Tom Flanagan trending on Twitter after comments about child pornography

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Slumberjack

Junkyard Dog wrote:
So, to repeat a question that's already been asked: What on earth could Flanagan have possibly been thinking when he conjured up this self-inflicted shitstorm? Any thoughts?

It's the whole slimy, slithery, kettle of fish that goes into the making of a conservative ideologue, and the difficulty, evident in Flannigan's case, of carrying everything around in a small container ill suited to the task of ensuring the contents do not spill out onto the deck.

Brachina

Slumberjack wrote:

Junkyard Dog wrote:
So, to repeat a question that's already been asked: What on earth could Flanagan have possibly been thinking when he conjured up this self-inflicted shitstorm? Any thoughts?

It's the whole slimy, slithery, kettle of fish that goes into the making of a conservative ideologue, and the difficulty, evident in Flannigan's case, of carrying everything around in a small container ill suited to the task of ensuring the contents do not spill out onto the deck.

I've signed up for one thing and been harrassed by emails for something else entirely, but thankfully not child porn. Yuck. Still I could see how that could happen accidentally.

Slumberjack

It's really about what comes across as a 'Randian' inspired notion about personal freedom concerning an individual's right to look at pictures of the abused and exploited, about the outer reaches of where this logic believes it can safely tread upon.  I hesitate to describe them as outer limits because apparently there are none.

JKR

Junkyard Dog wrote:

So, to repeat a question that's already been asked: What on earth could Flanagan have possibly been thinking when he conjured up this self-inflicted shitstorm? Any thoughts?

I can't read his mind but I think he was thinking that it is wrong to put someone in jail for the act of simply looking at photographs of child pornography. He probably thinks people should be punished for producing child pornography and buying child pornography and he may even think that people should be punished simply for looking at child pornography but he seems to think that it doesn't warrant "jail time." Because he specifically mentioned "jail time," maybe he thinks a fine, community service, or counseling or a combination of these kinds of remedies would be better ways of dealing with this kind of act? Maybe he thinks that restorative justice is what is appropriate in such cases?

It seems that he is arguing against minimum sentencing. A lot of left-wingers would agree with him if that's what he was arguing for. I would probably too.

Maybe he'll get a chance to explain himself?

6079_Smith_W

@ JKR

Really the only part of his argument that is truly outrageous is the notion that it is a victimless crime, and his phrasing, which might imply that he thinks it is not a crime at all (but which he did not say directly)..

The rest of it might seem really offensive, but they are fair questions, especially in an academic context, and expecially if you see justice as geared toward reform rather than punishment.

If you can't ask those questions in a university, where can you ask them?

I know we all hate this guy and his ideas, but that is all the more reason to take a cool look at this. The reaction in some places has been frankly, over the top and even self-serving.

 

voice of the damned

Maybe he'll get a chance to explain himself?

He has done so in the National Post. And yes, as Smith says, much of what he writes sounds like what progressives and civil-libertarians would argue as well.

http://tinyurl.com/dyz89h5

 

EDIT: Sorry, JKR, not Smith, said that.

 

6079_Smith_W

But I agree.

I don't want to take credit for others' ideas, but no harm done.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

He has done so in the National Post.

So we see that the Conservative spin machine -- or perhaps just Flangagan's friends in high places who didn't immediately go looking for the nearest subcarriage of a bus -- shifting the conversation from "child porn is a victimless crime" to "I question mandatory minimums for child pornography." Well played, neo-cons. Well played.

6079_Smith_W

@ CF

It's complicated, because he made both arguments. There's no switcheroo to be made. They might want to pretend that he didn't say those other things, but anyone listening to his words can clearly tell that he said both.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yes, but the outrage, clearly from the comments made by the organizations and individuals who promptly disowned him, stemmed from the former. Flanagan &co is trying to make it seem like the latter.

6079_Smith_W

True. I guess I am saying that once Stalin has pitched you overboard, what else matters?

This is all damage control, surely. But it is pretty futile.

voice of the damned

FWIW, I don't think the Conservatives were involved with Flanagan's apologia.

Danielle Smith has flatly refused to accept it.

Smith said Flanagan’s editorial explanation “changes nothing for me.”

“The comments that he made last week were completely unacceptable and appalling, and I don’t think there’s any way you can talk your way into having Albertans believe anything that was said was reasonable.”

