John Grisham, the man who rocked the world with his revelation that American prisons are literally bursting at the seams with incarcerated white men in the mid-60s who watched child porn just that once, has apologized. And the internet has found his child porn-watching buddy.
On Wednesday we discussed Grisham's statement at length, breaking down his idea that child porn is just a click away, as well as drawing attention to the fact that the author said that hey, it's cool that his friend watched 16-year-old girls on the internet, because it's not like they were 10-year -ld boys — the subtext being that watching young boys is a crime (or kinda gay, so gross) while watching underage girls is, you know, just a fantasy thing.
But Thursday, Grisham issued an apology, stating that he is very sorry for his comments and that he made a mistake saying that those who view child pornography should not be punished because, after all, most of those people are just dudes who got a little too wasted and clicked on some buttons — an explanation that many astute readers pointed out wouldn't hold in a case of drunk driving, so why should it here?
Here's Grisham's statement in full:
Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography—online or otherwise—should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.
I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all.
As I pointed out in my previous post, there's no way that someone is going to accidentally stumble on child porn, or stumble on it accidentally enough times to be arrested. And as many readers who have stumbled on child porn pointed out, that hey you call the cybercrime hotline and report it. Or at the very least you close out of it. It becomes an issue, however, when you start downloading that porn and keeping it on your computer (as Grisham says his friend, one of the many poor aging white dudes in prison, did).
Since his comments, many have wondered who exactly Grisham's friend is and whether Grisham was, in fact, speaking about himself. Salon has done a little digging and have found a case that may explain who Grisham is talking about. Or, as Mary Elizabeth Williams points out, could just be an "eerie coincidence."
In 2002, Grisham wrote a letter recommending that his friend Michael B. Holleman be reinstated to the bar after Holleman was convicted of viewing child pornography. And it seems that Holleman's case (or at least his explanation of what happened) is very similar to what Grisham was describing.
"In late 1996 or early 1997, Holleman, while drinking heavily at his office, accessed some publicly available computer images of child pornograpy on the internet. Holleman did not print any of the computer images, and after briefly viewing some of these images, he believed that he had deleted them from his computer. Following a seizure of Holleman's computer in February 1997, federal agents recovered these images from his computer hard drive."
Well, as long as he didn't print them.
While Holleman was arrested and pled guilty, his prison sentence was nowhere near the three years Grisham described. He was sentenced to 18 months and served 15 and a half, according to Salon. Furthermore, with the help of his friends and colleagues, Holleman was able to file a petition to be reinstated to the bar and is now practicing in Mississippi.
Regardless of what anyone believes about Holleman's story, not only does it not form a compelling argument for Grisham's case against "too harsh" penalties for watching child porn but it also completely goes against the idea that middle-aged white men's lives are being ruined by child porn. You know whose
lives are life is being ruined by child porn? Children's lives. John Grisham's, because he now has to be held accountable for his awful statement.
If you have any questions for Grisham about his statements, the author is holding a live Q&A on Goodreads on Monday, October 21st. Readers of the site are already excited to ask Grisham questions about his new book and also why he thinks that "rich old white men" should be allowed to watch child porn when they're drunk.
You may ask a question here.
Image via Getty