You Are Not the Morality Police
I’m an artist. During the course of my yet short career I’ve naturally been making friends (or co-existing in friendly terms, with most) with other artists and clients and it has been excellent so far. However, a few days ago I was made aware of a rather difficult situation that has been making rounds in my head ever since.
Turns out one of these persons has covered up and remains friends with someone who was outed as a child groomer some time ago, and doing something about it wouldn’t pose a problem for me if it weren’t for the fact that said person (the one who’s friends with the predator) lives an incredibly active social life and is also friends with the vast majority of artists and clients I’m also friends with.
I know some of them are aware of this fact, while some others aren’t. The whole group of people goes around connecting with tons and tons of people in different artist owned servers, including mine, so it’s really weird to look at them and have to suspect everyone all of a sudden.
I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t want to be the reason a lot of these people end up fighting each other. I don’t even know if it’s something I should meddle with to begin with. They’ve been friends with each other for far longer than I have. I’ve only known them since this past year and I feel like a complete outsider to the overall group and the whole situation.
I’m not a really big artist. I know that if I spoke up I would probably be eaten alive and that I don’t stand a chance against a group as big as this in my current state, including that I would probably lose a lot of friends in the process. I know they have harassed people in the past because of stuff like this. It’s scary to think that most of my support would completely disappear if I make the wrong move, especially considering that being from a third world country with an ever dying economy, making art on the internet is my only chance of living a slightly better life.
Furthermore, I have plans of moving countries in the future. I'm incredibly scared of the criminality rate of my current place and many people are murdered just in my city alone each year, so I'd go as far as to think my physical health is in danger if I don't move out quickly and art is the thing that will help me on that.
My question is, if someone knows that something around them is bad but doesn't have the power to do anything about it, does that make them equally as bad? I don’t like the idea of allowing these people to keep existing in my space but, is it valid when it’s for the sake of keeping a low profile for self preservation?
I would love to have your opinion on this matter, and I deeply appreciate your time. Thank you.
Anonymous (age 23)
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Interesting question. I assume that by "child" you mean someone who is not of legal age to consent to sex. So, first of all, this is, of course, illegal if we are talking actual sex. Now, you are from outside the USA, apparently, but I don't know where the other parties are. Are they in the United States? If this is criminal behavior outside your own country, it's rather difficult to report.
Another thing to consider is evidence. Is there any solid evidence for what is being claimed or is it just internet chatter? There is a lot of posting on social websites that is complete and utter baloney, and you don't want to contribute to that rumor mill. I'm looking at posts you shared with me on Twitter [not shared here], and even the person making the accusations is using words like "allegedly." I'm also reading these tweets, one of them saying the minor is 17 versus the groomer being 27. Seventeen (and 16), actually, is legal age in 41 of the states in the USA, with 18 being the age of consent in the other nine states. So, if all parties concerned are in one of the 41 states, it's really not a crime.
As for "grooming," it sounds as if the older person is supplying the younger person with pornographic images to try and get them aroused. It is illegal in the USA to show minors pornography, and by "minor," we are again dealing with different laws in different states. So, again, if they aren't in one of those 9 states, it's not illegal. What WOULD be illegal in ALL 50 states would be to have the young person, who is under 18, pose for naked photos or be in a porno film.
So, you see, this can be complicated. As for you making posts about it on, say, art social groups on the internet, I'd say that's unnecessary. Someone other than you has already, clearly, posted a lot about this. There is no obligation to you to warn people and, honestly, it's kind of none of your business. Also, as you said, your posting about it would not help the matter in any way. And, no, you are not a bad person for not raising a flag. You are not the Police of the World's Bad Behavior.
I'm glad you sent me this query as it highlights a problem I see all the time online: People think that it is their job to condemn people vocally on the internet whenever someone does something they consider bad or questionable. The reason this is a problem is that most of the time people are making accusations based on assumptions, rumors, gossip, and opinion, and when you participate in the rumor mill, the result can be the destruction of an innocent person's reputation--or worse. Furthermore, if you are proven wrong, you end up destroying your own respectability and looking like a fool.
Do yourself a favor and stay out of the public forum of dirty laundry. If someone has, indeed, done something immoral or criminal, believe me, people will find out without your help. Now, if someone does something to YOU that is criminal, you obviously should report it to the authorities. That's a no-brainer. Or, if they are simply being an asshole to you, the solution is to cut them out of your life, forget about them, and move on. And if a friend of yours is being hurt, you should go to them in private and offer them your support.
The internet has become a dung heap of trash-talk and lies. Don't become one of the flies attracted by the stench.
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