New Hampshire Seeks To Change Incorrect Term 'Child Pornography'

CONCORD, N.H.—As most people already know, the term "pornography" is a misnomer. It comes from the Greek, and means, literally, "the writing of prostitutes" (a profession which most will also recall had pretty high social status in those days). And while several collections of sexy tales are currently available from booksellers like SCB Distributors and Cleis Press, a lot of those aren't actually written by prostitutes. But the point is, it should be pretty clear that by that definition, sexually explicit "adult videos" aren't "pornography" in the literal sense—but there's little doubt that the term will continue to be used because most are too lazy to write, instead, "sexually explicit video recordings made by and for consenting adults."

But one of the biggest problems with not using the word "pornography" correctly is that American (indeed, the world's) society is saddled with the term "child pornography," and sadly, one hell of a lot of people (mainly religious conservatives) use those terms interchangeably, even though legitimate adult video producers go WAY out of their way to make sure that no one underage appears in any of their productions.

But perhaps a new day is dawning, thanks to the eight New Hampshire legislators who on April 13 introduced House Bill 220, whose sole purpose is to change the references to "Child Pornography" in the title and text of the state's Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 649-A to the more correct term "Child Sexual Abuse Images."

While the bill's text contains no discussion as to why the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Robert Cushing Jr., chose to introduce the bill, it has already been approved by the House's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee with a unanimous recommendation that it pass, and it seems likely that both houses of the legislature will deem it worthy of enactment.

New Hampshire native Cushing, the Democratic representative of Rockingham's 21st District, has been a House member off and on since 1996, and even took part in the state Constitutional Convention in 1984. He's a member of the National Writers Union, which may explain why the particular words used in the statutes have special meaning for him.

A cursory look at the state's Criminal Code does not reveal any other uses of the term "Child Pornography" other than RSA 649-A, but if there are any, Rep. Cushing may want to introduce legislation to rename those as well. The Free Speech Coalition Legal Committee and Policy Committee have both voted to support this bill, which was part of an 89-bill docket that the national trade association is currently reviewing, and national anti-censorship groups such as the National Coalition Against Censorship (of which FSC is a member) as well as legal rights organizations like the ACLU may want to use House Bill 220 as a template for getting other states' "child pornography" laws reformed to better reflect what the term actually means.

(h/t Siouxsie Q)