Censorship-Jock Sturges comes to Photo.net

Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by darrell_m, May 7, 2006.

  1. Most books on the subject of recent photographic history will mention Jock Sturges. Controversial yet highly exhibited and published (you will find 8 of his books listed on Amazon.com) he recently joined PN. An opportunity for us all to share the knowledge and expertise of an internationally renowned artist? Not really. He lasted less than a month before being asked to remove his images.
    The thread beneath his now missing portfolio makes fascinating reading. Whilst appreciating the difficult position Sturges's membership creates for the administrators I understand that in the USA he has Congressional clearance to exhibit his works in public and private galleries and so I am left wondering if a mechanism cannot be created to allow him to show his works on PN. It seems a spectactular own goal to lose the opportunity. A site called photo.net on which an internationally famous photographer is not allowed to exhibit? It's as if a pulitzer prize winner was turned away from a local library book club.
    This absurdity presents an opportunity to examine the wider issues of censorship on PN and to get a full understanding of just what is and is not permissable.
  2. To be quite honest I am not familar with Jock Sturges or his work. I did read Brian's email to Jock asking him to either remove the images in question or simply state that the nude models were above the age of 18. I don't see how that is an unreasonable request. Since photo . net is based in the U.S. it must adbide by U.S. law. If you have seen the news lately here in the U.S., you would know that child porn is a major issue that authorities are really cracking down on. I'm not saying that simply displaying nude images of a under age person is child porn, however, I'm sure some people do, including law makers and law enforcement. Now if a person wants to take nude photos of someone under age with the parent's permission, that's their prerogative. Once those images become public, it changes everything. Brian has a responsibility to this site and to the laws of the U.S.. I'm sure having photos from a well known photographer displayed on this site is not worth the risk of a prison sentence.
  3. Apparently the esteemed Mr. Sturges forgot to read the website's terms of use before he posted photos "In the case of images involving nudity, all the models must be over the age of eighteen at the time of the photo, including any individuals in the images who might not be nude themselves."
    As to the legality of nude photos, I am no lawyer but I would not want to gamble on any differences between federal law and the fairly strict state laws of Massachusetts where Photo.net is located. http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/272-29a.htm
    As a business enterprise the owners of Photo.net have a right to decide what they wish to publish. There is no issue of censorship or protected free speech.
  4. Speaking only for myself, I'd assume that photo.net does not wish to take on 1st ammendment crusades and does not want to set itself up as a target.

    The rules concening nudity here are very clear. No models under 18.

    I don't think any of Surges' work that I've seen (i.e. that published in books which are available in the US) is pornographic even if some of his subjects are under the age of 18. However this is the USA and you'd have to be brain damaged, have a pressing personal interest or have a very large amount of money for legal fees if you wanted to test this in court. Photo.net would not seem to qualify on any of those three grounds.

    Jock Sturges ended up fighting federal charges for 4 years. He's shown that he's not averse to taking and pubishing images which make him the target of federal authorities. Photo.net would be crazy to get dragged into such issues.
  5. Interesting episode. Thanks for posting it.
  6. I found many internet articles about Barnes & Noble bookstores being indicted in several states including Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia for selling one of Jock Sturges books. That may have been in 1988.

    Barnes and Noble is a big company with more high priced lawyers than OJ Simpson. Reasonable doubt is expensive and most of use would either be bankrupt, in jail, or both.
  7. Lannie Kelly said it best: "Freedom of expression belongs to the person who exercises it, but transferring the liabilities to others is not really all that thoughtful or courageous."
  8. Well I'm no lawyer either but this man's work is widely available in the public domain. As I say, there are several books available from Amazon-put out there by highly reputable publishing companies. I am not in the US so know nothing about the current climate regarding child pornography but, as far as I am aware, no one is suggesting Sturges work IS pornographic or illegal. Has anyone suggested the showing of his works on Photo.net would in any way be illegal? My understanding is that Sturges, along with Sally Mann and various other photographers who realise their works court certain dangers, have obtained legal clearances before displaying them.
  9. "as far as I am aware, no one is suggesting Sturges work IS pornographic or illegal."

    I would beg to differ. I will not make a judgement considering I have never seen his work, however, if you simply google his name, more often than not, you will read about his controversial photos regarded as child porn. One article even mentions a FBI investigation. "Not surprisingly, Sturges has faced legal threats throughout his career. In April 1990, FBI agents raided his studio, confiscated his equipment and work, and charged him with child pornography." http://www.dazereader.com/jocksturges.htm
  10. On Friday, I asked Jock to remove the images in his portfolio that involved nude models under the age of eighteen. These are not allowed under the Terms of Use of the site. Jock said in an email to me that he understood the need of the site for its rules, but that he didn't wish to "censor himself". Accordingly, he has decided to remove all images in his portfolio except one. I respect his decision and I regret that photo.net cannot host his portfolio.

    Jock Sturges is a photographer of considerable reputation. His images are featured in many books, as well as museum and gallery collections. Through his books and exhibitions, Jock has been able to remind some people that nude images of children must not automatically be classified as pornography. In the United States, that is a very difficult thing to do. I think he has done so with delicacy and restraint, although not without some considerable cost to himself.

    But on a public web site where anyone can upload images without prior review, there are too many who would claim to be pulling up next to Jock Sturges, but who would actually be charging past Jock, past any boundary of decency, and into the territory of child pornography. The site cannot permit that to happen, or to create even a hint of allowing it or condoning it. If all the portfolios on photo.net were curated onto the site, I might risk it (I'm not sure), but not when anyone can upload anything and we have to find it in order to remove it. I shudder to think of photo.net becoming a destination for people with a sick interest in these type of images.

    We have already seen what might unfold by looking at what happens on the site with images of adult nudes. There are many impressive portfolios of artistic nudes on this site. But we also must regularly delete pornographic images. Some people can't tell the difference. Others think that because photo.net permits images of nudes, that it must be a porn site. Others realize that the site doesn't permit pornography but upload it anyway because they are trolls trying to make trouble or trying to make a point about "censorship". And in between the images that most of our audience would agree are artistic and those that almost everyone would agree are pornography, there is a long slippery slope where there is perpetual disagreement. For the site, the issue is basically a no-win. There are many images in the boundary zone, where we will be criticized if we delete them, and criticized if we don't. In any case, the decision was made long ago that images of adult nudes are an artistic and photographic tradition and that photo.net would be open to them and that we would live with the consequences of having nudes on the site. Even so, it creates a lot of work and it remains an area of constant dispute.

    But we are not going to step anywhere near a similar slippery slope with images of child nudity, and there is not going to be any exploration on this site as to where the boundaries are with images of child nudes. This is an American site, and there are too many people in the United States for whom any nude image of a child is beyond the pale for us to be open in any way to child nudity. Some of those people are prepared to back up their views with subpoenas, federal indictments, felony convictions and prison terms. A debate where some of the participants are basically anonymous people on the Internet typing on their computers at home decrying censorship, and some of the people in the debate might end up going to jail if they misstep or misjudge -- that is not a debate we are going to have.

    That is why we have in the photo.net Terms of Use the requirement that the subjects in images involving nudity must be over the age of eighteen. Any image involving nudity where the subjects are between 4 years and 18 years old is simply not allowed on the site. When we find such images they will be removed, without any further consideration of whether they are pornographic, or artistic.

    I think Jock's portfolio was wonderful. I am more relieved than I can say that he has removed it.
  11. While I agree with the thrust of what you are saying, Darrell, the whims and caprices of prosecutors who play to the lowest common denominator must be taken into consideration. They are dangerous people, and these are dangerous times. I am a virtual absolutist on First Amendment questions, and I believe that the time of danger is exactly the time to show that one means what one says. Indeed, I have gotten into a lot of trouble over what I have said and written over the last few decades.

    One thing that I never do, however, is to ask others to take the hit for me when I decide to go out on a limb. If I say it and it gets me into trouble, then I am indeed the one who has chosen to take that risk. I do not believe in laying a guilt trip on those who do not share my passion or cause of the moment. They have their own battles to fight.

  12. Assuming, as some have said up there, that his work is widely available via other sources, would seem to make it much less of an issue if it was also on photo.net.
  13. Sturges' images may be hosted on servers which are located outside the United States; being able to see the images other places on the internet is not relevant to photo.net's potential legal risks for having them hosted here.
  14. A website treading close to the line would have to depend on acontributor's good judgement in the case of the uploading of images which are not screened by the website before they are posted.

    This link - http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2002-04-03/arts_visualarts.html - might suggest that in this case it's far better to err on the side of caution if a website wants to avoid problems.
  15. Does anyone have actual proof that the person claiming to be "Jock Sturges" actually is, in the real world, who he or she claimed to be? I'm gonna try to contact him tomorrow and find out.

    It just seems highly unlikely to me that as busy as the real Jock Sturges is that he'd have time to spend here.
  16. I respect Sturges' work, but I will repeat here what I said elsewhere: DON'T EXPECT OR DEMAND THAT BRIAN SHOULD GO TO JAIL FOR JOCK.

    When one speaks out or otherwise expresses oneself, then one incurs certain risks. It is far better to accept those risks than to tell others that they should take those risks along with oneself. Photo.net is not an abstract legal fiction. It is actual persons making decisions for which they could be legally accountable.

    Speaking out and publishing unpopular ideas are wonderful things. Sturges has published his books. He has that right. He has fought battles. I support him in those battles, but he has no right to expect Photo.net and its staff to fight his particular battles for him.

    One cannot fight every battle, and one certainly cannot fight all of everyone else's battles. Sturges has chosen his path. I affirm and respect his courage and his tenacity, but I stop short of condemning those who have their own battles to fight.

  17. Darrell M.

    Thank you for posting this item and starting this thread.

