…You can't repeat what you put 'round ,
all the things that made me cry, you kicked me when I was down
and they hurt me all those lies, Lies La La La La La La Lies
-- Pete Townshend, The Who Sings My Generation (1965) La La La Lies
A website www.petetownshendisinnocent.com [defunct] has been established to tell the full story of the Pete Townshend case. They are also circulating a petition to have Townshend removed from the dangerous offender's list.
This is an educational website and contributes greatly to understanding how the childporn industry works. The suggestion that Internet service providers and credit card companies be assigned to police this industry poses some problems. Childporn must be controlled at the source. Those who use actual children to create the images or artifacts must be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
We are in a time when technology allows artists to create images that are breathtakingly realistic. Nabakov created a nymphette from his imagination and many courts have fought to establish the legitimacy of Lolita. The Canadian case of Eli Langer is also very much to the point. The right of artists and intellectuals to choose the subjects they wish to explore must not in any way be restricted.
After an investigation that lasted nearly four months, police in London cleared Pete Townshend yesterday on charges that he downloaded child porn from the Internet. Computer equipment seized by officials from Scotland Yard at the time the Who guitarist's arrest in January failed to turn up any illicit downloads, police said. Investigators did confirm that Townshend had accessed a site containing such images in 1999; as a result, he was listed on a national register of sex offenders.
"From the very beginning," Townshend said in a statement, "I acknowledged that I did access this site and that I had given the police full access to my computers. As I made clear at the outset, I accessed the site because of my concerns at the shocking material available on the Internet to children as well as adults, and as part of my research toward the campaign I had been putting together since 1995 to counter damage done by all kinds of pornography on the Internet, but especially any involving child abuse."
Just after his arrest -- part of an international Internet porn sting called Operation Ore -- Townshend had maintained he accessed the site to research for his autobigraphy, since he suspected he was abused as a child.
In February, Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja was also arrested as part of Operation Ore. He was also cleared without charge in March.
As part of the "Operation Ore" investigations, Townshend was cautioned by the police in 2003 after acknowledging a credit card access in 1999 to the Landslide website alleged to advertise child pornography. He stated in the press and on his website that he had been engaged in research for A Different Bomb (a now-abandoned book based on an anti-child pornography essay published on his website in January 2002) and his autobiography, and as part of a campaign against child pornography.
it was established that Townshend was not in possession of child abuse images
The police searched his house and confiscated 14 computers and other materials, and after a four-month forensic investigation confirmed that they had found no evidence of child abuse images. Consequently, the police offered a caution rather than pressing charges, issuing a statement: "After four months of investigation by officers from Scotland Yard's child protection group, it was established that Mr. Townshend was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images."
In a statement issued by his solicitor, Townshend said at the time, "I accept that I was wrong to access this site, and that by doing so, I broke the law, and I have accepted the caution that the police have given me."
As a statutory consequence of accepting the caution, Townshend was entered on the Violent and Sex Offender Register for five years.
January 13, 2003 by Sheila Steele
If you believe Pete Townshend is a pedophile you'll believe everything. His arrest underscores the zealous and dangerous nature of the Internet witchhunt which has scooped up far more innocents than guilty parties.
The warning that anyone who downloads material from a child porn site will be subject to the same kind of public humiliation Townshend has endured with his very public arrest should scare the bejeebers out of artists and intellectuals.
I am forced everyday to look at images of things I would never dream of supporting or participating in -- human bodies blown apart or starving or displayed in ways I find unseemly; car crashes, despoiled natural settings, McDonald's commercials, etc. Having seen the images my opinion is informed. I develop my own filters to ignore what is truly intolerable. We all do this. Otherwise we would go mad.
For years I am being asked to believe that there are thousands and thousands of people partipating in the proliferation of millions of images of children being subjected to sexual acts. It strains credulity. Yet if I were to go looking for such images to see what is actually out there, so I coud report back to people who prefer not to view for themselves but who trust me as a reporter, I could be picked up by the police and branded as a pedophile in the media.
I guess I would have had a hard time believing what the Nazis did to the victims of the holocaust were it not for the documentation: Those piles of handbags and buckets of teeth are still pretty hard to take. I read in an interview with Ward Churchill that Andrew Jackson had horses' bridles made of Indian skin. His face is on the U.S. twenty dollar bill. I also recently saw some people interviewed who collect memorobilia including trading cards featuring serial killers. I'm glad I know about these people. Knowing these people exist and seeing the stuff that turns them on does not tempt me to become one of them.
