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WALSH: A Group Of Republicans Want The Government To Start Fighting Hardcore Pornography. They’re Right. Here’s Why.

By  Matt Walsh
   DailyWire.com
JLGutierrez via Getty Images

As National Review reports, a small group of Republican lawmakers have sent a letter calling for Attorney General Bill Barr to enforce obscenity laws as a way to fight hardcore pornography. Representative Jim Banks of Indiana explains that pornography causes measurable harm in a number of significant ways:

Child pornography is on the rise as one of the fastest-growing online businesses with an annual revenue over $3 billion.The United States has nearly 50% of all commercialized child pornography websites. Pornography is ubiquitous in our culture and our children are being exposed at younger ages. Nine in every ten boys under the age of 18 have seen porn. Children are struggling with pornography addiction.

For these reasons and others, several states have already declared pornography a public health crisis, as the lawmakers mentioned in their letter. To be clear, what they are requesting is the enforcement of existing laws that would help to tamp down some forms of pornography. They are not calling for new laws to be put on the books. Personally, I’d hope that this is a first step towards a wider-ranging war on hardcore porn, though that’s not what the lawmakers are advocating. At the very least, this should be the beginning of a conversation about the proliferation of hardcore porn, and the government’s role in addressing the problem.

But this is not a conversation most people want to have. Of course, you’d expect those on the political Left to resist any effort to restrict or ban porn. After all, that’s the side that generally supports explicit sex education for children, child drag queens, trans kids, and so on. They are committed to exposing children to all manner of sexual confusion and degeneracy at increasingly younger and younger ages. The real shame is that many on the Right are just as likely to valiantly stand up for the rights of internet pimps and smut peddlers. Any talk of porn restriction is waved off with slogans about “limited government” and declarations about the ineffectiveness of prohibition.

I agree that government should be limited. I also agree that the government can’t go around prohibiting everything that the bureaucrats currently comprising it happen to dislike. But I still think there is a role for the government to play in the porn problem. I’ll explain why.

The most common defense of porn is that it’s a matter involving consenting adults and has no effect on anyone else. If this were true, I’d probably agree that the government has no place in restricting it, even if it is morally objectionable. However, this is not only untrue — it is laughably untrue. First of all, the link between the sex trafficking industry and porn is well established. The porn viewer may assume that the figures on the screen are acting consensually, but the fact is that, at least some of the time, they are not. The viewer may also assume that the people involved are all adults (unless he’s intentionally accessing child porn, which is a billion dollar industry in its own right), but sometimes they are not. The viewer simply has no way of knowing whether he’s watching the rape of a trafficked woman, or the abuse of a minor, or a consensual act between sober and clear-minded adults. But he’s not too concerned, as long as he gets what he wants out of the deal.

This is reason enough for, at a minimum, much heavier regulation on internet porn. It’s true that sex trafficking and child porn are both illegal already, but legal porn provides a platform for both. It’s impossible to sufficiently fight trafficking and child porn without heavier regulations on the types of porn that allegedly involve neither. But even if this significant concern could be put to the side, the case for regulating or banning porn would remain. That’s because porn — even consensual, adult porn — harms children.

On average, children are first exposed to hardcore porn at the age of 11, if not sooner. This exposure is not neutral in its impact. Children are damaged in quantifiable ways, affecting their emotional and psychological development, their attitude towards themselves and others, their behavior, and their ability to form healthy sexual relationships in the future. Porn even produces neurological changes in the brain. Is there not, at minimum, a reason to consider involving the state in this assault on our children’s minds and bodies?

Consenting adults may well have the right to do what they want with each other in the privacy of their homes. But do they have a right to film it and then publish it on a forum where children in elementary school might easily access it? Where does this right originate? God? Did God instill in all humans the inalienable and sacred right to publish footage of their orgies on the internet for all to view? If God did not, then from where or what does this right spring? Perhaps we should consider the possibility that there is no such right. It is a privilege that society can either choose to grant or not. Now the question is whether the privilege of adults to post their sexual escapades online is more important than the privilege of children to be protected from the profound psychological harm caused by exposure to such escapades.

You might argue that this is something for parents, and not government, to handle. But this argument ignores the reality of the situation. Parents cannot possibly shield their children from a porn epidemic that is so ubiquitous and accessible. Even if they restrict all internet access in their own homes, and refuse to allow their children to have phones with internet access (a wise move, to be sure), all it requires is one friend whose parents have not taken that step. And every kid will have at least one friend like that — probably many more than just one. This is a problem that parents cannot handle on their own. That’s why the state may have a role.

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