People in this economically pressed town near Lake Michigan are divided into two camps: Those who think Evan Emory should pay hard for what he did, and those who think he should be let off easy.
Mr. Emory, 21, an aspiring singer and songwriter, became a household name here last month when he edited a video to make it appear that elementary school children in a local classroom were listening to him sing a song with graphic sexual lyrics. He then showed the video in a nightclub and posted it on YouTube.
Tony Tague, the Muskegon County prosecutor, stands firmly in the first camp: He charged Mr. Emory with manufacturing and distributing child pornography, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and 25 years on the sex offender registry.
“It is a serious, a huge violation,” said Charles Willick, whose 6-year-old daughter was one of the students, all readily identifiable, in the video. “He crossed the line when he used children.”
Mr. Emory, who had gotten permission to sing songs like “Lunchlady Land” for the first graders, waited until the students left for the day and then recorded new, sexually explicit lyrics, miming gestures to accompany them. He then edited the video to make it seem as if the children were listening to the sexual lyrics and making faces in response.
It was a dumb thing to do, without a doubt, but no child was sexually abused during the production of this video, the video has been yanked, and there don't appear to be any copies circulating. He sang a song and edited in some reaction shots. How does that constitute the production of child pornography? I understand why the parents of the kids shown in the video might be upset—I'm a parent, I'd be upset—but destroying Evan Emory's life over this? Doesn't that cross a line?
Gay art being pulled off walls in museums, attacks on abortion rights, assaults on unions, seeing harm to children where none has occurred—it's the 1980s all fucking over again. And if Emory is guilty of a sex crime, so was Gilda Radner.