Sweden’s child porn/library scandal

According to the Local, an English-language Swedish news source, child porn has been available from the country’s National Library.

It seems that during the 1970’s, child porn was legally produced and the National Library has a mandate to archive a copy of everything published in the country. And it turns out that anyone could request these magazines with nothing more than a letter stating why they want to see them, despite the fact that it’s illegal to possess, distribute, or show child pornography in Sweden.

Of course, the library is already working on figuring what to do. On the one hand, the legal requirement to preserve everything printed in Sweden doesn’t seem to make an exception for child porn. On the other hand, the laws against child porn are pretty clear. So they seem to be in a bind at the moment.

As a sexologist, I can understand why some people would argue that there’s a value in preserving the magazines, as long as appropriate measures are taken. First, if anyone ever wants to conduct scientific research on child porn, the only way that can happen is if it exists somewhere. I know that a lot of people are skeptical (to say the least) about what research could be done and I don’t have an answer for that. But then, I’m not interested in doing the research. I’m just saying that I can understand why some people would argue that. But more importantly, the existence of these magazines is a part of the country’s history and unless a record of it is kept somewhere, it’s easy for that to slip out of the historical record. Even the ugly parts of our past need to be preserved- it’s too easy for history to get edited.

At the same time, the fact that these magazines have been available to the public recreates the original violation that started with their production (and most certainly earlier). I have difficulty understanding how it took this long for someone to raise this issue. All it would have taken is a “do not distribute” policy, perhaps with a locked room? It doesn’t seem that hard to me. It also doesn’t seem that hard to create a policy for qualified researchers, either. A letter from a university or other institution, a CV showing one’s experience as a scientist, letters of recommendation to verify someone’s credentials- none of this is all that hard to do and it would create a useful paper trail.

I bet they’re wishing that they’d done that before all this came to light.

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