    John (Crosley)
  18. Maybe old Jock can just deposit some CD notes, his title to his car and house, to Photo.net in case Photo.net gets sued for underage porn. It is real easy to ask the other chap to be the fall guy. This is like asking a copy shop to do illegal work, folks dont have the balls to put part of their own hide on the line if caught, because they are weak or fools. Whine all you want, a business has the right to protect itself from reckless dumb immature folks. WHINING was once considered foolish and childish, a sign of lack of maturity. Jeepers the poor chap has some images removed that might have been illegal. How is this pouting "knowledge and expertise"; it seams more like a 2 year olds whine.
  19. It is wise of Photo.net's censors to ask for the proof of age of nude adolescent looking subjects; especially to somebody who was sort of charged by the FBI of child pornography in 1990. The case was thrown out. The porn sites ask for ages. Barnes & Noble got in hot water over the kiddie porn issue of his work too.
  20. Ellis, I believe it was Jock Sturges and not an imposter. He paid for a subscription with a credit card issued to that name.
  21. I think a lot of people are missing the point. The issue isn't really whether photo.net should support Jock Sturges and how risky that would be.

    The issue is that photo.net has a rule prohibiting the uploading of images involving child nudity, a rule which was contravened by some of the images in Jock's portfolio, apparently. We informed him of the rule and asked him to remove the images that violated it, and he decided to remove all the images except one. Should we have this rule or should we make an exception for Jock Sturges or other famous photographers?

    I don't think we should make exceptions to our rules for photographers who are famous. Most people will not read our Terms of Use; they will form their idea of what is acceptable on the site by what they see on the site. I don't think we can practically have one set of rules for "famous" photographers and a different set of rules for everybody else. If we tried it, we would constantly be having to explain to people that they aren't allowed to upload certain types of content even though they see that type of content in the portfolios of famous photographers on the site. Besides, people wouldn't think that it was fair for there to be one set of rules for famous photogaphers and another set of rules for them. They would be right. So if we have a rule about acceptable content, it should apply to everybody, celebrated photographer or beginner.

    As for whether we should have the rule against child nudity at all, I recognize that not all child nudity is pornography. One only has to look at Jock's works to see this. But the United States is a country where the majority of people seem to think that all images involving child nudity are beyond the pale. There is no convincing most Americans that there is such a thing as an "artistic" child nude.

    So it is very risky for us to allow people to upload images of child nudity. As Jock has experienced, we might very well find ourselves in expensive litigation, or even facing criminal charges. And I don't think things have calmed down in America since Jock faced the charges against him. On the contrary, fear of child pornography and pedophiles on the internet seems to have increased in America, and I think that makes people even less likely to countenance images involving child nudity than they were in the 1990's.

    We would face a substantial risk even if we could guarantee that every image involving child nudity was as restrained, as sensitive -- as artistic -- as Jock Sturges' images. But we can't even do that. photo.net is a site where anybody can upload anything without prior review. There is no telling what people would upload, but if our experience with adult nudes is any guide, it would run the gamut from sublime to disgusting, with a long slippery slope in between. If having "artistic" child nudes on the site wasn't risky enough, it would be a hundred times riskier situation for child pornography to be found on the site that had been uploaded without our knowledge, and it seemed to the authorities that we had invited the images and that we condoned them.

    Leaving aside the risk, I shudder at opening the door to some of what would be uploaded if people got the idea that photo.net was an "anything goes" place regarding child nudity, and I don't want anything to do with it. As much as I respect what I think Jock Sturges is trying to do, I would rather the site be inhospitable to Jock than leave a shred of doubt as to whether photo.net is hospitable to images that exploit children.

    So this isn't a rule that we are going to change, and there aren't going to be any exceptions.

    (Re-posted from discussion on Jock Sturges portfolio)
  22. Alexis Neel AKA Patrick Henry AKA John Adams AKA John Hancock, I think it is you that missed the point. When I referenced the FBI investigation, I was merely responding to Darrell's statement: "as far as I am aware, no one is suggesting Sturges work IS pornographic or illegal."

    Well, we know that at least some including the FBI thought his work was crossing the line. Again, I'm not going to make that judgement, but the fact of the matter is many other people have made that judgement. You have to admit that the topic of child nudity is a very controversial and heated issue. Lannie makes an excellent point. By Jock posting his images on this site, he makes this site and the owners and operators of this site liable. It would be a different issue if Jock posted his images on his own web site, but the fact is this is someone else's house and we all have to follow the house rules. I didn't read any complaints about the Terms of Use before Jock violated them so why complain now. Just because a famous photographer is asked to comply? Give me a break! We all have to play by the rules.
  23. Well, this looks awful dumb after Alexis AKA John Hancock's comments are deleted.
  24. Dear "John Hancock," no one here has convicted Jock Sturges. We all respect and admire his courage and tenacity. No one here believes that his nudes represent kiddy porn.

    Photo.net's resources are not as great as some persons think. If it manages to steer clear of litigation, it does well.

    Again an analogy is being drawn between a cybersite and books, on the one hand, and between real versus virtual galleries, on the other. Publishing in books and real galleries is one thing, but there are some unique problems with an open cybersite that arise by virtue of the fact that the site is an open site, that anyone can stumble into the critique forum.

    Unless the legal ramifications of that fact are kept firmly in mind, then this whole issue is not going to make a lot of sense.

    I think that some of the harshest and most strident critics of this decision have not even thought about the legal possibilities that could arise.

    Jock Sturges is a wealthy man. He can create is own site and publish there. He can form his own publishing company. Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one. He could own several.

    What he does not own is Photo.net. He didn't want to delete a very few photos and picked up his ball and left the playground.

    Don't forget: NO ONE MADE THE MAN LEAVE. That was his choice.

  25. I have carefully read the arguments made by the Administration and by its various critics who claim that somehow First Amendment Rights have been 'violated' in the process of its having asked Mr. Sturges to remove his images unless he vouches that his models are 'over 18' which they clearly were not. As a result, he removed them; they were in violation of the terms of service of Photo.net which every member agrees to.

    This is NOT a constitutional case.

    This is a matter of 'freedom' but freedoms can easily be proscribed; one can give up their maximum permissible freedoms simply by signing a paper or entering into any sort of agreement otherwise. The terms of service of PN constitute such an agreement. Mr. Sturges has violated them, was told of that, and removed all but one of his images.

    In the process, even the Administrator, Mottersfield, of Photo.net noted that Sturges's images were artistic and were not in any way pornographic.

    However, there is a climate of hysteria in the United States regarding the Internet and the exposition of images of nudity of those under 18 (even though sex with those as young as 16 is allowed in some states, according to a United Nations organization -- AVERT -- Nevada being one -- and somehow 18 has become a 'magic' age, denoting an age of 'majority' for revealing oneself and engaging in maximum legal sexual freedom).

    This site has stepped on no one's First Amendment rights. They are intact. They just cannot be exercised to the maximum on this site. This is a private site, open to many member of the public, so long as they follow the rules, which are pretty darned liberal. In fact many members complain periodically about that liberality.

    I recently parked my car across a major road, pointed my telephoto at two young girls walking and talking and snapped three of four very nice photos of them - their mothers far behind -- and with tall weeds on the background.

    Their mothers, seeing this, were absolutely certain I was a 'child molester' though nothing could be further from the truth. Sheriffs' were called and later I was stopped; embarrassed deputies pulled me over,asked for ID, and apologized for the 'inconvenience' after I told them I 'knew why they stopped me' having seen mommas with cell phones in their hands before I drove off slowly and even called out my name and purpose to them.

    Mine is a liberal, educated and knowledgeable community, and I have many pages of listings on Google.com and am well-known through my Photo.net work, and could refer the deputies to that (and their dispatcher may indeed have referred to that work), so the 'stop' was short and there were smiles all around, as deputies apologized for the inconvience (but there was also a 'watch commander' there, pulled in just behind the two sheriff patrol vehicles).

    This is an era of 'Amber Alerts' and hyperawareness of child molestation -- something that always has taken place, but needlessly was concealed from the public until recently. A (long-ago) high school woman friend who 'knew all' told me of all her girlfriends who had been 'molested' and I was aghast. Nothing ever happened to the molester in any of those cases.

    These days something does happen, and that's a good thing.

    But sometimes events swing like a pendulum -- too far in one or another direction and this pendulum of pandemonium over 'protecting' children is also sweeping in innocent photographers -- in part because those who 'molest' children also seem to have in many cases a pathology to photograph what they do, and also to view images of such molestation.

    So there we are, caught in the middle.

    We are common (or uncommon in the case of Jock Sturges) photographers who have an interest in developing or even perfecting our crafts, and what we do with regard to nudity and even sexuality is easily misunderstood.

    Few understand the high cost of litigation.

    I met a woman the other day who practiced law 20 years ago for a Los Angeles 'silk stocking' law firm and asked her the hourly rate at the time and was told $450.00 per hour. It's probably two or three times that now.

    Defending a criminal claim of child pornography through to the Supreme Court can eat up years and as many as ten thousand of more hours of legal time. Multiply that by up to or more than $1,000 an hour for skillfull, 'silk stocking' lawyers, capable and experienced in arguing such a case before a jury and before appeals courts -- and an appeal likely would precede a jury trial since there would be motions to dismiss which would turn on points of law that would be appealable over years as high as the U.S. Supreme Court even before a jury trial).

    Even huge organizations buckle under such costs.

    Photo.net is more a shoestring organization from all appearances.

    And it is a wonderful resource for all of us.

    While a part of me wants it to be a crusader -- to get on a white charger and defend all our rights against the hysterical who confuse us with the pedofiles and child pornographers, the realist in me recognizes that it takes an almost unlimited pocketbook to do that.

