Dear Mr. Grisham,
I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a single one of your novels and I have no plans to. Call me a book snob or disinterested in American law, you’ve just never captured my attention. (Though I did watch The Pelican Brief with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.)
That said, I’ve worked in the book industry for nearly a decade now and I know how popular you are. I know how people still ask for your old titles and gobble up your new ones. Non-readers know your name. You have power and a certain amount of authority.
You’re not using them wisely. See: this interview in The Telegraph.
Shall I count the problems here?
“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child.”
Do you really think that’s the problem with the North American legal system? Too many white men in prison? I’m doubtful of this but, hey, you’re the legal expert, right?
But let’s be clear – child pornography harms children. Those aren’t dolls or cartoons; those are real kids. Real children are harmed and abused in the making of child pornography and when you or your friend or anyone views that pornography, they’re supporting an industry that harms children. Those sixty-year-old white men are not innocent simply because they’ve never physically touched a child.
“…probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”
Again, you’re the legal expert but drinking too much is a pretty piss poor excuse. It doesn’t hold up if I run someone down with my car, if I slip a candy bar in my pocket at the convenience store, if I punch a stranger in the face. And it doesn’t hold up if you’re sexually abusing a child either.
“It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee [sic] hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff – it was 16 year old girls who looked 30.
Okay, so we’re not actually talking about accidental clicking, are we? Because in this example of your “good buddy”, it sounds like he knew exactly what he was clicking on. A sixteen-year-old is still a child.
But what really makes me sick here is your defense, Mr. Grisham. So what if those girls looked 30? Your buddy didn’t think they were 30 when he clicked on that site. He was looking for children. And you know what probably ages a young girl before her time? Abuse. Prostitution. Sexual slavery. This is nothing but victim blaming.
“It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.”
Let me be really clear with you, Mr. Grisham. I have no idea if this is an attitude that pervades your writing or your everyday life but here’s a statement you should memorize: Girls are not created to be sexual objects for men. There’s nothing natural or normal about child pornography and it isn’t somehow “better” that, hey, at least your buddy wasn’t looking at boys.
“There’s so many ‘sex offenders’ – that’s what they’re called – that they put them in the same prison. Like they’re a bunch of perverts, or something.”
Mr. Grisham, I’m sorry that you’re friends with a sex offender. I’m sure that’s tough. And while it’s admirable to support your friend, you’re not doing him (or yourself) any favours by pretending that his crime is something other than what it is. Your friend is a pervert. He performed a perverted action and our actions do define us. Those who view child pornography cause harm to children. No, they may not be out there flashing kids on playgrounds or touching children inappropriately but they are putting money into the pockets of those who do. They are saying, “This is okay. This is fun. Keep doing it.” And, unfortunately, Mr. Grisham, so are you.
*all quotes are taking directly from John Grisham’s mouth, as reported by Peter Foster for The Telegraph.
EDITED TO ADD: John Grisham did make an apology the next day (Read more about that here) While I think that’s good and I’m happy that others have spoken out against his statements, I still think his original interview is pretty damning. I would love to see him donate some of his millions to a charity that helps children that have been abused and really show that he means what he says in his apology.