The “War on Porn”

April 8, 2004 | 146 comments
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A recent article about the Justice Department committing new resources to prosecute a “war on porn” has started lots of discussion in the blogosphere. (See here, here, here). Many people think that setting up an office with 32 prosecutors, plus assorted investigators and FBI agents, is a misguided use of resources, given current budget deficits and the ongiong war in Iraq. And this isn’t child porn we’re talking about — some of the targets of the new investigation include soft-core cable programs on HBO, and adult movies offered at hotels on pay-per-view.

What should we think of this effort, as church members? I’m a bit conflicted. Porn is clearly a problem; it is clearly a bad thing; and I hate to go on the record as being in favor of porn. On the other hand, I’m skeptical of laws telling people that they can’t voluntarily watch adult movies. (Child porn is a completely different issue — those laws should definitely be enforced). And this use of resources, as commenters suggest, does seem misguided. So, in the end, I find myself agreeing with Andrew Sullivan, who wrote with his typical pith:

With the Justice Department having nothing better to do, like catch Jihadists, it’s very important that they keep a fierce and unrelenting eye on adults enjoying themselves in the privacy of their own homes.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Eugene Volokh also has some commentary, suggesting that these efforts are likely to be ineffective.

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146 Responses to The “War on Porn”

  1. Nathan on April 8, 2004 at 3:21 pm

    Whoa — I must have missed something on the news. When did porn become, you know, illegal?

  2. Aam Greenwood on April 8, 2004 at 3:29 pm

    God bless this administration.

    Any particular reason to think that going after child porn is somehow easier, and therefore more effective, than going after hard-core adult pornography?

    Any particular reason to think that the customers of child porn are not adults, in the privacy of their own homes, who enjoy it?

  3. Julie in Austin on April 8, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    It seems to me that the question is much larger than porn: can we, as Church members (1) agree that something is immoral and also (2) think that making it illegal and enforcing those laws is *not* the best government policy?

    There are all sorts of examples: prostitution, illegal drugs, abortion, etc.

  4. Russell Arben Fox on April 8, 2004 at 4:14 pm

    Julie’s question is, of course, an important one; there are a whole range of complicated issues involved in any attempt to “establish” (with all that word implies) a particular moral concern through the force of law. Not every immorality necessarily ought to be illegal. That being said, as one who has thought about this issue much too much for my own good, feel free to put me down as strongly in favor of the war against porn. The depiction of sexual obscenity debases, exploits, and harms both producers and consumers; it is in no sense a merely private affair; and it can be defined and subjected to restrictions. Could it ever be completely outlawed? No, and truly, shame and social opprobrium will always be far more effective weapons against such evils. But social conviction cannot be sustained in the face of civic lassitude. In this case, aggressive legal sanctions are, I think, clearly desirable.

  5. Julie in Austin on April 8, 2004 at 4:20 pm

    I’m only writing this because I am feeling grumpy and argumentative today, Russell, but you wrote: “But social conviction cannot be sustained in the face of civic lassitude”

    What about laws and taboos against marrying siblings? The taboo is strong, the law enforcement is weak.

    (True story: my husband and I are getting out marriage license a few days before the wedding. The bored woman behind the counter says, “Toyourknowledgeareyouwithinthefifthdegreeofconsanguinity?” We look at each other, taking a moment to decipher. She says, “Just say no.” We say no, she stamps the form, and we’re outta there. We were halfway home before we figured out what the heck she meant by the fifth degree of consanguinity.)

  6. Clark Goble on April 8, 2004 at 4:33 pm

    I’m uncomfortable, but mainly because during the midst of a war on terrorism a war on media seems to be draining resources from what we ought to be focused on.

  7. Kaimi on April 8, 2004 at 4:41 pm

    I have serious doubts about state regulation of pornography in the first place. It strikes me as odd that, as an adult, I may choose to have sex and allow others to observe me doing so, but I can’t record this.

    As for the difference between child porn and adult porn, it seems to me that there are two very important distinctions:

    1. Child porn often involves pictures of children having sex. (I believe that some of it is merely child nudity). To the extent that children are having sex to produce this stuff, it is harming them, in a way that they cannot consent to.

    Yes, adult porn involves adult actors having sex. They are adults and can consent to this. It seems to me to be a pretty dumb thing to do, but we allow adults to do all sorts of dumb things.

    2. Child porn encourages criminal behavior. If I watch an adult porn movie (I assume), I will have a desire to go have sex with attractive 21-year-old women. These movies will build upon and encourage that desire. That’s a desire that we are taught to control in the church, but it’s a more-or-less normal desire.

    Child porn builds on a desire to have sex with children, which is not normal, not legal, and which should not be encouraged or allowed.

    (This also potentially applies to movies that encourage abusive sex).

    The bottom line is that child porn is harmful in unique ways, and it is more harmful than regular porn. This is not to say that regular porn is not harmful. But, as long as it is between consenting adults, and viewed by adults, it seems like many other harmful acts that the government allows people to do. We allow people to smoke; to eat bacon-cheeseburgers; to become professional boxers.

    We even allow them to become lawyers. :)

  8. Adam Greenwood on April 8, 2004 at 4:44 pm

    Come on, Nate. When the prophets tell us to eschew porn, is that meaningless? Pornography has just as much meaning as say, ‘negligence’ or ‘due process’ or, oh, a thousand and one words that we use in the law.

  9. Adam Greenwood on April 8, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    Well, if I agreed that a heart attack was as bad as a damaged sexuality and a crippled spirit, maybe I’d look askance at McDonald’s.

    In any case, your ‘it seems odd’ argument leaves much to be desired. Most pornography laws, especialy the most enforceable ones, are aimed at marketing–either one is selling illicit materials or else advertising them. The privacy of one’s own home has little to do with it. And why should I be allowed to have people over to watch me have sex?

    If I could just bring you to see that keeping certain behaviors out of the public domain is a legitimate purpose of the law.

  10. Scott on April 8, 2004 at 5:26 pm

    Kaimi,

    So you’re okay with people having sex and letting others watch. And the idea of taping the event doesn’t trouble you (at least from a legal standpoint). Fine. But you neglect to mention a key factor in all of the above.

    Money.

    If you’re indifferent to the commercial nature of the sex industry, then you’re probably willing to go even farther. Not only should adult pornography be legal, but so should live sex shows, strip clubs, and prostitution. Is that your position?

    Scott

  11. Kim Siever on April 8, 2004 at 5:32 pm

    Just some comments to your last post Kaimi.

    I can understand the difference between two consenting adults having sex and an adult forcing sexual activity on a, say, six-year-old. where the difference becomes less clear to me is, say, between an 18-year-old having consensual sex on camera with another adult and a 17-year-old having consensual sex on camera with an adult.

    I don’t agree with either, but why does the law consider one illegal and the other not?

    At the same time, why is the watching of the sex of the 17-year-old harmful, but watching the 18-year-old is not? Or at least not to the same degree? Why is one not normal, but the other is?

  12. Kim Siever on April 8, 2004 at 5:32 pm

    Just some comments to your last post Kaimi.

    I can understand the difference between two consenting adults having sex and an adult forcing sexual activity on a, say, six-year-old. where the difference becomes less clear to me is, say, between an 18-year-old having consensual sex on camera with another adult and a 17-year-old having consensual sex on camera with an adult.

    I don’t agree with either, but why does the law consider one illegal and the other not?

    At the same time, why is the watching of the sex of the 17-year-old harmful, but watching the 18-year-old is not? Or at least not to the same degree? Why is one not normal, but the other is?

  13. John H on April 8, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with Eugene England when he says the most morally conservative people ought to be the most politically liberal. Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying anti-polygamy legislation, but I’m always very aware that when one group deems another group to be perverts and tries to take away their rights, it’s the same thing that happened to the Church 100 years ago. We were deemed the threat to society, we were deemed the ones damaging morality and decency – so our leaders were jailed or forced to flee.

    I agree with most of the comments, including those that argue that porn isn’t just something that takes place in the privacy of ones home. I do believe it serves to desensitize and cause larger problems in society. But I’m extremely wary of the risk posed by forcing people to agree with our morals. And when it comes down to it, that’s all this is. It’s forcing someone to stop doing something we don’t think is right based on our moral beliefs.

  14. Nate Oman on April 8, 2004 at 5:43 pm

    John: I think that you are going to need more of an argument that this. Evertime we use the law to prohibit something it is a case of use “enforcing” our morality on someone else. What you need is a theory that draws the line betweent the morality you legislate and the morality that you don’t.

    BTW, I am curious about your interest in the anti-polygamy cases, since that is my main interest in Mormon history.

  15. Kaimi on April 8, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    Scott:

    I agree that money may change the equation, from a legal standpoint. However, there is no indication that these prosecutors are only going after pay porn sites. (And I believe there are free porn sites — I certainly get a lot of spam e-mail advertising for such nonsense, along with offers to refinance the home I don’t own).

    Adam,

    Why should you be allowed to do anything? Have folks over for dinner? For a movie? Why should you be allowed to date? Because we live in a country which is more-or-less free, and there is a default rule that the government will not regulate many types of behavior by adults, whether or not they think that behavior is particularly wise. I can go down the street to a tattoo parlor and have my entire head tattooed purple right now. A good idea? Probably not. Illegal? No. That’s what autonomy is — the freedom to do dumb things.

    Kim,

    The bright-line rule at age 18 is a bit arbitrary, but undoubtedly in place because case-by-case determination of maturity and ability to understand consequences is too difficult.

  16. Melissa on April 8, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    As usual, I can’t say much now, but I will say this.

    I didn’t/don’t support the war in Iraq, but I strongly support this kind of war.

    Further, I think Kaimi’s comments on the differences between child porn and adult porn are incredibly naive.

    Kaimi writes,

    “Child porn encourages criminal behavior. If I watch an adult porn movie (I assume), I will have a desire to go have sex with attractive 21-year-old women. These movies will build upon and encourage that desire. That’s a desire that we are taught to control in the church, but it’s a more-or-less normal desire.”

    While this comment is evidence of your praisworthy innocence in this area, it is also evidence, I think, of serious ignorance. Pornography is not just about encouraging a desire for sex, which is natural, but must be controlled. Nor is pornography about adults enjoying themselves in the privacy of their own homes as has been suggested.

    Here’s a crash course on some of the results of porn:

    1. Pornography is physiologically and psychologically addictive. Like an addict needs harder and harder drugs at higher and higher doses, the porn addict builds up a certain tolerance to visual sex and needs more and more graphic images to stimulate.

    2. Hence, much pornography is violent. Besides the implicit violence against women in degrading their bodies as objects of lust in magazines, the visual images in porn are often explicitly violent and abusive toward women. There have been studies linking pornography to rape and domestic violence.

    3. Pornography destroys (often permanently) one’s most intimate and sacred relationships. This is not just because it is a betrayal of one’s spouse who may be angry or hurt by the action (although this is important and not to be dismissed). Pornography destroys one’s emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being, and thus, affects one’s ability to relate in appropriate ways to one’s spouse (and others). Pornography distorts the sexual experience. An act that was intended to be shared as an expression of love, involving emotional closeness and commitment becomes one of self-centered physiological gratification in which one’s spouse plays no role. Pornography necessarily affects the marriage relationship.

    Can’t say more now, but I would happily pay more money in taxes to work on this issue. (whether or not legislation would be effective is, of course, another issue.)

  17. Adam Greenwood on April 8, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    Go it, Melissa!

    As much as I’m itching to regulate dating and walking and so forth, I’ve realized that those activities are largely innocuous. Unlike porn.

  18. Bob Caswell on April 8, 2004 at 6:17 pm

    “While this comment is evidence of your praisworthy innocence in this area, it is also evidence, I think, of serious ignorance.”

    Melissa,

    In Kaimi’s defense, I don’t think there is anyone reading here who would disagree with the opinion that child porn is “worse” than “regular” porn rather than the other way around.

  19. Nate Oman on April 8, 2004 at 6:19 pm

    “2. Hence, much pornography is violent. Besides the implicit violence against women in degrading their bodies as objects of lust in magazines, the visual images in porn are often explicitly violent and abusive toward women. There have been studies linking pornography to rape and domestic violence.”

    One can also make the argument that pornography is an effective method of sublimating otherwise destructive tendencies. I have to confess that I have not looked into this closely, but I do know that the evidence of a firm causal link between pornography and violence is not nearly as iron clad as Melissa makes it sound here. The presence of “studies” not withstanding, ie there have been plausible critiques of those studies.

  20. Greg Call on April 8, 2004 at 6:27 pm

    Melissa,
    Perhaps I’m as naive as Kaimi on these issues, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that the most recent wave of pro-sex feminist scholars had to a great extent beaten back the 1980s Dworkin/MacKinnon/Ed Meese theories about porn (i.e., its links to rape, violence.)

  21. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 6:27 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with Melissa. IMHO, porn is one of the greatest problems in the Church, and one of the greatest destructive influences in society.

    As for the argument Nate mentions, that “pornography is an effective method of sublimating otherwise destructive tendencies”, there have been no studies to my knowledge which show this. Perhaps the causal link between pr0n and violence hasn’t been adequately proven, but its addictive and emotionally crippling qualities are well-documented. It is a blight. Anyone who knows people affected by porn would not question its regulation (or destruction).

