Should there be laws banning "Paedophile Manuals"?

I just learned that The UK passed the Serious Crime Bill in 2015 which created a new offence of possessing a “paedophile manual”:

It is an offence to be in possession of any item that contains advice or guidance about abusing children sexually.

It is a defence to the offence if the possessor unknowingly possesses the item or if the possessor has a legitimate reason for possessing such material. The maximum term of imprisonment for this offence is 3-years.

The definition of “paedophile manual” seems quite broad. How do you think about laws banning “paedophile manuals”?

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Disseminating incitements to break the law is a criminal act in most developed countries.

But criminalizing the possession of them? That isn’t something that’s done.

But what obviously happened is that the UK legislature made a “special exception” for “pedophile manuals”, and took out the pre-crime horse and beat it again, and nobody of relevance said a damn thing about it.

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I can’t help wondering if this would fly in the US. It would seem to run afoul of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, unless ruled obscene. But you never know.

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I had no idea there was such a thing as ‘‘pedophile manuals’’

‘‘How to molest children 101’’ where would you even find something like that?

This thread is also relevant.

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Things like “rape guides” or guides to commit crimes are actually unclear whether they’re relevant to the First Amendment.
Speech relevant or related to the commission of a crime is not protected. Like if someone says “Here’s how you can bait, groom, and rape a child” and then that person proceeds to use them, then they can be counted as “accessories”.

There was a book called the “Hitman’s Manual” that was ruled free speech, but then not, because a woman sued the writers and publishers after someone read it and then killed someone.

These cases differ from “my rapist watched/read this fictional work and imitated it, therefore the author/writer is liable for my injury” because it’s not within the intent, nor a reasonable effect, for a work of fiction to incite criminal action.
If someone writes a book on “how to rob a man” or “how to choke a person with piano wire like from The Godfather” with the express intent of helping someone commit the crime, then it’s likely that it would be considered not free speech.

There was a controversial book, called the Anarchist’s Cookbook, which was basically a guide on how to make home-made explosives. It was re-published shortly after the writer petitioned the publishing company to do so after they had a sudden change in beliefs (a fact not immune from CIA-related conspiracy theories) which… wholly changed the contents of the book to be from “how to build explosives” to “the philosophy of civil disobedience”, if I recall.
There were also challenges by the FBI to get the book unpublished, but attempts to do so were not allowed by the courts. Reason being was because building explosives was not intrinsically related to criminal conduct, as it had applications that were within the realms of the law.

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But what if the speaker doesn’t have an express criminal intent and he or she is just…let’s say…reckless? After you know there are victims saying “my rapist watched/read this fictional work and imitated it", if you continue to publish such works, people may claim you are being indifferent to whether rapists imitate your work. This may be defined as recklessness in legal terms and it involves a level of culpability.

Although speech relevant or related to the commission of a crime is not protected, it would be a huge leap forward to consider spreading knowledge about how to commit a crime as speech relevant or related to the commission of a crime, just like not every incitement could be considered as speech relevant or related to the commission of a crime. I doubt that categorically rejecting First Amendment protection for knowledge about how to commit a crime is justified.

PS: I think the First Amendment would forbid a ban on the possession of “paedophile manual” anyway, as in Stanley v. Georgia (1969) the US Supreme Court have asserted:

If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.

I have a very clear idea of how to deal with stuff like that. Which is:

You can express whatever opinion you have about whatever. Including the fact that you like something, or WISH to do something.

What you can’t do, is to make a PROPAGANDA about things that are illegal. In other words, influence other people to commit a crime. I’m not completely sure how people deal with that in other countries, maybe is the same way we deal with it here in Brazil, I honestly don’t know. But anyway, here in Brazil we have a term called “apologia ao crime” that would mean something like “apology for crime” that refers to that. As I said, maybe you guys have similar stuff there with another name. And well, I searched for it and find nothing. But whatever.

The idea is: You can’t encourage people to commit ANY crime, that is illegal. But you can say your opinions about it.

So, in an example, a KKK video is a no-no here, since it’s INCENTIVE people to be racists. But a simple comment on it, even if you say you agree with it, is not a crime, because that is your opinion. But of course, the context of everything you say must be taken into account.

So in your example. What that “paedophile manual” says?

He is commenting on things that criminal pedophiles do? Maybe even saying a positive opinion of the author about it? That would be Ok for me.

OR

Does it try to teach people how to molest children? It would say that teaching to do a crime, if not in the context of trying to find ways to prevent it. That would be an incentive to it, so is an “apologia ao crime” and so it’s illegal.

