Buoyed on the swell of outrage against the Netflix fictional film Cuties, which tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl who joins a provocative dance group, several Texas politicians have called for legal action, with one state senator promising to introduce legislation to ban pedophilia.
Senator Bob Hall (R-Canton) committed on Twitter to “file a bill to make pedophilia a crime in our Texas state constitution.”
“We MUST never normalize this kind of wickedness in our Texas,” his tweet reads.
Hall sent a statement and spoke to The Texan about the bill, saying he wants to see pedophilia become a state jailable offense.
“The point is this is not a Class C misdemeanor,” Hall said. “I would say this should be a state jail felony.”
Hall and state Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), who asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the film for violations, both acknowledged the uncharted legal frontier into which their legal actions will venture. Hall suggested in his statement that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton should close any loopholes that might currently make Cuties legal.
“We must ensure that movies like Cuties are recognized as pedophilia if Paxton says current law is not sufficient to prosecute perpetrators like Netflix,” Hall stated.
Schaefer believes the film violates state and federal laws that relate both to pornography and “distribution of harmful material,” saying that both the young actresses and young viewers are victims.
“If this is legal, then literally anybody with a camera can get an underage girl, very young girl, and have her do nearly anything as long as there is the thinnest piece of fabric covering her body,” Schaefer said. “Ultimately, we have to realize that this film is gonna be seen by a lot of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-year old boys. How is that not material harmful to a minor?”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr asking for an investigation into the production of Cuties and suggested a concrete way forward for prosecution.
“The Department enforces federal criminal law making it a serious crime to produce or distribute material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, including the filming of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251, 2252,” his letter reads.
“By investigating and prosecuting offenders who possess and distribute images and video sexually depicting minors, the Department both obtains justice for those who have been abused and helps protect children from future sexual abuse and exploitation.”
Paxton joined Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a letter asking Netflix to voluntarily remove it.
“While the filmmaker’s asserted desire to fight the hypersexualization of young girls is admirable, the manner in which the film attempts to do so is misguided and does more harm than good,” Yost’s letter reads. “In short, this film does immeasurable damage to all of us fighting to keep our children safe.”
Schaefer contended that the First Amendment does not cover the film.
“You don’t tell a story about child exploitation by exploiting children,” Schaefer insisted. “What is the limit if this isn’t it?”
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