  22. Aaron Brown on April 8, 2004 at 6:37 pm

    My understanding (perhaps erroneous?) is that while consumption of violent pornography can be linked to violence, non-violent pornography cannot be. If Melissa wants to give us a crash-course to the contrary, she needs to provide evidence to that effect.

    Also, Melissa said:
    “I would happily pay more money in taxes to work on this issue. (whether or not legislation would be effective is, of course, another issue.)”

    One would hope that the effectiveness of any legislation would be RELEVANT to your willingness to spend tax dollars on it, rather than being merely “another issue.” Or does it not matter whether the law actually works, as long as the State goes through the motions of “acting concerned.”

    And then she said:
    “I didn’t/don’t support the war in Iraq, but I strongly support this kind of war.”

    I guess this makes sense — if you don’t care about freedom from state tyranny abroad, why would you be worried about it here?

    Aaron B

  23. Aaron Brown on April 8, 2004 at 6:40 pm

    Steve,

    Yeah, and I guess anyone who knows a drunk
    would never question the wisdom of Prohibition.

    Puh-leez.

    Aaron B

  24. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 6:45 pm

    Aaron, don’t “puh-leez” me here yet — do you know any alcoholics personally? It’s no laughing matter. People ensnared by these various forms of addiction would gladly take steps as drastic as Prohibition. It’s no real answer to the nature of compulsive behavior, that’s true. But don’t dismiss the lengths to which those affected by these issues would go.

    All your post says to me is that you don’t really understand the nature of pornography and its impact. But then, this subject is a personal crusade (we all have ‘em somewhere), so I don’t expect everybody to have the same vehemence about it.

  25. Adam Greenwood on April 8, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    Aaron B.,
    Step back a bit, brother. Telling Melissa that she’s a supporter of state tyranny is not at all observance of the niceties.

    I tried to email you this privately, but the address you’d entered was http://gdsgdsgds

  26. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    Adam, if Aaron wanted to post nice he’d do it on the _other_board.

  27. Aaron Brown on April 8, 2004 at 7:03 pm

    Steve,

    The question of whether a given public policy initiative is desirable cannot possibly turn on whether a particular behavior or practice is “really destructive,” or is instead, “really, really, really destructive.” I just don’t buy this as a sole criterion for making judgments about which laws to support and which to not.

    Of course, if you’re just making the psychological point that the more people are affected by addictive behavior, the more they will be inclined to use the law as a vehicle to stop it, then that’s fine, but I’m not sure the point is that interesting or helpful in sorting out our political priorities. (In any event, I think you’re saying more than that).

    Let’s say I think “drugs” are “bad.” There are a number of ways I could try to lessen the negative impact of drugs in my society. If I think the War on Drugs isn’t working as well as I’d like, then I will need to evaluate whether to maintain the war, or to try another approach.

    Let’s say, instead, that I think “drugs” are “REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad.” I know this first-hand because all my loved ones have had their lives destroyed by narcotic use. How does this fact change the equation? If I think the War on drugs isn’t working as well as I’d like, then I will still need to evaluate whether to maintain the war, or to try another approach. The fact that I’m more emotionally involved, or have experienced the deleterious effects of drug use firsthand, doesn’t change that.

    Aaron B

  28. Aaron Brown on April 8, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Adam (and Melissa),

    You’re right. My last comment to Melissa was a cheap shot — one I couldn’t resist, but should have.

    The issues surrounding both the Iraq War and the War on Porn are certainly more complicated than I made them out to be in my one short sentence. And I shouldn’t have attributed ideas to Melissa that she surely does not hold.

    Apologies to Melissa.

    Aaron B

    P.S. But on a brighter note, you all got to see my knee-jerk support of the Iraq War shine through, perhaps dispelling my reputation as a one-note liberal?

  29. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    Actually, I was mostly just trying to get across the psychological point, I guess.

    But you’re overly dismissive of this point — judgment as to the destructiveness of an activity is central to the types of responses I’m willing to consider, isn’t it? I wasn’t trying to speak as to what types of actions we should take towards porn, nor suggesting that its impact is the sole factor to consider in how to respond — just the fact that a response is, I believe, necessary and desirable.

    Knowing personally that drugs are bad (m’kay?), using your example, would indeed change your equation. It wouldn’t resolve the question entirely, to be sure, of how to respond, but you can bet that you’d be willing to restrict freedoms or take more serious measures than you’d otherwise consider.

    As for this point being interesting or helpful, well, it may be neither, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean its effects are negligible.

  30. Russell Arben Fox on April 8, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    Ditto to everything Melissa, Adam, and Steve have said.

  31. MDS on April 8, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    Say all you want about adult porn being a victimless crime, but I cannot agree. I understand that a lot of the “actresses” in adult films started as children. It is hard to view them as making objective choices to star in the adult films after having such terrible pasts. I think of some of the 18-year-old girls I have known over the years, and yes, they may be legally adults, but the level of innocence and naivete makes them easy victims/targets for the predatory jerks that run the industry. And lets not forget the broken families that result from porn. This is one area where whatever libertarian tendencies I do have just vanish. The harm to others is just too great.

  32. Gary Cooper on April 8, 2004 at 8:02 pm

    Perhaps it would add to this discussion to share a few facts and deductions:

    1. The church’s official policy, for a very long time, has been to encourage legal restraints on pornography.

    2. Every year for at least the last 20 years, Church leaders make a little trek to Washington, in company with religious leaders from other denominations, to beg, plead, cajole, etc. whoever happens to be in the White House to enforce existing federal laws on the subject (which essentially prohibit using the mail to transmit porn, or to ship/send it in any way across state lines, or to portray child porn, etc.) It appears that Pres. Bush has decided to do something (in an election year, but perhaps that is a coincidence).

    3. It does appear that some folks in this discussion do not see porn as so destructive that it merits legal attack. The gist of their argument appears to be that somehow such laws could potentially bring worse harm than the porn, by somehow limiting human freedom.

    4. What seems to be missing, here, is a discussion of the POLITICAL HARM that legal pornography brings in its wake. Interestingly, political radicals from the French Revolution onward have learned from the lessons of history that widespread immorality tends to break down all other social institutions, mores, customs, etc., and cumulatively creates social problems that demand solutions by the State. The insidious nature of how political radicals have openly called for abandonment of traditional morality, in the name of freedom, while really seeing such as a way to increase the reach and power of the State and lay the groundwork for their own seizure of that power, may help explain why the Lord would encourage His leaders to consistently support criminalization of porn, as well as a host of other issues. Anyone who has read Antonio Gramsci or other Marxist writers will see what I am getting at.

    5. It works like this: representative government, in which the average citizen is quite free, can only function as such if those same citizens are law-abiding, decent people, and to count on such consistently, religion must flourish. If, however, certain restraints are not enforced, that same freedom creates a growing moral anarchy whose effects reach in to every aspect of society, creating a growing underclass of people who are not only not shocked anymore by increasing degrees of public evil, but even embrace it. Men abandoning their wives and children, rape, incest, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, dishonesty, selfishness, illegitimate pregnancies, abortion, sexual disease, divorce, healthy men and women choosing to never even seek marriage etc., eventually create a situation where government increasingly grows to cope with the social burdens thus imposed, and the average citizen cares less and less about politics (please pardon the expression, but you get so many people too busy scr-wing that they don’t see they are being scr-wed by their own government).

    5. Whether we want to admit it or not, republican government cannot be maintained without a devout and moral citizenry, and where the latter breaks down, so does freedom. Let’s all ask ourselves this question: Is it just a coincidence, that as sexual immorality has grown in the U.S. (easy accesss and acceptance of pornography being a symptom of this), has political, religious, and economic freedom also grown, or shrunk?

    6. Prohibitive moral legislation does not seek to completely ban a practice (which would be impossible anyway). Rather, it seeks to MAKE THAT PRACTICE SO DIFFICULT AND EXPENSIVE TO ENGAGE IN THAT THOSE MOST APT TO BE HARMED BY IT ARE SHIELDED FROM IT. So, if federal laws, for example, against mailing/shipping/e-mailing/manufacturing porn were enforced, porn would still exist, but it would cease to be so PUBLICLY visible, so that children would almost never see it, and poor men (those with the least education and possibly the weakest family support) would not have the means to buy it. That’s the best you can hope for—-to limit the swathe of damage. If you do nothing, or limit your efforts only to child porn, for example, you will lose freedom eventually, as your society loses the ability to create male and female leaders capable to intellectually sustaining free government and spiritually disposed to do so.

    7. For those of us who never grew up in the church, never had primary and young mens, never had religion in our homes, never had parents who loved each other, and never had a truly moral environment to enjoy our formative years in, the naivete’ of those people who think that, well, gee, porn’s bad, but ya gotta allow it–is breathtaking.

  33. Bob Caswell on April 8, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    Ditto to everything Aaron said. Porn, drugs, alcohol can all be “bad”, but making laws because we think they’re bad? How ’bout smoking? I don’t like the trend… let’s add more than one piercing in each ear and/or tattoos? Those things are all bad too, right? Why should anyone have the freedom to choose?

    No, but seriously, if you have a problem with porn, start an anti-porn campaign similar to the anti-smoking one. Don’t lobby for a new law to be made. Let’s TEACH rather than FORCE.

  34. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 8:35 pm

    Bob, taking your comments literally, I gotta think you’re crazy. We already regulate drugs and alcohol very closely; same with gambling and other addictive activities or substances, in order to protect the youth and other sensitive demographics. You’re not differentiating effectively here, and “bad” doesn’t begin to approach the topic.

  35. MDS on April 8, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    Legislating against bad things does not limit freedom to choose; it assigns consequences to the choices made.

  36. Gary Cooper on April 8, 2004 at 8:55 pm

    MDS,

    Thanks for a wonderfully succinct statement of truth. No one’s actually used the word “Agency” in this discussion yet, but for those members who would utter the expression, “People have their agency” as an argument against restrcting porn (something I hear all the time), how about this definition:

    “Agency means, among other things, that God will never attempt to force us to worship Him in truth, nor will He countenance others in doing so. He makes no other guarantees to us with regard to His involving Himself in our lives without our permission. Agency, does NOT mean we have the right to do as we please–God may stop us from doing wrong, or direct others so to do, but He will NEVER force us to do what is right.”

  37. Matt J on April 8, 2004 at 9:13 pm

    MDS,

    It seems that legislating against bad things is specifally designed to limit freedom of choice. Don’t we want the laws to deter people from making bad choices? So we make it painful for them to do so. There are already negative consequences to drugs, pornography, etc. Laws just add even more (possibly immediate) consequences. As the legal consequences get more and more severe, people will be less likely to want to do bad things. Some might say they are making this choice of their own will, some would say they have lost their ability to choose freely.

    Gary,

    I don’t quite see the difference between God NEVER forcing us to do right and yet reserving the right to stop us from doing wrong.

  38. Bob Caswell on April 8, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    “You’re not differentiating effectively here, and “bad” doesn’t begin to approach the topic.”

    Hence, “bad” was in quotes.

    “Legislating against bad things does not limit freedom to choose”

    On the contrary, when new consequences are made, my freedom is limited because those consequences didn’t exist before.

    But before I get eaten alive again, let me just say that my point was (between the sarcasm and cynicism) that the creation of new laws can easily dilute the original premise for the law (especially in a churchy sort of context). We get to thinking so much about not breaking a law just for the sake of not breaking a law rather than *learning*. I don’t want my children growing up not doing things just because they are “against the law”. I want them not to do things because of what I’ve taught them. I have a sister who left the Church in part due to my parents’ constant reliance on, “but a rule’s a rule”.

    If we want to create a new law against porn, let’s just make sure we don’t forget why we created it when teaching our kids. Because if any of you were like me (or my sister) as a child, when you get a crappy answer from a parent on rules, you just as soon break the rule to figure it out for yourself. And that’s what I’m worried about…

  39. Bob Caswell on April 8, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    Also, what Matt J said.

  40. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 9:24 pm

    Bob, I agree with your latest post. No need to get eaten alive… I choose save that for when you really deserve it.

  41. Gary Cooper on April 8, 2004 at 9:38 pm

    Matt J,

    God will not force us into the celestial kingdom, but He might stop letting us take pleasure in sin, to paraphrase the BoM phrase. I’m not sure I can explain the difference either, but it is clear that God has never forced someone to be baptized or to go to the temple, but He clearly has used force to destroy an Egyptian army bent on killing the Israelites, destroy whole cities given over to wickedness (such as threatening to rape God’s servants in Sodom), strike an antichrist deaf and dumb (after He demanded a sign) and then refuse to give him back his hearing and speech, etc. My point I suppose was to make it clear that it is not a denial of Agency, and by extrapolation, not necessarily wrong, to use force (law) to stop people from selling obscenity. It would be wrong, and a denial of agency, to force those same people to confess their sins to a bishop.