    The decision of Photo.net in the end was a relatively easy one and done with great grace.

    Mr. Sturges was complimented, informed of the Terms of Service, and asked to comply. He did not or could not and removed his images, perhaps as he expected. He is no stranger, it appears to controversy.

    The Photo.net site is a stranger to controversy.

    The huge expenses of litigation, absent some sponsor with very 'deep pockets' (who appears to be missing in this case) probably would financially sink Photo.net and deprive all us users of this great site.

    This action of the Administration is an action that is well within its rights, and it almost is demanded under the circumstances.

    It was the right decision under the circumstances -- no matter how much I wish it had the will and the resources to fight.

    I endorse Mr. Mottershead's grace and his good judgment in coming to a reasoned decision in this matter, and in his explaining his decision in a reasoned way.

    (I am unaware of previous 'banning' etc., and won't be drawn into previous discussions, arguments, etc. I DO post nude, semi-nude photos from time to time and have for a long time, although they are not the main focus of my work, and I value this site as a place for posting ALL of my work.)

    These are perilous times for 'freedoms' of many sorts, but I believe soon the 'pendulum' may begin to turn -- another U.S. election is forthcoming, and there may well be a sea change in 'power' as well as collective official 'reason'.

    Have patience.

    Time can be a great rewarder.

    John (Crosley)
  26. I enjoy it here and am pleased to learn our subscriptions aren't in any danger of being wasted on unnecessary legal fees.
  27. Touchee, Seven.

    John (Crosley)
  28. John Crosley wrote: "It was the right decision under the circumstances -- no matter how much I wish it [Photo.net] had the will and the resources to fight."

    I agree, and this is the terrible dilemma in a case like this. Brian Mottershead is a Harvard-educated intellectual in the best tradition of free expression, but there are practical limits to the power of an administrator in these kinds of cases, no matter what his or her background and convictions.

    I have the same ethical dilemma as a social theorist, but IN THIS SETTING OF PHOTO.NET I am without the practical responsibility of seeing to it that the site continues to function, and I am totally free of worrying about the prospect of being sued or criminally indicted for what is allowed on the site.

    I happen to be a near absolutist on First Amendment freedoms. My champion is William O. Douglas. Would that nine persons of his ilk were on the High Court! I also agree with Alexander Meiklejohn that the "Clear and Present Danger" doctrine of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was a very inept way of dealing with the issue of the abuse of free speech. "The time of danger," said Meiklejohn, "is exactly the same to show people that you mean what you say." So far, so good. We should continue to speak and to publish, that is, guided by our own internal lights, not the law, not administrative regulations.

    Jock Sturges has done that, and most of applaud his artistic integrity and do not doubt for a moment the purity of his artistic vision. The issue presently confronting the site, however, is not what Jock Sturges or Edward Weston should do or should have done. We who are champions of free expression agree that they should publish and should have published what they see or saw as valid.

    It is indeed painful to watch someone such as Sturges have to brave these waters alone, in the same way that it is painful to read that Weston lived in constant worry that he would run afoul of the Feds if one simple pubic hair were visible in the prints that he sent via the U.S. Mail.

    We have indeed come a ways since those days on the issue of the artistic expression of nudity in general, at the same time that we have not in the United States come nearly far enough in overcoming the suffocating forces of reaction and prudishness in general. For the extreme right, being able to interject "children's rights" into the legal/political arena is a godsend for their often misbegotten causes. It gives them the apparent high ground, and they are abusing it.

    They must indeed be resisted, and we as individuals must do what we can to take the high ground back from the fundamentalist hysterics who violate their own principle of "the [theoretical] Separation of Church and State."

    Enter Photo.net as an incarnation of the liberal mindset of Philip Greenspun, who has passed the torch on to another generation of administrators. With the rise of the internet, a collision over these issues of social mores was unavoidable.

    We want such persons as Greenspun and Mottershead to champion the principles of artistic free expression that most of us believe in. We justifiably chafe when the site becomes too restrictive on censorship questions, which it does from time to time. We shall continue to search about for the fine line on difficult questions, and, no, it will not be intellectually satisfying or edifying to hear private property arguments advanced as a way of escaping the conflict. We typically do check our First Amendment freedoms at the door when we enter our workplaces in this culture, for this is a capitalist culture, and this fact is enough to make us doubt how much this culture at its very foundation is indeed committed to First Amendment freedoms. We also do well to remember that the framers of the Constitution included no language regarding rights in the draft that they sent out for ratification. It was the people, and rightly so, who insisted that the political-economic document written in the summer of 1787 should have some protection of individual liberties.

    Enter the Religious Right as an increasing force throughout the last years of the twentieth century and into the early years of the twenty-first. No, we do not intend to let them bully us. No, we do not intend to let them set our artistic and political and moral agendas in any realm.

    Given all that, is it fair to demand that others be the ones who incur all the risks, including the administrators of Photo.net? Does anyone seriously envy Brian and cohorts when they found out that Sturges was on the site, given that he has become a lightning rod for the extreme right? It is one thing to champion free expression in the abstract. Talk is cheap. What does one do when the chips are down and the issue--and the law and its ambitious prosecutors--stare one in the face?

    Again, in the best of all possible worlds, the site administrators would have said "Welcome!" and that would have been the end of it.

    The responsibility for administering this site is huge, however, and the burdens of trying to strike a reasonable balance during this era of right-wing extremist hysteria must be crushing for Brian and others. I have not agreed with Brian or anyone else on every point involving censorship. The simple fact, however, is that this is NOT the same issue as to whether or not Sylvie Lueders or Dave McCracken or someone else may post freely here, without any interference whatsoever from the site administration, although the issues are related.

    The biggest difference is that this issue as a national issue has been turning more and more on the question of the exploitation of minors. Once the issue of the rights of children is brought in, then in both scope and intensity this firestorm of reaction seems to match the Red Scare of the McCarthy era in the early 1950s. There the comparison stops. There has been no McCarthyite purge. The reactionary right continues to pose a massive threat in a number of areas, and no simple strategy for dealing with them avails itself, but so far they have been more of a harassing and worrisome force, not destroyers of careers, at least not on the scope of Senator Joe McCarthy and his own fellow travelers.

    So what do "we" do? Well, first of all, what do we mean "we"? I am frankly relieved that someone else beside myself has been willing to make this call. I am relieved that I can plunk down twenty-five dollars a year, fifty cents a week, and post my non-controversial pictures without having to resolve the practical day-to-day issues and problems. I can walk away from the fray here anytime and go try to publish my next book--no pictures, just ideas that make some people want to explode. But, hey, that is my battleground. Photo.net for me is a playground, and I can walk in and out at will, no worries.

    Meanwhile the administrators of Photo.net are in the eye of this particular storm. What should they do? Before you answer, ask yourself what you would do if you were in their shoes, and, if you are honest with yourself, you will have to admit that you are very, very glad that you are not in their shoes.

    You, like myself, can turn off the machine and walk away from this issue. They cannot. I am going to turn off the machine now and grade some exams and turn in some grades.

    Life is good. Freedom is cheap. Let the other guy bear the burden. Yes, there is hypocrisy, but this time it is not coming from the site administration.

  29. Alexis Neel AKA Patrick Henry AKA John Adams AKA John Hancock ? oh really.........LOL he needs his account pulled
  30. Let me start by saying that I am not here to defend Jock Sturges (I don't think he needs to be defended) nor do I feel sorry for him over his past legal problems. He knowingly made the choice to pursue such a controversial area and all the implications that go with it. Having said that, I do take issue with those of you who automatically assume that what he is doing is illegal. Will King has pointed out several times about the FBI accusing Mr. Sturges of child pornography but what he has failed to mentioned is that a grand jury threw out the charges. Will, with all do respect, it's very dangerous and completely unfair to present only part of the story. Lannie, it seems you have implied several times that Mr. Sturges' work is unlawful and might cause legal problems for PN. That is not for either you or me to say, but the U.S. court system has already decided the matter and they said his work is not illegal. Based on what Brian Mottershead has said, it does not seem that his concern is over possible legal consequences specifically related to Mr. Sturges work, but rather the precedent it might set for others posting their work on PN - perhaps a reasonable concern. Lannie, you also seem to have implied that Mr. Sturges was somehow testing the waters by posting his photos on PN and maybe because he's so wealthy (don't know how you arrived at that conclusion) he should set up his own website. If you knew anything about him, you would know that the waters have been well tested - legally and otherwise. I believe his reason for coming to PN was a genuine effort and extremely unselfish act to share his vast photographic experience and knowledge with other photographers who are earlier in their careers. This was a gift that many of you don't seem to recognize or value. Please, read his commentaries and critiques while they're still posted. Brian Mottershead, I respect your right to set rules for PN and enforce them - uniformly. I do take issue with your statement that they are applied uniformly and that "famous" people are not going to receive special treatment. I think that Jock Sturges has received "special treatment" in the form of closer scrutiny than anyone else because of his high profile status. It didn't take you long (a matter of a few weeks) to zero in on him, yet I have found example after example of photos that have been posted and continue to be posted that violate your rules. As a matter of fact, there is one that I will attach that was posted about 2-1/2 years ago of a bare-breasted little girl that I found in about 30 seconds - if I can find it, certainly you should be able to find it as well. I can understand some photos slipping under the radar, but the discussion (very controversial) on this particular image has been ongoing for 2-1/2 years! I find it difficult to believe that you weren't aware of it. However, what I would like to think is that you have been aware of it and used good common sense judgement to decide that it is not problematic and the discussion is healthy. I suspect by attaching it here, you will quickly track it down and delete it only because I have brought it to everyone's attention. For that, I apoligize in advance to the artist who made the photo (I don't want to mention his name). There are many others as I've said. Actually, I posted one a number of months ago and never in a million years would have thought my photo violated some rule that you have. I will attach it here as well. It's of a little girl walking by an old car without a shirt on. She's maybe 8 or 9 years old. The photo was taken in the tropics and as most people know, the closer you get to the equator, the fewer clothes you wear. How in the world could this image be problematic for anyone? Yet, by strict interpretation, it violates your rules. It was in my portfolio for several months, but I removed it as well as all others. If common sense doesn't make its way to the surface soon, we will have nothing but peopleless boring photographs. Forget about taking a camera to the beach or to Africa or to the tropics. And, cancel your subscription to National Geographic. As I said in a previous post, this entire incident with Jock Sturges is unfortunate. It is unfortunate not becuase his photos are no longer on PN, but because we have all lost his candid and thoughtful commentary. I strongly recommend that all who have express an interest in this topic, regardless of whether you care for his work or not, to please read the numerous comments he made regarding other photographers' work. It is so rare to get this kind of input and just like that, it's gone. Very unfortunate.
  31. Here's the other photo I mentioned in my previous post ... I guess you can only attach one at a time.
  32. "...the U.S. court system has already decided the matter and they said his work is not illegal."

