Every week on Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: Should Online Pornography Be Regulated or Banned Outright?
Don Surber: It is interesting that the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal raised this question in an editorial after Anthony Weiner was caught with his pants down, after decades or dormancy on the subject. Diversion?
Progressives used soft porn (mainly Playboy) to open the doors and attract young men (and later women) to their cause. Porn was sleek, trendy and radically chic in the 1970s. Shows from the Playboy mansion on syndicated television showed hip celebrities, such as Bill Cosby. The link between porn and rape was said to be a canard. “Deep Throat” and “Behind the Green Door” made porn movies acceptable. In the 1980s, nudie magazines though became banned from 7-Eleven. But with the Internet, porn made a comeback. I suppose you could regulate it, but if you think porn would be the target of such regulation, ask Milo how that works.
JoshuaPundit: I pretty much said what I had to say on this topic here. There are upsides and some important downsides to porn (one of them is a real dead end, pun intended) but with one exception I’m pretty explicit about,there’s no sense in banning it. But there are certainly some definite ways to at least curtail the downsides. And as I discuss, the issue is likely to be moot in a decade or so anyway,
Full disclosure *gasp!*…I myself made money in the porn industry.
No, I kept my clothes on, but it involved me ‘writing’ a musical score for a porn movie and booking the musicians to play and record it. And I know for a fact I got paid a lot more than most of the folks who did have to take their clothes off. In those pre SMPTE days (SMPTE is a sort of electronic code used to automatically sync music to film), that involved manually counting frames and playing in time to the, umm, action. With the aid of certain stimulants we managed to finish, but by the end of it, my sides hurt from laughing and I wasn’t the only one.
I’d never been much of a porn consumer before that anyway, but after that experience, I and porn pretty parted ways. I could never watch it afterwards without remembering that gig and laughing my head off. And I must admit, at that time and place I wasn’t really thinking about who might see it or whether kids might get their hands on it.
The Daley Gator: No, it should not be banned, this is a free country. These are adults, and if they wish to do sex scenes for money, then that is their choice. If others wish to watch, again their choice.Yes that will offend some Social Cons but these things happen.
Having said that, it should be harder to access, for kids. It is too easy for them to visit sites that are inappropriate for them. I think it would be easier for parents to do that job than government, since government generally screws up everything it touches.
The Razor: The only time banning works is when there is a strong, wide-spread moral imperative behind it. Very few things meet that criteria, and oddly enough they appear in the 10 Commandments. Everything else, including porn, should be decided by one’s personal choice.
The Glittering Eye: No, it should definitely not be banned. If you don’t want to see it, don’t see it. If you don’t want your kids to see it, install parental control software on their devices.
If you don’t want your search engine searches to return porn sites, change the settings you access the search engines with.
Stately McDaniel Manor: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” Mark Twain
Considering this week’s topic, an article I posted over the weekend–Live Nude Shakespeare! –is particularly relevant. It’s about a theater troupe that is trying to make Shakespeare’s The Tempest more “relevant” for modern, hip audiences by making most of the actors run about in the park naked.
I believe males–and I are one–are particularly useful, and not just for reaching things on high shelves, unscrewing frozen jar lids or smashing things with heavy rocks. It is, in fact, all of the biomechanics, hardware and software that make males useful and functional.
In the same way, women are particularly useful because they are women. Their hard and software is a wonder, and men and women tend to interface well.
OK, OK. Enough euphemisms and metaphors. Men are good things because they’re men and women are good things because they’re women, and all that goes with being either and both. Contemporary attempts to paint all young men attending college as rapists is not only idiotic, but destructive on a biological, perpetuation of the species, level. So is the horrifically abusive treatment of women in the Muslim world, including beatings, honor killings, control and denial of female sexuality, genital mutilation, and on and on.
When we deny our fundamental natures, we deny reality.
No, I’m not suggesting that we run wild, mistreat others, and indulge in the darkest fantasies. A substantial part of being a man is sublimating those impulses and behaving honorably, even protectively toward women, treating them with gentleness and kindness. Men understand what I’m saying: always treat others as we would like to be treated.
It feels almost unnecessary to say this, but men are hardwired to arousal at the sight of naked women. Depictions of sex–heck, thoughts of sex–energize their processors. Women are less strongly aroused by such depictions and thoughts, but they are not immune. While men comprise the largest audience for what is understood as mainstream porn, women are the largest audience for romance novels: arousal literature.
