Letters to the editor

"The sheriff showed up with naked pictures of my daughter!" Plus: Pregnancy happens -- deal with it; Conason's stance on Bradley.

Topics: Bill Clinton, Pregnancy, Al Gore, Joe Conason

Is this child pornography?

BY JAMES R. KINCAID

(01/31/00)

Just three days ago the sheriff’s department showed up in my office with the pictures I sent for development. They had some naked pictures of my daughter who is 5 years old. They were questioning me regarding the “pornographic” contents of the pictures I took. The detectives and child protection service agents pulled her into a private room at her school without an adult she knows and questioned her about this. I cannot find out what was said. In the end they believed they were family pictures, but they kept the pictures and negatives. They also had me go to the criminal investigation office and make a statement. They say this is over but emotionally it is not for me, my daughter and our relationship.

– Name withheld at writer’s request

As a child sexual abuse investigator in Pennsylvania I read this article with interest. I agree that there is no clarity in the laws and as a result innocent people are finding themselves lumped together with sex offenders and child abusers. But the headline read that photo labs are arresting people. This is inaccurate. It is the police that are arresting people. It is also inaccurate that the reporting is a result of the policy of the photo lab. It is most often the result of laws mandating that they report. Every state has passed some type of mandated reporting laws to comply with federal law. In some cases photo labs are required to report to the police, some are required to report to their local child protection agency. It should be noted that failure of the photo lab to report may be a crime in some states. If Kincaid is taking issue with the photo labs reporting he is barking up the wrong tree. He should be complaining to state legislatures that pass unclear laws that are difficult to interpret.

— Elizabeth Wert

Very few professional child pornographers are going to be using their local fast photo lab — most of them will be developing their own pictures to avoid the scenario of arrest-by-stupidity.

Nude photos of children that are developed by such photo labs are 99.9 percent of the time submitted by parents who are just proud to have caught a moment of childhood on film. To prosecute them is to more closely approach Orwellian status as a society.



— R.L. McKee

Well, I’ve gotta call Mom and tell her to take down the photos she snapped over the years of her grandchildren bathing in the kitchen sink. I don’t want some misguided cretin of a neighbor seeing them on her wall and running straight to the coppers. Hmmm … should she take down the pics of the dogs being bathed, too?

— M. Blatt

As an employee in the photo industry, I am ashamed to say that there are employees out there who feel it is their duty to judge others — including parents. Honestly, all it takes is a little common sense to say whether or not a photo is pornographic. I agree with Kincaid that it is very rare that any lab sees something genuinely pornographic. While I have been in the business only six years, if the problem were as prolific as some make it out to be, I would have seen it by now. If I do, I will be able to differentiate it from cute kid photos.

– Name withheld at writer’s request

I am 30 years old with two daughters. The world will never know what happened for years while my mother was at work and “uncle” kept an eye on me. If a photo lab operator had taken it upon themselves to report a “suspicious” roll, who knows how much sooner the nightmare would have ended. Yes, I have taken pictures of my darlings in the bath, at the beach, and in the pool without their clothes. But the monsters are out there. It’s hard to know where to draw the line for others, so learn what that line is for yourself. More importantly, listen to your children.

– Name withheld at writer’s request

If Mr. Kincaid had done his research either with the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or most groups addressing the exploitation of child pornographers and child molesters, he would have discovered that such “innocent” photos are often collected by child sexual predators to be used for sexual stimulation.

The only way to know whether or not a child is being exploited is to have a trained investigator interview the adult and the child and investigate the situation. Even then, some predators can escape detection. It would be socially irresponsible for a photo lab not to report such photos, just as it is socially irresponsible not report any other kind of possible child abuse.

— M.R. Price

When the big news is a big bummer

BY NIKKI ROYSTON

(02/02/00)

Oh, the poor thing. My heart just pours with sympathy. Imagine the hardship she must endure: Twenty-nine, supportive partner, great job and a baby on the way. I guess the only thing left to make her perfectly miserable is to tell her she’s won the lottery.

