Down-loading images of children being abused, or of child porn, is a crime - Chris Langham has rightly been convicted of this crime. He was acquitted of other charges of indecent assault involving an underage girl and of serious sexual abuse. He is remanded in custody until sentencing on 14th September next.
Why, though, is it a crime 'merely' to download such images? Quite simply it is because the children appearing in this material are being abused, often physically, but always emotionally. Viewing (and paying to view) such images encourages the foul people who produce this filth. If people such as Chris Langham did not download such images, usually for payment (or perhaps by 'swapping' similar sick images with others with similarly perverted impulses), then the producers would have no incentive (almost always financial) to coerce their child victims into this trade.
I read an interesting post on this issue a few days ago on a blog I have come to have a lot of respect for over the past several months (SNP Tactical Voting), but the seeming contention in the post there that I referred to above that somehow the law has 'gone after the wrong person' by going after the consumer of this muck, whereas it seems as if the producers are left untouched is in my opinion wrong-headed; Jeff suggests that to download one or a very few images is not too serious; I disagree. Yes, the producers are evil people and if it were as easy as Jeff suggests (without turning the whole world into a 'police state') to track them down then I would be eager to see them punished severely. However, the fundamental point is that viewing these images, even if it is only 'a few', encourages those who produce them to lure more children into the trade. I commented on Jeff's post in his blog and he responded to my comments with comments of his own. Suffice to say that I disagree strongly with the whole basis of Jeff's analysis - read the exchange for yourself if you are interested and make up your own mind. Some of Jeff's comments in his main post are also curious (the paragraph which begins 'To me, that line of defence is very similar to the "I was just curious" approach taken by drug users or one-time homosexuals ...') and seem to conflate a lot of separate issues. Frankly I resent it strongly that whenever 'paedophilia' is mentioned, someone always brings 'homosexuality' into the conversation however irrelevant it is to the issue at hand; Chris Langham seems to be interested solely in viewing images of young girls, not young boys, so I doubt very much that he has homosexual tendencies. There are of course homosexuals who are also paedophiles, but it seems that description does not apply to Chris Langham, the first part at least.
However, as the issue is raised I will comment. Whom one chooses to have sex with, provided both parties are over the age which the law sets as the 'age of consent' is no-one else's business and personally I make no judgement on whether a person who has sex with a person of the same gender once or 'a few' times is a homosexual or bisexual, but I'm afraid the repressed individuals who then go on to claim that they are nevertheless 'completely straight' or some such nonsense as 'just making do' may be convinced by their own arguments, but I don't think anyone else is fooled. Whether someone who uses an illegal drug once, and never again, is an 'addict' is a different question; if it is a genuine once-only thing then they are probably not, but just as with alcohol it is extremely difficult to be completely honest with oneself on such matters. Ultimately, though, if someone wants to damage his/her own body or mind by using drugs, or alcohol excessively, then this is that person's business, so far as I am concerned - until that indulgence spills over into affecting other people (for example thefts/muggings to feed drug habits, becoming violent or a dangerous driver through over-use of alcohol). A child being invloved in porn or physical or sexual abuse is a crime because the perpetrators and consumers are exploiting a young person, directly or indirectly, who requires the law's protection. Chris Langham is not entitled to do 'research' which involves such practices.