I am old enough to have lived through the technological transformation of porn, from Playboy and Penthouse, to the appearance of wisps of pubic hair on the centerfolds, to small, shabby theaters screening porn films, to the VHS revolution that spawned adult book and video stores across the nation, to the DVD revolution that coincided with a continual pushing of the boundaries of what was permissible, to the Internet and more sophisticated means of transmission, commerce and availability. Along the way, as each new technology blossomed, the old vanished. Theaters, VHS, all have gone the way of the Dodo, and Playboy recently announced it would no longer feature naked women.
As the years have passed, my preferences have changed from a very narrow idea of feminine beauty, to a far broader acceptance–an understanding–of the very wide range of beauty, based far more on character traits than mere physical characteristics. So it is with virtually all human beings, at least those not living in a 7th century, medieval mindset.
Teenagers can now conjure up porn on their smartphones, and functional sex robots and virtual reality sex are undergoing development with some success. How long will it be before Apple markets iSex, and what would that be? We’d probably need a leap or two in battery technology to make it workable, whatever it might be.
In essence, the question of Internet porn is nothing new. Just as anti-liberty/anti-gun types argue that if the Founders knew about AR-15s, they would never have written the Second Amendment, anti-porn/anti-liberty crusaders argue that if the Founders knew about contemporary porn, they would have never written the First Amendment.
Nonsense both. The Founders wrote the Second Amendment to ensure the common man would have access to the most powerful military weapons of their time or any time. The point is the ability of every man to resist the tyranny they foresaw so well. They knew human nature, and they knew what was necessary to control it in the service of liberty.
They were also among the most cosmopolitan men of their age. Ben Franklin was a rock star with the French ladies during his days as Ambassador, and drawings clearly identifiable as porn to the modern eye were hardly uncommon in the late 1700s. The Founders wrote the First Amendment to give the common man the unfiltered knowledge necessary to participate in the republic they constructed, to keep politicians from filtering anything. To be sure, they believed a moral people were necessary for a functioning republic, but the principles upon which they founded it mandate a free exchange of ideas and images.
The Internet is a highly efficient means of disseminating text, photos and video, but more efficient means will eventually be discovered. Without question, the Internet makes a parent’s job more demanding, but it’s still their job. The last thing we want to do is make the Government our moral arbiter. I was born with a father and mother and don’t need a Big Brother.
But some people are distressed by porn on the Internet! Don’t go to those sites. But I can’t avoid them! Of course you can. But it’s wrong! It’s immoral! Even Jimmy Carter said not everything in life is fair, and he was attacked by a rabbit in a rowboat.
How much of our lives, of our free will, of our moral decisions, and of our guilty pleasures, are we willing to turn over to people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Oh, they’d be only too delighted to seize that kind of power. Imagine a federal morals police, modeled on Islamist morals squads, no doubt, enforcing their idea of proper thought. That would never happen? Riiiight.
The genie is out of the bottle–it was out of the bottle a very long time ago–and unless we wish to be slaves, in ways never imagined by the Democrats of the South, we’d be better off minding our own morals, and those of our children, and leaving others to mind theirs.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: On the issue of pornography I suppose I am a bit more libertarian leaning. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is no one’s business but theirs. I do not believe an outright ban on pornography could or should be attempted. Pornography has been a part of the human condition since ancient times; from cave drawings to the Kama Sutra, from French postcards to magazines, from videos and now widely available on the internet. It would be extremely difficult to outlaw what many consider natural human behavior.
But perhaps we should consider some regulation of online pornography. Maybe a specific website designation, like a “.xxx” site could be assigned for pornography. That might make it easier for parents to block their children from purposely looking for or involuntarily discovering a website through an innocent search of the internet. It could also be more easily monitored for child pornography or other illegal activities. This has become such an issue, especially with the alarming rise in human sexual trafficking and sexual slavery of women and young children. Convicted sexual predators and child abusers could be banned from access to these sites. I could see a benefit to regulating, or restricting, pornography to keep it out of the reach of children and sex offenders. We have age restrictions on cigarettes and alcohol, and I see this issue the same way. Something adults should be able to enjoy responsibly but kept out of the hands of children and sexual predators and criminals.
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