Mader case is test of new Dutch pornography law

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Did Donald Mader produce and Intermale display child pornography? An Amsterdam court will begin to decide these questions in January, more than eight months after Dutch police seized 15 of 46 photographs taken by Mader on exhibition at Intermale, a gay bookstore in Amsterdam. This is the first case to be prosecuted under Holland's stricter 1986 pornography law, but because of the politics surrounding the charges, the government's case does not look strong. At issue is whether Mader's photographs meet the criteria for child pornography, which is defined as "images which depict the sexual 'gedraging' {behavior or conduct} of persons under 16." The prosecutor is arguing for a broad interpretation of "gedraging" such that images depicting a person under 16 in a "sexual manner" would be outlawed.

Many Dutch disagree with his interpretation. One of the legislators who framed the porn law told a magazine that pictures such as Mader's were never intended to be proscribed. Bob van Schendal [van Schijndel], a gay city councilman in Amsterdam, has publicly supported Mader, as have other high city officials privately. The national lesbian and gay organization COC has opposed the seizure. Mader says the press has been "absolutely supportive." Het Parool, a major Amsterdam daily, ran one of the allegedly pornographic photos on its front page with a rhetorical caption, "Is this child pornography?", and Haagsepost [Haagse Post], a major newsweekly, asked "When will a stick limp asparagus become obscene?"

The seized photos are not particularly racy. They are simply nudes of boys, and do not show erections or sexual activity. They are much tamer, even, than images that have appeared on national television. Mader cites a recent segment of a Dutch children's program "Kinder Island" that contained a lengthy nude scene suggesting a 12-year-old boy masturbation.

It is not just that the Netherlanders' famous tolerance has been roiled by the censorship. There are also issues of national integrity involved for there has been direct and indirect American and British intervention in Dutch affairs on the issue of "child pornography," and this has been widely reported. On a tip from the Amsterdam pedophile community, one of the largest Dutch dailies devoted its lead story last May to a US Senate admission that an American undercover agent operated in Amsterdam, a charge that embarrassed Dutch police.

There is evidence that American intervention was behind the Mader case. Amsterdam morals police told him that the raid was not their idea, but the result of US pressure. As an American, Mader thinks he was a particularly convenient target for the Dutch. As the first person prosecuted under the new porn law, Mader thinks that some in the Dutch government hope to counter Anglo-American pressure by implying that it's foreigners, not the Dutch, who cause the child pornography "problem" in Amsterdam. Of course, the hysterical reports in the American and British media that have constructed that "problem" are almost entirely lies, but in matters of diplomacy, appearance counts for more than reality. With billions of dollars in US investments, the Dutch worry about their American image and susceptible to American pressure, which one source in Amsterdam said was coming from highest levels of the Reagan administration.

source: Article 'Mader Case is Test of New Dutch Pornography Law'; Nambla Bulletin; January/February 1988