    No, there's no blanket finding regarding his work just because he's Jock Sturges. There's nothing to prevent a prosecutor from filing new charges against other works of his.

    Mr. Kelly has it right. Anyone wanting to do battle with the government can do so. However, they don't have the right to drag unwilling others to the front.
  33. When I grew up in the Great Pacific Northwest, there were roadside signs in a very large number of backwoods communities -- usually in very rural areas, and they almost always appeared 'homemade' and all invariably said something on the order of 'Impeach Justice [William] Douglas' -- he was universally reviled for his absolutist views of 'freedom of speech and expression'. There were would-be censors everywhere, and they were not only vocal, but very active.

    Justice Douglas was an absolutist of his own kind on the issue of freedom of speech and expression where it did not intersect other rights.

    He contended that it was up to the individual to look or not look at what was presented to him/her, and while I am sure he was personally revolted by much of what was presented before the High Court, he invariably voted against adults depicting adults, no matter what the consensual conduct.

    I am sure he would have (and probably did, since I have not reread his opinions for some very long time) prevented public exhibition of certain graphic images in public places -- one of the issues of the times was whether 'porno' films could be shown at drive-in theatres, -- and the issue was where the 'freedom of expression' intersected with the rights of families to be free of offensive images in their front and back yards, and as they drove down their roads or worked their fields with their children.

    Zoning laws were implemented to restrict x-rated displays, and perhaps rightly so. Rights sometimes intersect and balancing those rights requires sometimes that one or another right be curtailed, though as little as possible in my view.

    Landrum Kelley has written about the dilemma in which the Administration has found itself, and I congratulate himself for writing so clearly, passionately and thoroughly.

    I had an ex-father-in-law at one time who gave me some clear advice about gun ownership. He wanted me to buy a great big gun for 'self-protection', and I suggested that if I really had to own a gun that a .22 would be sufficient.

    He said to me 'John, if you are going to get into a fight, you need something that will be guaranteed to win it, otherwise they're gonna bury you.' He said a .22 had no 'stopping power' and would allow a foe to overpower me. (In the end I didn't buy any gun and remained gunless, but his words stayed with me.)

    Don't buy into a fight unless you're willing to fight with all you've got to the end, and you're committed to fight.

    Photo.net finds itself in a precarious position.

    Fighting the foreseeable battle that inevitably will arise if it continues to display the (non-pornographic) images of Jock Sturges almost certainly will lead to a fight, and it appears that Photo.net only has a pop-gun for a warchest, and that warchest will be quickly exhausted by assaults from the far right -- from ambitious publicity-hound prosecutors in various backwaters who are seeking re-election, as well as citizen groups seeking membership dues and contributins.

    And Photo.net, with its $25.00 a year fee, (somewhat optional, though not quite), is hardly financially capable of taking on such a fight.

    A substantial but minority part of the membership is comprised of non-US members for whom fighting US authorities may seem parochial, and outside the scope of what they wish to sponsor; invariably the dues would have to rise -- probably by several times at least -- and paid membership inevitably would dwindle as legal battles ate up increased membeship fees. The site would suffer, if it could survive at all.

    Probably it would not survive.

    It is always good judgment to pick one's fights where one can do so.

    This issue potentially has all the earmarks of a U.S. Supreme Court case, and any outcome involving claims of 'pornography' and 'child pornography' is no longer so certain as it once might have been, now that the Court has been 'packed' with conservatives, and it may be 'packed' even moreso in the future before the present Administration is out of office.

    It is possible that this 'neo-conservative' President may be followed by another like-minded President, and that the Court will take a hard right turn (if it has not already).

    Thus, no one can predict with much certainty how Justices like Scalia, Thomas and any others of their ilk might rule of they had the majority in a case involving PN and Mr. Sturges or any other, similar issues of censorship versus free speech/freedom of expression.

    Moreover, cases take years to come before the Court -- a decade or more sometimes -- and much can happen Anyone who makes prognostications about the outcome of any case that might come before a future Supreme Court is showing his/her foolishness; there are no longer any 'sure bets' in this particular area of 'freedom of expression'.

    Landrum Kelley has written brilliantly for which I congratulate him, and he has seen that the site has made the correct decision, as regrettable as it appears.

    In the end, Brian Mottershead made the correct (and only proper) decision under the circumstances.


    John (Crosley)
  34. To Peter Singhofen: We still allow images of nude children under the age of four, and it was only recently that we made the terms specific regarding this lower age limit. Before that we didn't bother with images of very young children, up to six or seven, or so, worrying more about images of prepubescent and adolescent children. We left the definition of "young" vague.

    Personally I think people are nuts if they see wrong in pictures of very young children, and I can't help but think that they might be a bit sick to find such images shocking. Maybe it is because I lived for years in France, where females of all ages are routinely topless on the beach, young children are often naked, and nobody thinks a thing of it. But people in the United States are getting more and more hysterical on this issue. I'm fifty years old, and I can't recall that attitudes were like this in the U.S. thirty years ago. Pretty soon people will face charges if they are found in possession of images of their own babies in the bathtub. In fact, from time to time, one reads of fathers being turned in to the police by overzealous photo processing clerks for precisely that.

    Regarding the images you point out, I never noticed your image when it was on the site. As for the other one, now that you have posted it, I do recall it, but I had forgotten it. You are apparently very impressed by my omniscience concerning what is uploaded to the site. I am sorry to disillusion you, but I have not examined all of the few million images that we have on the site. I don't even make an effort to review all the images, and I don't have a photographic recall of the large numbers of images that I have seen. Images come to my attention because from time to time I like to look at the TRP, the same as everyone else, or because something draws my attention to an image.

    There may well be inconsistency in the application of our rules. This is not because we have different sets of rules for different people on the site. It is because we don't review all the photos on the site and there are many images that we don't know about. It may come as a surprise to you that controversies can rage for years in the Gallery without my knowing about it. I spend most of my time not as a visitor to this site but behind the scenes tweaking the hardware and the software, dealing with advertisers, etc, etc.

    You didn't mention this, but another common theme is that we only delete images by way of knuckling under to complaints. The fact is that we remove images that violate our Terms of Use when we see them. Many times, it is debatable and we think about it for a while, or wait to see how the portfolio develops, and what else the person uploads. Much of the time, the photographer's reaction to having a photo deleted is to complain about someone else's portfolio that is similar and to demand to know why he/she is being singled out. The response is then to delete that other portfolio. Actually, people complaining about our hypocrisy and inconsistency are among our most reliable sources of information about images that are violating the Terms of Use.

    So you are wrong about the reasons for the inconsistency, but don't let that stop you from reporting it -- I mean pointing it out.
  35. Peter, I meant no disrepect for Jock or any of his admirers. When I mentioned the FBI investigation, I was merely repsonding to Darrell's comment when he stated : "as far as I am aware, no one is suggesting Sturges work IS pornographic or illegal."

    Well, we all know that Darrell's statement is not true, is it? I'm not accussing anyone of anything. I was simply stating a fact. I really don't see what the big deal is here. Photo . net has a policy that is available for everyone to read. Brian has already stated that there will be no expcetions so why are people making a big deal over this? If it were some Joe off the street that was asked to remove his photos, would we be having the same discussion? I think not. Why wasn't anynone crying censorship for the 5 years that photo . net has had this policy. Now that a famous photographer is affected, it's an issue?
  36. This is a private site, it doesn't belong to its members and none of us have the right to complain about decisions taken by the administrators.

    If we don't like the decisions we have the option of opening our own site and doing things differently.

    I'm very sure that if I was the administrator here I'd do many things differently - but I'm also sure that my decision in this case would have been no different.

    I wonder how many of the people who scream 'censorship' would keep their 'artistic ingegrity' if the decision was theirs to make?
  37. Brian,

    I hope my comments aren't coming across as mean-spirited because that is not my intent.

    You have answered a few of my questions, thank you.

    First, you were aware of the first image I posted and it seems you did give it some thought and used good and reasonable judgement in leaving it posted. You are incorrect in thinking that I think you examine every picture that is posted. As I said, I can easily understand photos passing under the radar, but it is hard to believe that the first photo I pointed out went unnoticed and that there were no complaints given the lengthy and controversial discussion - but anything is possible.

    Second, you react to complaints which is what I suspected. That's understandable I suppose, but it does make me wonder about your statement in applying the rules to everyone without exception.

