Op/Ed: But What About The Children?

by Jessica Holyoke on 18/06/09 at 1:19 pm

by Jessica Holyoke

In the U.S., the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the re-hearing of a man who was convicted for e-mailing child sexual fantasies that he had.  Dwight Whorely is currently serving 20 years in prison for 74 counts of child pornography and obscenity, including 20 counts of obscenity involving writing about his fantasies with no pictures. 

When discussing the issue about sexualized underaged ageplay content, usually the U.S. is held up as the beacon of tolerance.  However, Dwight Whorely's case demonstrates how the Lab was right to ban sexualized underaged ageplay content.  But the reason why it is relevent now to our community is what is happening to SL child avatar resident, Marianne McCann.

The Lab invited residents to preview the upcoming Adult Continent, Zindra.  As one of many residents to attend the opening, was Marianne McCann.  Also present at the time she was was a number of Lindens and a resident who donned a giant prim penis avatar.   And all the parties involved started dancing and photographs were taken. 

The question that has arisen is even though Marianne's typist has publicly stated that they are of a mature age and she age verified, should she have been on Zindra at all and if someone does something potentially adult around her, should she be the one to leave? 

Some residents are saying that because as a resident she was invited there, really she should either not have gone at all or have gone as a different avatar.   This raises an avatar identity issue.  I've seen it on Gorean sims when people complain about having to change from a furry, robot, or vampire avatar to a human one. People claim persecution.  I've been banned from a male-only sim before.  Would changing my avatar have suited that purpose?   Is the real life gender the important part or the appearance, as some women-only sims will allow female avatars even if they are not female typists?   Because what happened to Marianne brings up the identity issue, she is allowed to be in the location described, she was old enough and she verified but the avatar she chose to use as her primary avatar makes her unwelcome.

Some residents are saying that the only reason people go to the Zindra is to engage in sexual conduct.  Were the residents that are saying how evil it was for a child avatar to be in Zindra visiting to engage in sexual conduct themselves – or had they simply accept the Lindens' invitation to explore?

Then I look at what was described from the Lindens' point of view.  They have a policy regarding child avatars engaging in sexual conduct or having sexual content mixed with child content, the sex pose balls with the playground issue. 

The Lindens invited the community – with no restrictions on that invitation – to check out their new continent.  A child avatar shows up and someone puts on a penis avatar.   To my knowledge on the accounts given, the child did not dance with the penis.   (And how many times do you get to write that?)  Maybe the Lindens present showed some common sense; the child was not interacting with the penis, there was no reason for her to be sent away.  They could have asked the penis man to switch back to a normal human, but they chose not to do that either.  They could have asked Marianne to change avatars, which they didn't.  She wasn't taking part in sexual content, she was accepting an open invitation to explore the new builds in the avatar she was comfortable. 

We can argue many things in the future; should child avatars be banned from Zindra because there are prohibited activities there, such as sex, even though there are activites there that they can take part in, like graphic violence and drug use?  There are arguments that the child avatars should be limited to PG activities, but why?  Graphic violence for now is Mature, but its becoming Adult.  Its not illegal anywhere, to my knowledge, for a child avatar to be in a depiction of violence.  But as some residents are saying the amount of sex on Zindra, as non-existent as it is now, makes it forbidden to be entered by a child avatar no matter their true motives or real life age. 

Now there were other child avatars present and avatars that look childlike, but aren't.  But until and unless they engage in behavior that is banned by current law and policy, its a rush to judgment to say that Marianne is a child rapist and all child avatars on Second Life are pedophiles or pedophile trainers.

20 Responses to “Op/Ed: But What About The Children?”

  1. Marianne McCann

    Jun 18th, 2009

    Nice write up. I give a lot of insight into the specific incident in question (including a photo or two of relevance) at http://marianne.secondlifekid.com/

  2. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Jun 18th, 2009

    The Linden Lab policy is here:


    The very first item says this:

    “(1) participation by Residents in lewd or sexual acts in which one or more of the avatars appears to represent minors (or the depiction of such acts in images, video, textures, or text) is a violation of the Community Standards;”

    If a lewd act was performed and she was present then it looks to me like a violation.

