The worse the state treats kids, the more the state’s prosecutors chase after inoffensive “perverts” in the private sector who have committed the so-called crime of getting sexual kicks out of images downloaded into their computers or bought as part of an archive of archaic soft-core porn.
Before we get to Paul Reubens, a k a Pee-Wee Herman, pause to consider the Administration’s proposed cuts in social services affecting youth, as passed by the Senate in January:
§ $60.9 million cut from childcare, meaning access cut for 38,000 kids;
§ $29 million cut from after-school programs;
§ $13 million cut from programs that help abused and neglected children;
§ $3 million cut from children’s mental health funding;
§ $42 million cut from substance-abuse treatment programs.
All this and more from a President who had the effrontery in his State of the Union address to proclaim the ringing lie, “We will not pass along our problems” to future generations, even as the future generations are scheduled to pick up the tab for his proposed disbursements to the very rich.
Meanwhile, out in California a prosecutor is trying once more to destroy Pee-Wee, who took a hit back in 1991 for the awful crime of masturbating in a Sarasota film theater during a showing of Nancy Nurse. Reubens pleaded no contest and slowly hauled himself out of the ditch, but last year the shadows gathered round him once more. His travails were recently described by Richard Goldstein in a brilliant piece in the Village Voice.
A teenager complained to the LAPD about Reubens and a friend, the actor Jeffrey Jones. Though the complaint was dismissed, cops took occasion to search the homes of both men. Jones is charged with taking pornographic pictures of a juvenile, a felony. Reubens faces a lesser charge: possession. Both have pleaded not guilty.
But what exactly does Reubens “possess”? He collects vintage erotica, mostly gay, with copies of those old physique mags that slaked covert gay fantasies the same way Naked Women of Borneo in National Geographic helped out straight kids in the same era. The cops took away 30,000 items for leisurely perusal, leaving behind a further 70,000. The DA concluded there was no case, and it looked as though Pee-Wee was in the clear.
Enter a zealous Protector of Youth in the form of the city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo. One day before the one-year statute of limitations expired, Delgadillo issued a warrant for Reubens’s arrest. If Reubens gets convicted he could go to prison for a year. Goldstein writes that the cops told him Reubens had 6,500 hours of videotape, including transfers of vintage 8-millimeter gay films, with some minutes of teenage boys masturbating or having oral sex. Remember, in 1982 the Supreme Court declared child pornography unprotected by the First Amendment, with “porn” encompassing even clothed images of children if they are construed as arousing. “Child” means anyone under 18.