    The reason I posted the second photo was not to give you an example of how "one got by" but moreso how ridiculous this could all become if you truly did what you said - apply the rules with no exceptions. There are exceptions and it seems like maybe there is some room for applying good judgement - I hope so. That good judgement is entirely PN's call and I respect that and that's the way it should be. But, it's just unfortunate that sometimes the baby gets thrown out with the bath water.
  38. Peter, those are beautiful pictures. Surely only a madman could have trouble with such wonderful and perfectly innocent portrayals of young children. (I frankly have the same view with regard to Jock Sturges' work.)

    For the record (and it is a minor point), I don't believe that my views imply any of the things that you infer. Perhaps it would be better to stick to what persons say than make inferences about possible implications.

    As for the issue at hand, I am glad--and almost astonished--that rationality has generally prevailed on this issue, which got quite a rash of responses late last night. The issues are not settled, but we have a course to find and follow, and the administration is trying to lead us through some uncharted waters.

    Anyone else care to take the helm?

  39. for Will King:

    Will, I know you didn't mean any disrespect for Jock Sturges. It's just when a person points out only part of the story, it just fans the flame, that's all. And I hope it didn't seem like I was taking a shot at you - if it did, I apologize.

    For me, it's not so much the censorship that bothers me. It's the fact that Jock's wealth of experience and knowledge is lost to PN. I think we all could have benefited from it. Again, if you read his various commentaries maybe you'll understand what I mean.
  40. Peter, no offense taken and it was my fault for only mentioning half the story. I was only trying to make a point to Darrell and not trying to make Jock look bad. As far as Jock's knowledge being lost, he was asked only to remove certain photos, not to leave PN. Maybe he will see how many people came to his defense and decide to stay and offer his expertise.
    Best regards,
  41. The right way to think about it is that the rules apply to everybody but that does not necessarily mean that they have actually been applied (yet) to everyone to whom they should be applied. The reason is generally that a photo that would trigger the application of a rule may not have been noticed.

    Also, many of the rules require judgement, and the people exercsing judgement may not always be consistent with one another or even with themselves over time. For a rule like the "no child nudes" rule, which in its current form is quite objective and specific, judgement is still required in determining the ages or in whether the photographer should be queried concerning the ages. Judgement is also required in deciding what to do about images that were uploaded when the rule was not as specific as it is now.
  42. Lannie,

    It seems like in a post under Jock's portfolio that you referred to his work as "unlawful", but I don't see it now so perhaps I am mistaken. It was that plus statements like:

    "I respect Sturges' work, but I will repeat here what I said elsewhere: DON'T EXPECT OR DEMAND THAT BRIAN SHOULD GO TO JAIL FOR JOCK." <your emphasis>

    that give the impression that it's a foregone conclusion that his work is illegal. I understand your point now after your last clarification. Thanks.
  43. To Brian

    My respect for your decision Brian. As it is, children in many countries are exploited for the sex industry . I think that we as adults have to do what we can to protect children, and art, even the best, needs red lines.There is a tendency to close an eye when the person is famous. I appreciate your decision to stick to the rules in this case. I speak in general terms as I'm not familiar with his work.
  44. mg


    "This entire incident with Jock Sturges is unfortunate. It is unfortunate not becuase his photos are no longer on PN, but because we have all lost his candid and thoughtful commentary. I strongly recommend that all who have express an interest in this topic, regardless of whether you care for his work or not, to please read the numerous comments he made regarding other photographers' work. It is so rare to get this kind of input and just like that, it's gone. Very unfortunate." - Peter Sibghofen.

    This is exactly what I think as well. I read all of Jock Sturges comments on PNet, and they were truly priceless material, the kind of material I think PNet should strive to get IN, no matter how, rather than pushing it OUT.

    As a side-note, I hadn't seen much of Jock Strudges' work - and none on this site - till today. But the pictures of his, that I could see so far were really wonderful, and had strictly nothing to do with child pornography in my (French) opinion.

    That said, I do also understand the fact that PNet wouldn't want to have some sick viewer launching a court case against the site. So I agree that protecting the site from all bad legal issues is one of Brian's main responsabilities.

    So here is my suggestion: could we perhaps HOPE, in a way or another, to get Mr. Jock Sturges back on the site ?

    I know, and I fully understand, that his reaction was to delete ALL his works, although he was just asked to delete SOME of his works. Many if not all passionate photographers would have done the same.

    I am hoping nevertheless, that things could perhaps be talked out.

    After all, I think we were all glad to have him here, right ? I'm no lawyer, but if I'm not mistaken, Sam M-M is an administrator on this site AND a lawyer... Did PNet try to see with Sam whether there would be a way or another to simply protect the site WITHOUT losing Jock Strudges. Maybe Jock Sturges could accept in written the full legal responsability of the works he would post here, in case of a law suit ? Or... I don't know, but a lawyer should know...

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I imagine some sort of an arrangement could perhaps be found this way...? Yes, no...?

    At any rate, I'd really like Photo.net to consider what we all just lost, and to find a solution if there is one. As a side-note, I personally asked PNet for Mr. Strudges' email address today, and the address is now "gone.com".

    I do hope that photo.net can still write to Mr. Strudges, and that things are not irreversible. Again, it's not just about the very moving pictures he takes, but also about the real in-depth understanding of photography displayed in each of his past comments. This is too great a loss, and I hope photo.net will still try to resolve this issue.

    Finally, if anyone has Mr. Strugres' email address, I'd really appreciate if he could email it to me. Regards.
  45. I hope, as many of you probably do as well, that this will be my last comment on this matter and then I shall return to my little world. There have been several folks that have suggested that Jock could have simply deleted the controversial images and stuck around. I don't know Jock Sturges personally, but he seems to be a man of high principals and has spent the past 3 decades or so doing what he does and fighting for the right to do it. To simply agree that there is something morally wrong with half of his life's work is, well, it's like saying you can live in my neighborhood if you get rid of half your kids. It ain't going to happen.

    Take care all
  46. I must admit I was surprised to see some of the photos last more than a day or two. As many others have said, there was nothing indecent about the pictures. Even I can understand why many people were uncomfortable with the images. With that in mind I would like to say, I do like the ability of a photograph to generate a debate and for that reason, if no other, it is sad to see them gone. It is interesting that Brian 'asked' Jock to remove his pictures. I wish he had done the same with me. I would have uploaded a 'blank' image so that the debate could have been left for all to see and anyone wishing to see the photograph to which the debate pertained, could have emailed me.
  47. Many Photo.net members including some shown on this thread, have there own internet websites and galleries. Perhaps those who feel strongly about Jock Sturges should offer to host some of his images on their sites.

    I think that Brian Mottershead should be commended for holding his ground and not bowing to celebrity pressure.
  48. Marc sent on a note to me, so let me chime in - I'm not an admin, just another poster like others, but am a lawyer and do have some knowledge of the issues. None of this is legal advice (yes, the standard disclaimer), because if it were I'd have to be even more conservative and cautious than I'll be (occupational hazard).

    I think Brian is right to do his best to apply the rules as they are set up, and as everyone agrees to follow when they sign up, but I would point out a couple issues in this area: one is that Jock is someone who actually thrives on controversary, and most of the law enforcement types who push the idea that work like Jock's could be porn are themselves people who thrive on controversary, so the day Jock shows up and starts posting is probably exactly the day the rules were written to protect against. I suspect he'd love a good forum to fight the good fight. But whatever forum does that will take on risk and expense.

    Jock has made a point, and the image he has left is a wonderful metaphor that we should all view as driving home that point. It's a point that I don't view as being just about photo.net and its management, but most accutely focused at the broader internet society we live in. As long as those law enforcement officials have the backing of significant constituencies, web sites like photo.net are going to need to be sensitive to the risks of prosecution by every jurisdiction the internet reaches - whether Iran, Ireland, or Alabama. And since those prosecutors have criminal as well as civil power, the risk is not just monetary.

    That having been said, I wish Jock would leave a link to his home site from here, so those interested in his work could find it more easily. It does appear some of it is exhibited at the Koch Gallery online, and not that difficult to find.
  49. Marc G.

    I am no longer practicing law, but I have a very well-grounded and fundamental understanding of American common law. I am a law graduate, cum laude, and passed the the most rigorous bar in America on the first try a very long time ago. (But I haven't practiced for a long time and am not currently practicing, however from time to time, I advise young attorneys -- and even experienced ones -- as they enter practice in certain fields on how to practice litigation and certain other fields.)

    One applicable concept is that of joint and several responsibility, another is the concept of non-delegability and non-assignabilility of obligations as regards other persons and entities, and finally there is the concept of 'deep pockets' which is a practical rule (not a legal rule), which all add up to defeat your expressed wishes and hopes of 'working out' something legally, that would relieve the site of responsibility for posting Mr. Sturges's images. (which I believe you are suggesting).

    If Mr. Sturges were to produce and post an image and be accused of posting a pornographic image, then regardless of any private agreement between Photo.net and Mr. Sturges, that agreement would not be binding on private parties or public prosecutors.

    That would be true civilly and criminally -- one cannot privately divvy up the responsibility for obligation to third parties by limiting the rights of third parties to bring claims to one person/entity or another.

    Parties CAN make deals about who is to pay for lawyers and any monetary judgments, but enforcing those agreements is problematic.

    The limitation that Photo.net and Sturges cannot tell third party prosecutors and attorneys that they are limited to bringing claims against Sturges only is not to be confused with so-called 'indemnification agreements' in which one party agrees to pay for the other party's costs and expenses should some action be started, but should a criminal action be commenced, Mr. Sturges could not say 'I agreed to take responsibility and Mr. Mottershead is immune and cannot be accused because we agreed I (Sturges) would solely be responsible - and the same civilly.'

    And were a prosecution to be successful against Mr. Mottershead, Mr. Mottershead could not force the prosecutor only to prosecute Mr. Sturges, and in the event of a conviction (however likely or unlikely) Mr. Mottershead cannot force the 'state' to only punish/imprison Mr. Sturges and let him go free, based on such an agreement. To suggest otherwise is wishful thinking.