Also, trying to be more clear:

“I wish more people will rape children” → Opinion, so Ok. But I won’t recommend people saying that, since, that could be considered an incentive in some contexts.

But:

“More people should rape children” → That’s an incentive, then not Ok. And again, doing like me here, and saying that as an example. That’s also OK. As I said, depends on the context.

I don’t really get the point. Is it legal in Brazil to advocate for the abolishing of a certain criminal law? For example, if someone sincerely says “the law banning child rape should be abolished. Child rape is harmless. People should be able to freely rape children”, would this be breaking the law?

No, because you can advocate to create or remove any law, that’s perfectly legal.

So, your example “the law banning child rape should be abolished” doesn’t imply your intention of rape children. That in fact would be classified as a simple opinion.

Also, even if you say: “We should go to the capital and demand the government to abolished the law that prevents us to rape children” ← That would also be Ok because that does not imply that you will actually rape children, just that you want to modify a law. And again, that’s perfectly fine. You can even do that.

I wouldn’t recommend people saying that either, or any of the other examples you’ve mentioned.

On account of the fact there will be plenty of people who wouldn’t give a “flying goose” about the legality of beating someone to death who said this.

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Germany actually passed a law only recently banning abuse manuals as well. I don’t think this is as bad as some other laws that were passed here recently, but it is still questionable.

First of all, it is all but clear what exactly constitutes an abuse manual. The law explicitly also includes completely neutral texts like medical textbooks, if they are shared in a context that invites and enables others to commit crime. The same is true for content that increases somebody’s disposedness for committing a crime, whatever that means. For many people, being a pedophile and not feeling shame and depression because of it means that you are pre-disposed to commit a crime. So is it now criminal to tell people that they don’t have to be ashamed because they are attracted to children?

Also it is kind of ridiculous how far extended criminal liability now is. It’s not just that actual sexual acts with children are criminal. Even possessing a text which tells you how to manipulate a child to possibly engage in sexual acts is now illegal.

Another problem is with the criminalization of possession. It creates a “black box”, where nobody can actually do any research to check whether this kind of material is really as bad as people say it is. This basically means that politicians, investigators and prosecutors have a monopoly on how the public perceives this material, as nobody can check anything they say without committing a serious crime. And they have an interest in making this seem as bad as possible, because those horror stories can then be used to great effect in order to advocate for policy changes giving them more power, and restricting the freedom and privacy of all citizens. This is already happening, as child pornography is the #1 argument used by people advocating for the criminalization of encrypted communication, data preservation laws and extended and unchecked powers for investigators.

Yet another thing that worries me are the arguments used to support this law. Basically it comes down to the idea that the possession or distribution of abuse manuals lower inhibitions for real CSA. The exact same argument, literally word for word, was used a couple of month ago to ban child sex dolls in Germany. In both cases zero evidence was cited to support this argument, and and there were no intentions to search for supporting evidence. Just claiming this was enough to pass the law and outlaw both things for everyone.

This establishes a precedent where it is enough to merely claim that something causes CSA in order to establish criminal laws, without anyone needing to provide any evidence for it. This is extremely dangerous, as this can be used to basically outlaw anything in the future, like support-groups for pedophiles or pedophiles working with children (or having children of their own). You can take away any right of any minority by claiming that they having this right can potentially cause CSA, and as long as you have a majority support not questioning this it might very well become law.

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You make this sound as though the majority of people would be shocked at this. Whatever rights may be in danger of being abused, a CSA instruction manual is far from the most noble thing to be studying.

This could also be said of actual CSAM.

(In fact, I personally feel that this could be quite a significant motivation for people who access it - the first time especially. I believe this is something that ‘Prostasia’ should feel is worth, if at all possible, researching so as to find out how significant.)

The point is that there are more and more levels of indirection between criminalized behavior and actions that cause harm to children. It’s not just the abuse that is illegal, but also it’s preparation, and the preparation of the preparation…

Theoretically, the more indirect the criminalized actions are, the better the arguments should be that this still causes harm. But the exact opposite happens. It is just declared that the criminalization is absolutely imperative to protect children without any further evidence given.

I don’t know, but I could potentially see value in child protection agencies studying these manuals in order to understand the strategies of abusers and find ways to counteract them.

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Hi @Sirius

Actually I agree with everything you just said there, and in fact I had intended to post the exact same thing as in your final point… but you’ve done it now, so thanks. :blush:

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Actually, there was such a guide sold on Amazon. The lone sale was to law-enforcement, IIRC.