We all have–or have seen–embarrassing pictures of ourselves in a bathtub. For most of us, those photos were taken when we were small children. For you others…well, you know who you are, and, if you’re not careful where you post those photos, so will a few million other people.
I’m sure my mother had such a photo of me but, fortunately, she threw it out. Unfortunately, she also threw out every other family photograph she had,* because (she says) she didn’t have the room for them when she moved from a two-bedroom apartment in Queens to another two-bedroom apartment in Florida. But that, perhaps, is a subject for another day.
Of course, my wife Barbara and I have bathtub pictures of our daughter Casey which we are keeping as insurance in case she ever decides to put us in an old-age home not to our liking. We also have one of Casey and her cousins, on which Barbara has strategically pasted paper fig leaves. (This was before Photoshop.) It’s a cute picture, but I’m not posting it here, because the cousins’ parents and we do not want our children taken away from us by the authorities, although they are (mostly) adults now, so it’s about time somebody took them away from us.
What’s that, you ask? Why would our children be taken away from us because we posted innocent childhood bathtub pictures?
Well, I’m so glad you brought that up, because it brings me to the subject of today’s post, the frighteningly ridiculous tale of Lisa and Anthony Demaree of Peoria, Arizona, who lost custody of their three daughters after having photographs of the kids taking a bath developed at Walmart. Just for good measure, the couple was also entered into a sex offenders registry so that Lisa could lose her job. As a teacher.
The details of this story are so stupid in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start.
So let’s start at the beginning: What parents of young children still use film cameras? That’s just laughable. Why would you use film and pay all that money for developing, only to find that half the shots are blurry, or have the heads cut off, or brand you as child pornographers? I mean it’s not like the parents are professional photographers who swear by the depth and “feel” of film. We know that because they were having the shots developed at friggin’ Walmart!
Then there was the store policy of reporting “possibly sensitive” images of minors to the authorities. This is probably an effective crime-fighting technique because, as we all know, most pedophiles have their pornography developed at the local drug store. But it is giving an awful lot of power to the person behind the film developing counter. What is “possibly sensitive?” A newly born, but unforgivably naked, baby? Someone’s girlfriend laying topless but face down on the beach? An old Coppertone ad? Let’s face it: the person behind the photo developing counter at Walmart is not likely to be well-schooled in the law, or anything else for that matter.
Of course, the alternative would be to not give the photo developing person the power to go directly to the authorities. Instead, in an effort to prevent the circulation of these photos, he or she could show them to some of the cashiers, and maybe even the 80-year-old greeter at the front of the store, and ask if they think the pictures should be brought to the store manager.
It would then be the manager’s call. Perhaps she is level-headed and says “Oh, those are just kids’ bathtub pictures that will mortify those children in 15 years.” Or maybe the manager has visions of being featured on the local news as a hero for having broken up a major child pornography ring involving the Demarees and their three daughters before the photos could be exhibited to “interested” parties…like the girls’ grandparents. So he calls the cops.
You would think the cops would have the restraint to see the photos for what they are, or do a little bit of investigating (such as talking to the parents) before putting the girls into foster care and registering the parents alongside pedophiles. Evidently not. These photos, they felt, were clearly destined for some illicit website, although for all I know, in Arizona the Demarees could have been arrested just for posting the photos on Facebook, unless they first used Instagram to blur the “naughty bits.” (I also don’t know the Connecticut law in this regard; hence no fig leaves in this post.)
Wait–I’m not done yet. The Demarees, of course, are suing, but not for what you think. They’re not suing the local authorities for defamation of character or kidnapping. They’re not suing Walmart for invasion of privacy. They’re not even suing anybody for gross stupidity. No, they’re suing the store for not disclosing its procedure for processing pictures of minors. According to the suit, the store was legally bound to let customers know the images could be submitted to authorities.
Of course, we as parents know that even if Walmart had posted its policy, we would have left the photos for developing anyway, because what sane person would anticipate that some idiot would think my picture of my kids in the bath was child pornography?
Finally–and perhaps stupidest of all–we have the media who, in covering this story, have printed and broadcast the actual photos of the girls in the bathtub! So the pictures, which Walmart and the Arizona authorities were afraid would show up on a few dark and dirty websites, are now on the local news and mainstream websites for all to see! Granted, the girls’ faces are blotted out, but since the stories are using the Demarees’ name, we know who they are and, besides, the faces are probably not the parts connoisseurs of child porn are interested in.
I mean, even I have enough common sense not to post the photos here, although this blog probably gets fewer hits than most child porn websites except maybe dirtydiapers.com.**
Anyway, if you want to see the photos, just click the link in this post. And then be ashamed of yourself.
See you soon.
*Not that I would have known who any of the people were.
**I made this site up and it doesn’t to my knowledge exist, but, if it did, I’d really, really hope it was an advertising site for Pampers.