John Grisham Under Fire for Defending '60-Year-Old White Men' Who View Child Porn

John GrishamWoah, woah, woooooahhhhh!! Mega-successful author John Grisham isn't someone you normally think of when you think controversy, but the author of dozens of bestselling books apparently decided that his career was going too well and he wanted to make sure his next book tanked. Because why else would John Grisham essentially defend men who view child porn? John is probably massively regretting the interview he gave to The Telegraph where he lambasted the US prison terms handed out to guys who happen to stumble onto a child porn site. (Because that happens?)

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John told the (stunned I imagine?) interviewer while promoting his latest book, Gray Mountain:

We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody would never touch a child. But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far, and got into child porn.

He recounts the story of a Canadian law school buddy of his who got drunk one night and clicked around the web until he found a link for "16-year-old wannabee hookers or something like that," clicked in, and was supposedly happily eyeing up teens who looked 30.

According to Grisham, the next thing his pal knew, he was doing three years hard time. John continues:

He shouldn't 'a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: 'FBI!' and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ...

Grisham was, not surprisingly, absolutely vilified for his comments online. Typical responses:

-  @chiller: John Grisham doesn't want to grasp that if a man looks at images of a child being raped, a child was still raped to make the image.

- @SlimiHendrix: Far as I'm concerned, John Grisham snitched on himself and all his buddies and should be handled accordingly.

Much of what Grisham says is, of course, mind-bogglingly, perversely messed up. The fact that his concern is for "60-year-old white men" seems to say something about who he thinks should catch a break. Then there's the whole thing about how at least it was girls and not boys.

But if you get past the wildly offensive stuff, he actually makes a point or two that should bear consideration. If the portrait he paints of his buddy is accurate, his friend was looking at a site he thought would link him to 16-year-old girls. Sixteen is the age of consent in Canada. Why would it be okay to have sex with a 16-year-old girl but not look at one naked online?

Also, he doesn't say these men shouldn't be punished at all. He agrees they should be. He just thinks a 10-year sentence is too long. Unfortunately he doesn't qualify for what. Too long for someone with thousands of videos of abused and raped children? Or too long for someone like his buddy who may have mistakenly clicked into a child porn site? (As someone who once accidentally clicked into an animal porn site while at work, I'm probably one of the few who thinks this particular horror can actually happen.)

Whether or not this is the social injustice Grisham should have used his fame to draw attention to is debatable, but I guess if I had a friend locked up who I believed to be a good person but who made one mistake, I'd be concerned too.

It's just too bad Grisham didn't parse his words more intelligently. Even then, it's hard to feel sympathy for 60-year-old white dudes looking at naked teens online. But do they deserve a sentence harsher than people who actually rape and molest?

More from The Stir: Man Addicted to Child Pornography Explains What Made Him That Way

The fact is no one is going to riot in the streets over men who receive harsh prison sentences for viewing child porn. Except maybe John. But in this day, when it's virtually impossible to speak up about touchy subjects for fear of being strung up by an Internet mob, you have to sort of respect Grisham for speaking his mind. Even if that mind is a bit, well, confused.

But let's make sure we remember one thing: who the real victims are. They're not "60-year-old white men" who get caught up in police stings. They are the children who are abused, raped, sometimes kidnapped, who are used for these videos that too many people watch online, thinking, Well, at least I'm not actually touching anyone.

And until we can help those TRUE victims -- and part of that is by punishing those who create a demand for child porn by watching it -- the "victims" in Grisham's mind don't matter.

Do you agree with him or no?

 


Image via The Telegraph

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