOs are observed to be the minority, and how their consumption habits are observed tend to be more sporadic. How such practices or behaviors affect the risk of an MO to perpetrate a contact offense are contested, but one thing that remains largely uncontested is that they do not stimulate such aggression.

Later on in the article, the author even admits that Kato’s pedophilic inclinations began long before he ever picked up a manga book.
(quoted from the article:“Kato, who was once a massive consumer of this manga, said his sexual attraction to children began before he picked up a comic.”)
It is even implied (if not outright stated) at the beginning of the article that Kato had experience consuming CP/CSAM (images involving real children).
"At adult book shops, he’d visit the section selling comics that show children having sex. Once home, he’d masturbate to these images. The comics were “completely different” from pictures and videos of real children engaged in sex, according to Kato.

Overlooking this little detail, without going into further explanation with regard to whether they still regularly consumed CP/CSAM, but off-loading much of the focus onto manga seems disingenuous.

Arguing that such comics had a catalytic effect on his contact offending behavior, or that had public sentiment towards such content been different, he would not have offended as much as he did (if at all), is essentially the conclusion she is hoping readers will reach.

This is furthered by her inclusion of testimony from a Kazuna Kanajiri, a representative of “People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence”.
According to the article, Kazuna makes the baseless and unsupported claim that the Japanese government is “letting child abuse be tolerated” by allowing lolicon/shotacon manga to remain legal.
This is patently false, as Japanese society draws a careful distinction between fictional characters and actual children, between the concept, as contained within the realm of fantasy, and a hypothetical, practical, or real example, as evidenced by the research of anthropologist Patrick Galbraith.
Collectively, the view on things in Japan is that the things shown or written about in works of fiction would not be appropriate in real life, on the simple basis that they are not real. They are not tangible, not conceptual of anything outside of the means of artistic expression. Even in cases where sincerity can be expressed or observed with how they interact with such materials, a line always remains drawn.

Furthering this view, the author references testimony from one Akiyoshi Saito, a psychiatric social worker who has treated roughly 150 “child sex offenders”, who, according to the article, are all heavily invested in such lolicon/shotacon manga, an observation to which Saito is described as being worrisome, or troubling, who asserts that “By consuming those types of media and masturbating to them, the barrier is lowered to making children sexual targets”.
Again, this is not true. As explained by Michael Seto’s “Motivation Facilitation model”, sexual preoccupation alone is not a significant predictor for contact sexual offending, and studies have still failed to show a consistent, plausible link between the act of sexual fantasy engagement and contact sexual offending against children.

Nowhere in the article does it mention how such content is consumed, or how it affects the onset of risk of re-offending within Saito’s patients, or even what types of offenses they were convicted of. I feel that, without explaining those details, readers who are not properly informed on the matter have no reason to suspect that they are being mislead into taking a side in a debate that is really far more complex and nuanced than Ms. Montomery is presenting it to be.

And finally, the largest issue which is a blatant and prove-able falsehood, is this claim:
"But the abusers aren’t the only ones at fault. Japanese society is also a culprit, he said, because no one is born sexually attracted to kids. "

The etiology of pedophilia (defined as a sexual interest in children) and pedophilic disorder (defined by the DSM-5-TR/ICD-11), as well as numerous other papers studying the etiology of pedophilia unanimously conclude that pedophilia IS, in fact, something people are born with.
It cannot be cured. It cannot be acquired. It is not something that is ‘discovered’. Granted, it is non-exclusive and can be non-primary, but that doesn’t make it something you inherit or acquire. It is difficult to gauge whether this was a quote from Mr. Saito, or something that Ms. Montomgery included herself, but it is still false.

In sum, I urge you to please look into this article and consider my grievances. There is no evidence that these images will cause the social harm that they are claiming, and even when referencing Kaito’s testimony, there are still questions that need to be answered, and aside from his personal history with the comics and his insistance that the comics should be banned, there is very little to substantiate the claim that they do.

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“ But the abusers aren’t the only ones at fault. Japanese society is also a culprit, he said, because no one is born sexually attracted to kids.”

This falsehood is the crux of the issue. If society can get its head around the fact that pedophilia is inborn, immutable, and unchanging. Then and only then will the notion that fiction can turn a non pedophile into a pedophile or somehow strengthen an existing pedophile attractions die.

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It’s a 2-part belief system. First of all, that this type of taste is “evil”. And secondly, that “evil” is always a corruption and not something that someone is born with. Obviously, both beliefs are wrong. Also, hasn’t Vice long lost trust?

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High-quality journalism, folks


“There’s no actual story here, but I’m halfway in and my editor already approved the idea so I’m running with it”

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Ah, yes. Anecdotal evidence. The best kind of evidence.

Vice is so full of shit. (Source: Anecdotal evidence.)

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This one’s probably MY favorite…

image

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Nah, your last sentence there is shown by hard evidence.

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Like I said, like a shitty character in a fantasy RPG setting, they insist on believing everything that they consider “evil” is not only that but a “corruption”. This is usually the part where I beat that guy up and loot his admittedly really good armor.

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So, a person with both pedophilic interests, as well as psychological problems, has abused children, and the article pulls blame on art, society, and government.

