johngrisham.jpgJohn Grisham, hawklike legal eagle, millionaire bestselling author, spokesperson for middle-aged white pedophiles … oops. How did that one slip through the publicist’s net? Through Grisham’s own mouth, it seems, relayed via the UK’s Daily Telegraph in an interview taped for your enjoyment and judicial edification. And the legal opinions vouchsafed therein are interesting to say the least…

Grisham complains about the harsh sentences meted out to consumers of pornography, even child pornography, and bemoans the fact that: “we have prisons now filled with guys my age, 60-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child, but they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever.” Then he cites a personal experience:

A friend of mine, ten years ago, was drinking. His drinking was out of control. And he went to a website — it was labeled, 16-year-old wannabe hookers, or something, some stupid website. And it said, 16-year-old girls. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff. It was 16-year-old girls who looked 30. You know, they were all dressed up and whatever. He shouldn’t have done it, it was stupid. But it wasn’t 10-year-old boys and he didn’t touch anything. And golly, a week later there was a knock on the door. FBI. And it was a sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people—sex offenders. And he went to prison for three years.

I am very interested to know how Grisham, as a lawyer, would argue that going to a website “labeled, 16-year-old wannabe hookers” – or something – is somehow succumbing to accidental temptation, never mind the downloading that followed. And I am also very interested to notice that he inserts the word “white” into his checklist of characteristics of the poor abused victims of these cruel and unjust laws. Is Grisham implying that if they were 60-year-old black or Hispanic men, it wouldn’t be quite so bad? And I’m also moved to wonder, as others do, whether Grisham really thinks that pedophile crimes against young girls are less heinous than those against young boys.

Furthermore, given the precedent (okay, literary, not legal) of other literary cases of writers who were later found to be pedophiles, I wonder if there’s any sense scouring the collected works of John Grisham to find traces of any hidden messages of advocacy on behalf of middle-aged pedophile men? Could the age difference between Darby Shaw and Professor Thomas Callahan in The Pelican Brief be a covert endorsement for 60-year-old-and-below white men to go out and seek sex with younger women? Can we be certain of the temper of public morals while a single Grisham book remains at large?

That’s not quite as silly as it sounds, though. Remember that this is the same John Grisham who sued Oliver Stone and the producers of Natural Born Killers on the grounds that it encouraged violence. Is there now some activist group out there that might sue John Grisham, on the grounds that his opinions, as a respected writer on legal questions, might encourage other 60-year-old white men to go out and download pictures of “16-year-old wannabe hookers” – or worse?

For any brave activists out there, though, just remember: Grisham has considerable resources to defend himself in court, aside from his own legal prowess. According to CelebrityNetWorth, “John Grisham is a prolific American author who has a net worth of $200 million.” No wonder he’s a member of another group of (mostly) middle-aged (mostly) white (mostly) men: Authors United. That’s an awful lot of legal fees – for Grisham himself, or for advocacy of legal reform on behalf of other 60-year-old white men, who had too much to drink and went out and …


  1. Well, while I think the “white male” thing raises an eyebrow, knowing someone who went through a similar situation as Grisham’s friend, I sort of agree on his point that sometimes these aren’t dangerous men, they’re just stupid ones. There’s a big difference between someone interested in the “barely legal” fantasy and someone who touches children. From Nabokov’s Lolita to the “loli” culture of Japanese manga, there’s a lot to take into consideration before locking these people up for many years or not getting them the correct kind of treatment.

  2. Grisham and Sarah might be able to convince themselves that their friends haven’t done that much wrong, because hey, they never actually filmed or touched a kid. I wonder how they’d feel if the child being viewed was one of theirs? Still not that big a deal?

    Their “stupid” pals are creating the market that motivates the people who do actually film and touch kids. Without that market there would be much less abuse of children, so they are disgustingly complicit and I have no problem at all with them spending many years behind bars for that.

  3. Further reporting to follow on this, but basically, stupid is not excuse and this is not a victimless crime. It may be stupid to drunk drive, but you still get jailed if you hurt anyone while doing it.

  4. Not that I find the behavior acceptable… and I agree that it shouldn’t matter whether it is boys or girls, but I do think it matters whether the child is 10 or 16. Physically (though not intellectually or emotionally) a 16 year old is usually essentially an adult. Indeed, in some parts of the country, age of consent is 16 years old (Though I don’t think that applies to posing for pornographic pictures). As a result, I think one could argue that interest in 16 year olds is not pedophilia from a psychological perspective.

    Now, I am not arguing for the law to be relaxed. As I said, intellectually and emotionally 16 year olds are not adult and need protections that 18 year olds don’t.

  5. How are the “old white men” that didn’t harm anyone further victimizing those that were in the photos? Should your scorn be directed at law enforcement that seems to have no qualms about using these images as bait? They should be destroying these images, not distributing them to weirdos that are only going to trade them and disseminate them further.

  6. @Stacy G
    Well, considering I can’t HAVE children, that “what if it was your kid” appeal to emotion doesn’t apply. And if I did, of course I wouldn’t want harm to come to them. Again, I’m not advocating child pornography or supporting the market behind it. I’m saying that not all legally classified “sex offenders” are dangerous and that there are situations that should be taken into account when prosecuting these people. What about the 17 year old who was caught with a 16 year old? Those individuals get often get labeled as sex offenders and that haunts them for life because they were young and stupid. Someone who gets a pornographic comic from another country where the age of consent is lower than the age of consent in their country-do they deserve to be locked up with the person who molests real children?

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