    It just is impossible under American law.

    Now under 'side agreements' or so-called agreements under which one party agrees to defend and pay claims (indemnity claims), if PN suffers a financial loss, or is forced to 'defend' claims, Photo.net can agree with Mr. Sturges that Mr. Sturges undertake the defense and pay any claims that prevail against the site, but enforcement presents a great problem.

    (That ignores the virtual certainty that all claims will be brought against the site AND Mr. Sturges together, almost certainly, and neither party can make any agreement privately to affect that).

    Further, if Mr. Sturges were to renege on any agreement to pay for attorney fees and pay any judment and/or fines against the site (if that were even lawful, which may be doubtful) that leaves the site out in the cold; perhaps Sturges dies, gets incapacitated, goes insolvent or bankrupt, simply runs out of money, his attorneys are stupid or don't file papers in time, he ignores his responsibilites -- or even contests the agreement.

    PN then is hung out to dry.

    It's not a pretty picture. (excuse the pun)

    No one party can delegate to another party responsbility for claims made by another party against them.

    An analogy: If you sign on a credit card, and your non-signing spouse runs up charges on that credit card to the limit, you then get divorced, and in the divorce decree the spouse is ordered to pay the credit card bill, that does not relieve the card holder of responsibility to the credit card company -- if the payments from the spouse stop, the credit card can and almost certainly will come against the holder and signer of the credit card agreement (who doubtless has better credit and more money) -- no matter what a judge ordered the other spouse to pay.

    Side agreements between the two, even if court-approved, don't affect the rights of the credit card company. Perhaps that analogy will explain PN's position regarding such side agreements as relates to claims that might be made, if it attempts to deal with Mr. Sturges and 'lay off' responsibility to Mr. Sturges. Such ageements are literally so fraught with problems that they are problematic at best and almost impossible to implement.

    Complicating matters it appears that Mr. Sturges is a non-resident but Mr. Mottershead is a Mass. resident and Luminal Path Corp. is a US Corporation. Both are likely targets, AS WELL AS Mr. Sturges.

    Any good lawyer or prosecutor names as many defendants as he/she can name, and lets them sort it out later. They hope to turn one side agains the other in exchange for 'concessions' -- to make a 'deal'.

    The result: chaos and countless legal fees.

    Finally, despite the assertion that Mr. Sturges is quite wealthy, I don't personally know that, but I do know that PN's finances are quite public or at least publicly findable whereas it appears Mr. Sturges may be a European resident, and who knows how to trace his finances?

    If there is any scramble for money to pay penalties such as fines or judgments, guess who/what has what are known as 'deep pockets' -- Photo.net of course, because it's there, it's visible, its finances are easily found it and its money flow is easily tapped.

    Mr. Sturges' finances are more problematic, and probably being 'offshore', would be more protected and harder to get at (if indeed they are offshore).

    (This makes certain assumptions that may not be true, in order to make certain points).

    I no longer practice law, but I practiced for over a decade and a half, and this lay discussion of the law does come from a law graduate who engaged in the busy practice of taking other people's money (and occasionally defending those whose money was sought).

    Certain things are fundamental, and I believe that when and if Sam M-M weighs in, he will tend to ratify the gist of this post.

    If not, I ask him, or anyone else with superior knowledge to correct it.

    This is meant for general informational purposes only; not a legal opinion, but there are some 'general principles of American law' which are pretty fundamental regarding litigation, and I'd be incredibly surprised if any substantial part of this were in error.

    John (Crosley)

    (no longer practicing -- for general argument purposes only -- not a legal opinion)
  50. John's exactly right - when the elephants fight, the blades of grass suffer.

    And in this case, it's both civil and criminal liability that are involved.

    I think Jock understands this, and suspect he has learned it the very very hard way. He was both clear and polite in his departing email.
  51. From personal experience, if I give a passenger a ride in my car and don't know that the passenger is a snow princess delivering coke, I could be forced to forfeit my car to the police. Many years ago, it was the very worst nightmare of my life.

    A business owner (Photo.net and Luminal Path) could just as easily lose thier computer equipment if unknowingly, somebody started posting images that an overzealous prosecuter decided were illegal. The legal fight would be tens of thousands of dollars.
  52. Thanks to everyone for their comments, Lannie, John, and Sam, especially.

    I would just like to underscore that last point by Sam. Mr Sturges was very gentlemanly in his exchange of emails with me, and he reacted to my request in a very polite way. I would not like to see this thread devolve into Jock-bashing. (I'm glad that it hasn't so far.)

    My actions in this episode have nothing to do with my opinion of Mr Sturges or his work, and entirely to do with photo.net's policies concerning what is appropriate content for the site, and our intent to apply those policies uniformly.
  53. The reason for Mr. Sturges' departure from PN has been clearly explained (Thanks, Brian!). He seems to have been very reasonable, if not gracious regarding the situation. Before this thread degenerates into something ugly (probably inevitable), why not just shut it down? Not delete it, mind you, but simply block any further posts.

    Just a thought.
  54. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bob Atkins and I both used to work for AT&T/Lucent back in the 1990's. About 10 years ago when the web was still fairly new to most people, AT&T hired an outside firm to block internet access to certain "inappropriate" web sites from inside the company. Both Bob and I recall that for a while, like several weeks, photo.net was black listed. When we tried to access it from AT&T, it would display a large warning sign. Apparently the problem was nude images on photo.net.

    I can certainly see why Brian does not want photo.net to become a "controversal" photo site, regardless of what your opinion of Jock Sturges' work may be. Jock Sturges posted Brian's e-mail requesting him to remove the under-18 images in his portfolio. IMO both sides handled it very professionally, although it is unfortunate that Sturges chose not to participate in photo.her altogether.
  55. Lines are drawn. They have to be but we also have to ask why we are drawing the lines at particular places. On PN it seems one line is drawn at Jock Sturges. This thread gives a fair indication of the reasons why and they all have little or nothing to do with photography. The political climate, fear of litigation, fear of perverts thinking PN is inviting them to participate, are all cited as reasons. Yet a website called photo.net presumably wishes to support the photographic arts. Art, at least the very best art, explicity pushes at accepted boundaries. That remains one of its fundamental purposes. So, what are we going to do about Jock Sturges?
    Whilst I appreciate Brian's detailed answer and fully grasp the extent of his regret for the action he has felt obliged to carry out I think it's important to examine one assertion he makes. I quote-'there are too many who would claim to be pulling up next to Jock Sturges, but who would actually be charging past Jock, past any boundary of decency, and into the territory of child pornography.' 'I shudder at opening the door' It is difficult to consider this assertion without quickly wondering how far away from the door we need to stand. If we accept Brian's thought as a basis for exclusion of particular images we could quite logically ban everything. Unfortunately I am reminded of the exasperated reactions of christian fundamentalists to homosexual marriage. 'What next?' they call in protesting voices. 'Weddings for animals. For children.'
    However, I type this in the south of France, right next to one of those beaches Brian talks about. I write as someone with no substantial stakes in the outcome and as such I fully respect whatever decision those who would pay the price come to. Today I sit on the beach decrying censorship and tomorrow Brian, champion of free speech and staunch supporter of controversial art, finds himself on a sexual offenders register. I realise he has to protect himself and the business he runs and that maybe the political climate in the US is somewhat distorted at the moment. Lying on a cote d'azur beach waving $25 rather excludes me from any right to make judgements if Brian or Jock Sturges feel their actual liberty/livelihoods/integrity are threatened. They've gotta do what they've gotta do.
    And yet Brian presents his thoughts with such a tone of regret that I can't help feeling he very much wants Mr. Sturges to remain using the site. Anyone reading the critiques Sturges has written cannot but be impressed. Mr Sturges has understandably pulled his work but he came here for a reason in the first place and I doubt the reason has yet been fulfilled. So, still, 'I am left wondering if a mechanism cannot be created to allow him to show his works on PN' This part of my initial question has been largely ignored. Jock wants to be here. Brian appears to want him here. And today that's not happening. A victory for fundamentalists forces and an abject defeat for art and freedom of expression. Smile everybody.
    Is there a solution? Possibly. It's far from idea and requires a huge amount of largesse on the part of the artist in order for it to work.
    Years ago an artist told me life is a survive and compromise process. The question remaining today is whether Jock Sturges is willing to compromise his selection of photos in order to participate on the site. I presume it remains permissable for him to post a link to his own or any other website which was willing to carry any photos deemed unsuitable for photo.net. Jock Sturges knows the world he is in. I wonder if asked by the New York Times to submit a photo for an feature article they were running about him and also asked to only submit one of his less controversial pieces, what his reaction would be. If he would willingly submit the requested photo to the NYT then it follows that he can continue to post images on PN which apply by the given rules.
    I'm glad Mapplethorpe's dicks and bullwhips were displayed in galleries but I think the work of his which touched the finer artistic heights were his universally acceptable photos of flowers. Today on the Cote D'azur the breasts are still bared, percentage with implants increasing day by day. To my mind, cutting open something as beautiful as a breast, shoving artificial material into it, stitching it back up and naming the process 'enhancment' is a serious obscenity. Yet there are an abundance of photos of chicks with fake tits on PN. We live in a world of dumb and deadening ironies, contradictions in taste and expression, false drama and need. The artist provides balm when we ask. The great artist provides balm even when we say we don't want it.
  56. Well said Mr. Darrell M.
  57. "I'm glad Mapplethorpe's dicks and bullwhips were displayed in galleries. . . ."

    May I ask why?

    Would you also be pleased if photos of women rubbing their lubricating vulvas were likewise on display in the finest galleries? What about explicit photos of couples in the final throes of the act, with bodily fluids very much in evidence from every possible angle?