    The article mentions “what happened to Marianne” but never describes it. Was she ejected from the sim? Was she allowed to stay? Did someone make comments about her presence? Inquiring minds want to know!

  3. Darien Caldwell

    Jun 18th, 2009

    The incident in question was good to highlight and bring to the fore the thorny issues which are going to result from LL’s new policies and LL’s existing policies.

    Unfortunately for those who choose to wear children’s avatars, that choice comes with some responsibility, given that it has the potential to cause account bans from simply being near sexual content. I do not think child avatars should be banned from Zindra, but I think it behooves those who go to be self-aware of the surroundings and the situations they may encounter, for their own protection, and the protection of those they may encounter.

    The discussion in the official forums was good as I think all involved recognized that in the end,It’s up to land owners to police who and what is on their land, and take necessary actions to prevent unfortunate results.

    In the case in question, it was LL’s land, and they have the luxury of being both judge and jury. So naturally they can do that which most of us would probably never be able to get away with. If LL and the Lindens present were not above their own laws, I would expect those present would be in some very hot water.

  4. Mary

    Jun 18th, 2009

    Marianne had a huge lapse in judgment on this one and set back the cause of child avies in SL, something that she’s worked in support of for a long time.

  5. Trolling Runner

    Jun 18th, 2009

    Well a lot of people may not like this but, ask yourselves this question: Would you allow a kid to walk into a strip club, accompanied by a parent?

    It’s kind of funny how all these kiddie avs want to be treated like adults when they act like children. Sorry kids, you can’t have it both ways.

  6. Jumpman Lane

    Jun 18th, 2009

    i’m a pal of marianne’s and i feel she did no wrong. if ageverification is all u need to tp tothat dump zindra then she should b there. ifa child avatar perfomrs a sex act there then they should be punished . but if merel accepting an open invite to a craptacular linden dump and showing up as a kiddie is no harm no foul to me

  7. Adric Antfarm

    Jun 18th, 2009

    I won’t address your op-ed as it was made leaving a few key facts out.

    Scumbag had a previous conviction for possession of ACTUAL kiddie porn

    Scumbag ALSO had ACTUAL on him this time as well

    The art was a part of it, but those two factors came into play during sentencing.

    Give this a good read. I agree with their conclusion he was looking at closer to five minus those two factors.


    Not that I want to do five for fake kid banging on SL.

    The funny thing here is you could have had Prok back as a guest op-ed and she would of written this for you (albeit longer and bit more eye blurring).

  8. Kapick

    Jun 18th, 2009

    Like I posted somewhere else, I think to settle this issue, one should paste the picture of Marianne and the dancing penis in the body of an email itself (because the DOJ won’t accept emails with attachments) and send it to AskDOJ@USDOJ.gov. Ask them if it’s child porn and tell them you found it on Second Life.

    Why is it on Second Life that any perv can whitewash his or her perversions and call him- or herself an “advocate” for some movement???

  9. Nicholaz Beresford

    Jun 19th, 2009

    I think these are simply two different issues:

    1) While nobody is able to build anything on Zindra, the likelyhood of a kid (avatar) being near anything adult is a lot less than on any place on a Mature sim, so what’s the fuzz about.

    2) Once Zindra is in full swing, I agree with Stroker’s comment on Proky’s blog, that kid avatars have no place there. Trolling Runner up there with his comment is right on spot: If you want to be a kid, expect to be treated as one.