The federal Conservatives don't seem to have weighed in yet, but assuming they're on roughly the same page as their Wildrose branch-plant, I don't think they'll be very forgiving either.

http://tinyurl.com/clcta9a

 

 

 

ennir

I found his apology insincere,  there was a fair bit of minimizing by constantly referring to his university experience and then the EEK a trap had been set for him.  What he doesn't say is that he was the one who brought the subject up in a university class in Winnipeg a few years ago, according to a radio interview on CBC with someone in the class it was completely out of context and before anyone could respond he had moved on.

 

JKR

I believe Flanagan when he says he believes that child pornography victimizes children profoundly and that his words have been taken out of context to make it seem that he believes child pornography is victimless.

Flanagan's position seems to adhere to the libertarian position that the state should incarcerate people as sparingly as possible. As a libertarian he believes in having as small and weak a state as possible. This position puts him at loggerheads with conservatives. Conservatives are not going to defend Flanagan because they believe in the "lock em' up and throw away the key" approach to justice. If conservatives had there way we would have huge rates of incarceration like they have the US. On this issue, conservatives like Danielle Smith are philosophically opposed to Flanagan's position that incarceration should be used as sparingly as possible.

It's ironic that at this event at the University of Lethbridge, a First Nations woman commented that the high rates of incarceration of First Nations people in Canada is genocidal. She's right. The "lock em' up and throw away the key" approach has been a huge failure and shouldn't be expanded upon in Canada. 

It's ironic that Flanagan, a guy famous for opposing positions taken by most First Nations people, has been damaged arguing for a position held by many First Nations people.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

JKR wrote:

I believe Flanagan when he says he believes that child pornography victimizes children profoundly and that his words have been taken out of context to make it seem that he believes child pornography is victimless.

I believe his first statement when he said he thought there was no harm in viewing the pictures.  The subsequent twisting and turning is merely damage control.

Now he is saying he was "trapped." What a fucking asshole.  No one asked him if he had been on a pedophile list server for years. He volunteered that information because he sees nothing the matter with child porn except maybe the sentences.

As for his libertarian principles I would like to see someone link to where he publicly opposed the Conservatives in their tough on crime agenda and spending excessively on new prisons.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Flanagan's replacement on P&P was unveiled tonight, and she's even more vicious against the NDP than Flanagan was. Totally mocked Mulcair's stance on abolishing the senate.

Debater

Well, the NDP likes to play rough these days, so what do you expect?

Today the NDP is targetting Claude Patry's riding with robocalls.  As Daniel Paillé says, what happend to Jack Layton's vision of doing politics differently?

Paillé says the NDP and the Conservatives are becoming more alike.  Are you okay with that, Boom Boom?

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/03/05/pol-ndp-robocall-defect...

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Debater wrote:

Well, the NDP likes to play rough these days, so what do you expect?

What does that have to do with the CBC bias?  Playing rough.  LOL

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So tell me Debater are you actually trying to say that the Liberals don't use automatic dialers? They have been in use by all parties in BC for years now and I am sure I have gotten robo promo calls from Ujjal in previous elections.

Debater

kropotkin1951 wrote:

So tell me Debater are you actually trying to say that the Liberals don't use automatic dialers? They have been in use by all parties in BC for years now and I am sure I have gotten robo promo calls from Ujjal in previous elections.

You mean former NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh?

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

"You-know-who", you are like a child. "See mom, they do it to".

I promised everyone I would try to be nice to you. You make it impossible.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So you have disowned the former Liberal MP from Vancouver?  Wow after more than a decade as a Liberal including serving as a Cabinet Minister in the Liberal government, this is the best you've got?  You are usually better than that Debater.

So answer the question are you really trying to say that the Liberal's don't also use robo callers?

janfromthebruce

Actually in Ontario, Justin Trudeau did a taped robocall on the day of the Kitchener/Waterloo byelection. Pretty funny and oh yes Trudeau is running on "being positive".

Attacking NDP on Quebec separation is a foolish move for McGuinty’s Liberals

Justin Trudeau recorded a robocall, warning voters against voting for the NDP, apparently because they are a threat to national unity. And the Liberals distributed a pamphlet headlined, “URGENT: Where does the NDP stand on Quebec separation???” It was based on a story out of St. John’s, N.L., where NDP MPs were meeting to organize their socialistic selves for the fall sitting of Parliament.