    In the fallen world we live in, representative government is the best we can hope for given our sinful natures. To maintain liberty, we have to constantly seek to maintain a fine balance between people being free to act for themselves, vs. restraining that same freedom lest it consume itself in license. There is simply no way that freedom in a political, religious, and economic sense, can be maintained ultimately if a certain degree of restraint does not exist to let everyone know that some things are beyond the pale, and will not be tolerated. The fact that such laws exist do not in and of themselves guarantee that morality will fourish, even if strictly enforced. However, if such laws are never enforced or are even repealed, you will definitely get rampant immorality over time, if for no other reason than the fact that there is a being called Satan running around, more than happy to get people to either push liberty to extremes or to use government to kill and destroy, and the two often go hand in hand.

  42. Bob Caswell on April 8, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    Steve, you are too kind.

  43. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 9:57 pm

    Perhaps I am, Bob, but I’m not too good a spellchecker, apparently.

  44. Clark Goble on April 8, 2004 at 10:58 pm

    One thing to consider is whether a war on pornography is really possible. Even if you could get, for instance, rid of the magazines and so forth, from what I understand most porn is now internet porn. Even if you theoretically could pass the first amendment muster on banning it, all that would happen is that it would be hosted on non-US machines where US law doesn’t apply. Already, from what the news has been saying, most traditional pornography is near bankrupt due to competition. DVD sales are apparently still healthy, but its just a matter of time before that gets cannibalized by computers as well.

    The other problem is defining just what pornography is. I think we’d all agree on some types. But what about so-called soft-porn like Playboy? Is that pornography? (In a legal sense, not whether you’d call it pornography) What about Maxim or FHM? Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Where is the boundary that you’d ban?

    I’d also urge caution on the “addiction” defense. Clearly pornography is addictive, but it is addictive in a way fundamentally different from hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, or meth. It is more addictive the way cheap carbs are addictive. (And as damaging as pornography is, I think that America’s obesity due to food addiction is far worse.) I don’t really think psychological addictions, especially those by only a small minority of the population, really ought to be called addiction.

    If you want to talk about the destructive power of pornography, I’m probably all with you. But I think too many things get lumped together. For instance all pornography gets lumped in with violent pornography. Yet it seems there is a fundamental difference between Playboy and violent rape fantasies on film. Just like I think there is a fundamental difference between say light marijuana users and heroin users. Unfortunately, as in the drug war, everything gets lumped together. (It is unconscienceable in my opinion that non-addictive fairly safe drugs like Ecstasy get lumped in with horribly addictive dangerous drugs like Crystal Meth or Crack Cocaine, for instance)

  45. Steve Evans on April 8, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    I’m not convinced that there’s non-addictive fairly safe porn; even Playboy ain’t so safe, IMHO…. though I just read it for the articles.

  46. Gary Cooper on April 8, 2004 at 11:59 pm

    Clark Goble,

    “(And as damaging as pornography is, I think that America’s obesity due to food addiction is far worse.) I don’t really think psychological addictions, especially those by only a small minority of the population, really ought to be called addiction.”

    Clark, Clark, Clark. Is America’s obesity REALLY “far worse” than our pornography problem? In what truly important sense could this be true? Have great civiilations and cultures collapsed because their people were fat? No? But we know societies have ultimately died as a result of wickedness (and sexual immorality is ALWAYS present in those instances). And isn’t your statement about psychological addictions a rather broad brush too?

  47. cooper on April 9, 2004 at 12:48 am

    I am late the discussion. I agree with Melissa. This is definitely a must deal with issue. Andrew Sullivan would love to stand on his “The government shouldn’t worry about what I do in my bedroom” stance but I for one am sick of it! Pornography is evil and insidious. It is damaging to all particpants. The fact that I see daily on LDS sites people innocently putting their childrens pictures up because they are proud of them and so innocent; then thinking about the pornographers out there snagging pictures anywhere they can; then manipulating them to “meet their needs” is sickening and frightening. It is horrible that we even have to think like that.

  48. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 2:29 am

    Gotta agree with all of Kaimi’s comments here.

    Look… having already been made a pariah previously at this website for daring to say it like it is regarding the Church, I have nothing to lose in letting it all hang out (metaphorically… please, no gasps of shock and dismay from the religiously asexual among you) and saying exactly what many of you are prolly too scared to admit publicly.

    Second only to the desire and need for food and sleep, sex is arguably the single greatest drive in Nature. This cannot be said about any “vice” known to man (or woman). Sex is healthy, sex is psychologically beneficial, and frequent sexual expression has been proved by many scientific studies to do everything from improve mood, relieve depression, stimulate the immune system, inhibit prostate enlargement and cancer in men (currently among the top five causes of death in the US and the leading cause of death in the UK), benefit the cardiovascular system, and induce the production of natural endorphins which not only help us to be happier more fulfilled people, but also increase our tolerance for pain.

    And yet… still the hyper-religious continue to demonize sexuality and perpetuate the patently false myth that sex is somehow inherently evil and destructive. And therefore, sex on film between consenting adults must be even more perniciously evil and that much more destructive.

    Melissa even goes so far as to falsely accuse and condemn adult porn as being “physiologically and psychologically addictive.” Tell us, Melissa, how is it possible that porn could be “physiologically addictive”? Please educate us all and save us from our “naivete” by explaining (with proper citation referencing any scientific evidence whatsoever, of course) how it is possible that porn can create a physiological dependency when a videotape of DVD does not introduce anything into the body by which it can become physiologically dependent.

    As for psychological “addiction”, there is still plenty of controversy among psychologists regarding whether or not “sex addiction” in general is even a real addiction, much less any supposed addiction to porn.

    As for the charge of violence in porn, this has long been the biggest lie in the book. There is more violence in any number of “PG-13″ movies being screened publicly at the local theatre and aired on TV daily than you’ll ever find in well over 90% of legal porn. Yet I’m sure I won’t find you blogging madly about violence in movies. Porn is about sex (hello!), not violence.

    The only “naivete” being amply exhibited here is yours, Melissa, and all those like you who come on here and rant and rave about what adult couples should and should not do with their VCR in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

    Oh… and for your information, I am very happily married and have been for over 20 years to the same woman (*gasp!*) and with whom I have had four great children. We have a wonderful sex life together (my wife and I, that is… just in case some of you fascist extremists might attempt to deliberately misconstrue those identified by the pronoun) and enjoy keeping passion alive in many different ways… including the occasional explicit DVD or videotape.

    And no, neither of us are the least “addicted” to porn… just to each other.

    P.S. We also happen to be quite fond of Breyer’s Mint Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream… but our occasional indulgence doesn’t mean we have an ice cream addiction either, or that by so indulging we are using ice cream as a substitute for intimacy, or any of the other idiot arguments attempted by religious zealots to demonize porn.

  49. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 10:38 am

    Richard B., great that you’re back. Also glad that you distinguish between sex (which is healthy) and porn (which isn’t). However, you swiftly blur that distinction in your rant. There are several viable studies that establish that compulsions linked to porn can be traced not only to psychological roots but to real chemical imbalances triggered by the recurrence of the addictive behavior (similar to an endorphin effect following exercise). Further, many studies have linked not only pornography but erotic materials in general to increases in repetitive compulsive and addictive behavioral patterns. Before you continue to make a fool of yourself, get your ideas straight. Until you learn to distinguish between healthy sexual relationships between adults, and voyeuristically getting sexual release from watching artificial relationships on the screen, your comments aren’t worth anyone’s time.

  50. Melissa on April 9, 2004 at 11:00 am

    Wow! I just got back to this thread. I guess I shouldn’t post comments unless I can stay online for awhile and respond to objections. I have to teach in 10 minutes so this will be a short answer.

    Nate, there have been critiques of the connection between pornography and violence (rape, domestic violence). None of those critiques are persuasive in my opinion. The same critiques are made of evidence that supports violent video games having an impact on rising adolescent violence. I don’t think those critiques are compelling either. If you can suggest an article that you do think is persuasive I’m happy to look at it. But, so far I think the arguments and evidence on the other side are stronger.

    I’ve really got to go, but I’ll try to get back to this soon.

  51. Bob Caswell on April 9, 2004 at 11:27 am

    Richard & Steve,

    I hate to play peacemaker, but maybe we should tone it down a bit… Steve hates it when my Vulcan side attacks his Klingon side, but really, let’s have conversations without outright attacking each other… What I’m suggesting is a little more tact and a little less emotion.

  52. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 11:33 am

    Bob, you’re right as ever, I guess.

  53. Adam Greenwood on April 9, 2004 at 11:49 am

    Bob,
    You’re all wet. The fault is all on one side.

    Steve,
    Refuse to respond to provocation.

  54. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 11:59 am

    Adam, were you talking about Bob or R.B.? Both provoked me — one to anger, the other to sleepy complacency.

  55. Taylor on April 9, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    +++I am not following this post, but let me make a suggestion that the word p*rn not be used on this site. The way that many Internet filters work is that they block sites with certain words that are not suitible for children. P*rn is definitely one of these and the site may lose readers who cannot access it since some software would classify it as ‘adult’.

  56. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 12:39 pm

    How about pr0n? That’s an old internet fave.

  57. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 12:49 pm

    Great to “see” you again Bob… and thanx for your remarks.

    Now… as for Steve’s “Klingon”, there’s most certainly sumpin’ “clingin’ on” to him, alright. And it ain’t the facts. But Klingons have never been known to debate well given that their capacity for logic is practically non-existent.

    Steve… buddy… forgive the “fool” in me here for not blindly accepting your claim to several “studies” supporting your position, but if you’re going to make such claims and insult me in the process, you’d better be able to provide the relevant and requisite citations or URLs to such scientific studies.

    What has been correlated in studies is not that porn creates compulsive or addictive behavior, but that for those people with compulsive or addictive personalities, almost any behavior wherein heightened states of well-being can be achieved are commonly abused. Among the behavioral patterns that can be commonly manifest by such individuals can be found abuse of alcohol, drugs, food, sweets, porn, gambling, relationships, sex, the Internet, television, etc.

    And finally, your claim that studies have shown that porn creates chemical imbalances is simply and patently a lie. You know it, and so do (or should) the rest of us. Either produce the scientific study that so indicates or admit you have blatantly lied to us all.

    We all await your fact-filled reply.

  58. Kaimi on April 9, 2004 at 12:55 pm

    Richard,

    While I’m happy that you’re agreeing with me, I can’t help but notice that you take Steve to task for his lack of empirical support, yet haven’t seen fit to provide any empirical support for your own position.

    In the interests of advancing the debate, would you care to provide us with the same support you’ve asked of Steve — “the relevant and requisite citations or URLs to such scientific studies”?

  59. Nate Oman on April 9, 2004 at 1:38 pm

    Richard: Try to lay off the gratuitious streotypes — religiously asexual, etc. etc. To the extent that you are going to participate here, it would be nice if you engaged in conversations with the actual people on the site, rather than the ones that inhabit your inhabit your particular religious (post-religious? a-religious?) ideology.

  60. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Whoa Kaimi…

    In a logical argument, the burden of proof resides first with those first establishing a position.

    It was not I who began this thread trashing porn and accusing it of causing everything from child abuse to domestic violence, and then going so far as to claim, as has Melissa, that it also causes physiological as well as psychological addiction. And then later, as Steve then charges, ludicrously claiming that porn causes a “chemical imbalance.”

    And yet none of these individuals has provided nor been asked to provide a single study or shred of scientific evidence to validate their claims by anyone here other than myself.

    Regardless, they have yet to form a valid argument as no evidence in support of their position has yet been provided. Thus, any position to the contrary is not logically obligated to provide arguments with supporting evidence in contest thereof given that the initial argument has yet to be logically established.

    Thus… I continue to await any references to actual scientific studies that provide direct correlation between the use of porn and “physiological addiction” and of causing a “chemical imbalance.”

    _____________________________________________

    In the meantime, as we continue to await the evidence for their position and as I research my own in reply… let me offer a cogent analogy in rebuttal to the philosophy behind their position:

    Firearms have long been demonized as causing all the violence in the U.S., and anti-gun nuts have long sought to criminalize the possession of firearms. Firearms are claimed to directly cause domestic violence and violent crime and murder. Yet as hopefully all of us (okay… most of us) can see, guns can be used for both good and evil. Guns are also used to defend life, protect life and property, and preserver personal and sexual dignity. Guns are tools, implements only. How they are used depends solely upon the responsibility and the character of the person wielding same.

    And it is also a fact that if a person is intent on committing violent crime or murder and a gun is not available, then he/she can and do find some other means of accomplishing their desires. Again… it is not the gun, but instead the person and the intent and attitude of same.

    If an individual is predisposed to criminal behavior or “Rambo”-style obsession, then a gun in their immediate control is most certainly not a good idea. However, yet again, it is not the gun that causes such attitudes, but instead the already-existent attitudes and intent of the person using it.

    So also with porn: it’s not porn, it’s the person… as it always is and has been regardless the situation.

    And either we will fight for our freedoms and our God-granted free-agency while requiring that all be made responsible in exercising same, or we will fight instead for greater “security” and “protection” from government in having the State remove from us our freedoms in lieu of its “big-brother” control.

    Do we really want the “Great and Powerful Oz” in our bedrooms dictating what we, as married and/or consenting adults, can and cannot do?!

    That is the greater issue here.