  10. 404 Brain Not Found

    Jun 19th, 2009

    I know it’s probably a stupid idea but why don’t we forcibly microchip all child avatars so that if a child avatar attempts to enter an adult sim, it is automatically ejected or simply refused entry to the sim? Could that somehow be done with a script that can’t be removed from child avatar components? I honestly don’t know so if that was a n00b thing to say, go easy on me :P

    That way, anyone can come into the sim but anyone wearing a child avatar component will be scanned and dropped outside. Admittedly that would be difficult to enforce on existing child avatars but maybe new ones being made and sold could have the scripts embedded in some way that can’t be removed easily? Could such scripts also be used to prevent a child avatar from accessing certain types of poseball? Again, I don’t know myself, I’m just thinking out loud but if anyone can explain whether or not that might work, I’d be interested to know :)

    What if an avatar isn’t actually intended to depict a child but in fact can be perceived as one? A friend of mine often gets assumed to be using a child avatar but she isn’t – her avatar is just a short adult. When perception is in the eye of the beholder to a degree in these things, perhaps the only option is to go with embedded microchip scripts like I say above?

  11. Jessica Holyoke

    Jun 19th, 2009

    @GL; The fallout from other blogs is what happened to Marianne. She wasn’t banned. She wasn’t ejected. No one, as far as I know, has called the police. But for being in the same area, near is arguable, as a giant penis, she is being equated with a child rapist.

    And that is what she is being accused of; being in the same info hub area, maybe 20m away, from a giant prim dancing penis.

    @Adric; If you think I’m agreeing with Prok on this one, then I didn’t do my job right. I didn’t break down the sentencing, but I don’t think it matters after you brought it up. The scumbag was not going to be released from jail, he was still going to be in prison; the Court of Appeals was deciding if writing alone was child pornography and they said it was.

    @in general; I think this not only touches on child avatars which still engender a huge response even if it is PG roleplaying involved, but also a more basic question of when is it appropriate to ask someone to change their avatar? Because I think the argument isn’t that Marianne was not allowed to view the content, which in my mind, a giant dancing penis isn’t that sexual, and she did, but rather how she viewed it changes if it was wrong or not.

  12. Ari Blackthorne

    Jun 19th, 2009

    Marianne knows damned well the outcry that would happen.
    Her problem is that she is viewing Zindra the way the Lindens view Zindra: just another continent like all others – and the only one where the super-naughty is allowed.

    But most people view it the opposite: Built explicitely for the uber-deviant naughty and it’s one giant sex-pile.

  13. Carmen

    Jun 19th, 2009

    This realy does not require much debate.
    Child avatar, means i wish to role play as a child, on this basis you have no reason to be in a sex sim or for that matter mature.
    I am totally against child avatars only though because i firmly believe that they will be targeted by perverts. Im sure the person behind the av Marianne McCann is very nice. Though in this case acted in a thoroughly stupid manner.

  14. Sigmund Leominster

    Jun 19th, 2009

    Zindra is an adult sim. Anyone who turns up should be assumed to be an adult. If they look like a kid, a goat, a small piece of putty, an elephant on stilts, Jumpman Lane, or a toaster in bikini, who really gives a flying fornication? I happen to think that in real life, anyone who turns up anywhere wearing polyester should be hung, drawn, quartered, and made to wear a sumo wrestler’s jock strap for a month. But how someone dresses is tragically not yet grounds for homicide or censorship.

  15. Miso Susanowa

    Jun 19th, 2009

    Ok, i will jump in to get shot at…

    What’s amazing to me is not that Marianne was there (whether i agree witht hat or not) but the wtisting of this whole thing onto the child avatar.

    My understanding is the giant penis-man deliberately provocative, as was Vryl (who stripped herself and masturbated next to Marianne). And yet somehow this is Marianne’s fault/problem?

    Zindra is EMPTY and there is an open invite on the login pages to visit this EMPTY CONTINENT. There’s no sexual activity there… unless you count the deliberate (and most probably staged) provocation by these so-called “freedom of expression” people.

    If anything, i’d say Vryl and Mr Penis were in flagrant violation of the TOS, not to mention engaging in the exact sort of “nasty child porn/abuse” everyone is tossing around.

    How come the debate/furor/hissy fit has shifted onto child avatars, and not some deliberately provocatibe, tasteless and morally disturbing idiot who would strip naked beside a child avatar and masturbate herself?
    A deliberate setup? Most likely.

