Last summer, an investigative reporter named Debbie Nathan wrote a story about "child porn" for Salon that was yanked off the site in less than 24 hours. What did she say that got her in so much trouble?
It infuriates me that the government prohibits reporters and other legitimate investigators from doing front-line research into child pornography. I'm not talking about obsessive coverage of John Mark Karr and JonBenet Ramsey—
The reporting I'm talking about involves testing government claims about how prevalent child porn really is, and what makes an image pornographic in the first place. To get answers, investigators must look at illegal material - lots of it. Those investigators must also be independent of the government. Otherwise the government can use our fear and loathing of kiddie porn to make false political claims. And to terrorize people like me.
I've been wanting to interview Debbie ever since I read her essay. I decided to kick off my New York City Audible interview series this week with the first of a two-part interview:
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Nathan is an expert on sex panics and is perhaps best known for her book, Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about some of the widely covered sex panic cases that rocked the U.S. twenty years ago, such as the McMartin daycare case in California.
In our "Part 1," I asked Debbie why anyone needs examine child porn on the Internet, and why that group might need to include more people than Alberto Gonzales. Her arguments are riveting.
Next week, Nathan talks to me about sex addiction, and where she gets her moxie from in the first place!
Finally, in my Try This at Home mailbag, a woman listener wants to know the nitty-gritty about herpes before she gets goes hog wild with a new crush.
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de 295, June 8, 2007)
"The Salem Martyr," oil painting by Thomas Slatterwhite Noble, 1869.