In the state of New York, two people fighting inside a cage, using a unified set of rules, is a big no-no. However, looking at child pornography on the internet is perfectly okay.

On Monday, New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver stated that a bill legalizing mixed martial arts would not be brought to a vote. Mr. Silver stated through his spokesman, Michael Whyland, that “… there is no clear sense of the conference and the issue is evolving, therefore it will not come to the floor for a vote this year.” After the news that the vote would not be brought to the floor this year, Ultimate Fighting Championship Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner said, “If we have a vote and lose, then we lose, but not to get a vote is maddening to me.”

During the battle to get MMA legalized in New York, proponents against the sport have likened it to “cock fighting” and “prostitution.” Despite the fact that MMA could bring million of dollars into the state’s economy, it has repeatedly been shot down or pushed off the docket. However, it appears that viewing child pornography on the internet is perfectly acceptable, but don’t you dare download any of the images to your hard drive.

On Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals ruled by a 4-2 margin that viewing child pornography online is not illegal. The court’s decision was based on the case of James Kent, a business administration teacher at Marist College who was convicted on two counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child and 141 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child in 2009. Upon an appeal of his case, Mr. Kent argued that the images were not downloaded to his computer, but stored in his browser’s cache.  He went on to argue that the files that were on his computer were placed there by someone else.

Upon the court’s ruling, Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote, “Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law, ” on behalf of the four judges who ruled in Mr. Kent’s favor. Furthermore, Judge Ciparick went on to state, “Rather, some affirmative act is required to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen,” and that it was not the up to the court to “criminalize all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible.”

So what is the connection between MMA and child pornography? The answer is simple: none. But the question about how the devious act of viewing pictures of naked children is not illegal, yet a sport which has been proven to be safer than boxing and football is still shunned by one of the most powerful states in America must be brought up.

Perhaps there are multiple things that need to be examined before that question can be addressed. First, in the case of Mr. Kent, he was already convicted of a crime, then upon an appeal, judges made a ruling regarding the viewing of child pornography. Therefore, it becomes a case of interpreting the laws which already exist. With MMA, the whole legalization process is being handled by politicians in the State Senate and Assembly. As it stands now, there is no grey area regarding MMA; it is illegal, end of story. Second, the bill to legalize MMA has support from the Democratic majority in the New York Senate. Seeing as how New York is a blue state, it would stand to reason that if there was that much Democratic support, the bill would have no problems getting passed. However, there will be no vote until 2013 at the earliest.

In an attempt to answer the aforementioned question, I believe it can be summed up in one word: ignorance. Regardless of your views about both the subjects, one cannot deny that there is something odd going on in New York. A sport that has been embraced by states and countries around the world is being denied legalization, and those who would participate in the actions of mixed martial arts would go to jail.  On the other hand, acts that are seen as deplorable by anyone with a set of decent moral values can happen without any fear of repercussions. As a former amateur MMA fighter and a father of four, that sickens this writer.

Stay tuned for part two of this discussion, where Maximum Fighting Championship owner Mark Pavelich sounds off about the debacle going on in New York.

Photo: Blurry computer screen (

This piece was authored by Jason Schielke. You can find Jason on Twitter: @JasonSchielke

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