  61. Jen on April 9, 2004 at 2:01 pm

    I have been reading this blog for a few weeks now. This is my first post. Nothing like jumping in on a controversial topic. I do not have any empirical evidence for those people who love such things, but I have a few anecdotes, for what that’s worth (which I can provide). It’s one of the few topics that boils my blood enough to actually speak out from my quiet corner.
    The Internet variety of which we are speaking is particularly insidious. It will be difficult to draw the line as far as legislation goes. Does it get treated like public TV for instance, or like cable or satellite? Do we just assume to put filters on our computers to drown out the filth or fight to make it more difficult to access?
    The other types take a little work to find and participate in, but with the Internet sometimes it just pops up on your screen, especially if you type in a wrong web address. How is that safe for children? And yes, I could give one example of a website that children might type in and get something else.
    Is it harmful? Well, in what sense of the word are we using it here? I personally do not know any woman who would want her husband looking at even the most innocuous of this, if any of it can be called that. Yes, I know that some may not care. Viewing of p**n directly affects marriages, among other things.
    What is particularly horrible is that people who may not have normally looked at something like that get lured in because of inadvertantly coming across this on the Internet, children and adults alike.
    Well, that’s my 2 cents.

  62. Jen on April 9, 2004 at 2:04 pm

    Wanted to make another comment. There has been some discussion about morality/immorality in society and the outcomes of such a society. For a look into one particular society from one person’s viewpoint, a good book that I just finished reading is called
    “Unveiled” by Cherry Mosteshar.

  63. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    ” I continue to await any references to actual scientific studies that provide direct correlation between the use of porn and “physiological addiction” and of causing a “chemical imbalance.””

    OK RB, since you seem to be harping on getting proof so badly, chew on this:

    http://www.drjudithreisman.com/brain.pdf

    Now please go away.

  64. Grasshopper on April 9, 2004 at 3:09 pm

    If pr0n can have the physiological effect of arousal, isn’t that an indicator that it could have other physiological effects? Surely arousal involves chemical processes…

  65. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    Steve,

    I’ll bet you wish I would “go away” after submitting that long-discredited “study” as evidence.

    Have you actually read this study? This has absolutely nothing to do with chemical imbalances being caused by porn! Instead it purports to provide evidence that porn can affect the developing minds of children. I have never advocated or defended porn being made available to children, now have I?! I have argued solely and specifically to the issue that “consenting adults” should not give up their freedoms to view porn if they so choose.

    Now… that said and clarified, let’s get further into it.

    Have you actually investigated “Dr. Judith Reisman” and the opinion the scientific community has of this person? Let me enlighten you on the facts regarding both her and this witch-hunt “study” you have chosen to cite:

    “Dr Loretta Haroian, cochair of the plenary session on Child and Adolescent Sexuality at the 1984 World Congress of Sexology, and one of the world’s experts on childhood sexuality, says this of the Reisman study:

    ‘This is not science, it’s vigilantism: paranoid, pseudoscientific hyperbole with a thinly veiled hidden agenda. This kind of thing doesn’t help children at all. … Her [Reisman’s] study demonstrates gross negligence and, while she seems to have spent a lot of time collecting her data, her conclusions, based on the data, are completely unwarranted. The experts Reisman cites are, in fact, not experts at all but simply people who have chosen to adopt some misinformed, Disneyland conception of childhood that she has. These people are little more than censors hiding behind Christ and children.’ (Carol, 1994, p.116, “Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes: Pornography and Censorship”, New Clarion Press, Gloucester).

    “Long before that, in 1984, the US Justice Department had given Reisman a grant for $734,371 to study pictures in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler. She claims that these magazines published 6,000 cartoons, photos and other illustrations of children between 1954 and 1984. Subsequently, Reagan-appointee Alfred Regnery, who commissioned the study, had to admit that it was a mistake. Avedon Carol writes:

    ‘It was a scientific disaster, riddled with researcher bias and baseless assumptions. The American University (AU), where Reisman’s study had been academically based, actually refused to publish it when she released it, after their independent academic auditor reported on it. Dr Robert Figlio of the University of Pennsylvania told AU that, ‘The term child used in the aggregate sense in this report is so inclusive and general as to be meaningless.’ Figlio told the press, ‘I wondered what kind of mind would consider the love scene from Romeo and Juliet to be child porn’.” (Carol, ibid.)

    http://libertus.net/censor/xrhoax7.html#jcjr

    In response… the above website, from which these highly relevant quotes were pulled, provide numerous additional URLs referencing professional reports and studies showing the ludicrousy of censoring porn to consenting adults.

    One of the best supporting the legitimacy of sexual freedom and choice is written not by some anti-porn crusader masquerading as a scientist, but instead by the Professor of Criminology at the Institute of Criminal Science at the University of Copenhagen:

    “Pornography, Sex Crime, and Public Policy”

    The conclusion of which study states in part as follows:

    “Conclusion
    The aggregate data on rape and other violent or sexual offences from four countries where
    pornography, including aggressive varieties, has become widely and easily available during
    the period we have dealt with would seem to exclude, beyond any reasonable doubt, that
    this availability has had any detrimental effects in the form of increased sexual violence. The
    data from West Germany is striking since here, the only increase in sexual violence takes
    place in the form which includes the least serious forms of sexual coercion and where there
    may have been increases in reporting frequency. As far as the other forms of sexual violence
    are concerned, the remarkable fact is that they decreased¾the more so, the more serious
    the offence.”

    http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/proceedings/14/kutchinsky.pdf

    ________________________________________________________

    Just as I stated in my earlier comments: just as there is no definitive link between gun ownership and violence, so also is there no link between porn viewing and sex crimes.

    Additionally, while studies will show that the vast majority of murderers and violent criminals use guns in the commission of their crimes, it cannot be then logically concluded that most gun users (owners) are murderers and violent criminals. So also where porn is concerned. Just because most sexual offenders can be shown to have used porn doesn’t mean that most porn users are sexual offenders.

    Or… for the more logically challenged out there: just because most dogs have four legs, it cannot be concluded that most four-legged animals must be dogs!

  66. Steve Evans on April 9, 2004 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks RB. You win.

  67. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 3:52 pm

    Grasshopper —
    “If pr0n can have the physiological effect of arousal, isn’t that an indicator that it could have other physiological effects? Surely arousal involves chemical processes…”

    *Sigh!*

    “Grasshopper”… what am I going to do with you?

    Of course arousal causes physiological effects and chemical processes in the brain. But… is arousal only caused by porn? And is it also shown that such chemical processes triggered by arousal (with or without porn) are damaging or the least bit addicting?

    Careful, Grasshopper, or your “slippery slope” reasoning will soon have you positing that arousal, itself, ought to be controlled, regulated, and perhaps made illegal, too.

  68. Nate Oman on April 9, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Richard B.: Grasshopper did not make a slippery slope argument. A slippery slope argument is where you claim that we ought not to do X (about which we may be indifferent) because X will lead to Y (which we disfavor). The argument is falacious when we essentially use the disfavored Y to leverage illegitimately against X.

    In contrast, Grasshopper was not making any claims about physiological arousal leading to other more dangerous effects (a slippery slope). Rather, he was making the point that p*rnography leads to arousal, which is a member of the class “physiological effects.” He then suggested that because there is at least one demonstrable physiological effect it is possible that there might be others. Obviously, this is not a particularlly strong argument. On the other hand, it is a valid counter-example to the claim that p*rnography has NO physiological effects.

    Since you seem to enjoy citations, you might want to check out:

    Eugene Volokh, “Mechanism of the Slippery Slope,” 166 Harv. L. Rev. 1026 (2003) (abstract here: http://www.harvardlawreview.org/issues/116/4_1026.pdf)

    In addition, I would suggest:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_fallacies#A_list_of_fallacies

  69. Clark Goble on April 9, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    “Clark. Is America’s obesity REALLY “far worse” than our pornography problem? In what truly important sense could this be true?”

    By the number of people dying via problems related to obesity. Various health agencies consider it the number one killer now – well above sex related issues. Which is not to downplay those. Although relating those solely to pornography is problematic.

    “Have great civiilations and cultures collapsed because their people were fat? No? But we know societies have ultimately died as a result of wickedness (and sexual immorality is ALWAYS present in those instances).”

    But you are taking one kind of wickedness and then extending it to all wickedness here. That’s fallacious reasoning. To turn the question around, how many societies were destroyed by pornography? But I personally find your reasoning unconvincing. As I said I find it a problem. But I find it a much smaller problem relative to many other problems. (i.e. terrorism, health etc.)

    But my fundamental point is that outlawing pornography is *practically* impossible. You just can’t do it. You can use filters on your computer or get rid of your computer. But there is no practical way to outlaw it.

  70. Susan on April 9, 2004 at 4:58 pm

    Having unenforceable laws leads to unenforced laws. Which seems to be a problem. That was the lesson I remember being taught I should learn from Prohibition. I’m sure all of you lawyers can tell me whether this is a lesson I should have learned.

  71. Susan on April 9, 2004 at 4:59 pm

    Having unenforceable laws leads to unenforced laws. Which seems to be a problem. That was the lesson I remember being taught I should learn from Prohibition. I’m sure all of you lawyers can tell me whether this is a lesson I should have learned.

  72. Grasshopper on April 9, 2004 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks, Nate.

    Richard, you are reading into my post. I made no claim that arousal is only caused by pr0n, nor did I suggest anything about government regulation of pr0n or anything else. I merely observed that the idea that pr0n has physiological effects is not laughable, as you made it out to be in your response to Melissa.

  73. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 10:25 pm

    Grasshopper–

    My point was that while pr0n (as you like to spell it) causes “arousal,” which in turn is most certainly a “physiological effect,” yet such effect is no different than the sexual arousal caused from any other source of sexual stimulation. Thus your point is moot.

    Additionally, however, as you were attempting to extrapolate from this (listen up, Nate) that as porn causes arousal which in turn causes a “physiological effect” “involving chemical processes,” this might somehow strengthen Melissa’s claim to a “physiological addiction,” then by such a stretch, sexual arousal itself — and not porn — becomes the issue and the true potential danger.

    (And that, my dear Nate, was the “slippery slope” to which I was referring. And yes… my reasoning is sound, no fallacy present, and thus you can focus your misplaced condescension elsewhere.)

  74. Grasshopper on April 9, 2004 at 10:40 pm

    Where did I make any attempt to extrapolate anything about “danger”? Where did I make any claim that the physiological effects of pr0n are any different from sexual arousal from other sources? Again, you are reading into my post what you imagine my position to be.

  75. Richard B. on April 9, 2004 at 10:46 pm

    Grasshopper —

    Come now… let’s not attempt to forget where all this started. This began with Melissa claiming that porn was a DANGER due to its supposedly causing a “physiological addiction.”

    Your argument was that since porn could cause arousal, which in turn causes a “physiological effect” that “involv(es) chemical processes,” then perhaps this leant credence to Melissa’s argument. However as any sexual stimulation causes arousal, from whatever source, then porn can’t be singled out as the villian.

    However, this is still off point because even if only porn could cause the “physiological effect” referenced, this still does not equate to the “physiological addiction” of which Melissa falsely accused porn.

  76. Clark Goble on April 9, 2004 at 11:04 pm

    I think Richard that any psychological addiction is physiological. It just isn’t physiological in a *simple* fashion. i.e. the way opiates or cocaine are.

  77. Nate Oman on April 9, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    “Additionally, however, as you were attempting to extrapolate from this (listen up, Nate) that as porn causes arousal which in turn causes a “physiological effect” “involving chemical processes,” this might somehow strengthen Melissa’s claim to a “physiological addiction,” then by such a stretch, sexual arousal itself — and not porn — becomes the issue and the true potential danger.”

    I confess that I am a little confused about what it is that this sentence means. It seems clear to me, however, that it is not the argument that Grasshopper made. Are you claiming that YOU argument is a slippery slope argument, i.e. grasshoper claims X, which will slide into the claim of Y?

  78. Grasshopper on April 10, 2004 at 12:04 am

    Richard, the primary point of my argument wasn’t about the dangers of pr0n at all; it was much simpler: you have a tendency to overstate your case, as you have amply demonstrated not only on this thread, but elsewhere here at Times & Seasons. In addition, you have shown that you assume you already know the arguments of others here, and you end up attacking straw men. This point was made earlier by Nate: “it would be nice if you engaged in conversations with the actual people on the site, rather than the ones that inhabit your inhabit your particular religious (post-religious? a-religious?) ideology.”

  79. Kaimi on April 10, 2004 at 1:36 am

    Richard wrote,

    “focus your misplaced condescension elsewhere . . .”

    Wow, that’s certainly chutzpah. Richard, your comments have consistently been among the most condescending of any commenter. As a general matter, your arguments will be better received if you are able to make them without calling your opponents names. You are doubtless aware of this, but you’ve picked fights on several threads now by insulting any commenters who have dared to disagree with you. This behavior needs to stop. Richard, you’re being singled out here, because you’ve been the worst offender, but this sort of commentary needs to stop across the board (this means you, Steve, and anyone else who fits the description).

    Discuss the issues WITHOUT personally attacking commenters who disagree with you.