Without any evidence that these three are causative and responsible, and then admits to there not being any evidence. At least they are honest. Just not upfront honesty. Probably fishing for clicks and emotional enrage.

Sadly, some readers may fall right into assuming the article is completely factually conclusive.

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There is nothing of value to be gleamed from this article, aside from it being a case study regarding culture war rhetoric.

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I wrote a letter to the author and asked for a follow-up citing actual organizations. I think the most offensive part is blaming child sexual abuse on media. It’s the same as the people bitching about violence in entertainment media being responsible for violence. Personal responsibility needs to play a part.

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Let’s see if they get back to you (I honestly doubt it). After all, we’ve gotten to a point where people are actually brought about false flag reports for clout:

A few decades ago, when he worked as a tutor, Kato says he sexually assaulted a male junior high school student. He’s also molested children in public and assaulted a mentally handicapped high schooler when he was his volunteer caretaker. Kato even traveled overseas to solicit minors for paid sex.

Kato eventually turned himself over to the police about 21 years ago. That day, equipped with duct tape, rope and a knife, he cornered a young boy in the men’s bathroom. When the boy resisted and ran away, leaving Kato alone with his weapons, he grew fearful that he’d actually kill a child while attempting to rape them.

Why on earth should we listen to such a person’s views on sexuality, morality and consent?

This is a pathetic attempt to whitewash and excuse horrible crimes by putting the blame on other people. “Oh I would never have ended up trying to rape young boys while threatening them with a knife if I had not stumbled upon those evil drawings”… yeah, bullshit. He needs to take responsibility for the shit he has done instead of trying to shift the blame and limit the freedom of people who would never, never even think about doing what he has done.

And Vice made themselves an accomplice to this violent abuser by using his statements without any kind of critical reflection. I guess while child sexual abusers are generally often viewed as scum of the earth barely worth of keeping alive, it’s still okay to cite and publish them when they say something that discriminates against people with a sexual interest in children.

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Basically, the whole nonsense about TTRPGs causing “Satanism”, so they bring up an actual cultist making up some sob stories about playing games.

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I’m sure the editors-in-chief over at Vice and Vice World News would appreciate your feedback. If there’s anything I’ve learned after doing this whole…thing… is that it can never hurt to send a well-thought-out email!

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On that note…

Prison Legal News - Texas Couple Wrongly Convicted in “Satanic Panic” Receive $3.4 Million

An Austin, Texas couple wrongly convicted of sexually abusing a child at the day-care center they ran in the 1990s has been declared innocent and received over $3.4 million in compensation from the state.

Starting in the 1980s, the United States experienced an episode of mass hysteria now known as “Satanic Panic,” during which it was widely believed that Satanists had infiltrated the child-care industry and were sexually abusing children, brainwashing them and using them in satanic rituals. The first large-scale prosecution of alleged day care Satanists was the McMartin Preschool case in California. One of the last was that of Austin, Texas couple Dan and Frances “Fran” Keller, who both spent 21 years in prison.

The Kellers were convicted of sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl in 1992 and sentenced to 48 years. In 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned their convictions because the physician who gave the only scientific evidence against them at trial realized he was mistaken.

During a 2013 hearing, emergency room doctor Michael Mouw testified he was wrong when he testified at the Kellers’ trial that tears he found in the girl’s hymen indicated sexual abuse. Years later, he attended a medical conference where he discovered that such tears were a normal variant of the female genitalia. He contacted the Austin Police Department but was rebuffed by a detective who told him the Kellers were guilty.

Mouw testified that his medical opinion had fundamentally changed. After the hearing, then-Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg agreed the Kellers had not received a fair trial. They were released on signature bonds later that year, but were not entitled to compensation under state law because they had not been exonerated. They also were at risk of being prosecuted again. Thus, they tried to rebuild their lives with a possible retrial on sexual abuse charges hanging over their heads.

Attorney Keith Hampton worked for years without pay to gain the Kellers’ release. Then he began working to clear their names. When a new district attorney, Margaret Moore, was elected, she set up a Conviction Integrity Unit. The Kellers became the unit’s first case.

On June 20, 2017, Moore filed documents in court stating there was “no credible evidence” the Kellers had committed a crime, and that she believed exoneration “to be a just outcome.” The court agreed and held they were innocent, and on August 22, 2017 they received the first of two checks that will total $3.4 million in compensation for spending over two decades in prison. The now-divorced couple will also receive the equivalent amount in an annuity with annual payments of $152,200 under Texas’ wrongful conviction compensation statute.

“It means we don’t have to worry about pinching pennies on Social Security, and late bills. It means we will actually be free. We can start living – and no more nightmares,” said Fran Keller, 67.

Her ex-husband, Dan Keller, 75, has a to-do list that includes buying a house, a vehicle and better hearing aids.

The Kellers’ ordeal began when a three-year-old girl who was an occasional drop-in at their home-based day-care center told her mother that Dan had spanked her “like daddy” used to, as they were driving to the child’s therapist. Under intense and suggestive questioning by her mother and the therapist, the story morphed into tales of rape and orgies involving children.

