Some Thoughts on Art vs CSA

I like to look both ways before I cross an intersection. But I often ponder about the center of the street. If there is a conflict then there must always be a solution. But what if the only solution creates a new conflict somewhere else? At least there surely is a connection, which is an opportunity for two opposing sides to understand each other. If understanding is at all a thing of importance, that is.

There are four primary subjects under the topic of CSA:

  1. Actual abuse (ie: the act of abusing)
  2. Evidence of actual abuse (ie: photographs, videos, or physical indications of abuse)
  3. References to actual abuse (ie: the abuser creates drawings by referencing photographs or memory of real events, or writes a journal of real events)
  4. Works inspired by the idea itself of abuse (ie: anyone writing a book or creates artwork in favor of the abuse protected by freedom of speech of fictional work)

We have currently banned everything except for #4 in the US. There is no discernible difference between #3 and #4 except the presence of proof from #2. In which case, #4 actually becomes #3, #2, and #1 instead, and will no longer be in the domain of pure fantasy.

…\ 3
…\ 2
…\ 1

It is like a downward slope. #4 is the only one that is stable, stays elevated, respectful, flat, and does not slide downward when it is pure. The others become a progressively worse situation ultimately resulting in #1 as it slides down the slope. If there is no reference, fantasy material is entirely its own separate thing that merely shares the concept of CSAM without being CSAM. It is like a reality where there is no sense of being and no sense of conformity to reality, despite borrowing from reality, since fantasy is greater than reality by simply being able to include all of what is real and all of what is not real, and be a more completed yet alternative form of reality in its own space.

Now, one could bring up whether it was the idea that created the action, or the action created the idea, to try and assign blame, but it is irrelevant which one came first and caused the other. They are polar opposites in that, one is entirely mental and the other is entirely physical to us. The very first occurrence of CSA in our existence could have been either a curious thought that became an action, or an unintended mindless action that became a desire, or a deliberate desire or need to procreate with one’s offspring. Regardless, CSA is unwanted today.

CSA is something that exists, whether real or imaginary, whether hated or loved. The idea exists, therefore all of its many nuances and interpretations exist. While CSA is not anywhere near as terrible when it is purely imagined in thought without physical action, it saddens me that there are adults out there who beat children for no reason or force them to do things against their will. It is the same to me as forcing them to abandon their childhood and pursue an early adulthood without fully understanding what it means to be an adult, nor being properly prepared for it. Childhood is a precious thing. You do not ever get those moments back and it pains me that children can be robbed of this magical time. I say this as a person who has had an amazing childhood and a loving family, and as an adult who is also an owner of multiple anime dolls and sex-capable dolls over many years, because it is a hobby of mine to collect and admire them.

At the cross in the road, I feel if I can reason well with the perspectives of those who oppose of dolls and still reach the conclusion that CSA needs to be addressed, then they should be able to reason with the perspectives of mine and meet me at the same conclusion, and perhaps see that the solution isn’t one that reduces my personal freedom to a hobby that can be either sexual or non-sexual, which is irrelevant to addressing CSA directly and intelligently. CSA goes far and well beyond a person having interests in some weird, socially undesired thought, fantasy, hobby, outlet or kink. CSA is dehumanization. It is the treating of an innocent human child as being as less than a living being, and sometimes even less than an object, for some selfish purpose. I treat my dolls better than abusive and neglectful parents treat their children and pets. A stable consumer of such material knows the difference between real and imaginary, and knows how to treat them separately and accordingly.

Fortunately, we have fairly intelligent beings looking to resolve the issue of CSA without destroying the freedom of speech (#4) and the value that art and imagination brings with allowing us to explore a hypothetical slice of reality, without any of the consequences of reality.

Let’s take a look directly at the main fork in the road:

#4 - Works of Art
Art creates inspiration and expands reality into otherwise unreachable depths. But the effects on the consumer come in a pair of two different varieties:

  1. Allowing the consumer the ability to explore an idea that should not or cannot otherwise be explored in reality.
  2. Inspiring the consumer into conduction or advocation of a depicted act itself they may find interesting.