  80. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 1:58 am

    As Nate and Grasshopper have apparently lost the ability to scroll up to the argument placed by Melissa that started this entire exchange, I shall be forced to quote from same here:

    _________________________________________________

    Melissa —

    “Here’s a crash course on some of the results of porn:

    1. Pornography is physiologically and psychologically addictive. Like an addict needs harder and harder drugs at higher and higher doses, the porn addict builds up a certain tolerance to visual sex and needs more and more graphic images to stimulate.

    2. Hence, much pornography is violent. Besides the implicit violence against women in degrading their bodies as objects of lust in magazines, the visual images in porn are often explicitly violent and abusive toward women. There have been studies linking pornography to rape and domestic violence.”

    _________________________________________________

    These were the arguments to which I was directly responding. Thus, Nate and Grasshopper, I WAS directing my arguments only at the stated arguments of others here at THIS site.

    Grasshopper, if you are going to claim that I am “overstating (my) case”… then at least have the decency to accompany your accusation with an example of such, given that I have only responded to the arguments of others.

    And finally… Kaimi:

    Show me where I called anyone a name here. Go on… I’ll wait.

    In this thread so far I have been called a “fool”, been told to “go away”, and been given links to sites listing logical fallacies… which they assumed I needed and thus, condescendingly posted. And now if that weren’t enough, I have been accused by both Nate and Grasshopper of arguing with people “not at the site” but instead “ones that inhabit your inhabit your particular religious (post-religious? a-religious?) ideology.”

    These insults, without any foundation whatsoever, have been slung at me in a constant barrage that fills this website ever since I put forth nothing but a cogent and focused discussion of the arguments in question… not the people making them. All of this name-calling and insults have occurred without me calling anyone here a single name and while trying as hard as any sane person can to stick to the facts of the arguments and not be baited by the insults thrown at me.

    And now you dare accuse me, after all this, of being the one to have insulted others?! You have some nerve to attack me after I began by defending your position here, and have done so quite handily, frankly, despite the abuse I have been made to endure.

    It is I, not you and certainly not Nate, Steve, or Grasshopper, and only I who is fully justified in demanding that YOU:

    “Discuss the issues WITHOUT personally attacking commenters who disagree with you.”

  81. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 2:14 am

    Grasshopper —
    “Richard, the primary point of my argument wasn’t about the dangers of pr0n at all; it was much simpler…”

    Then… what was the “simpler” argument, Grasshopper? What you wrote sure seemed to me to be stating that as porn causes arousal, then porn causes a “physiological effect” “involving chemical processes” and therefore possibly supporting Melissa’s argument that porn is “physiologically addictive.”

    So… what did I miss, here?

  82. brayden on April 10, 2004 at 2:17 am

    See what discussing porn does to people? ;>

  83. Kaimi on April 10, 2004 at 2:24 am

    Richard,

    I’m not taking issue with your argument or attacking you personally to try to discredit your statements; I’m writing as a blog administrator to say that I don’t want insulting posts from you. Don’t pretend that you can’t understand the difference.

    You’ve actually behaved pretty well in this particular thread — it was in the other uber-thread that you called everyone names, and a lot of that negativity seems to have carried over to here.

    I’ve just posted blog policies on comments. Commenters who have felt the need to call others names — this includes you, Steve, and others — should be aware. See http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000653.html .

  84. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 2:25 am

    hehehe…

    Seriously though, I’m sure it’s not the topic, but because I have taken the unenviable position of arguing contrary to the opinions of almost everyone else thus I am ganged up on, even by those whose position I defended.

    Apparently the standard “modus operandi” here.

  85. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 2:48 am

    Kaimi:

    If you are an administrator, then it should be your primary responsibility to investigate thoroughly a situation before using your power to accuse those here of abuse. You have accused me of calling others names. I have asked you to show me anywhere here where I called anyone a name. Your response is to continue accusing me of calling others names.

    Again I ask… where, Kaimi, have I called anyone a name? Steve has, not I. Yet I am singled out, not he.

    You accuse me of “personally attacking” others here, when it is I who have been personally attacked, as this thread makes plain to anyone who reads it. I have contested arguments here… not attacked people. Only now, out of sheer frustration at having my words repeatedly twisted and being unjustly accused of that which others have done am I now forced to answer directly to individuals who will not stop their personal attacks, for which… again… I am blamed and singled out. Again I ask, show me where I have attacked anyone here personally.

    I notice that while I have not called anyone a single name, but have strictly kept to the facts or responded to the attacks against me as cogently as anyone could, yet I have cited to you at least three direct insulting attacks made against me by others on this thread. And so far not one word has been posted here to or about those. Instead, I am targeted.

    Why is that, Kaimi?

    And finally… yet again… the record is plainly visible for all to see and read. Go read it all for yourself(ves). You will see that after each fact-filled, and sometimes URL-filled response tendered, I am slammed and mocked. No… not by all of course, but the derision is common and often enough. Then read my replies to same.

    Though sometimes frustration is seen, as should be understandable given the mocking, yet I still stick to the facts presented, as I see them. Disagreement with an argument is NOT the same as personally attacking the arguer. I have disagreed, sometimes strongly, but I don’t attack the arguer… I attack the argument.

    READ the thread… it’s all there.

  86. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 3:16 am

    Clark —
    “I think Richard that any psychological addiction is physiological. It just isn’t physiological in a *simple* fashion. i.e. the way opiates or cocaine are.”

    That is an interesting interpretation. I can see your point in stating that perhaps it is a “chicken-vs.-egg” conundrum: does physiology cause behavior, or vice versa? However, after some reflection, I am inclined to conclude that as what is termed “sexual addiction” can take many different forms, the only common denominator of same being compulsive sexual behavior, that regardless which precedes or causes which, pornography is only one of several ways that sexual compulsive behavior is manifest.

    Thus, whatever the possible physiological component of the psychological addiction (assuming for the sake of your hypothesis that the former precedes the latter), that physiological factor cannot be confined to just porn as the cause or catalyst thereof.

    What are your thoughts?

  87. Kaimi on April 10, 2004 at 3:31 am

    Sigh. Well, since you insist, here are a few of the things I had in mind —

    Calls Kristine uninformed: http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008536
    Calls Ryan a sycophant:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008538
    Calls Adam a sycophant:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008555
    Calls entire group unintelligent, immature:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008584

    Perhaps you’re using a different definition of name-calling and insulting than I am. (Is being called a sycophant a compliment?) If so, be advised — that’s what I’m talking about. The definition is non-negotiable — it’s my blog.

    Also, in advance — no excuses, no “it was their fault.” I don’t care whose fault it was, I simply don’t want such comments around here.

    Finally, I notice that one of your prefered arguments is to claim that your arguments are so provacative that the entire group is ganging up on you. You may even believe that. I find it implausible. We have discussed a variety of issues at this site for many months, and all sorts of viewpoints have been expressed, without commenters “ganging up” on anyone. Your views aren’t all that remarkable; certainly not unusual enough to be ganged up on. I probably agree with some of them (see, e.g., this thread). You’re the only one who has claimed to be ganged up on — and I think it has more to do with your tone than your views.

    This is my last comment on the subject. I’ve stated my views, and like it or not, I’m the law around here. Now let’s stop with the silly bickering and talk about some substance. Non-insultingly.

  88. Kaimi on April 10, 2004 at 3:39 am

    Melissa, Steve, et al,

    Without taking a position on the harmfulness of porn, let me state a few concerns with regulating it by law:

    1. The cat is out of the bag. The internet is full of porn; there are probably millions of porn DVD’s out there. Any attempt to regulate it will likely be futile. Is this prohibition, all over again?

    2. How is porn to be defined? In particular, aren’t many of the harms cited (lack of focus on spouse; objectification of women) caused by a variety of legal material as well? Why is Playboy worse than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue? Should any activity that potentially distracts men from their spouses be legally banished? All of a sudden, we’re in Burka-land.

    3. What about the freedom of speech and expression? Adam asked why I should be allowed to let others observe me having sex — I think the question is, why shouldn’t I? Why should my freedom of speech be suppressed?

    I’m not sure whether I agree with all of these arguments in their strongest forms, but I do think that they are serious arguments that must be addressed by proponents of regulation.

  89. Melissa on April 10, 2004 at 3:43 am

    First, I have noticed, not without some dismay, that no one has discussed the major point I was trying to make in my original post: the fact that p*rn dehumanizes women. Hard-core p*rn depicts women as experiencing sexual pleasure in being raped, tied up, bruised, mutilated and cut. Even Soft-core p*rn represents women deriving sexual pleasure from humilation and subordination, thereby, eroticizes gender subordination, and thus, promoting gender inequality. Connecting gender inadequality to sexual pleasure renders that inequality as attrative and desirable. For me this degradation and objectification of women is one of the biggest arguments against p*rnography.

    Whether or not p*rnography actually causes violence and sexual abuse may be constructed as a straight-forwardly empirical issue. In that case studies would seem to be in order. There are indeed studies that show a causal link between pornography and violent crimes. For example, the Land Use Studies by the National Law Center for Children and Families show evidence of the correlation of sexually-oriented business and crime. According to this study, in Phoenix neighborhoods where such businesses were located, the numbers of sex offenses was 500% greater than in neighborhoods without such businesses. However, I am also aware that internationally the correlation seems to be exactly reversed. Although I agree with MacKinnon and Dworkin in the end, I do think that mono-causal claims that say p*rn viewers are all (or will be) violent are overly deterministic. Of course other factors may be involved in sexual violence and gender inequality (p*rnography in this sense may even be considered a result of that societal violence and inequality not a/the cause). In other words, p*rn is not necessary for (or the only cause of) violence and sexual abuse. Further, exposure to p*rn does not guarantee harm to women. Some viewers of p*rn do not act out violently. Thus, p*rn does not necessarily lead to violence against women, it is thus, insufficient as a cause. (These are simply N. Strossen’s and L. Kipnis’ claims). Nevertheless, I don’t think that p*rn needs to be necessary or sufficient to count as a genuine cause of harm to women. Probabilistic cause is enough to do that.

    So, I’ve responded to the idea that p*rn leads to imitative behavior (obviously, I think that it does and generally believe stats which report that 86% of convicted rapists confessed to regular use of p*rn). But, what about my claim that another harmful aspect of p*rn is the damage it causes to the participant because of its physiologically and psychologically addictive nature? Like Steve, I would also have cited Dr. Judith Reisman on this issue. Like Grasshopper said, of course the effects of p*rn are physiological. P*rn is experienced like a drug–there is a physiological or biological dependence that is created. Stronger and stronger images are required for the same effects over time. Many men report trying to quit viewing p*rn and being unable to do so or experiencing severe withdrawal episodes that are similar to drug and alcohol withdrawal.

    Sexually explicit images trigger the pleasure center of the brain. You make the point that things other than p*rn cause sexual arousal and ask (rather sarcastically?)whether the real danger isn’t sexual arousal instead of p*rn. I think this point is actually an important one. It is indeed the deliberate seeking after sexual arousal in self-centered, isolated and secretive ways outside the bonds of marriage which is where the danger lies. Many in our culture would like to suppose that our biology drives our thoughts and behaviors and thus that they are natural and therefore excusable, but I largely disagree with this materialist conclusion. One’s daily thoughts and behavior can and do alter one’s physiological drives (I’m not saying that through sheer grit you can destroy your sex drive, but I am saying that you override and channel certain drives while they are still in your power to do so). P*rn destroys your ability to do so because you are conditioning your body to respond to explicit images instead of conditioning your body not to by mentally rejecting and physically removing such stimulus. Many men who have participated in p*rn still struggle with this problem after marriage (this is a big problem among married BYU students) because p*rn has become a physiological need–not the sexual release, but p*rn itself. It is physiologically rewarding in a way that normal sexual relations within marriage is not.

    P*rn is not really about sex, it begins with psychological insecurity, and deep emotional needs that have gone unmet for a long time. It is clear that consumption can lead to physiological addiction, however, since even after marriage when sexual release is available and emotional needs have/can be met people continue to struggle. Of course, p*rn can also be caused by being sexually abused as a child or being exposed to p*rn often as a child–which is often the case). Finally, p*rn addicts are often led to violent assaults when representations are no longer fulfilling and they seek to act out various scenarios which they have viewed.

    Feel free to disagree with what I have said. Much of it is my own opinion. But, for good reasons, I will maintain my position on this issue. I will not, however, be posting on this topic again. It has been painful and taxing.

    Oh, how priceless is a virtuous man!

  90. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 3:53 am

    Hmmm…

    After re-reading what I posted, I feel there might be a need for a bit of clarification. Hopefully this will make it clearer, anyway.

    If a psychological addiction/compulsion (in this case, that which is called “sexual addiction”) has its roots in a physiological factor, and if that physiological factor is suspected to be triggered or acquired via a particular medium (in this case, porn), then to test that theory we would need to expose a test Subject to various forms of sexually related stimuli, including porn, and see which if any trigger the addictive response.

    If all others fail and porn triggers the compulsive behavior, then we would have a real basis upon which to form such a hypothesis relating porn to the link causing sexual compulsive/addictive behavior (whether psychologically or physiologically).

    And yet while several studies on sexual compulsives have been accomplished and while porn is most certainly a very convenient and common means of receiving instant visual sexual stimuli, yet sexual compulsion can still find itself manifest in an almost infinite diversity of sexual behaviors and philias. Thus were there a physiological component that triggers the compulsion, porn cannot be the cause of same given that depending on the individual, the stimulus/i triggering the compulsive behavior can vary so greatly without porn having to be among them, at all.