Other children questioned under similarly suggestive circumstances told fantastic tales of the Kellers sacrificing babies, dismembering animals, holding satanic ceremonies in a local cemetery, making children drink blood-laced Kool Aid and even flying them to Mexico to be sexually abused by military officers, yet returning in time for their parents to pick them up. Children who denied that such things happened were ignored.

In 2008, a reporter with the Austin Chronicle who was reinvestigating the case was stunned to learn that police and prosecutors still believed the outrageous allegations. The Austin Police Department resisted the reporter’s attempts to obtain investigative reports in the case. The reporter sued and won.

The investigative notes were “an ALL-CAPS, run-on-sentence fever dream of breathless accusations and absent any actual investigation that could prove or disprove the claims,” according to an article in The Intercept. Police investigators never questioned the three-year-old girl’s statements. The girl had recanted her claims in court and admitted she had no memories of the Kellers abusing her; nonetheless, they were convicted.

In a letter supporting the Kellers’ exoneration, University of Texas at El Paso psychology professor James Wood wrote: “There is now general agreement among reputable scholars that the Daycare Abuse Panic was a twentieth-century manifestation of ‘witchcraft fever’ of the same kind that swept Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and Western Europe in the centuries before that.”

Numerous other people who were prosecuted and convicted during the “Satanic Panic” have since had their convictions overturned and been released.

The Guardian - New Zealand court quashes child sexual abuse conviction in landmark ruling

New Zealand’s supreme court has quashed the convictions of Peter Ellis, a Christchurch creche worker convicted of child sexual abuse in 1993 in a highly controversial case that included allegations of large-scale ritual abuse.

On Friday, the court found a “substantial miscarriage of justice” had occurred. It is the first time in New Zealand’s history that a conviction has been quashed posthumously – Ellis died from cancer in late 2019.

Until now, a person’s legal proceedings have died along with them, but Ellis’s appeal continued after his lawyers argued that under tikanga (Māori customary law), a person’s mana (honour) is as important in death as in life. The majority of judges ruled that the public interest factors of the case meant it was in the interests of justice to allow the appeal to go ahead.

Ellis spent seven years in jail after being convicted in a 1993 jury trial on 16 counts of sexual offending against seven children who had attended the Christchurch Civic childcare centre, where he had been a teacher. The investigation began shortly after a series of similar trials investigating allegations of satanic ritual abuse at childcare centres in the US, in an era now known as the “satanic panic”.

Some of the children’s allegations against Ellis and other childcare workers were extreme, including references to cages attached to the ceiling of the creche and large-scale rituals.

The case against Ellis relied on the recollections of very young children, and many questioned its merits from the outset. Some believed the fact he was gay worked against him.

While one of the children later recanted their allegations, others maintained they had been abused by Ellis for years after the trial. The court noted that the judges “were conscious of the very high level of stress and public scrutiny already suffered by the complainants and their whānau [family] over such a long period”.

Ellis, who always maintained his innocence, had appealed unsuccessfully a number of times, including two failed attempts via the court of appeal and a ministerial inquiry.

In 2019, the supreme court granted permission to appeal again, but Ellis died a few months later, before the hearing. In 2020, the court ruled the appeal be allowed to continue.

On Friday, the court ruled the miscarriage of justice was a result of inadmissible or unbalanced expert evidence, and contaminated evidence from children, including potentially suggestive parental questioning before the complainants’ evidential interviews.

Ellis’s brother, Mark, said the decision had been a long time coming. “I wish my brother was here, because it was really what he deserved,” he said.

However, the parents of some of the children Ellis was accused of abusing said in a statement to the New Zealand Herald that they were “shocked and saddened” by the decision.

“The trauma of not being believed over the years takes its toll. The court of public opinion is often ill-informed and the facts are lost,” they said.

The court said the judgment’s release “marks the end of a long and painful journey through the courts for the many people involved in this case”, and that “its judgment was not to be read as a criticism of the parents, the complainants or those involved in the investigation and trial”.

Here’s another one for you.

Margaret Kelly Michaels - National Registry of Exonerations (umich.edu)

The amazing thing is so few people saw how utterly ridiculous the accusations were. This all was supposed to have happened in a church and NOBODY noticed? When did people lose all common sense?

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Was that the case where one of the accusations was chainsawing dog vaginas or something?

Think I might’ve mentioned it somewhere on this forum before (maybe not), but does anyone recall the anti-manga/anime/lolicon moral panic in late 80s/early 90s Japan in the wake of the Otaku Killer? More details here:

Tsutomu Miyazaki was a Japanese serial killer who murdered four young girls in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture between August 1988 and June 1989. He abducted and killed the girls, aged from 4 to 7, in his car before dismembering them and molesting their corpses. He also engaged in cannibalism, preserved body parts as trophies, and taunted the families of his victims.

Miyazaki was dubbed the “Otaku Murderer” due to his extensive collection of pornography and horror videotapes, which was misrepresented by the media as being primarily anime and manga. This triggered a widespread moral panic against otaku in Japan.

Even Japan isn’t immune to moral panics, and at times would rather blame anime than the people actually committing crimes. We’re all more alike than unalike after all…

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