Captain Canada (Robo)calling: Ontario Liberals deploy Justin Trudeau to deliver national unity-themed anti-NDP pitch in Kitchener by-election

Just hours before the polls were set to close in Kitchener-Waterloo, embattled provincial Liberals launched a last-ditch effort to turn an Ontario by-election into, of all things, a referendum on the federal NDP's position on Quebec succession -- with more than a little help from Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, who took time away from his busy schedule of playing coy on future leadership ambitions to hit the telephonic hustings, robocall-style:

The last article had some funny tweets about it:

Cameron Holmstrom@northwesternladIn Trudeau's next robocalls I expect him to also tell us how forcing special legislation on teachers will save the country #kitwat #cdnpoli

Yeah and that special legislation completely - removing bargaining rights and enforcing contracts CONTRAVENES the Charter of rights of freedoms.

Shows how much Justin is not his father and doesn't back his dad's charter.

 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Well, "You-know-who", are you going to answer Jans question, or maybe just start being quiet. Eh?

pookie

From Xtra - Flanagan's question worth discussing

http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/EDITORIAL_Flanagans_question_worth_di...

Sean in Ottawa

Arthur Cramer wrote:

"You-know-who", you are like a child. "See mom, they do it to".

I promised everyone I would try to be nice to you. You make it impossible.

Hi Arthur stay on the right side of this -- as soon as you type "You are..." you should pause-- everyone should. Go after the behavior not the person as it lowers the tone in the thread and people want to leave.

Even rephrasing the statement helps and makes the point stronger -- "This argument sounds like: 'See mom, they do it to.' Can you offer something better?"

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Don't just be diplomatic, Sean, tell us what you really think of Flanagan.

jas

pookie wrote:

From Xtra - Flanagan's question worth discussing

http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/EDITORIAL_Flanagans_question_worth_di...

I thought her points were reasonable, and the issue of works of the imagination is one I've raised before as well.

If a child has been used to make the image, then sure, there’s harm. (Flanagan’s careless, if not outright stupid, remarks made the possession of child pornography sound like it was always a victimless crime). But, what about looking at a graphic novel? Should looking at a sexualized image in a graphic novel send people to jail? While some people may say yes, this is at least a legitimate question. And it is a question not that far from the one that Flanagan was raising, about the nature of harm and the reach of the law.

It's a worthwhile question, one that is pertinent to the Iceland porn ban thread as well: can works of the imagination also do harm? And should we be criminalizing such images if they are intended for and used in private?

Sean in Ottawa

Interesting problem being raised by Flanagan. On the one hand he contradicts his understanding of market theory when he says demand does not influence supply and therefore victimization. A bigger deal is the exposing of libertarian views. They always claimed that socialists were utopian. In fact the truly utopian and unrealistic vision is that society can work with no rules, no balances, no group cooperation, no public goods. They believe that everyone is their own unit of moral account and that each making their own decisions may lead us to a better life and that each person's own determination of their personal rights and freedoms makes for a better world. Trouble is in this (as many other real-life situations) exposes this view  for the fraud it is where without other rules, balances and group cooperation the only rule becomes power and everyone even the most powerful have a more dangerous existence. Fact is the market does not have the answers and individual expressions of freedoms that contradict others must be restrained by laws that protect society. Also he exposes that you cannot be pro law and order and also libertarian. These extreme right wing views are always on dangerous ground logically and they are frequently exposed as nonsensical or fraudulent. In order to hold these views you have to be extremely personally selfish and nasty (and find morality in that) as well as very optimistic about your personal ability to protect yourself from everything on your own or extremely unaware and incapable of thinking logically.

Sean in Ottawa

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Don't just be diplomatic, Sean, tell us what you really think of Flanagan.

My opinion of that man is hardly relevant. I think he is a horrible human being. That said, I am nore interested in what he said exposeing his failed ideology than what it says about him as an individual. If he were the only Libertarian in the country, or the only asshole, I would just ignore him.

Exposing the bakrupt philosophy he holds is more important than namecalling one person. What is vile about him is this extreme libertarian perspective.

6079_Smith_W

It doesn't just question right-wing politics.

I think the question about punishment also applies to the justice system, and the public perception that once a person is indicted for harming children, no punishment is too much. It is my gut reaction, and I presume a lot of people feel the same, and the reaction to Flanagan shows that as well. But his being a creep in some respects, is it justice?