#3 - Works of Art with References to Reality
Writings and artwork require the addition of a photograph, video, or physical evidence to determine if the work references a real event. Gray-area art that references a black-area real event as its foundation is a gray subject within an already gray subject, and it becomes darker with evidence of a depiction of a real event, or lighter without evidence. Though, all gray area works can just seen as completely black for some. Referencing is problematic in that it merges the lines of real and fiction, combining the two into one. It is the point at which fantasy can no longer be considered pure fantasy. I would like to think of all fiction as white ideas, but because fantasy has the power to influence actions, which in turn impacts reality, all fiction is considered gray by most, meaning everything depends entirely on the consumer themselves to be mentally stable. You can either play Call of Duty and then decide to go shoot someone. Or you can play Call of Duty and decide to join the army. The commonality between the two is not that the game itself, but the consumer making a personal decision to transform their interests into an action that directly impacts the world they live in. Pure fiction is automatically pulled into the situation of art with a reference because fiction can only either be referenced or imagined (ie: abstract, surreal, mentally-constructed without specific references), and when it is imagined, it is still in some part naturally constructed from a reference in memory, since you can’t think of anything new that hasn’t already been thought of or created before (in my theory of everything).

We decided that references to real CSA should be considered the same as the CSA itself that it portrays, since the event itself is/was real. However, the problem now is we have to be able to determine the difference between pure fantasy and partial fantasy. This is where we simply crash and burn. No one knows what to do other than simply ban it all. To prove someone referenced a real picture in the drawing of their art cannot easily be done, even if a requirement is established to attach a disclaimer to every work of art expressing so, the validity would still be questionable. So, naturally most of those who oppose of gray fantasy would rather have all of it outright banned because it is the easiest thing to do. The problem of needing to prove a piece of art or writing was based on an illegal event goes away, at the cost of some small group of people’s freedom to indulge in that particular article of fantasy also going away. Once we are comfortable with banning imaginary things, then there would be no limit to what will be banned next.

On one hand, it is just written or drawn material. On the other hand, it could have a whole real life backstory involved about the problem that children suffer each day. The problem is so split in half between two hands that the solution itself also suffers the same fate.

  1. Lawfully ban all gray material and focus on busting people watching illegal cartoons?
  2. Therapeutically allow gray material and focus on mental health, research, analysis, and preventatives?

It is an infinitely intricate subject. That is what makes it is a controversy, and laws applied to a controversy is decided by the majority, which would not be such a terrible idea except for cases where the majority, in cases such as these, are often not assessing the situation from an eclectic and pragmatic perspective, as I am doing right now, but rather, from a convenience or reactionary perspective. These appear to be the single most significant two dispositions:

  1. We don’t want these people in our society, cartoon or real, so put them all in prison.
  2. We don’t want to keep having to determine if a drawing is based on a photograph of a real child, so ban all questionable material.

These are grand decisions that should not be decided from opinion, emotion, or convenience alone, all of which are more often the powerhouses of reasoning rather than understanding, which can only be attained by evaluating statistical and behavioral research. We never think highly of the people on the other side of our opinion. We only think lowly of them, forgetting that there are two equal sides to a coin. There are perfectly valid justifications for nearly every claim. There are even at least three valid justifications to kill someone, and death is the most extreme scenario of our reality: self-defense, death sentencing someone convicted of homicide, and terminating an unrecoverable ill patient on life support.

Child abuse starts first with mental health as the pinnacle of concern. The law wants to punish those with the symptoms as the solution to the problem, when we could instead help reduce the problem by addressing the problem itself with better support groups, or by simply leaving people alone to self-medicate themselves with their own alternative solutions. If it works for them and we can save even 1 child per 100 adults buying a doll or watching lolicon - isn’t this better than losing 1 child to someone who felt they had no other options? Honestly, I do not even think pedophilia/MAPs is inherently a disease until it is undeniably apparent that that someone is in danger. Such a person would also exhibit other behavioral problems, such as psychopathy. We don’t want to be too late in saving another child. But we also shouldn’t be too early to incarcerate someone over a drawing of a child. To be mentally interested in something is just what people do. We need to respect the delicate principle of balance.

We cannot realistically prevent CSA without completely re-shaping society and reprogramming the mind itself to be without the impulse to have certain interests. But what we can do is reduce CSA by focusing on mental therapy and research of both individuals and families. Therapy should be able to be a completely open environment where you can speak without being leered at in disgust if you have a problem and are actively trying to find a remedy. We should understand that we do not always choose a kink or interest. Sometimes the kink or interest chooses us. It should be our primary focus to keep anything that can help reduce CSA available. While outlets can be enough for most people who are already in control of their actions around other people, even more people strive to be law-biding citizens. Most people are decent enough human beings and aren’t actively looking to destroy both another person’s life and their own, regardless of what private interests they may have. Not everyone is a free radical.

