i was recently asked, as part of a thought experiment, if i felt it should be illegal to view child pornography, even if one did not participate in the making of it. my answer was that yes, it should still be illegal, because by becoming audience to it, one is supporting the sexual exploitation of children (obviously the anticipated response). the next question, then, was whether child pornography should be illegal even if no children were exploited in the making of it - for example, if it were part of a virtual reality setting wherein the pornographic scenes were created with CGI instead of live people.
the same question could equally apply to a rape scenario, or any other action which, if it were happening for real, would be a crime. in your opinion, should it be illegal to produce material which enables people to participate in "virtual" criminal activities - what one might call "thought crimes"? bear in mind that people are already able to kill other people in all sorts of explicitly violent ways in video games. should CGI child pornography be permitted? i find it a particularly sensitive issue; i am against the idea of it myself. i am also against the viewing of snuff films.
i'd love to hear your thoughts.