As for works of the imagination, the Robin Sharpe case went over that with a fine-toothed comb (just one of several cases, actually). As I said elsewhere, I think children are a special case, and that keeping those images illegal is prudent. I know when the law first came in people were concerned about Rubens paintings and family photos getting confiscated, and that didn't happen, so it is far from absolute. Personally, I am as alarmed by fashion images and comics and child beauty pageants as I am by the existence of child porn.

Slumberjack

6079_Smith_W wrote:
It doesn't just question right-wing politics. I think the question about punishment also applies to the justice system, and the public perception that once a person is indicted for harming children, no punishment is too much. It is my gut reaction, and I presume a lot of people feel the same, and the reaction to Flanagan shows that as well. But his being a creep in some respects, is it justice?
 

It's purely a reactionary response as a futile attempt to project outward consistency.  The discrepancies in logic tends to overflow from being pent up behind walls of excuses and ignorance, because the amalgam of elements constituting the institution of right never seems willing to address why so many abusers and creeps end up in its employ across the board.

6079_Smith_W

Sure, that too. But reading online posts about how he should be tormented by blackflies, sent to Siberia or have his nails pulled out suggests that it is a question that goes beyond the Harper party and their politics.

Slumberjack

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Sure, that too. But reading online posts about how he should be tormented by blackflies, sent to Siberia or have his nails pulled out suggests that it is a question that goes beyond the Harper party and their politics.

I don't believe that it does.

Sean in Ottawa

You don't need Flanagan's recent pronouncements to hate him. Have a look at what he said in his book First Nations? Second Thoughts and you will find more reasons why people respond this way.

6079_Smith_W

Because only card-carrying Conservatives are capable of blind hatred and vengeful thoughts? Perhaps we disagree, but I think the question is more general; and that it also speaks to the purpose of the law.

And @ Sean

I think I agreed with that already. Is it okay to pull his nails out for those reasons? (though I think the fact that this shitstorm came now suggests it has more to do with his recent comments).

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

As for works of the imagination, the Robin Sharpe case went over that with a fine-toothed comb (just one of several cases, actually). 

How so? Just quickly looking up the case, it appears to have involved photography.

Slumberjack

Just so we're clear about your project in this thread 6079...conservative reaction on the various peanut gallery comment boards can in fact form the basis for discussion here, as in, for or against?

Slumberjack

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
These extreme right wing views are always on dangerous ground logically and they are frequently exposed as nonsensical or fraudulent. In order to hold these views you have to be extremely personally selfish and nasty (and find morality in that) as well as very optimistic about your personal ability to protect yourself from everything on your own or extremely unaware and incapable of thinking logically.

Flanagan's shit doesn't even rise to the level of Objectivism, which itself bottomed out years ago as fraudulent nonsense, in part due to denying that the self survival evolved within humans to form socially instinctive beings, a point which is arguably the least from among an entire collection of nonsense where it concerns this sort of quackery.  It's little more than a pseudo-philosophical attempt to reverse engineer human development to the primordial soup, where we fed on one another to survive.

6079_Smith_W

@ jas

It also involved fictional writings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._v._Sharpe

The Court, however, finds that the provisions were too broad for including two types of material that should not constitute child pornography as they do not pose a direct potential harm to children. First, where the written or visual representations were created and possessed by the accused for exclusive personal use, and second, where "visual recordings created by or depicting the accused that do not depict unlawful sexual activity and are held by the accused exclusively for private use."

Personally, I don't agree that those materials are benign, but that's what the court had to say about their legality.

@ SJ

I don't understand what you are saying there.

Though "my project"... that's good.

6079_Smith_W

Let me take it beyond news comment boards.

Flanagan has been released from his contracts and jobs, and pilloried by his former allies, which is their due, and which I don't have a problem with, though I think it is a bit reflexive.

On the other hand, I have also seen posts on facebook and elsewhere accusing him of being a pedophile, a pornographer, musing that he is probably under investigation by the RCMP, and that he should have his computer seized. And I assure you, almost none of what I have seen has come from so-called right-wing sources.

There is no evidence that any of this is true, and he actually has not done or said anything to indicate that it might be true. But to even point that out is very unpopular.

So yes, I think Flanagan's question about justice and the limits of punishment do go a bit beyond the Harperite camp.

(edit)

I should add that Flanagan was already on his way out the door at the University. But if they had actually fired him because of this I would have been outraged by that as well.

