WALSH: 5 Reasons Why Porn Should Be Banned

If you had asked the average person 50 years ago whether it should be legal to distribute grotesque, hardcore pornography through a medium where people of all ages, especially kids and young teens, might have easy and free access to it, he probably would have been shocked that you even needed to ask the question. Of course it should not be legal, he would have said. We are civilized human beings, aren't we?

Ask the same question to the average person today and he will also be shocked that you felt the need to ask it. Only he is shocked for the opposite reason. Even the standard "conservative" in today's culture thinks that any discussion of banning or censoring porn is madness. Porn has been widely available through the internet for a couple of decades, therefore it must always and forever be available. He cannot possibly conceive of any other option.

But there is another option, whether or not the modern mind — with its extraordinarily limited field of vision, and its propensity to accept literally everything it sees as an absolute and unchangeable given — can imagine it.

Ross Douthat recently wrote a column for The New York Times making an excellent case for banning porn. I agree with his argument, and I think plenty more can and should be said. So I will offer, as a supplement, these five reasons for porn prohibition:

1) Porn is prostitution.

Prostitution is illegal in every state save one, yet pornography is legal in every state. The effect is that a person can go to jail for accepting money in exchange for sex — unless the sex is filmed and viewed by millions of other people. In that case, the prostitute and the pimp are free to carry on with their business. Prostitution is made legal by the presence of a camera. How does that make any sense?

It seems that a reasonable and honest person must either advocate for the prohibition of prostitution in all its forms, or for the legalization of prostitution in all its forms. I have no doubt that many people will happily choose the latter. But perhaps those people can stop just for a moment and ask themselves whether they really want their children to live in a country with internet porn exploding from every computer and Bunny Ranches on every street corner. In what way would that improve society? In what sense would it secure a brighter future for the next generation? Or have we devolved to such a state that we don't even consider these kinds of questions anymore?

2) Porn feeds the sex trafficking industry.

There is little sense in trying to fight sex trafficking while at the same time defending pornography as a sacred right. The link between the two is unmistakable and should be self-evident to any thinking person. Sex traffickers routinely force their slaves into pornography.

And how does the viewer of internet porn know whether a woman is "freely consenting" or not? Well, the same way he knows she's of legal age. He doesn't. He can't. He accepts that he may well be watching a drugged, abused, and coerced woman exploited for his pleasure. Her dignity, her liberty, her humanity is of no concern to him whatsoever. The porn viewer becomes morally complicit in the abuse of women. Not only complicit in it, but aroused by it. No wonder the Michigan State Police Department found that porn is used or imitated in over 40% of the sex crimes they investigate. Porn is a training ground for sexual deviants.

3) Porn destroys children.

An American child is first introduced to hardcore internet porn at the age of 11, on average. Plenty of kids are exposed at 8 or 9 or even younger. A child's developing brain is simply not prepared to handle it. He has no way of processing what he sees. He doesn't know what to do with it. He has no concept of healthy human sexuality, and whatever concept he now develops will be formed by internet smut. The psychological effects are obviously devastating.

We all know that our kids are being ruined by this stuff, yet we sit back, emasculated, acting as though we are powerless to do anything about it. We have determined that a smut peddler's "right" to spew filth all over society is somehow more sacrosanct, more worthy of protection, than our children's well being. We are truly pathetic.

4) Porn makes you less free.

There is nothing freeing about porn. A "free society" is not one that must, or should, feature easily accessed pornography. Porn kills freedom because it enslaves the viewer to his passions. I understand that very silly people, who are not in the habit of thinking, will snicker at the previous sentence. But they only snicker because they are slaves themselves. They are so consumed by pornography, so beholden to it, that they are not capable of intellectually engaging with any criticism of it. They are obsessed with porn, and they will viciously defend it, yet they derive no joy from it and they hate themselves while they watch it. They are slaves. And slaves cannot be free.

5) Laws matter.

The law is a teacher. People are more likely to accept something as normal and moral if the law treats it as such. This is a simple fact of human nature. Laws are not amoral. They codify and communicate moral truths. The law should not automatically prohibit every immoral thing, but it should only prohibit immoral things. Our entire system of government is founded on Natural Law, which is itself a moral doctrine. Every law grows, or should grow, from that root.

It is said that we can't "legislate morality." I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I do know that we can and should legislate morally. That is, legislate according to the moral doctrine that created this country and served as the basis for all of its founding documents. Porn is such an extreme and insidious assault on Natural Law that a country built upon Natural Law must prohibit it.

Now, for the sake of efficiency, let me include a brief rebuttal to the four points that will be made against my position.

1) Porn is protected by the First Amendment.

No, it's not. Miller v. California found that obscenity is not protected speech and can be censored. Here's an interesting fact: Federal law already prohibits the distribution of obscene material. But the law is not applied or enforced as it should be.

2) So you want to ban porn but not guns? Hypocrite!

That's like accusing me of hypocrisy because you catch me eating a steak after I just got through explaining why you shouldn't eat diapers. "Oh, so NOW you think it's okay to eat things!" Yes, I never said that we shouldn't eat anything. I just said we shouldn't eat that particular thing.

Likewise, I never said we shouldn't ban anything. I just said we shouldn't ban guns. Guns are protected by the Bill of Rights. Porn is not. Guns are a tool that can be used to preserve our liberty. Porn is not. Guns have many positive applications. Porn does not. A gun is a morally neutral object whose dangers or benefits are determined entirely by the person using it. Porn is morally debased filth with no redeeming quality and there is no positive application for it.

3) Porn prohibition is unenforceable.

No, it's not. It would be no trouble to shut down the "professional" porn operations and go after the major porn sites like Porn Hub. As for the rest of it, the government could have as much success policing it as they have in policing child porn. Which is to say, they can't get rid of it all, but they can contain the problem and punish those who distribute the stuff.

4) It's a slippery slope.

What are you worried we might "slip" into? Decency? Lord, if only.

What exactly is the worst case scenario here? That the anti-porn law may be used against TV networks that broadcast obscene content? Well, okay, then. And why would that be such a horrific outcome? Until you can make a reasonable case that obscenity laws could be used to suppress the free and legitimate exchange of ideas, or somehow punish political dissent, I'm not going to worry much about slippery slopes. If the law was really stretched to its limits, the "worst" thing I can see happening is the censorship of sexually explicit material on TV and maybe the criminalization of strip clubs. All the better, as far as I can tell.

We've seen where the slippery slope leads when obscenity laws are not enforced. I feel quite certain that the slippery slope in the other direction could not possibly result in anything half as bad as our current situation.

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