A Queensland man has been charged for re-publishing on a
video-sharing site a viral video of a man swinging a baby around
like a rag doll.
The controversial three-minute video had already been published
widely across the internet and shown on American TV news shows. The
clip can still be found online today.
Chris Illingworth, 60, a father of four from Maroochydore,
thought he would share it with fellow users of Liveleak, a site
similar to YouTube but focused on news and current events. In two
years, he has uploaded hundreds of videos to Liveleak.
His home was raided on Sunday, November 30, by Queensland Police
from Task Force Argos, which specialises in combating child
pornography and child groomers.
He was charged with using the internet to access and publish
child-abuse material and is scheduled to appear in court in
Maroochydore on December 18.
It is understood that he had no involvement in the creation of
the video, which cannot be published on this website for legal
The baby is laughing and smiling at the end of the clip, but the
video has attracted criticism from child-welfare advocates because
of how vigorously the man swings the baby by its arms.
In a phone interview, Illingworth described the clip as a
"common interest story" and rejected any suggestions he was a child
abuser or interested in such material.
He said that since being charged he could not eat, sleep or work
and was worried his children and people in the local community
would think he was a pedophile.
From the Sydney Morning Herald. Obviously, child pornography is a real problem, but shit like this show how dangerous it is to get swept up in a witch hunt. What's next? Are they going to prosecute TV stations that showed the clip of Michael Jackson dangling his kid from that balcony?
The "moral panic" label is often used to defend child abusers, especially pedophiles.
Since "Agent 204" only has vague reassurances to prove that the child in question was not being abused, I reject his contention that police intervention in cases where a child is apparently abused in published material is unwarranted and automatically equivalent to some "moral panic". His comparison of this video, circulated by the father himself, to a TV broadcast of Michael Jackson endangering his child is especially misleading.
I would love to be living in a world where adults can be trusted to always have children's best interest at heart when they share videos for kicks, but...
His comparison of this video, circulated by the father himself, to a
TV broadcast of Michael Jackson endangering his child is especially
Why? I don't see the difference.
No, if you read the article you'd see that the guy being charged for circulating the video is not the father.
I'm with Jacob Two-Two. If anything, Jackson's kid was more seriously endangered than this kid. Not that I recommend swinging a child around like that, but when the strict application of laws leads to the video of that act being considered to be equivalent to child porn, something is wrong here.
Tell me Martin, when people vandalize a house because they've heard that a pediatrician lives there, thinking it's a pedophile, or when child welfare authorities are being called based on the opinion of a psychic, doesn't that sound like a moral panic to you? "We'll get those monsters who are ruining innocent lives, no matter how many innocent lives we ruin in the process."
I'm actually a little impressed that police would take a tip that seriously. I can't blame police in this instance. Any controversial child-related material published on the internet is probably going to be followed up. So it was a mistake. Better they err on the side of over-reaction than under-reaction, wouldn't you say? I've been following the Phoenix Sinclair story here in Manitoba and I don't feel like the problem of addressing child abuse should be tagged with the label "moral panic". I think we all know it has historically been grossly underaddressed. And with all due respect to the fellow who felt compelled to copy and "share" a video that already, as the article notes, had pretty wide distribution, well, he's learned something, hasn't he? He'll get over it.
I don't think anyone's saying we shouldn't take action against abusers! To say this is an example of a moral panic is not to deny that child abuse is real. In fact, the most effective moral panics are precisely those that involve very real problems (pedophilia, terrorism, hard drugs, whatever). The reason I call this a moral panic is the, well, panicked behaviour (like charge the guy first, and ask questions later, despite the fact that he had no connection with making the video and was not a hazard to anyone's kid). It's not a simple mistake, it's a particular kind of mistake that arises out of panic, I think. I resent the insinuation that anyone who questions this approach is objectively pro-pedophile.
Yes, I read it wrong and the man swinging the child around like a rag doll wasn't the one who circulated the video and was charged. The crucial point is whether the behaviour shown was abusive and whether its distribution was in a context critical of said abuse, as was the TV newscast of Michael Jackson endangering his child, or exploitive of it and at risk of generalizing such behaviour, as seems to be the case here.
People who take the worst possible examples of mistakes to discredit social intervention against child abusers, using the "moral panic" label, are de facto defending unaccountability for allegedly private and thus legitimate, forms of abuse.
ETA: I note that we have been told so far about this story is the accused's version, the police not being at liberty to say what they found on his computer's disc drive. Maybe the swung baby story is what he and his lawyer chose to put out i his defense. Reading to the end of the hyperlinked story, I found this:
Liveleak owner Hayden Hewitt has published a video on the site
defending Illingworth and calling on members to help publicise the
incident and "fight injustice".
"Clearly the behaviour in the video is reckless, but I couldn't
say it's abuse," he said.
Colin Jacobs, vice-chairman of the online users' rights lobby
group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said public anxiety around
the depiction of children seemed to have spiked in recent times,
fuelled by politicians and anti-child-abuse campaigners.
"It's now reached the point where any parent would have to think
twice about posting a photo of their children to a photo-sharing
website," he said.
"Cases like this seem to indicate that we've gone beyond the
point of the sensible and entered into hysteria territory."
Hmmm... Electronic Frontiers Australia is a fundamentalist free-speech lobby fighting tooth and nail against filtering of pornography legislation introduced by the Australian govt.
Agent 204: "(. .) I resent the insinuation that anyone who questions this approach is objectively pro-pedophile."
You are twisting my words, please re-read what I wrote if you are not doing so on purpose.
I have perused their website, and EFA is very much about defending the unaccountability of viewers of objectionable Internet material.
As for your examples of "panicked behaviour", 1) there is no indication that Illingworth was charged before questioning, you apparently just made that up for effect; 2) you are dead wrong when suggesting that possession of child abuse video material - if this proves to be the case after examination of Illingworth's disc drive - that one didn't make should not be actionable and is no indication of being a risk to children.
Well, what you wrote is that those who question the approach taken
Sorry if I've misconstrued your intent.
That could be, I'll have to have a closer look at the site later.
I was using it in an analogous way to "shoot first and ask questions later". Sorry if you took it literally.
I don't dispute that actual depictions of the sexual abuse of children are harmful, because their purchase creates a market and thus induces others to harm children. As far as I can tell from the story, though, all there was was a video of some guy swinging his child in a possibly reckless manner. Admittedly, it's possible that there was actually some genuinely awful kiddie porn on the guy's computer, but my impression is that when the police do find someone like that they go out of their way to talk about how awful the stuff they found was. That isn't happening, which makes me suspect that the baby-swinging video was all there was.
Having said that, it is true that the article is covered from Illingworth's point of view (I missed on first reading the point that it was only his account that the police failed to find anything on his box) so there's some room for doubt. I still say, though, that if it's true that the baby-swinging video was all there was, there's no way in the world that this guy should be labelled a child abuser. Oops, too late- hope they can give him a new identity if and when he's exonerated.
But my lunch hour is over, so I'll have to look at your response later on.