— Michele Shepherd

You were trying to get pregnant, you changed your mind after you got the plum job of your dreams, whoops too late you’re pregnant anyway, and now you’re going to whine? IN PRINT? I hope some spiteful relative doesn’t save this for your little “pie in the face” to read when he or she is older.

Your saying that you were trying to get pregnant because it didn’t look like your career was going anywhere floors me. Motherhood should never be a fall-back position because you don’t know what else to do with your life (and if that’s not what you meant, reread what you wrote). At 29, you are not terribly old to be “just starting up the corporate ladder.” Some people (men included) have to wait much longer. Why you’d want to participate in a corporate culture that requires that much ass-kissing is beyond me, but you’re in the majority and I am not.

Either you’re VERY hormonal or you’ve got a lot of internal work to do. Or both. Listen, eat some chocolate. Have a coffee. Caffeine is not that big a deal in small doses (translation: Don’t be guzzling down the entire 10-cup Mr. Coffee carafe in a sitting, but an espresso once in a while isn’t going to hurt either of you). Throw away your copy of “What to Expect” and all its fear-mongering nutrition advice. Then reassess just how sucky your life is. And do it PRIVATELY, okay? Some day this kid will be able to read.

— Lynn Siprelle

Tell Royston to shut the f— up and stop whining about being pregnant. If it is that much of a hassle, she can have an abortion. Or give her baby up for adoption. She has plenty of time to climb the corporate ladder when she is 35. I did it and now wish I could get pregnant — but I can’t.

— Name withheld at writer’s request

I sympathized with Nikki Royston’s story about finding herself unexpectedly pregnant. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to many of my friends, it even happened to my mother and probably yours too only she’s too nice to tell you. Life happens.

— Anne Lewis

When my girls were 2 years old and 7 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I was 40 pounds overweight, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed by days that seemed to go on forever, during which I never sat down. I cried. I ranted to my sister that my life was ruined.

The reality of becoming a mother is that it’s always a mixed blessing. Even in the best of situations, it’s a ton of work, and it’s normal to have negative thoughts. Ultimately, you rise to the occasion, acknowledge your responsibility and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Then you can start to make the best of a situation you first viewed as disastrous. I named my son “Grant,” because a grant is a gift, and sometimes the best gifts are surprises.

— Celeste Arbogast Bragorgos

Shadowboxing Democrats

BY JOE CONASON

(02/02/00)

While there’s no doubt that there’s an element of disagreement with Clinton in Bradley’s campaign, there is also a sizable element within the Democratic Party that just doesn’t think Al Gore should be president.

Attacking Gore for his willingness to lie is not attacking the Clinton administration, it’s attacking a lousy candidate for his own flaws. Gore also lacks Clinton’s charisma and vision, and making him the party’s nominee for president is the surest way to ensure a Republican victory in the fall.

— Andrew Norris

I too am tired of the hackneyed Bradley and the hackneyed coverage of his campaign. How incredible that John McCain and Bill Bradley, two human sacks of special interest money who can barely walk straight they’re so weighted down with it, can be touted as outsiders/reformers. Pro wrestling is more real than this.

— Jack McCarthy
Tallahassee, Fla.

At a loss

BY JEFFREY DRAYER, M.D.

(02/02/00)

Dr.Drayer’s account of having to declare a patient finally dead rang true with me. I too had to learn the “procedure” from a seasoned nurse during my internship in San Francisco 30 years ago.

A more dramatic experience took place three years later during my residency at a children’s hospital. I was on duty covering an 8-year-old girl, not my patient, who was dying of a series of complicated problems resulting from an improperly treated urinary infection. She was semi-comatose.

The nurse called me shortly before she stopped breathing and I was in the room with the family when she finally died. I did what I had to do to declare her dead and then broke into tears telling the family that “it was just a tragedy”, which of course it was.

I have never forgotten the experience. It made me realize how close to the surface are my feelings, especially in the face of death. It is as important to show them in the face of life’s travails.

— Louis Borgenicht

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