Ken Klukowski
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[Editor’s Note: This column was coauthored by Ken Blackwell, a Townhall contributing editor and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.]

The child porn allegations made against MTV for its “Skins” show must be investigated by the Obama Justice Department. Child Pornography is not protected by the First Amendment, and producing child porn is a crime. Whether these allegations are true or not, even allegations of it are something most responsible businesses don’t want to be associated with, and they’re chasing advertisers away from this latest attempt to redefine what’s allowed on television.

The latest TV scandal is over MTV’s new show, “Skins.” The show casts child actors (not adults who play children on camera) with a plot where kids are involved in drugs, sex and reportedly even prostitution. It’s pushing the envelope in terms of coarsening society, evidently going for the shock value of being one of the edgiest shows on cable television.

But MTV might be in colossal trouble, because “Skins” is being accused of involving child porn. Child pornography laws don’t just cover explicit sex between children. Among other things, they include simulated sexual conduct by minors. If the actors were actually adults who just looked young, then the Supreme Court says child porn laws would not apply. But because the actors are really children, if they’re depicted in sexual acts then MTV has crossed the line.

It’s beyond dispute that the child actors are pretending to have sex in this show. The question becomes whether it’s graphic and explicit enough to fall within child pornography statutes, since those statutes don’t require actual and full-view sex. If so, then this is a crime that must be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the 1982 case New York v. Ferber, the Supreme Court explains that there are reasons child pornography is unprotected by the First Amendment. Unlike adults making pornography, children by definition do not have the legal capacity to consent to a contract, such as contracting to have sex on camera. Once the pornography is produced and distributed, it can never be completely recalled, so those pornographic visuals can haunt that child for the rest of his or her life. It is inherently exploitative, because a child lacks the mental and emotional maturity to consent to engage in sexual acts.

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Ken Klukowski

Ken Klukowski is a bestselling author and Townhall’s legal contributor covering the U.S. Supreme Court, and a fellow with the Family Research Council, American Civil Rights Union, and Liberty University School of Law.