While reading something else (I don’t remember what) last weekend, I found a link to a letter entitled An Insight into Child Porn posted at WikiLeaks. Traffic to the letter was so heavy for the first two days that I tried to reach it that it was unavailable (similarly to a DDoS attack), so I dug around for a legitimate mirror or a re-posted version.
What I found instead was an ABC News commentary by Michael S. Malone entitled Silicon Insider: The Dark World of Child Porn (reading, printing) that discusses an experience he had while editing now-defunct Forbes ASAP magazine. Robert Grove, Malone’s multimedia editor, approached Grove to describe information he’d received from sources regarding the wide-reaching tentacles and technological savvy of the child porn industry, how it was easy-to-find and had the capability to morph into a US national security concern. Malone gave Grove the assignment to pursue the story as far as he could. Neither Malone nor Grove knew the dark road they would soon be traveling in their “three-month tour of Hell.”
By the time their “three-month tour of Hell” was completed, and the story written, Forbes ASAP magazine was approaching death, so the original market for the story was gone. The parent company, Forbes, passed. Eventually Blaise Zerega, managing editor of Red Herring, was willing to help Grove’s investigative article, The Lolita Problem (reading, printing), see the light of day.
The power of these unintentional “companion” pieces (Malone’s commentary and Groves’ investigative piece) is that, combined, they show you both the situation that was investigated and the effects that investigation had on its investigator. While Groves’ piece sticks to the facts and lays them out clearly, he does is investigative job well in the respect that he is not involved, his writing is that of a reporting machine. Malone’s piece makes it clear that Groves was indeed involved and describes the effects that involvement had on Groves.
While Malone, as the editor, was able to remove himself from the horror early, to partially insulate himself, Groves did not have that ability. “Very quickly, I made it a point not to look at the pictures anymore,” Malone writes, “But Bob had no choice. He had to look.”
I won’t tell you anymore. Read the pieces themselves. I stumbled upon Malone’s piece first, then read Groves’, and I’m not sure whether or not the order they are read will affect their power. They should be read, though, and they should be read together.
Eventually the WikiLeaks letter, An Insight into Child Porn (machine translation to English from the original German), became available for viewing. This is a first-person account of someone purportedly involved in the child pornography business for many years. It alternately reads as a technical expose, a history of the industry, a justification of his own actions (and of a majority of the industry in general), and an argument against politician backlash against a conjured group of people who, for the most part, simply don’t exist. An interesting point the writer makes is that pubescent individuals should have the right to make their own sexual decisions (including un/paid exhibitionism) because they are old enough to make their own criminal decisions. I’m not sure what to make of the piece in its entirety yet. The human-edited English translation is an easier read.
I’m actually glad the WikiLeaks piece was DDoSed for a few days, because I’d’ve never found the Malone and Groves pieces if the WikiLeaks piece had been available when I first tried to read it.
Read them if you can bring yourself to, and discuss.