All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Friday, December 12, 2014

First Conviction for California's 'Revenge Porn' Law

Originally posted on Inherently Human

California’s new ‘revenge porn’ law has seen its first conviction this month and it’s starting a firestorm of conversation on the internet. Officials are hailing the conviction as a victory with Los Angelos City Attorney Mike Feuer stating, “California’s new revenge porn law gives prosecutors a valuable tool to protect victims whose lives and reputations have been upended by a person they once trusted.” State Senator and author of the law Anthony Cannella says, “I am happy to see my legislation doing what it’s supposed to do — protecting victims.”

While this official praise is strong and positive, the law has had critics from its inception. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was initially critical of the bill(and revenge porn laws in general) citing loose wording as an issue along with a concern for such regulation on free speech. Still, Feuer claims this conviction is sending a strong message to the people that such “malicious behavior will not be tolerated.”

Sadly, the sentiment expressed in response to this conviction has not been nearly as optimistic. Overwhelmingly people are looking to find someone other than the man to blame. Too often the adage, “maybe if you didn’t take naked photos this wouldn’t have happened,” is cited. It would seem that reservations about the effectiveness of such laws are justified.

At least a partial defence of such laws could be that they are still in their infancy. Only 12 states have passed laws on revenge porn; maybe as more adopt similar policies we will see a change in attitudes. More likely though is that the attitude will remain pervasive like victim blaming still is despite rape laws being almost universal.

The victim blaming is only part of the problem with revenge porn laws. But as the conversation grows, we need to be mindful of the way we approach these topics. As they are considered in more jurisdictions, including the UK, we have a renewed opportunity to challenge this narrative and to finally bring the law on this matter into the 21st century.