    What if we went a step further and went beyond depictions to the real thing: real women or real couples for us to witness as we march by, all in the name of "living art," or some such?

    Would you be pleased if Hustler's cover photo of an inverted woman being fed head-first into a meat-grinder were displayed at MOMA or the National Gallery? Would you feel edified?

    Would you be pleased if the best ballet companies offered nude presentations of _The Nutcracker_ to the kiddies every holiday season?

    More important, is anyone at this particular on-line gallery obligated to fulfill your, my, Sturges', Mapplethorpes', or Hustler's artistic vision, regardless to the cost to themselves and to the site/gallery?


    If so, why are they so obligated?

    I, too, would be delighted to see some of Sturges' work on this site, now that I have had a chance to see some of his work. I do not, however, agree that PN is obligated to suspend the rules for Sturges while enforcing them for the rest of us, and to say to him: "You are welcome to publish anything and everything that you desire. Furthermore, we feel obligated to publish whatever you want to publish, even if it costs us our fortune or freedom."

    Yes, this whole episode is regrettable. In the grand scheme of things, however, Sturges' unwillingness to accept the site's rules is not exactly a great tragedy.

    Indeed, it increasingly appears quite comical. The great artist looks to me like just one more prima donna. The refusal to "compromise" appears to be less about artistic integrity and more about petulance.

    I don't feel like crying about this. I am more inclined to laugh.

    I'll say it again: the guy was not forced off the site. He left on his own. I like his pictures, but I increasingly don't care if he comes back or not.

    If he accepts the limitations of posting on the site, he certainly may return. The standing invitation is there. If he refuses, are we to wring our hands?

    You can wring your hands over this great "tragedy" if you want to. As for myself, I would prefer to wash my hands and be done with this whole issue. After all, he is still welcome here, but he will have to recognize that he is a mere mortal with no special powers or privileges.

    I frankly am not sure that he is up to that.

  58. I'm glad Mapplethorpe was displayed because not only was it good art it also indicated a willingness to accept the human form displayed in an unconventional and until that point unacceptable manner. Mapplethorpe's vision was villified by the society he lived him. The displays in galleries and museums were an indication that said society was evolving-slowly and not without fuss-but evolving nonetheless.

    'women rubbing their lubricating vulvas .. likewise on display in the finest galleries' Yeah, why not. I've seen such works displayed in London. Done with a certain amount of artistry it works. Have a look at this, hanging in the Musse D'orsay, Paris.
    'Would you be pleased if Hustler's cover photo of an inverted woman being fed head-first into a meat-grinder were displayed at MOMA or the National Gallery? Would you feel edified?' Not particually. Did I write something to make you think I might? Landrum, I put a bit of thought into what I wrote. It's a shame you didn't read it. If you did perhaps you read it too quickly. Your rant rather betrays your earlier words and was probably unnecessary-if you re-read what I wrote I think you might discover our positions are not particually different.
    As for ballet-well I'm not a fan but it's always struck me as odd that they get dressed up for it. But hey, I'm getting off topic here.
  59. Darrell,

    I am sorry for my over-the-top tone on my last post above. My larger point is not at all to put Sturges into the same category as these other possible postings, but merely to point out that persons' views about art will differ--and moderators and directors in all types of galleries will make decisions with regard to these differences.

    Editorial decisions are a fact of life. I am not sure myself what ought or ought not to be displayed as art, but I actually do try to keep an open mind about such things.

    I am sorry if what I wrote came off as a rant or as a dogma. I threw the Hustler case in there as exemplary of one extreme. It does seem to be in a category of its own, due to the infantile and prurient attitudes found among the editors of that benighted publication.

    It will be interesting indeed to see how social views evolve regarding both art and morals, and it will be even more interesting still (to me) to see what non-dogmatic persons will continue to find revulsive or objectionable. There might indeed be some residue of something called "human nature" that will always recoil at certain types of images, since I do not think that the morality of what passes for art is a mere fashion or convention--although it sometimes seems to be. I do not subscribe to the "tabula rasa" conception of morals, including aesthetic questions having ethical implications. Nor do I claim to have a priori answers to such questions.

    I am actually glad that you started this thread, and I think that the philosophical questions that it raises have great value. I suspect that we should be examining them on the philosophical forums, and so I will stop posting on this one.

    I want to affirm that I am not trying to mock you, and I am not trying to compare Sturges' work to some fairly absurd examples.

    Again, I am sorry if it came off that way. I wrote too hastily, and without sufficient proofing of what I wrote.

  60. There is a fine line between child porn and what we would call art. It simply is in the eye of the beholder. We are in a society that is strongly prosecuting people for simply having anything that may be interpreted as child porn. Just recently Oprah Winfrey has offered rewards for child pornographers that are on the FBI's most wanted. A few of these felons have been apprehended and are no longer free to roam the streets. I think the danger of any image, is how it is interpreted. I believe PN has to excercise it's "terms of use" for it own protection. I believe Mr. Sturges has respected PN and realizes that his presence potentially would harm PN's original purpose. Unfortunately, we are in a society where men will forgive and justify some of these images as art. Where as others would see us as endorsers of what is interpreted as child porn.
  61. What a joke! Now, to be fair I'm commenting on the photo posted in this forum. This is the only Jock Sturges photo that I've ever seen and judging by it, I wouldn't bother to look any further. This photo, had it been an adult model, would rate about a 4. But, do a photo of a child like this, and the controvercy makes the photographer "WORLD CLASS". No matter how good the actual photographer is, using nude children to further your career is discusting at best. Trying to call it art is an insult to all artists of all levels who truely strive to tap the emotions of the viewer. Putting my personal opinion aside, I must ask why anyone feels that he should have the right to post his photos on this site? This is not a government subsidized site. The rules are clearly stated and you have a choice to join or not, based on your feelings about them. The site clearly has the right to remove any photos that they find unacceptable and, as I understand it, went as far as to ask him to remove the photos to which he did. I agree that we don't all see things the same way, if we did there would be no art! I'm sure that Photonet has pulled photos the I would find nothing wrong with, but it is thier right to do so.
  62. The photos in this forum thread are not by Jock Sturges. And when I asked Jock to remove certain photos from his portfolio, he removed the portfolio without a single complaint or harsh comment.
  63. Brian- Thank you for pointing that out, I was unaware that was not his photo. For the record, I do try to give credit where it is due, and I think that both your decision to first ASK him to remove the photos and his decision to do so showed class on both of your parts. I apologize to Mr. Sturges for confusing the artwork as his. Having never seen his work, I will post no direct opinion on him. However, my opinion stands the same on ANYONE who uses nude children to advance thier career, NO EXCEPTIONS.
  64. I have a sister who is a teacher, and she has told me in the past that just one -- exactly one -- unfounded accusation from a student of any age against a teacher regarding any sort of claim of anything related to sexuality, including, I think I recall, a male teacher just looking at a well-endowed female student age 17, is enough to cost a teacher a career (or more, much more) even though the accusation is completely unfounded.

    Such accusations are toxic.

    And when a REAL CHILD MOLESTER goes to jail, as an attorney (and as a citizen) I have long known that they are placed in protective custody, for they are the scum of the scum when they are incarcerated -- at least some other prisoner (perhaps one who has children or someone who has been abused, or just one who lacks impulse control and wants notoriety) will find a way to murder the incarcerated child molester.

    My state, California, has a major problem finding a place to house convicted sexual offenders, pederasts, who have completed their sentences AND who who have completed not only counseling but also are deemed by the courts and others at low risk of re-offending.

    NIMBY (Not In My Backyard).

    Public disclosure laws cause their residence addresses to be made public and they get driven out even of the low-rent motels probation or confinement exit people place them in, and they have even ended up being housed 'freely' on the grounds of prisons, able to come and go, because society reviles them so much, they cannot find a place to live (and perhaps rightly so, they have done and some are likely again to do things that are unspeakably horrendous.)

    Washington State and other states have wrestled with the problem and found (as California once did, and I think has again) created a new classification similar to the old category of the 'mentally disordered sexual offender' -- a classification of an individual who poses a risk to society, and incarcerates disordered individuals AFTER they have served their prison time (because they have shown no ability to control their impulses to offend, though the state engages in the 'fiction' the 'men' ostensibly are 'free' except for the confinement. The only real difference basically is the incarcerated 'men' can read what they want, listen to what they want, and they are supposed to be 'treated' for their 'disorder' (but for what is basically an 'orientation' which the best doctors/scientists say basically is untreatable, and which has horrible societal consequences -- their 'orientation' and society's interests just cannot co-exit.)

    I once (inadvertently) worked with a man, a kitchen worker, who was a true sex criminal. He worked in the kitchens of Columbia University. He once threatened to slit my throat. (I begged off when he told me he thought I believed he wouldn't do it. I said I was sure he would).

    He had used that same knife to kill a bunch of old ladies in elevators in Manhattan's Washington Height's neighborhood where he raped them first before killing them; I found his photo on the cab front seat as I left school for home that year -- he had been arrested, and will be in jail the rest of his life. He had been abused as a child by a 'grandmother'.

    Some child molesters do terrible things to children, almost always under stealth and in too many cases that ends in the kidnapping and murder of the child because the child molester is aware of the consequences if he/she is identified. (it most often is a he.)
    (Some child molesters are not murderers and are not violent, but society only understands about the worst cases -- the abductors and the murderers -- all are scum.)

    The claim they have of kind of 'love' for children is not really 'love' at all; it's sick and disgusting, and society has done the right thing with those people, I think finally, after sweeping the problem under the carpet for much of my life.

