To follow up my previous post "You Are Probably A Child Pornographer", we have a young Arizona couple who made the increasingly-unwise mistake of taking their family photos to a Wal-Mart:
In 2008, Lisa and Anthony "A.J." Demaree took their three young daughters on a trip to San Diego. They returned home to Arizona and brought photos of their then 5, 4 and 1 1/2 year old daughters to a local Walmart in Peoria to be developed.
. . . Walmart employees reported the Demarees to the Peoria Police Department on the suspicion that they had taken pornographic images of their children. The police, in turn, called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency, and the couple lost custody of their daughters for over a month.
Apparently the Demaree's had photographed their children during and immediately after their baths because they thought their children were being cute.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the photographs were not, in fact, pornographic, and a medical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse. The girls were returned to their parents.
Good for you, Judge. But was it really necessary for a medical exam to probe these little girls' nether regions?
The couple's named went on a central registry of sex offenders, and "We've missed a year of our children's lives as far as memories go," Demaree told ABC News.
So, having done nothing wrong; having been convicted of no crime; these parents were nevertheless branded as "sex offenders" and separated from their children while strangers probed their daughters' vaginas.
In 2009, the couple sued the city of Peoria and the State Attorney General's office for defamation. They also sued Walmart for failing to tell them that they had an "unsuitable print policy" and could turn over photos to law enforcement without the customer's knowledge.
A federal judge in Phoenix sided with Walmart, ruling that employees in Arizona cannot be held liable for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on March 6 the court held a hearing before three judges. It's unknown when the appeals court will rule on the case against the city and Walmart.
So expect Wal-Mart to look at your family photos.
Walmart did not respond to an interview request from ABC News. But, according to Courthouse News the company's lawyer, Lawrence Kasten, argued that under Arizona statute employees who report child abuse without malice are immune from prosecution. He added that there was no indication of malice in this case.
The problem isn't Wal-Mart. They are in a no-win situation because of "mandatory reporting" laws. Most states have laws that not only encourage the reporting of suspicions of crimes against children but punish the failure to report it. (Apparently, our governments do not believe that we citizens are moral enough to report such things voluntarily and thus must be threatened with punishment for failing to do so.) Wal-Mart is trying to error on the side of caution by reporting anything that might remotely be criminal, lest their employees face criminal charges for not reporting it. In other words, the law has left no room for common sense.
The story is here.
So if you are a parent of anyone under 18, remember that Big Brother is watching. Big Brother has also conscripted Wal-Mart, teachers, doctors, and anyone else they can to help keep an eye on you through "mandatory reporting" laws. Do not photograph or video your children doing anything without appropriate clothing. If you do have such videos or photographs, do not email or text them, or post them on the internet. Keep them on an encrypted hard drive with a strong key. And if anyone from the government asks for permission to search, the correct answer is "no."
Protecting yourself from government stupidity begins with protecting yourself from the government.