On the need to understand anti-porn morality

I don’t understand how some people can be so obsessed with with pornography. I’m not talking about people who watch it, I’m talking about people who do things like this:

Morality in Media announced today the mobilization of its War on Illegal Pornography coalition in a three-day effort to flood the U. S. Attorney General with calls asking that he enforce existing U.S. obscenity laws.

Why? Just…why?

Some people like to watch movies of other people having sex. In a free market, this naturally means that some people will get into the business of having sex on camera. We’re not talking about child pornography or sex slavery. Everyone, from the sexual performers to the producers to the distributors to the viewers, is doing it of their own free will. And some people think they deserve to go to jail for that.

Looking around the Morality in Media website, I can understand some of the things they’re concerned about. Parents want the ability to control their children’s access to online pornography. The standard libertarian response is that parents should take responsibility for supervising their children online. That’s little comfort to a busy parent, and given the increasingly ubiquitous presence of the internet in our lives, it’s not realistic to assume parents will be able to supervise every second of their children’s access to the net. I don’t think that censoring what adults have access to is a good response, but I can at least understand why these people are concerned.

But what sort of craziness makes people like Morality in Media President Robert Peters say things like this:

While there is a difference between soft-core and hard-core pornography, both are still pornography, and what pornography does is sexually arouse and enslave those who view it.

“Enslave those who view it”? WTF? I guess that’s the sort of BS you have to make yourself believe if you want to criminalize a consensual act.

In my libertarian corner of the world, these people are obviously nutcases and self-important busybodies trying to restrict other people’s freedom and impose their morality by force. Merely pointing that out to them, however, is unlikely to change their minds. Their world view is radically different from mine, and if I want to advocate my view to them, I’m going to have to understand them first.

(Hat tip: Richard Abowitz)

About Mark:
Mark is a computer programmer, website builder, photographer, and sometimes journalist in Chicago, where he also writes the long-running Windypundit blog.
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5 Comments

  1. Posted May 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I have an evangelical friend who seems to believe that porn necessarily implies human trafficking and all kinds of underage victims. He’s a good guy — but just as with old-style feminists, the Morality in Media crowd, and other groups prone to moral panics, the conflation of these issues is systemic (and often, I believe, deliberate).

  2. Posted May 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I disagree with everything this guy says, but if you really want to know what drives the Jeebus-loving anti-porn nannies, you could do worse than start here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/arousing-ourselves-to-death-50035/

  3. Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    That’s a tough case, because that guy’s bible-quoting world view is so far from mine that I couldn’t even pretend to understand it. There’s no way I could beat him at quoting the bible, and it would be a mistake to even try.

  4. tneveca
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    The two major critics of pornography are the religious right and women in general (not to mention feminists in particular, who are far more sanguine). The religious view pornography as an industry devoted to fornication, hence an abomination to God, whereas women in general view it as downright exploitative and degrading. I dismiss the religious argument without any rebuttal since its truth is contingent on the dubious theology of the bible (or the koran, or what you will). The largely feminist argument from exploitative degradation I consider to be factually inaccurate, chiefly because most of the women in porn are not only there by choice, but are ambitiously trying to make it as stars. In this sense, porn is no more exploitative than any other competitive career in entertainment, and no more degrading to the naturally promiscuous and uninhibited women involved than, say, an offbeat career as circus performer might be to an aspiring acrobat. A pornstar is simply an anal acrobat.

    • Posted July 20, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Admit it, you wrote all that just to set up that last line.