    Contariwise, were porn the cause of such a physiological addiction, then a direct correlation would be possible between porn and the millions of Americans who use same daily. And yet the millions of porn users nationwide are not sex addicts.

  91. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 4:08 am

    Melissa —
    “First, I have noticed, not without some dismay, that no one has discussed the major point I was trying to make in my original post: the fact that p*rn dehumanizes women. Hard-core p*rn depicts women as experiencing sexual pleasure in being raped, tied up, bruised, mutilated and cut.”

    I addressed this major point in my very first post here (earlier today). However I am happy to respond once more.

    (And please note I am not attacking Melissa, only contesting her arguments.)

    Melissa, could you please provide any evidence whatsoever that legal porn in this country “depicts women as experiencing sexual pleasure in being raped, tied up, bruised, mutilated and cut.”

    As I stated initially, I am not at all afraid or ashamed to state emphatically that my wife and I have watched and continue to watch porn on occasion over the 20 years of our marriage and that in all that time, neither of us have once seen a porn video that depicts sexual violence against women of any kind, much less rapes and the beatings, mutilations, etc. you claim.

    While it is obvious you feel very strongly, yet your statements regarding sexual violence in porn are simply not factual. And if you can show me where any such violence is shown in any porn tape sold in this country, I will personally volunteer to contact Law Enforcement and direct them to the producers thereof where they will be immediately arrested and suffer the full force of the Law for any and all possible assault charges that can be levied against them. This is because any such depiction would be absolutely illegal!

  92. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 11:41 am

    Kaimi —
    “Sigh. Well, since you insist, here are a few of the things I had in mind —

    Calls Kristine uninformed: http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008536
    Calls Ryan a sycophant:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008538
    Calls Adam a sycophant:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008555
    Calls entire group unintelligent, immature:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008584

    ________________________________________________________

    I invite any and all to examine these examples, then scroll up a bit and discover that it was not I who called them a “sycophant” and “uninformed”, etc., … but they who called me such. I was referencing their own terms against me, after disproving the charge, and showing that it was instead them, not I, who were worthy of the appellation.

    Kaimi, you can use the “might makes right” argument if you choose. But as anyone will see who wishes to, you have deliberately taken these examples comletely out of context. And yet again, I see nowhere that these persons who called me such names (as you choose to view such terms) are the least censured or called to task for so doing… only me. So yes, Kaimi, I am being ganged up on here, undoubtably.

    And if after all this you wish to slam me for finally, out of sheer frustration at having watched myself constantly be attacked rather than my arguments, calling the group unintelligent and imature, which they most certainly deserved to be called, then so be it. After all I had been through with absolutely no help from any administrator or participant in the blog (except Bob), I was well justified in finally so stating.

    Do what you will, Kaimi… but the evidence is right there, until or unless someone chooses to delete it.

  93. Adam Greenwood on April 10, 2004 at 12:03 pm

    Mr. B.’s mania for evidence has not driven him to the extreme of citing any. I have re-examined one of the threads in question and can confirm that Mr. B. did initiate the name-calling. His first post implied that Kristine hated logic. After Ryan Bell introduced ‘sycophant’, in quotes, as a restatement of Mr. B’s view of the followers of Jim Jones, Mr. B. accepted it and decided to apply it to Ryan and I.

  94. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    Adam,

    I am being called on the carpet for “implying” that Kristine “hated logic.” Adam, show me anywhere the word “hate” appeared! And implying that someone’s argument is illogical is not at all “name calling.”

    You, on the other hand, have just now accused me of having a “mania”. That is “ad hominem” attack. And yet this “pot calling the kettle black”, which I have experienced throughout this website, is never the least troubling to administrators like Kaimi. You are able to impugn and attack me without censure, yet I cannot so much as “imply” “illogic” without being accused of “name calling” and having a “mania.”

    However, that personal attack aside (since only I seem to be made guilty of such here), let’s proceed on to the facts (as I always address), instead).

    In accusing me of not giving any evidence, you provide none yourself. Had you done so, it would have been obvious you had misstated the facts (no… that’s not name calling, that is stating the facts). In the blog you reference, I did not initiate any “name calling.” Kristine made an illogical statement, which I called her on and explained fully why I felt it was illogical:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008525

    That is not “ad hominem” attack, that is logical discourse.

  95. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    Adam,

    And yes, Adam, as I stated before, it was Ryan who first used the term “sycophant” against me; not me against you two. That is precisely what I said.

    Yet ironically you still attempt to vilify me for daring to use argument to illustrate that you both, and not I, were demonstrating the characteristics of the derisive term by which I was called.

    Why is it okay here for others to call people names… but should that person defend himself and show, by logical argument, that they are more worthy of the term than he, HE is made the villain and the true attackers and namecallers are made the victims?

    How is this justice?

  96. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 1:08 pm

    Oh… one final observation (until or unless someone else wishes to post on this further).

    It was Kristine who began the “ad hominems” in the very first reply I received immediately following my very first post at this website:

    Kristine —
    “It would be wise to demonstrate your own capacity for using the tools of reason (or, at the very least, some rudimentary reading comprehension skills) before you try to cast doubt on my abilities or inclinations.”

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000636.html#008527

    Oh… and you are all welcome to read that very first post immediately preceding hers where you will find that I scrupulously kept to the facts of her argument, never once “ad hominem”-ing her personally… only logically contesting the arguments she made.

    That’s where all of this started. And I would love to finally have all of this end as much as I am sure does everyone else.

  97. Richard B. on April 10, 2004 at 1:27 pm

    Perhaps on one point I should apologize.

    After a closer review of the entries made, it becomes clear that while Ryan did use the word “sycophant” first, it was not directed in personal attack against me. Therefore that one occasion was not an “ad hominem” attack and I was wrong for so claiming.

    And conversely, neither was my usage of the term an example of “ad hominem”, either. One of Adam’s replies was called a sycophant reply, but that is not calling him a sycophant. And what ensures it not to be “ad hominem” is the fact that I explain logically why the reply, not Adam, is sycophantic (is that the correct word?) in character.

    And while I was not the one to bring the usage up, yet I did make an error by responding prior to investigating the issue fully. Thus, an apology is in order, which I herewith tender on this issue.

    Okay… I’m tired of this. How ’bout everyone else?

  98. Clark Goble on April 10, 2004 at 9:30 pm

    Now that the ad homen issues are finished (hopefully), let me make a few points.

    Melissa, I’m not sure of your taxonomy. You tend to equate “hard porn” with violence, but my understanding is that the definition of hard versus soft is a matter of close ups of genitalia and whether penetration is shown. i.e. I think there is a fundamental problem with your categories.

    Further I think we have a problem since sex is often tied with violence in various subtle ways. For instance The Matrix glamorizes the S&M subculture. Yet I don’t think it is porn. I think even a lot of mainstream action films often tie sex and violence together in various ways. Yet if we *don’t* criticize these linkages, how do we do it with say soft-porn on say Cinemax which seems to differ solely based upon the amount of nudity shown?

    Now certainly I’m deeply troubled by pornography and more particularly *anything* which glamorizes violence on women. But while I can’t say I know much about the actual genre all this is in, I have read a fair bit of feminist criticisms and rebuttals. It often seems like what is *characterized* as demeaning or violence is very subjective. For instance is oral sex inherently demeaning? I don’t think so, but some characterize it as such.

    I think that if we are to hold to these categories, exactly what is meant must be clarified. As I mentioned and a few have reiterated, how do we separate out Playboy from Maxim from Sports Illustrated? How do we separate out the early James Bond films with Sean Connery, who doesn’t take no for an answer, from the more insidious films you bring up.

    Most particularly, it seems like you are preaching to the choir. I suspect *everyone* here thinks even Playboy is pornography and wrong. But if we can’t ban it as a practical matter, why bring it up at all? Further if the justification you bring up for banning would ban even many, if not most, R rated films, isn’t that problematic?

  99. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:23 pm

    NYT mag had a piece on child sex slaves a while ago that attributed increased violence against child sex slaves to an increase in violent child pornography. That’s a far cry from a dirty R-rated movie but images do affect behavior.
    Side note: election years are always best for pretending to clean up the porn industry. But we know Porn makes too much money for even main stream companies like AT&T and Marriott! Ain’t no stoppin’ it now!
    Oh and I loved that UTAH co. case against the little x-rated video store owner. His lawyers pulled the local Marriott and County cable user porno records and found that Happy Valley watches porn at twice the rate the rest of the country does! Apparently Mormon community standards aren’t too high!

  100. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    T&S Editors: I don’t think that Lynne’s comment follows the guidelines. Charging that members of the LDS Church who live in Utah Valley watch porn at twice the national average seems both unsupportable & very much a personal attack.

  101. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:33 pm

    Oh yeah Lyle? Do I have to find the article?

  102. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:39 pm
  103. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:43 pm

    Utah Valley DOES LOVE PORN!
    Here’s one for you:
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/2002/04-22-2002/vo18no08_ss.htm

  104. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    Please do. Then we can talk about how inappropriate it is for you to generalize from raw population data to Latter-day Saints who live in that population area.

    Is there a high porn watching rate in Utah county. Maybe. That says ZERO about how much of that is viewing done by latter-day Saints. Are some LDS individuals included? Probably. However, you paint too broadly & with litle regard for your Sisters & Brothers who live there.

  105. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    Here’s a great tidbit from that article:
    AT&T has given the smut industry more of the credibility it craves by carrying the “Hot Network” — which features explicit porn — on its Broadband cable network. In-room pornography is also a profitable perquisite for major hotel chains such as Hilton and Marriott International. “The mainstream companies help legitimize what we’re doing,” gloats Asher. “They tell America that … if this large company that you respect is distributing this, obviously, there’s demand for it.”

    The obscenity trial of Larry Peterman, owner of a video store in Provo, Utah, illustrated the process Asher describes. Peterman’s attorney, related the October 24, 2000 New York Times, sent an investigator to the local Marriott Hotel to tabulate the porn films available via pay-per-view. He also obtained documentation about the volume of porn rented locally via cable and satellite television.

    As it turned out, residents of Utah County, a Milburn-esque community “that often boasts of being the most conservative area in the nation, were disproportionately large consumers of the very videos that prosecutors had labeled obscene and illegal,” reported the Times. After deliberating for a few minutes, the jury — applying the “community standards” test — acquitted Peterman of all charges.

  106. Kaimi on April 20, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    A few quick thoughts:

    1. I recall someone (Gregg Easterbrook?) taking that NYT magazine article to task for its poor use of sources. His argument was that the author overstated and oversensationalized the existence of sex slavery in the U.S.

    2. Lyle, I fear you’re defending a conception that may not be supported. Other stats aside, when I watch general conference and hear constant admonitions about pornography, what I take away from it is that church members have a serious, and growing, problem with pornography. Is it more than the rest of the country? I don’t know, but I think our leaders’ statements force us to acknowledge that it exists, is widespread, and is serious.

  107. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    Is any other county more Mormon than that one?
    Obviously many Mormons are part of that porno watching number.
    Face facts, church leaders are very concerned with the increase in porno addiction among memebers and with good reason.
    It doesn’t say ZERO about the saints, it says a whole lot. The truth hurts and makes me sick.

  108. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    Is any other county more Mormon than that one?
    Obviously many Mormons are part of that porno watching number.
    Face facts, church leaders are very concerned with the increase in porno addiction among memebers and with good reason.
    It doesn’t say ZERO about the saints, it says a whole lot. The truth hurts and makes me sick.

  109. Kaimi on April 20, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    Lynne,

    Please give our overworked, creaky old comments engine a moment to accept your comments before hitting “Post” again. I’ve been cleaning up duplicate comments today, and it’s not particularly fun.

  110. john fowles on April 20, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    It seems like a major non-sequitur to me that because records at the Marriott hotel reveal a large volume of pornography and rentals from cable, “residents of Utah county, a Milburn-esque community” watches twice as much porn as the rest of the nation. Do residents of Utah county stay at the Marriott in Utah county? And what exactly do those numbers about cable rentals say? I’m not sure that the conclusion is warranted.

  111. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    Kaimi/Lynne: Yes, porn is a problem. I think it makes all of us sick. I’ll be sure to refer your comments to all the fine Saints in Utah county. I’m sure they will be edified by their fellow Saints righteous indignation & condemnation for the entire valley. Maybe they’ll all turn into pillars of salt?

  112. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    Kaimi/Lynne: Yes, porn is a problem. I think it makes all of us sick. I’ll be sure to refer your comments to all the fine Saints in Utah county. I’m sure they will be edified by their fellow Saints righteous indignation & condemnation for the entire valley. Maybe they’ll all turn into pillars of salt?

  113. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 5:58 pm

    Kaimi/Lynne: Yes, porn is a problem. I think it makes all of us sick. However, I’m far more concerned about your bravado & misuse of statistics. Why do you seek to smear all with the sins of a few?

    I’ll be sure to refer your comments to all the fine Saints in Utah county. I’m sure they will be edified by their fellow Saints righteous indignation & condemnation for the entire valley. Maybe they’ll all turn into pillars of salt?

