The Daily Wire
Subscribe

WALSH: I Said Porn Should Be Banned And Lots Of People Disagreed. Here’s My Response To Their Arguments.

By  Matt Walsh
   DailyWire.com
Porn
Photo by RapidEye/Getty Images

On Friday I wrote about a group of Republican lawmakers who are calling on the DOJ to fight the proliferation of hardcore pornography by enforcing existing obscenity laws. I support this effort and would like to see it taken even further. Ultimately, I believe that internet porn should be illegal. That probably can’t happen without the Supreme Court’s involvement, but we could at least heavily regulate it and take significant steps to protect children from being exposed to it. Writing at First Things a few weeks ago, Terry Schilling outlined a number of ways that porn could be regulated within the current legal framework. All of his suggestions seem reasonable to me.

But my call for the government to get involved in the fight against porn has prompted a heavy (and entirely predictable) backlash from all corners of the political landscape. I have hundreds of messages, emails, and Twitter notifications from people who believe it is not only wrong to try and control the spread of porn, but somehow tyrannical and oppressive. What concerns me the most is that a great many of the valiant porn defenders are self-professed “conservatives.” A mere 30 years ago, every conservative in the country would have at least taken seriously an argument for regulating or forbidding the most depraved and explicit kinds of pornography, especially if it was as accessible to children then as it is now. Today, though, this standard conservative position causes conservatives themselves to recoil in shock and horror.  This is how thoroughly the Left has won the culture.

I already fleshed out my case in my piece on Friday, and on Twitter over the weekend, and during my show today. To summarize my argument in a few sentences: Hardcore internet porn is causing profound and measurable damage to entire generations of children. It also destroys families and harms society as a whole. It has no positive or neutral application. Its effect are deleterious and can only ever be deleterious. A person’s desire to post sex videos on the internet where children can view them does not and could not possibly outweigh society’s responsible to protect children and families from the damage done by the proliferation of such content. There is no inherent human right to make porn, so we must decide if the privilege to make porn is more important than a child’s need to be shielded from the foulest and darkest extremes of filth that now pervade the internet. In my view, it is not. And it’s not a close call. That’s the very condensed version of my argument.

What I’d like to do now is respond to some of the criticisms people have launched against my view. And not just my view, as I said, but a view widely held by many conservatives, until the Right completed its wholesale capitulation to the Left and decided to adopt its premises on cultural and moral matters.

1) We don’t need the government to get involved. This is a parenting issue.

I have been told again and again that parents can easily protect their kids from the trauma caused by early exposure to hardcore porn simply by using parental locks. I admit that I find this retort very persuasive in the year 1996. But in the current year, it fails miserably. The fact is that parents can lock down the household computers and phones — or better yet refuse to give their children phones in the first place — and that will accomplish very little in terms of shielding their children from internet smut.

The porn epidemic is so widespread at this point that even the most attentive parenting is nearly impotent in the face of it. All it takes is one friend with a phone, or one minute on the computer at a friend’s house, or even one minute on the computers that many schools require kids to use during class. Unless you keep your child in your sight until he graduates high school, there is simply no avoiding the fact that he can easily access porn when he’s not under your supervision. Almost everyone has the internet in their pocket these days. If your child doesn’t (and he shouldn’t), he knows many people who do. The “good parents can protect their kids from porn” people are either oblivious to the actual situation parents are in, or unconcerned with it. And if that’s the case — if you don’t care about the corruption of children and the psychological and emotional damage this filth is doing to them — then say so. Just don’t waste our time with prattle about parental locks, as if that gets anywhere close to solving the problem.

2) Porn is a consensual act between adults

For one thing, in many cases the sex you see in a porn video is anything but consensual. Trafficked women are used in porn videos routinely. You have no way of knowing whether the sex you’re watching is consensual or not.

Second, even if the act is consensual, exposure to it is not. If you post a sex video on the internet, you are putting it on a public forum where billions of people, including children, can potentially access it. It’s true that some of those people will be adults who intentionally seek it out. But many will be children who do not have the capacity to consent to this exposure, even if they do seek it out.

If an adult has sex with a child, we call that rape, no matter if the child agreed to the act or not. That’s because we have correctly determined that children do not have the psychological development or emotional maturity to make informed and healthy decisions when it comes to sex. So if a child cannot consent to engage in a sexual act, it logically follows that he cannot consent to participate as a third party witness. If you post a sex video online and a child sees it, the fault lies with you, not the child.

3) Porn cannot be banned because it is protected expression, according to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court also says that killing the unborn is a human right protected under the Constitution’s non-existent “right to privacy” provision. The Supreme Court is often wrong, and I think they’ve been wrong about the porn issue. No matter what a few people in black robes might say, porn is not speech. It does not convey a message or communicate an idea. It is a product, not a statement. And not all products are, or should be, legal.

Is a man engaging in “speech” when he masturbates on camera? Porn defenders say yes. But what if he does it on a park bench without the camera? Most porn defenders say no. This strikes me as absurdly inconsistent. If a certain act is speech, then it must be speech whether it’s broadcast to billions of people or just a few. I can think of no other form of speech that only becomes speech when a camera is there to record it. We have now a very weird version of the tree-falling-in-the-forest scenario. And of course, a tree falling in a forest still makes a sound. Just like speech expressed without a camera is still speech. If it is not speech without the camera, then it’s not speech with the camera. You must choose. You can’t have it both ways.

All of this aside, as I said at the top, there are many things the government could do while remaining within the bounds of the Constitution as the Supreme Court has interpreted it. The government has the power to enforce obscenity laws and heavily regulate internet porn. It just has chosen not to, largely because both sides of the political aisle have come to the conclusion that the corruption of children and destruction of families isn’t a serious enough problem to warrant action by the state.

4) You can’t legislate morality.

This is the kind of silly slogan you expect from leftists and libertarians, but it depresses me greatly to hear it coming from the lips of conservatives. The government absolutely does and must “legislate morality.” Everything that is illegal is so because we have decided (or thestate has decided) that it is morally wrong. We can be incorrect in categorizing something as morally wrong, but the fact remains that the law exists to forbid the bad and facilitate the good. I cannot think of any other reason to have laws. If something is good, it should be legal in every case. If it is bad, it is potentially a candidate for prohibition. That doesn’t mean all bad things should be prohibited, but it does mean that all illegal things are illegal because they are allegedly bad.

You may argue that only things that cause direct harm to others should be illegal. I would basically agree with that, and I think porn fits the bill. But why should it be illegal to harm others? Because harming others is morally wrong. If it wasn’t morally wrong to harm others, it shouldn’t be illegal to do it. No matter how you look at it, you can’t escape the conclusion that laws are always grounded in morality. There is no such thing as amoral laws. The closest thing you could find to laws divorced from morality are seemingly arbitrary traffic codes and things of that nature. But even those exist to keep the roads safe and orderly, which is, at bottom, a moral pursuit. So in the end every law does come back to a (right or wrong) conception of morality.

Other arguments have been made against my position, but I think the ones I’ve mentioned here are the most common. They are also probably the strongest. But I don’t think they succeed.

90 days until election

Don't miss a beat of our coverage.

The Daily Wire
AboutAdvertise With UsBook our SpeakersHelp CenterContact Us
Standards & PoliciesPrivacy PolicyTerms of UseCareersInternships
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeRSS
© Copyright 2020, The Daily Wire