What’s more fun than a couple of naked kids and a video camera?

A friend of mine, let’s call him “Jim”, was recently in neighborhood park in a wealthy Midwestern suburb with his two boys, age 2-3. It was warm and there was a fountain so the kids do what they like to do in such weather, i.e., take off all of their clothes and splash around in the fountain. Jim pulled out his video camera to capture the charming frolicsome scene. Two police cars quickly converged on the scene and the cops held Jim for 45 minutes of questioning. Was he sexually exploiting his children? They never doubted that the kids were his, so their only real question was whether he had chosen to make his exploitative films in a public park, in full view of a bunch of houses, rather than in his own backyard (real criminals hate to do their work in private, apparently).

Fortunately, Jim had recently watched this helpful instructional video, and therefore things did not progress to the next step, which the cops helpfully explained: they would take the kids and put them into “protective custody” (i.e., farm them out to foster parents who would be paid thousands of dollars to keep them in their double-wide trailer with almost no supervision by the state). Jim and his wife could then hire a lawyer and attempt to get their children back.

The saddest thing about this incident is that everyone involved was white and nobody was a Harvard professor. Therefore there will be no beers at the White House.

[Tried to find some background on what could actually be illegal about making such a video. I found a 2000 article about still photos at Salon.com. The next relevant article was also on salon.com, a first-person account by a father accused by a drugstore photo clerk. It seems as though it is a “we [civil servants] know it when we see it” situation.]

6 thoughts on “What’s more fun than a couple of naked kids and a video camera?

  1. At least in this case, one could make the case that the activity was visually suspicious, but I shudder to think of the number of parents who have lost their children in similar circumstances. The level of social paranoia is beyond extreme, and it’s not just in the US.

    Man in Britain questioned over taking (fully-clothed) photos of his children in public.

    Italian man in jail for a week for kissing his daughter while on vacation in Brazil

    We must be nearing a breaking point where people will simply be afraid to be seen in public with their own children.

  2. As a camera nerd, I’m specifically interested in the photography/videography angle to these stories. If taking pictures or videos is the sure and obvious mark of a “prevert”, how come preverted people don’t know this and avoid conspicuous photography? While the cops were questioning my friend and similar camera nerd fathers they ignored Phillip Craig Garrido, Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapper (now it seems that all of his supposedly hidden sheds and shacks were visible to any parole officer or policeman with the energy to bring up Google Maps). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Jaycee_Lee_Dugard and a Google search brings up no evidence that Mr. Garrido ever used a still or video camera.

    Background: http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/416

  3. Carl: Too true! Though I think the cops’ focus on child pornography is uniquely intensive and their methods are uniquely idiotic (“pornography is made with cameras, so let’s hunt down all of the people using cameras in public places”).

  4. Remember satanic ritual abuse? This seems to be the successor to that hysteria.

    Here in Japan nekkid kids are running around all over the place. Heck, at my swim club fathers bring their daughters into the men’s locker room to change (and the little boys are brought to the women’s locker room by mom’s). Same with public toilets.

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