  114. Lyle on April 20, 2004 at 6:01 pm

    sorry Kaimi. Kill the first two. Mine errored out for “inappropriate content”…lol

  115. Lynne on April 20, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    john fowles: the original article I saw a few years ago made it clearer that the cable records of the whole county were the main part of the argument that this community can’t claim High Standards.

  116. clark goble on April 20, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    The article doesn’t really explain the statistics. Is it that Marriott sells twice as many pay-per-view soft-porn movies relative to its national average? That sounds about right. However can a hotel where, by definition, people not living in the community stay really determine the viewing habits of those in the community? I can understand its use in the lawsuit. Certainly pornography is common. To assume from those statistics viewing habits of either the national population or the local population seems questionable. I suspect that outside of Utah, where pornography is heavily regulated, people are more apt to own pornographic DVDs and magazines. So comparing one *venue* is inapt since it doesn’t represent the viewing habits. i.e. in Utah perhaps the only way to obtain pornography outside of the internet is to travel to an other state or go to a Mariott hotel.

    Having said that though, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were a higher incidence since people here might use pornography for their sexual inclinations whereas outside of Utah they may be more inclined to one night stands, prostitutes or other such things. i.e. pornography may be seen as bad, but not as bad as the alternative.

    Who knows the reality. I think that to come to a conclusion would require a careful study which I rather doubt any newspaper reporter is capable of doing.

  117. Mike on April 20, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    While not addressing addiction (I think that I am a bit sheep like in this area and I take the Prophet’s word for it and view experiences of those I know who have had p**n adictions as indicating it is adictive) I think that scholarship regarding which way femenist thought is going, AND research into which wave is more correct is still out there and there hasn’t been a conclusive win by either side.

    Study of p*rn in the field of communication bears this out. A friend of mine who was a PhD student here at OU had another friend, Ryan Burns, doing their PhD at OU who studdied p*rn. It was interesting because Ryan himself watched p*rn, but much of his conclusions held that p*rn does influence the way people are socialized, often in clearly negative ways.
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/500720/

  118. clark goble on April 20, 2004 at 7:05 pm

    If cable bills are used, then it seems a more reasonable comparison. Although once again one must be careful since you are making assumptions about consumption based upon a small subset of the outlets providing the material. It would be akin to judging liquor sales based upon liquor store sales but ignoring sales from bars, grocery stores, or other such locales.

    One also should be careful about making assumptions about Mormons from it. After all even in Provo there are many non-Mormons and inactive Mormons.

  119. Mike on April 20, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    It is interesting in that particular study of 348 men studied, 104 men were in the high consumption group (viewing for 360 minutes or more each week), 110 men wee in the medium consumption group (between 120 minutes and 359 minutes) and 134 men were in the group uner 120 minutes.

    I haven’t read the study itself- it would be interesting to look at the methodology and whether there was random assignment, or people were selected according to how much p*rn they viewed.
    Additionally, I am assuming most of those studdied were college students, but I may be incorect in that assumption.

    But really, if that is just the breakdown of how much p*rn was viewed by a random sample of men over 18 that is pretty shocking. Nearly a third watching over 6 hours a week! And close to two thirds who view more than 2 hours.

    If that is the case- I think the argument that it is nearly impossible to regulate is pretty strong

  120. john fowles on April 20, 2004 at 7:20 pm

    That was a low blow to newspaper reporters from clark goble! But I fully agree with your post (it just made me laugh).

  121. john fowles on April 20, 2004 at 7:41 pm

    Someone pointed out to me something interesting about these county-wide cable statistics. First, they don’t seem to account for differing usage. For example, if user A watches 10 movies, user B watches 20, and LDS user watches 0, the overall total is 30 movies, with 10 being attributed, ‘statistically,’ to each of the three residents. (This is just a hypothetical–I’m not ignoring the fact that pornography is a big problem in the Church–just taking issue with the idea that all of Utah county is guilty for the infractions of the few.) Doubtless, Utah county has its share of hard core sinners; futhermore, I would assert that there are a fair number in Utah county that are also trying extra hard not to be “Mormon.” But those statistics still say very little in detail about LDS users of pornography.

  122. clarkgoble on April 20, 2004 at 7:44 pm

    Once again with these other studies we have to be careful about “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacies. For instance the above study selected people based upon how much porn they viewed. It *didn’t* take a standard sample and expose them to porn. Thus the obvious question is, do people with more “objectifying” views tend to view more porn or does porn make people more objectifying?

    Further it didn’t analysis other features. For instance while porn objectifies women, so does a lot of other media. It doesn’t necessarily tell us about porn in itself. For instance would someone who watched a lot of porn but then had a lot of women acquaintances in more power positions and worked with them still have such views? This is important since I suspect anyone watching six hours of porn a week probably has few social acquaintances with women.

    There’s a lot going on here that is complex that I find the few papers I’ve read tend to gloss over or misrepresent.

  123. lyle on April 20, 2004 at 8:54 pm

    Lynne: Unless you have Steve’s no apology policy, feel free to offer one to the Saints of Utah county now. Maybe you could even have it published in the local newspaper there. :)

  124. Daniel Ure on April 20, 2004 at 10:48 pm

    One thing that is noticably absent from this discussion is a comprehension of the role that the Founders intended for Federalism to play in all of this. Federalism, was, after all, their unique contribution to political science. Putting all of the messy details aside (and there are many when it comes to federalism), the idea was that there are certain things the Founders intended done on the state and local level, and there are other things that were to be done on the federal level. I cannot remember who said it, but someone once remarked that they were libertarian on the federal level, classically conservative on the state level, and a fascist on the local level. This is a little overwrought, but it is important to point out that the Founders intended that we would vote with our feet through federalism. Therefore, if you want to watch p**n in a state that makes such viewing or distribution illegal, you might choose to go to another state where such things are legal. Had the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence not eviscerated the majority of federalism’s distinctions in this area (I am speaking of the prong that states that the work has no literary, artistic, social, etc. value where the exception swallows the rule), we might make an effective argument that this is something that the federal government has no business regulating, but which the state and local governments might regulate with freedom. In this way, the classical conservatives and the classical liberals both get their way.

  125. Randy on April 20, 2004 at 10:55 pm

    I don’t know that any of us on this blog are qualified to untangle the myriad of issues raised by Clark et al., but here are some of my thoughts nonetheless. Clark speculates that people in Utah County may be watching pornography in lieu of having one-night-stands, hiring prostitutes, etc. I suppose that might be possible, but it seems rather unlikely to me. Wouldn’t we expect people who have one-night-stands and visit prostitutes to watch more porn, not less? This is not a zero sum game, after all. Indeed, it seems to me that sexual promiscuity would reinforce and perhaps even increase one’s appetite for pornography.

    Clark also notes that the study only considers one or two measures of pornography consumption and makes no effort to compare the total consumption of pornography from all sources (cable TV, video rentals/purchases, magazine subscriptions/purchases, etc., etc.). That is a valid concern, but merely begs the question: is there any reason to think that the percentage of cable porn consumption in relation to total porn consumption would be different in Utah County than it is in other counties/states. Perhaps. It could be that there are simply fewer porn outlets in Utah County. (I have no idea whether this is true or not, but this might explain why there are more hotel room video rentals in Utah County; I agree that these hotel rentals probably don’t say much about the people who live there.) On the other hand, it could be that Utah County residents are more concerned about remaining anonymous when getting their porn fix and thus chose the source that allows them to stay home to do so.

    John speculates that Utah County “has its share of hard core sinners” and that averaging these bad apples in with the rest of the bunch makes Utah County look worse than it really is. This seems a bit farfetched to me. Why do we think there are, on a per capita basis, more hard core sinners in Utah County than in other parts of the country? I would think that just the opposite is true. If I were a hard core sinner, Utah County is the last place I would choose to live.

    On a final note, the last I saw, 90% of Utah County residents were Mormon. (I suspect this is still the case, but will certainly defer to anyone with more recent figures.) Assuming that the study was a properly conducted random sample of Utah County residents with cable TV, or an evaluation of all cable subscribers, I think there is ample reason to be concerned that there is in fact a real problem with pornography among the LDS population in Happy Valley. I don’t think we can just shrug this off as the ramblings of hapless reporter.

  126. Jordan Fowles on April 20, 2004 at 10:57 pm

    I think I have failed to see why Lynne’s comments are so offensive. Why is it wrong to admit that Latter-day Saints face the same difficulties as the rest of the world? Maybe p*rnography is one which Lyle has not had the misfortune of facing before, but I know that it is the bane of many LDS men (and thus vicariously, LDS women).

    Although I will admit that the study has lots of holes, I would not be surprised if Utah County has a p*rnography viewing rate at or higher than the national average. This is not because “mormon” men are somehow lecherous beasts with no control of their passions, nor would such a finding imply any such thing. It would just show that mormon men face the same struggles as others in this country.

    Certainly, as has been pointed out, the predominance given to talks against p*rnography in most General and Stake Priesthood meetings would seem to indicate that this is a huge problem faced by the men of this church, as well as by those of the world.

    Not only that, but I know from speaking with several bishops over the years that the number one problem faced by the men in their ward has become p*rnography.

    It certainly does seem a difficult beast to tame, but I don’t think the fact that mormons must face up to the beast as much as any other culture in any way villifies them. If anything, it makes them more sympathetic to me.

    We need to help our addicted brethren- not deny that there is a problem or villify those who have been afflicted.

    And, getting back to the topic of this post, I certainly don’t think we need to fill our prisons with the unfortunate victims of p*rnography. If the Justice Department wishes to start a campaign, let them start a campaign of counseling. And let us help each other to 1)not get addicted or 2)pull ourselves out of the morass caused by viewing p*rnography.

  127. lyle on April 20, 2004 at 11:00 pm

    Randy: It was NOT a random sample, but records of porn pay for view ‘downloads’ within the county…with no record of whether EVERY resident/household was doing it…or 10%.

    Point is: yes, there is a problem. however, the solution isn’t to call ALL church members who live in utah county porn viewers. that is like speaking anger, not truth, to the problem.

  128. john fowles on April 20, 2004 at 11:03 pm

    Randy,

    I didn’t mean that there are more hard core sinners in Utah County than in other parts of the country. I was just admitting that there are problems in Utah County but I was responding to Lynn and asserting that the numbers don’t necessarily say anything specific about Church members’ involvement. The numbers are naked in that sense (excuse the pun) because for all we know not a single LDS is included in the number. (I just say that to emphasize that we don’t know enough about the numbers to make judgments about how evil LDS in Utah County are, not that I really think that NO LDS is included in the statistic.) The numbers alone don’t speak against an unfounded assertion on my part that all of those viewing the porn are non-LDS recent move-ins from California (again I don’t really believe this–it’s just that the stats don’t say otherwise).

  129. Kaimi on April 20, 2004 at 11:48 pm

    All,

    Yes, the numbers don’t indicate how much porn is viewed by church members. On the other hand, if that porn is _not_ being viewed by church members, then it’s being viewed by non-members, who are apparently viewing enough of it to skew the statistics.

    The stat suggested double the national average. Well, if Utah Mormons don’t view porn, and (to keep the math simple), if Mormons are 50% of the populace, that must mean that the non-Mormons are viewing porn at _4 times_ the national average.

    I don’t buy it. It doesn’t seem likely to me that Utah non-Mormons are sufficiently unified as a demographic group to do this. There is one unified demographic group in Utah, and it is church members. So, we can hem and haw all we want, but the stat strongly suggests to me that church members are driving the extra porn consumption.

  130. john fowles on April 21, 2004 at 12:27 am

    Kaimi,

    I agree with you on this except that the numbers don’t necessarily put the blame for the “extra porn consumption” on the LDS. They are silent to it. Maybe LDS are the cause, maybe they aren’t. The procedure used in this survey prevents us from knowing that. No doubt the LDS are contributing. I’m not arguing that at all. I just don’t see the utility in casting the LDS as worse than the rest of society. That is certainly the critical viewpoint, and as in much of critical studies it is very much in style to portray the local majority as twisted and hypocrytical, but I’m not sure it will lead to greater righteousness.

    If there are stats that show that LDS are the p*rn consumers, then that is a different story and I have no argument at all against it. I actually take Jordan’s view that if anything it makes LDS more sympathetic b/c they are still fully involved in the world, trying to live an even higher standard than the world but bogged down in the same temptations. But I will posit that there is a greater responsibility on the part of LDS to deny the natural man, in this sense and in other carnal sins, such as homosexuality, and to overcome them with Christ’s help. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). And if the p*rn users are LDS, and if the stats show things such as LDS tendency to use certain avenues to obtain p*rn b/c of their need to keep it in the dark, then we need to be reminded of Christ’s statement that “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23). We cannot hide it from God. But as of now, the stats haven’t, in my opinion, adequately exposed a higher p*rn usage among LDS to the world at large either.

  131. Clark Goble on April 21, 2004 at 1:39 am

    With regards to sex versus pornography. A person who is having regular sex has their sexual urges met. A person who is merely kissing but not allowed sex has not. Thus there is more pressure for alternative outlets. I’m certainly not saying people who get sex don’t read pornography. But probably bringing up one night stands and prostitutes was an unfortunate choice as it suggests somehow sex addicts. I didn’t intend that. Let’s instead say significant others you aren’t married to but are having sex with.