    “Freedom of expression for adults” means only freedom of expression for YOU? Smells like… hypocrisy. I don’t, as a child avatar, go ANYWHERE a real child wouldn’t go, would feel bad about going or wouldn’t ever get in; that’s called real role play.

    Conversely, many many “adult avatars” seem to think tp’ing into a clearly marked child sim, a playground or an adoption center, in nothing but latex and lingerie and then whining and screaming about “freedom of expression” when someone AR’s THEM is somehow a restriction of their rights.

    So please, separate the issues here and quit using what was most probably a deliberate setup designed to feed someone’s asinine ego and inflated opinion of their own importance in the “feedom crusade” as a blunt instrument to bash all child avatars. You might make me mad enough to start bashing the groups I don’t particularly care for either.

    But it seems that, child or not, I am more grownup than many.

    And thanks to the Alphaville Herald and Jessica for providing some nice balance and engagement in this issue.


    ps- i agree that Marianne acted stupidly; she should have immediately AR’d the perverts. Fair is fair, after all.

  16. Lias Leandros

    Jun 21st, 2009

  17. Arwyn Quandry

    Jun 21st, 2009

    It should be of note that there currently is no adult content on Zindra – it’s fully Linden-built. Therefore, I don’t see issue with Mari being there since the location is empty. Once landowners start coming in, building, and making their sexual content, then they hare fully within their right to ask a child avatar to leave or to eject them from the area. I haven’t seen Lindens building any sex clubs as part of Zindra and the public area is essentially PG. People walk around nude or nearly nude on mainland with their freenises hanging out all over the place and no one bats an eye at a child avatar walking into the welcome area where newbs are shouting for sex. There’s no good that can come of this scare – only persecution of child avatars and rampant discrimination.

  18. Afroduck

    Jun 22nd, 2009

    RL Some children are playing in a sandbox. Random guy comes along, pulls down his pants and starts dancing but does not approach or even seem to notice the children. The children clearly see no threat, it’s actually quite silly after all, and choose to ignore it. Another adult comes along and scolds the children for not moving somewhere else because it is their responsibility to make sure a given situation cannot even loosely be considered “perverted”.


  19. whatever

    Jun 27th, 2009

    The question is this. If someone is portraying to be a child avatar and going the extra mile to do this, with child talk, clothing, gestures, and wants to be treated as a child etc. Then why would they even be invited to go to an Adult oriented sim by the Lindens in the first place? And, why would said child avatar want to go where it has already been suggested that the sim will be for av sexin? As someone else just before me, child avatars can’t have it both ways. Again, you don’t take a child to the nudie strip bar irl and it’s aok.

    When the outside world looks in and sees this type of thing happen, they will assume the worst because that’s what they want to see. I’d hate to see SL get shut down because some Linden decided it would be cool to invite a child av to a sim such as this and then the child av, without thinking decided it would be cool too. It’s obvious when you have idiots like penis boy dancing around, that a child shouldn’t be there and it gives the people playing children a bad name and they can be seen in a bad light.

    Something needs to change and soon. As nice as Marianne is, if she or any other child av is going to go to a place such as this, then throw on the default female av and take a tour. If you choose to be a child av, then you choose to live the way a child lives, and with laws the way they are, they are just gonna haveta bite the bullet and abide by the rules.

  20. Teddy Ruxpin Kennedy

    Jul 9th, 2009

    Quit forcing your 2nd childhood on the rest of us.

    If you want to be a child, talk like a child, and all that goes with it, stay the fuck away from the adult continent and any adult content in SL.

    Some of these kiddies RPers practically demand to be treated as children, refusing to break their RPing for even forum posts. Seriously, people who baby-talk on forums need to have their heads examined. No amount of RPing a kid on SL is going to address their issues, which most of them claim to have – “I had a bad childhood, so I am trying to capture it in SL” – these folks need mental health help in RL. All this insistence on forcing yourself into every facet of SL does is to aggravate the situation you are supposedly working to “fix”.

    Quit being selfish.

Leave a Reply