 

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

The Court, however, finds that the provisions were too broad for including two types of material that should not constitute child pornography as they do not pose a direct potential harm to children. First, where the written or visual representations were created and possessed by the accused for exclusive personal use, and second, where "visual recordings created by or depicting the accused that do not depict unlawful sexual activity and are held by the accused exclusively for private use."

Okay thanks. So can we interpret this to mean that there is legal precedent for these kinds of cases to not be prosecuted but the law still includes them as illegal material? 

6079_Smith_W

@ jas

I don't know, and I don't know if the law was actually changed, or if he was just allowed an out.

Again, there were a lot of things that people were concerned would be caught up by the law, which have not.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

SCC wrote:

1                                  Is Canada’s law banning the possession of child pornography constitutional or, conversely, does it unjustifiably intrude on the constitutional right of Canadians to free expression?  That is the central question posed by this appeal. 

 

2                                   I conclude that the law is constitutional, except for two peripheral applications relating to expressive material privately created and kept by the accused, for which two exceptions can be read into the legislation.  The law otherwise strikes a constitutional balance between freedom of expression and prevention of harm to children.  As a consequence, I would uphold the law and remit Mr. Sharpe for trial on all charges.

 

 

3                                   The respondent, Mr. Sharpe, was charged on a four-count indictment after two seizures of material.  The first seizure was made by Canada Customs.  It consisted of computer discs containing a text entitled “Sam Paloc’s Boyabuse -- Flogging, Fun  and Fortitude: A Collection of Kiddiekink Classics”.  Two charges were laid with respect to this material -- one for illegal possession under s. 163.1(4) of the Criminal  Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, and one for possession for the purposes of distribution or sale under s. 163.1(3) of the Code.  The second seizure was at Mr. Sharpe’s home pursuant to a search warrant the validity of which will be contested at trial.  Police officers seized a collection of books, manuscripts, stories and photographs the Crown says constitute child pornography.  Again, two charges were laid – one of simple possession and one of possession for the purposes of distribution or sale. 

 

4                                   Mr. Sharpe brought a preliminary motion challenging the constitutionality of s. 163.1(4) of the Criminal Code.  He does not challenge the constitutionality of the offence of possession for the purposes of distribution and sale, which will go to trial regardless of how this appeal is resolved.  Mr. Sharpe contends that the prohibition of possession, without more, violates the guarantee of freedom of expression in s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The trial judge ruled that the prohibition was unconstitutional, as did the majority of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.  The Crown appeals that order to this Court.

 

Here is a link to the full text of the case for anyone who wants to wants to wade through it for themselves.

http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1837/index.do

 

6079_Smith_W

Thanks k!

Glad I didn't have to - wade through it, that is.

Sean in Ottawa

You can get to the same place from very different roads with very different motivations.

I do not accept that child porn ownership is victimless even if you did not create it. I accept the value of the law and the public purpose behind jail time. I accept that Flanagan's comments come from a Libertarian viewpoint rather than a personal desire to participate in child porn. However I don't accept the Libertarian point of view and I think it is a disgusting vision of human society. The extreme view he expressed I do view as all I need to hate him -- even though I have heard many comments form him previously that meant this was no change of opinion.

There are those who want to distance themselves from him to score political points, to be politically correct, to avoid the association but who personally do not think that much differently. I did not reach my conclusions in the same way they did.

The academic freedom argument I am not accepting in his case. If he was arguing that those who possess child porn should not go to jail and instead other approaches should be used-- it would have been not much of a story. He argued that the viewing and possessing of child porn was a victimless activity. I think that is scandalous. How you respond to it is controversial and certainly open to discussion and an academic freedom. But arguing publicly that nobody gets hurt is ignorant, damaging and an unnecessary scandal. I well understand all the people that did not want to associate with him for that including former employers. This distinction is important enough that the line was drawn by him as well. He is currently backtracking on the victimless activity comment and pretending it was just a way of dealing with it response. This is a contradiction of his earlier comments that suggested there was nothing for other people to say about someone's choice in pictures as nobody gets hurt from that.

arielc

Tom Flanagan: Victim of his own mouth
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/touch/story.html?id=9729122

He told the audience that while he had “no sympathy for child molesters … I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures.”Critics of his position argued that even those who view child porn are criminals, because children are harmed in the making of the images.Flanagan writes in his book that child porn “is a great evil” that should carry penalties for those who produce and sell it. But he believes there might be better sanctions for those who possess the porn: probation, fines, community service, house arrest and mandatory therapy.However, he says he didn’t get a chance to explain himself

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