    My ultimate point is that there are lots of ways to view the data. Consider jack Mormons and ex-Mormons in Utah county. It is fairly well known that many people, upon leaving the church, go fairly wild for a while. They probably do things that those who never were members wouldn’t tend to do. How do we account for those in our populations?

    Ultimately though, all we have are *speculations*. None of them are data. i.e. we don’t have a clue of the rate of pornography use by active Mormons in Utah county.

  132. Mike on April 21, 2004 at 7:10 am

    Clark:
    you are right- I think the weakest point in that study is that it doesn’t determine whether p*rn caused the opinions or people with those opinions are more likely to view p*rn

    Diana Russell’s book Against Pornography cites studies that did the types of experiments you are asking for.
    some of it is contained here:
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/vaw02/mod2-6b.htm

  133. Randy on April 21, 2004 at 11:09 am

    Clark, John, and Lyle,

    Let me first concede that the study does not provide enough information to know with scientific certainty the rate of pornography consumption in Utah County among LDS members. That said, I think the study presents strong evidence of a real problem–among LDS members. To say that “we don’t have a clue of the rate of pornography use by active Mormons in Utah county” is simply incorrect. Here are the “clues” we have:

    (1) Utah County is made up almost entirely of Mormons, as much as 90%.

    (2) According to the study, the total amount of pay-per-view video porn consumption is nearly twice the national average.

    (3) As Kaimi astutely notes, if the active Mormon population were only 50% (thus accounting for so called jack-Mormons and inactive members), the remaining 50% of Utah County would have to purchase these videos at 4 times the national average.

    We, of course, cannot rule out the possibility that non-members in Utah County are the sole (or vast majority of) consumers of pornography. But surely that is not the most likely explanation. Lyle expresses outrage at the suggestion that the porn consumption in Utah County is being driven by Mormons. But I suspect that many, perhaps even most, of those living in Utah County who do not consider themselves active members of the LDS church would express similar outrage at the suggestion that they are to blame for the entire consumption of pornography in the County. These individuals might ask, for example: “Lyle, what basis do you have for so judging me? Do you really believe that the LDS church is the only institution opposed to pornography? Do you really believe that there are no active LDS church members with a problem with pornography? Why are you pinning the problems with some of the members of your faith on me? Why is it that you have such a poor opinion of non-members? Surely there are large numbers of good, upstanding people in Utah County who don’t attend LDS church services and yet are every bit as opposed to pornography as you are. Why do you seek to place the entire blame for this problem on them? Don’t you think that is a bit self-righteous?”

    Lyle, if you are going to continue to demand that Lynne apologize to all of the LDS church members in Utah County, may I suggest that you in turn apologize to all of the Jews, to all of the Catholics, to all of the Protestants, and, in short, to all of the fine people of Utah County who find pornography just as distasteful as you do but don’t happen to belong to our church. Frankly, I find the notion that the use of pornography in Utah County is a non-member problem entirely untenable and even prejudiced.

  134. Nate Oman on April 21, 2004 at 11:22 am

    I am a little less vehement about this than Randy, but I don’t necessarily find the idea of high levels of porn consumption in Utah or by Mormons untenable. If there wasn’t a problem, I suspect that we would see far fewer sermons on the subject in Priesthood meetings. That said, I am not sure that one can draw especially firm conclusions on the basis of tabulating porn purchases at the Marriot.

  135. Randy on April 21, 2004 at 11:36 am

    Nate, I agree that porn purchases at the Marriot are probably irrelevant. As I noted above, it doesn’t seem likely that these purchases say much, if anything, about the people that live in Utah County. Why would people who live in Utah County stay in a hotel there? Just to watch porn? The more telling statistic involves pay-per-view movies from the cable company at home.

    In re-reading my post, I realize I did sound a bit vehement. I didn’t intend for it to read that way. I think it is important to point out, however, that when we deny that this is our problem, we are, in fact, blaming someone else for the problem. I don’t see that we have any grounds for doing so here.

  136. Lyle on April 21, 2004 at 11:49 am

    Randy: If I had accused these other folks of being p*rn viewers, I would indeed apologize. And if such was implicit in my post, I do apologize for not clarifying.

    I am not suggesting it is a non-LDS problem. As Kaimi, Nate, Lynne, et al. have mentioned…obviously there are LDS folks that have a p#rn problem. I would suspect that there is an equivalent [not more, not less] percentage of folks from other religious traditions that also have the same problem.

    _However_, Lynne did accuse, explicitly, ALL LDS citizens in Utah valley. She obviously can’t prove this.

  137. Nate Oman on April 21, 2004 at 12:07 pm

    I am wondering to what extent there is a kind of Utah Valley issue at work here. I have notice that non-Utah Valley Mormons frequently delight in finding evidence of hypocrisy, shallowness, or self-righteousness amongst those in Happy Valley. (I have been known to gleefully take pot shots at Orem myself from time to time.) My theory is that there is some part of ourselves that we recognize in Utah Valley, a part of our Mormoness that we dislike. We then get to externalize and attack it by transferring it all to Utah Valley. This theory is pyschological nonsense to be sure, but there is some odd will-to-bash-Utah-Valley that we non-Utah Valley Mormons seem to have….

  138. Randy on April 21, 2004 at 12:19 pm

    Lyle,

    I don’t mean to speak for Lynne, but I don’t believe that she ever accused “ALL LDS citizens” in Utah valley of watching porn. Her comments were instead addressed to community standards. Her point, I think, was that there appears to be a significant amount of pornography consumption in this largely LDS community. We may not like that notion, but it seems that she may be right, or at least partially right, assuming that the study is correct.

    Lyle, I realize you did not explicitly accuse non-members in Utah County of being porn watchers. I feel like I know you well enough from your other posts here and elsewhere that you would never make such an accusation. But I wanted you to realize the implications of your “outrage.” If the movie rentals are not being made by Mormons, then they must of necessity be coming from the non-Mormons. Not only that, given the large LDS population, these non-members would have to be watching porn at rates that would make them out to be highly unusual, if not downright bizarre, even by national standards. I don’t think this is likely, and I certainly don’t see any grounds for reaching this conclusion or thinking this explanation is more likely than the alternative.

  139. clark on April 21, 2004 at 2:48 pm

    Mike, I glanced through that web site but I didn’t see anything establishing a causal effect in terms of control subjects. Could you be more specific?

    Regarding Utah county an other skew on the data would be the very large college population. Comparing a college population to a regular population will be distorting.

    That there are pornography problems seems clear. However there simply isn’t enough data to say much.

  140. Gary Cooper on April 21, 2004 at 4:33 pm

    Just a couple of points to add to this discussion. First, one of the threads above memtioned not wanting to see our prisons filled with the unfortunate men who consume pornography, and decried the federal effort to go after smut. Actually, the Justice Department’s efforts are focused on the distributers of porn, not the users. The only pursuit currently being made at the federal level of users is in the case of child porn, especially where the user is soliciting access to children. With regard to shutting down users, the federal effort concentrates on identifying web sites that specifically portray illegal acts (such as rape), find out their location, and arrest those running the sites. (Incidentally, I’ve spoken with members of law enforcement who’ve told me that interviews with porn distributers arrested reveal that these people have a cold contempt for the people addicted to their “products”, and a flat out desire to make money any way they can, regardless of the harm to others.

    With regard to the federalism issue brought up also, I would agree that the primary responsibility for regulating obscenity falls to the states and to municipalities. The federal role primarily involves a) preventing and interdicting the importation of porn from overseas, b)preventing and interdicting the interstate trafficking of porn. Both of these efforts involve the internet and the use of the public mail. From a federalist perspective, the federal effort is appropriate, at least in theory.

    Finally, with regard to LDS consumption of smut, at a recent stake conference here in my own state, our stake presidency informed us that internet porn use is the number one spriritual threat to the men of the stake, based just on priesthood interviews by bishops and the stake presidency. Joseph Smith is supposed to have remarked that in the last days, sexual immorality would be the great bane of the saints.

  141. Mike on April 21, 2004 at 10:54 pm

    Clark,
    Finding a true control group is challenging, different experiments approach different questions, but I think some of the things you asked for are there.
    On that page-
    1. The first experiment in some ways supported your view that there may be correlation but not causation- It split the subjects into those who looked at women in more sexual terms and those who didn’t. Then compared behavior and attitudes before and after watching p*rn.
    For the first group- those who viewed women in a more sexual manner- there was a measured change in behavior and attitudes for the worse. This was seen much less in the second group.

    BUT, this doesn’t say there is no causation- it more than anything says that p*rn is an intervening variable. It basically triggers behavior in some and not in others depending on where the individuals start (whether that start is socialized or just part of who they are)

    But, later it does get better.
    First is Malmuth and Check’s 1981 study used random assignment to movies that contained sexual violence and to those that didn’t. There was a much worse response from those who saw the sexually violent films days later. But, that is violence and not simply p*rnography.

    The next experiment looks at long term exposure to p*rn- and as that is very hard to assign a true control to, we won’t bother looking at it- it doesn’t fit your criteria.

    sub point 7 on the page, the experiment from Linz, Donnerstein, and Penrod looks at a controll group and three different types of p*rn, two of which were violent.
    All three groups became desensitized and had worse attitudes after viewing.
    Although, the group that saw nonviolent x rated movies did not have the same rape myth attitudes of those who saw the violent p*rn, despite their desensitization.

    There are not clearly proven connections between nonviolent p*rnography and violent sex acts- but there is a link between violent p*rn and violence. Further, there is evidence that even nonviolent p*rn changes attitudes. Because you can’t really have a true control group it is hard to determine effects over time- but I think the argument is pretty strong that if there are short term effects that are small, long term effects would be real- giving support to the studies that show worse attitudes towards women among those who consume the most p*rn.

  142. Clark Goble on April 22, 2004 at 3:56 am

    Mike, I appreciate the comments, but by control I meant as well things that might not be considered pornography but might be considered “objectifying.” For instance is there a control group with copies of Maxim or FHM? What about films with women in portrayals that are passive? Those sorts of issues have to be sorted out. Also, for the second group (i.e. those who aren’t likely to have other problems) how slight is slight? Especially relative to the experiment population? These are all important questions that I don’t see brought up. Perhaps I’m just coming from the hard sciences, but unless those types of controls and analysis can be done, I’m loath to trust the analysis much. Note I’m definitely *not* saying pornography doesn’t have an impact. Merely that these studies that get paraded around seem very weak at best.

    As you say, “sexual violence” (whatever that means – the criteria is anything but clear) isn’t really relevant to the pornography issue as framed.

    Certainly violent pornography is likely far more disturbing. But it seems most agree that is problematic. Yet the pornography that appears brought up the most is more soft-core pornography or non-violent hard core pornography.

    The real issue for soft core pornography is the distinction in effect between Penthouse, Playboy, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated. Those making claims to the point of limiting soft-core and non-violent pornography have to be able to distinguish them, otherwise their cries for censorship appear far less compelling. (i.e. if the same argument that would ban Penthouse would also ban Sports Illustrated, ought we ban Penthouse?)

  143. IXOYE922 on May 29, 2004 at 4:46 am

    This is my first post on this thread even though it appears dead, as I just discovered and read through it all just now. For Richard B. I must say you remind me a lot of the Mustang owners who would come onto the Grand Am forums talking trash. You are extremely hostile, antagonistic, and condescending, yet expect to be treated with the utmost level of courtesy. It is fair to say that on this issue you and most of the those posting stand on two different sides of the fence. You must recognize that this is not due to lack of knowledge on the topic. P~rnography is addictive. There are innumerable testimonies to its destructive nature on a healthy marriage, on childrens development(which I know you don’t argue) on adults views of sex and particularily males view of females, not to mention the participants on screen. These people do not have to be religious zeolots to see its effects. P~rn hurts people emotionally and pschologically and people are the building blocks of a society. Whether or not p~rn is selfishly fulfilling temporarily is not a question, of course it is. But the effects of p~rn will be negative, proofing the value of God’s commandment against fornication whether you honor him or not. Please agree to disagree.

  144. kalie on July 27, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    i have to say that i was thinking of starting it here in tx as well but then agian half of the time people say ohh i am all church going and stuff in public to say face but in the bedroom or in ur own home we know u own or watch it.. why hide the truth .. porn is everywhere .. from u strip club down the street to the magizens in the stores to the videos being purchased.. more people favor it cause it brings more things to the bedroom. lets u learn new things. why put it that way. yes, child porn is sick but when its adults willing to do it.. let them

  145. star on July 27, 2004 at 5:23 pm

    i have to say that i was thinking of starting it here in tx as well but then agian half of the time people say ohh i am all church going and stuff in public to say face but in the bedroom or in ur own home we know u own or watch it.. why hide the truth .. porn is everywhere .. from u strip club down the street to the magizens in the stores to the videos being purchased.. more people favor it cause it brings more things to the bedroom. lets u learn new things. why put it that way. yes, child porn is sick but when its adults willing to do it.. let them

  146. dave on October 3, 2004 at 9:58 pm

    what is the meaning of death? that’s what i want to know.