If there really is the amount of child porn out there which the detectives assure us there is, let's have a look at it. Knock the shock value out of it. Desensitize it. Maybe Britney Spears could make a video. But please don't ask me to trust porn police who have already demonstrated that they La La La Lie.--Sheila Steele, Jan. 13, 2003
LONDON (AP)-- Pete Townshend, the legendary rock guitarist and co-founder of The Who, was arrested Monday on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, police said.
Townshend has acknowledged using an Internet Web site advertising child pornography, but said he was not a pedophile and was only doing research for an autobiography dealing with his own suspected childhood sexual abuse.
Police said they arrested Townshend, 57, under the Protection of Children Act after executing two searches at a business and a home in Richmond, Surrey, the town outside London where he lives. They said they took computers from the home and were examining them.
Townshend was not charged with a crime. Under British law, suspects are not charged immediately upon arrest and some people who are arrested are eventually released without charge.
Townshend was being held at a southwest London police station.
In a statement on Saturday, Townshend said that on one occasion he used a credit card to download pornographic images as part of his research and that he reported what he saw to police.
Townshend, who helped form The Who in the early 1960s, said he believed he was "sexually abused between the age of five and six and a half."
"I cannot remember clearly what happened, but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows--particularly in 'Tommy'. Some of the things I have seen on the Internet have informed my book, which I hope will be published later this year," he added.
The title character in Townshend's rock opera "Tommy"--a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard--is sexually abused by an uncle.
Earlier Monday, a group of police officers arrived at Townshend's Richmond home, one carrying a plastic crate containing packaging to store potential evidence.
His lawyer John Cohen told reporters the meeting with police was by "mutual agreement."
"We approached the police this morning and said that we should meet," he said.
Townshend, unshaven and wearing a black jacket, left his house by a side entrance at 7:20 p.m., about four hours after police arrived, and was driven away.
Scotland Yard later announced that a 57-year-old man was in custody on suspicion of making and possessing indecent images of children and of incitement to distribute them. A police spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the suspect was Townshend.
The arrest came as part of Operation Ore, a crackdown on people who view child pornography on the Internet.
British police have arrested 1,300 suspects as part of the sweep, including a judge, magistrates, dentists, doctors and a deputy school headmaster. Fifty police officers also have been arrested, and eight have been charged with offenses.
Operation Ore is the British arm of an FBI-led operation which traced 250,000 suspected pedophiles around the world through credit card details they used to pay for downloading child pornography. The names of British suspects were passed on to police here by U.S. investigators.
Townshend's friend, the model Jerry Hall, said Sunday he was an "avid supporter" of child welfare groups and had spoken at length about the dangers of child pornography on the Internet.
Daltrey, Townshend's bandmate from The Who, said: "My gut instinct is that he is not a pedophile and I know him better than most."
But Internet watchdogs have dismissed Townshend's explanation for entering an Internet site dealing with child pornography.
Mark Stephens, a lawyer and vice chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation said: "It is wrong-headed, misguided and illegal to look at or download or even to pay to download pedophiliac material and if you do so, you are likely to go to prison."
Townshend was one of The Who's four founding members, along with bassist John Entwistle, singer Daltrey and drummer Keith Moon. Moon died in 1978 and Entwistle died last year.
The group, founded in London in the early 1960s, was part of the British rock invasion along with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Their parade of hits included "I Can See For Miles," "Pinball Wizard," and "Won't Get Fooled Again."
The Who has been known for explosive shows that often culminated in the smashing of their musical instruments on stage.
Two U.S. anti-child abuse groups are calling for the National Football League (NFL) to ban Pete Townshend and the Who from performing at February 7th's Super Bowl Half Time show. Monstersandcritics.com reported that the groups are pushing for the boycott because of Townshend's 2003 caution by police for using a credit card in 1999 to access a website that allegedly advertised child pornography.
In a letter to the commissioner of the NFL, Evin Daly, the founder of Child Abuse Watch, wrote, "Inviting Townsend to play is a blatant disregard to the values of American families and a slap in the face to victims of child sexual abuse. . . I think there's a chance the League would drop Pete and let the rest of the band perform. The Super Bowl is just not suitable for him."
Florida-based Protect Our Children has reportedly contacted U.S. Immigration & Customs and urged them not to permit Townshend into the country. Protect Our Children's Kevin Gillick said, "We're part of a coordinated effort to prevent Mr. Townsend from coming into this country,' said. We acknowledge he was not convicted, but he was on (the UK) sex offenders' list. In the United States, you're on a sex offenders' list for life. . . Why (are they) having Pete Townshend perform in what's supposed to be a family show?"