John Grisham on child porn: They aren’t ‘real pedophiles’

In an unusual example of book promotion, author John Grisham gave an interview about his novel “Gray Mountain,” that turned instead into a contrarian opinion piece on people who look at child pornography.

From The Washington Post

He defended them.

He described viewing child pornography as an accidental crime easily committed by pushing “the wrong buttons.” He said not all consumers of child porn are sex offenders — some are just guys who developed a passing interest in it while drunk.

…..

He recounted the story of his “good buddy from law school” who got caught up in a Canadian sting operation as an example of judicial excess: “His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff — it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. He shouldn’t ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys. He didn’t touch anything.”

…..

Grisham distinguished people who look at child porn from “real pedophiles.” “I have no sympathy for real pedophiles,” he said. “God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that’s what they’re getting.”

It’s a sign of just how well entrenched Mr. Grisham is with his readers that he feels comfortable making statements that most authors, careful about their public image, would run from.

While, in general, I agree with Mr. Grisham’s larger point that too many people are going to prison for slight crimes, he sort of stepped all over his own feet in some of these statements.

In particular, I was caught by Grisham’s distinction between looking at 16 year-old girls and 10 year-old boys. I don’t know what to make of this. If his friend were looking at boys, then he’d be an actual pedophile? But since it’s girls it’s just good clean fun? Or, is he saying it’s okay to look at porn featuringv16 year-old girls because puberty has rendered their bodies equivalent to those of 30 year-old women? By his own statement the girls were clearly labeled as underage, so I’m not sure how his friend gets off the hook here.

The balance of the Post article follows up on the idea that sentencing for such crimes may need changing. It’s worth a read.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

The original interview, which inspired the Post follow up, appeared in The Telegraph.

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