The strongest point of law making should be protection by prevention. But it needs to be the correct type of prevention; aiding mental health as opposed to destroying outlets would address the root of the problem for those who really want help before they lose self-control. Unfortunately, neither the law nor health clinics can do anything to address the problem with disgruntled family members who may not even have an interest in becoming better and attending therapy. There may also be situations where seeking help is not affordable. We can ban all of the gray fantasy we feel we don’t like and we will not remedy the problem of CSA on the level of people who don’t want help or outlets, people with financial issues, and human trafficking. Banning gray materials may make it more convenient to catch actual predators, but they will come along with non-predators (those who haven’t harmed a child) that are pedophiles, MAPs, lolicons, and random other people, such as doll enthusiasts. It would be like vacuuming the carpet to remove the dirt (CSA) but also destroying the carpet (art/fantasy/imagination/freedom) in the process.

Unfortunately, starting with mental health at this point is going have some additional challenges due to needing to repeal some of the current anti-progressive things we have in place. Therapists are mandated to report people to the police if the subject of pedophilia or even the interest in fictional content ever arises in a session. So, what we have created here is a situation where people who could use help won’t dare to seek help. Instead, some go the route of seeking a fantasy outlet to fulfill their desires, but these outlets are now being threatened. Where else do these people turn? The worst routes. Either harming a child, or committing suicide. Not only do those who are more inclined to find a remedy not receive external official support, they will not be able to support themselves with outlets if the option of fictional content becomes equally as punishable as real content. Meanwhile, trafficking and distribution of CSAM will continue operating as normal because they are one of the few markets that do not need to sell anything in order to still be valuable. It is an interest first, and a traded commodity second, and a black market last.

We can do better.

The main issue with this whole thing is that it doesn’t really meet the threshold of what exactly entails abuse. It’s not a requirement for actual abuse to have occurred for these stories to exist, in fact, I’d even guess that if there are many that are based on real abuse, they’re a slim, almost negligible minority compared to those that are pure fiction. A common trick these writers would do is literally rip off other stories or borrow heavily from them in terms of theme and structure, then make them cater to whatever niche fetish or interest they’re catering to. And the cultures and fandoms surrounding this type of material and content are a lot like those in the anime communities, in that this is just a part of it in much the same way that over-the-top gore and overexposure of the villain are mainstays of modern horror to fans of modern horror.

The main reason why materials involved with actual abuse are not considered fantasy is that they are a direct result of the abuse occurring, and that their existence and demand may create a market that, in turn, requires further abuse.

The issue with stories of abuse and actual images is that the story can exist without having happened, as opposed to the photograph of a real event could not have happened without it. This observation alone creates a demand for fiction that far outweighs the possibility of any of it being ‘real’.
Also, in most cases, stories based on actual personal experiences are still their experiences to share, sadly. Many survivors were able to turn to erotic and sexual expression thru literature as a means to cope and ‘take back’ their sexuality, because having to write it out is akin to ‘fighting it’ and having it be published to an audience is a form of artistic fulfillment.
I have yet to see a story where a rapist was coaxed into committing an offense by deep literature.

This argument entirely misses the point of free speech and completely undermines it. I don’t think there is an overt use of pedophilic erotic material that references real-life instances of abuse or imagery, as the need to use such material to create content would act more as an anchor than a propellant while progressing as an artist or writer, as well as put them in both legal and social jeopardy as the majority of these exclusive fantasy consumers align with the fantasy/fictional aspect in particular because they know it isn’t causing any real harm. It also just damages your credibility as a creative mind, in general. Tracing is something that can get mangakas fired since it’s not original, and a big part about manga is originality.

I don’t think this is really an issue to be concerned with, but it helps to think about. We already have legal precedent, in that ‘deepfaking’ a minor’s face onto otherwise legal pornography depicting CGI or an adult body would count as CSAM, in that it’s exploiting the likeness of the child’s face.

It is true that nowadays people can use computers to tranform photos of child sexual abuse into comic style images. But I do not see why anyone would do this unless the FBI find this a good way to entrap innocent comic fans into charges of CP.

I mean… why do that? You’re only adding unnecessary risk to yourself as an artist by doing that.

An important aspect about child pornography law is the emphasis on “identifiable minors”, meaning that if a real minor was used to create it by way of deep-faking an actual minor’s face or likeness onto otherwise legal or non-criminal pornography (CG model or petite adult) or “tracing” real CSAM, it would count.

It’s definitely an area worth discussion, but not really an issue at the moment.
The key difference between a photograph or video of an actual child being sexually abused and a drawing is that sexual abuse is not a requirement for the drawing to exist.