    As a former practicing attorney, I was long aware of the smoldering problem of molestation victims, because my state was a leader in allowing children who grew up to sue their formerly molesting parent(s) for damages for their old molestation (and insurance often paid the bill until later it was written out of policies -- for future abuse -- such recoveries no longer are available funded by insurances. Attorneys made rich, thriving practices out of representing abuse victims against their parents -- and parents' insurance companies -- when I was practicing.)

    Now compare that with people who just like and/or love to work with children who don't have morbid or sick sexual fascination with children: the little league coach, the girl scout leader, the school teacher, the kindly aunt/uncle/grandmother/grandfather/godparent/neighbor.

    Once a neighbor's son and daughter came to me from across the street (they played with my children and often were in my house); they seemed to want to be 'hugged' and wanted to cling to me and my wife.

    I declined. I went to my kindly neighbor, a mortgage banker, real estate broker, and insurance broker and told him what was happening, asked what was going on, and asked for advice on how to react. I told him 'I'm no child molester and I don't want to be accused.'

    He said he and his wife were fighting horribly, and that I should try to show some affection for his children (because they weren't getting any at homem) if I could (but I couldn't, because of the legal climate I was aware was building).

    Soon afterward his wife kidnapped the children against court orders, renamed them, and they lived as fugitives. The wife was literally crazy or borderline crazy. Fear of legal consequences had caused me to withhold normal and nonsick fatherly affection from these two children, because of a climate of litigation, and I had the sponsorship and understanding of the father. (About two years he tracked down his children, they were permanently taken away from the kidnapping mother . . . and my former neighbor now is loving father of two grown-up children -- who also have good memories of me, I think.)

    But the problem becomes what does an ordinary adult do who has to look over his/her shoulder because or the devastating possibility of a false accusation of 'child molestation' of an 'unnatural interest in children'

    Accusations of 'molestation' are something that bedevils divorcing husbands, my attorney friends tell me; divorcing female spouses commonly make accusations against their hated divorcing husbands, but almost always without any real evidence and solely for spite.

    Adults who are near children who are aware of realitities of present-day life should live a little in fear of false allegations.

    The etiology has started in part becuase our (American) forebears swept sexual molestation problems 'under the rug', and there are a great number of adult (American) women who have suffered sexual molestation (men too), and even the Catholic Church (in America) has been greatly implicated: Three of their (American) (arch)dioceses are in bankruptcy to pay their judgments from molestations by priests -- mostly of young boys.

    There have been real problems and no one should think of minimizing them.

    But there is a hysteria about.

    The hysteria is the kind of hysteria that results in a woman who takes the photos of her children playing in the bathrub to Costco, or Walgreens, a clerk summons the police and she's thrown in jail.

    Somehow, she's arrested for 'child molestation.' Even when she's exonerated, there's no way ever to have her arrest record quashed -- once created it goes into databases that cannot be expunged.

    Someone once wrote of the worth of the 'science of economics' -- economists, they say, have successfully predicted 50 of the past 10 recessions. In other words, economics saw a recession behind every statistic and sometimes the forecast actually came true. People who 'see things' sometimes get it right, just as a clock that is stopped is 'correct' twice daily (for a fraction of a second).

    The same applies to 'seeing' evidence of 'misuse' of the adult relationship with children. Sometimes it's true; other times it's just a figment. It's important -- greatly important, all allegations should never be treated lightly, but there should never be any hysteria.

    Moreover not every underage person is a 'child.'

    The State of California says a 17 year old girl (or boy) the day before her (his) 18th birthday is a 'child' and can be 'molested'.

    But one mile to the East in Nevada, that same girl (boy) is an adult for such purposes, and has been since that person turned 16.

    It once was common in the Ozarks for men to marry girls who were 12 or thereabouts (sometimees younger) (I am not defending that, or the famous Jerry Lee Lewis marriage, and I think such marriagees are/were very imappropriate and wrong, and just state it as an example.)

    Society has made cut-off points, but to speak of a 17-year old person as a 'child' is 'stretching it a little in most cases, and those who talk of the 'underage' 17-1/2 year-old as a 'child' may be legally correct, but is engaged in a sort of rhetorical sophistry.

    Perhaps such persons never saw Britney Spears perform when she was under 18 or watched the marketing of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (Olson), which depended on part on marketing their great beauty (and sexual attraction).

    To ignore these things is to engage in sophistry; perhaps those same people believe that teens also never get pregnant.

    This not a defense of Jock Sturges or his photography -- I only saw one of his photos on the request for critque, and it did not appeal to MY prurient interests. I do NOT own any of his volumes, though people write that they are available at every bookstore. That's fine; someday I may look at them, just to be edified. I have lots to do that does not involve looking at his images.

    But I'm worried when anybody writes that an image of a 'naked child' is somehow sick or perverted, when the art of the world has a long history portraying images children unclothed in which those images are neither sick nor perverted.

    It's only the sick and perverted indivudals who would be attracted to images of sexually immature girls/boys, and any depiction of them shown to a normal person, say in a movie showing a bunch of (naked/partially clothed) boys at a swimming hole (as I have done in my youth) should evoke no interest at all, other than 'that's a bunch of boys having fun' . . . or whatever.)

    Somehow, it occurs to me, those who take it on themselves to protect the world from innocent images have become a sort of 'morale police'

    'They' woud 'protect' us from such innocent images that I grew up with, and long took for granted (a child's bottom showing suntan lines illustrating the merits of a certain suntan lotion for instance), and various other depictions that are entirely innocent, have now somehow 'suspect' because somehow they might appeal to the sick and perverted -- even though 99.9 per cent of the population would (in past times) have viewed them as 'cute'.

    If it were true that sick and perverted individuals were creating these images, then surely those individuals should be prevented from doing so, and if it were certain that only such individuals produced such images (and only those) then perhaps there would be a societal interest in preventing those images from being produced, but those are not the facts.

    And I do not know why Jock Sturges produces his images, but I am sure that issue has been thoroughly tried and somehow he has been found innocent for his images displayed and for which he was prosecuted and were adjudicated 'nonpornographic' and the judgment in that cases (under the theory of collateral estoppel) somehow may apply to other prosecutions against him for those images under exact same laws -- though that is a chancy prediction.)

    But isn't it a little twisted (for lack of a better word) to 'outlaw' the depiction of a group of girls and boys in an inflatable pool, naked, in their own backyard under the supervision of their own parents, or perhaps topless where one or more of the children is a 'girl' who is completely undeveloped and is years from being developed (pubescent)?

    It is against this background that Photo.net has banned certain parts of a young child's anatony from being exposed on its digital cyberpages; I do understand and agree with its decision, and I have endorsed its decision, and the way it has arrived at that decision elsewhere above in this thread.

    But it bothers me greatly that it has had to create such a rule; that the exigencies of claims of 'morality' in America have caused something to be 'banned' in America that long was part of the normal part of life and of growing up.

    It reminds me of something that has happened relatively recently in the Muslim world.

    Until the 1980s, the head scarf was worn by Muslim women as a form of showing modesty, and nothing more.

    At some time in the late '70s or early '80s a theory was propagated that the view of 'female head hair' by the male of the species was 'magic' and drove males into a 'sexual frenzy', and female Muslim woman could show NO HAIR AT ALL for fear of driving men into such sexual frenzy.

    This is the conundrum of the so-called 'Magic Hair', and I know young Muslim women who argue that this is true (as though God told them its veracity).

    It now appears that with our attitude toward 'images of young children' we have fallen prey to a corollary situation to the Islammic 'Magic Hair' situation.

    A few disturbed people are attracted to children and as a part of their pathology they often take photos and share them, but normal people also take photos of their own children (and their playfriends) in the backyard pool that are normal, not corrupt, completely nonsexual and certainly not pathological.

    But like the Shariah Islam sect's (and other forms of Islam's) recent pronouncement against showing 'Magic Hair', our society has now somehow banned innocent photos of children because there are a few vile and pathological individuals who might see them and somehow gain pleasure from them, even though there is no pathologcy in creating and enjoying such images.

    Somehow, we are all the losers, I think.

    My late wife took loads of photos of my daughters with no tops (I seem to recall dimly -- I do not have them) and my neighbors' daughters too, and nobody thought anything of it.
    Sexuality was not on anybody's mind.

    She also breastfed openly (modestly) in almost every class restaurant in Silicon Valley, modesty covering herself, breast and child with a nursing towel, and with such grace that NOBODY ever said a thing, before there ever was a state law affording her protection; the issue was so clear to her she just did it, just as was her right to take photos of her children having fun in the backyard inflatable pool or under the sprinklers.

    Somehow, a certain 'right-wing' element of America has become akin to the reactionary 'Islamists', and they have hijacked the issue of innocent childhood 'nakedness' as though it were perverted, and somehow those innocent photos of one's children have become like 'Magic Hair' -- they have developed into a new-found form of forbidden sexuality. Now, somehow it has become 'suspect' to take photos of one's own children; worse if it's the neighbor's children playing.

    What was ordinary in society until about 15 or 20 years ago, somehow now has been 'recognized' as 'suspect' -- a surefire sign of 'perversion'.


    My former (and late) wife who nursed modestly and openly without asking for permission and never retreated to a backroom or restroom, and who took photos of our children and the neighbors' as they played, in that regard was blessed with great and common sense.

    I think that it is time for return to what she regarded as 'common sense', for in that regard she had no peer.

    However, one caveat: As I used to tell law clients who pleaded for 'common sense': There really is no such thing. It's really better phrased 'uncommon good sense.'

    Photo.net did the right thing (and with uncommon good grace) in rfelation to Mr. Sturges's posting his images, but the U.S. moral climate that caused it to have to do so, was evidence of a certain lack of common sense in our society; we had best reconsider the whole issue of how to protect children.

    John (Crosley)

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