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Pornography

Should porn be banned?

What is porn?

Definition:  

Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity.

Wider definition

  • Who decides what porn is? Would you be happy if someone decided you couldn't see something that you wouldn't find offensive?
  • Is it art or porn? 
  • Would ‘erecting’ a firewall be considered porn?
  • Is porn bad and then what degree of porn is bad? Is it quantitative or qualitative
  • Is paid for porn prostitution? Or is it paid acting?
  • Porn is not the only place that children can see sexual content. The media expose children to sexual content every day.

Types of porn

  • Hardcore
  • Softcore
  • Straight
  • Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Transsexual
  • By sex act
  • By fetish
  • By physical trait

Genus

Porn is a form of entertainment

The case for banning porn

What’s wrong with porn?

Summary

Porn is unequivocally wrong if any of the watchers or performers are forced to act or watch against their will. These are already criminal law, kidnap and rape. So we will assume that porn means voluntary actions only. 

Arguments against porn

  1. Some argue that porn is degrading
    What is degrading is subjective. Some actors will find it degrading, and others revel in it. Those that find it degrading will most likely not work in the business if they think the costs outweigh the benefits. Different viewers will have different ideas about the same piece of porn being degrading. This is not an objective measure.
  2. Some argue that porn is a form of violence
    As mentioned above porn is not forced porn, therefore by definition voluntary.
  3. Some argue that porn is prostitution
    Porn covers a wide range of circumstances, including for home use. If porn is prostitution, it is only a small minority of porn. But if doing porn for free is not a crime, then why should doing it for money be a crime?
  4. Some argue that porn will corrupt.
    As defined above porn is voluntary, if people don't want to be corrupted by it, they can choose not to look.
  5. Under-age viewing is harmful to children
    There are three groups that can view porn, pre-pubescent children, children in puberty, and adults
    It is parents job to keep pre-pubescent children away from porn if they deem it harmful, but they don't have sexual feelings, so unlikely to be depraved/corrupted by it.
    Children in puberty will know what porn is and choose to watch it, and no doubt actually doing the act in the near future so harm is limited or non-existent
    Adults can choose to watch or not.
Unlike the other censorship listed on this site, you cannot have sex in public, there is some argument therefore that porn should not be for public dissemination.
However, porn that has been disseminated is always voluntarily consumed, no-one forces people to consume it, and sex in public is never a voluntary thing, you just have to be lucky. :-) 

The case against banning porn

Censorship is futile

  • If an adult can view it, a child can too
  • Banning porn is no silver bullet
  • A determined teenager will find porn if they really want to
  • If you block the word "rape" you may be blocking access to rape crisis centres.
  • Children speak to each other, so if one can get round a ban, all can
  • Porn has existed for as long as humanity has been having sex (Greeks anyone?)
  • Banning porn, will be as successful as banning drugs.
  • All the kids will end up having sex in a few years anyway
  • Setting up an automatic filter would create a false sense of security.

Collateral damage

The filters can block out unintended content, and end up censoring perfectly good content.

Is it fair to block responsible users because of the irresponsible ones?

AOL's misguided attempts to ban porn some years back when they banned the word "breast". At a stroke they upset breast cancer survivors who could no longer talk about their ailment, and also upset poultry farmers who could no longer talk about their prime offerings. This kind of thing just doesn't work.

Why should someone else’s choice to have children restrict my choice to view porn.

Can teenagers watching porn be shown to cause any real issues? And if so, Are those issues of legitimate scale to warrant censorship of the internet for everyone, even those unconnected with the premise of the claim?

Banning across borders

Most porn websites are domiciled in the United States and the First Amendment protects freedom of speech - porn involving adults is not deemed obscene.

Consistency

  • Web browser (Chrome) comes with filters. Operating system (Windows) comes with filters. Unfortunately, the government does not.
  • Wonder if Mills and Boon books will also be censored?
  • They could ban the Oxford English Dictionary too for the dirty words in that.
  • Will they ban sex lines?
  • Should we ban nature programs where animals bonk?
  • If danger is the issue, why not ban pictures of skydiving and smoking?
  • If its legal to do it, surely its allowed to film it. And if its legal to invite someone to watch, why would it not be legal to invite someone to watch a recording?

At 16 you can legally have sex, get pregnant and get an STD? But until you reach 18 you can't watch two people having sex?

  • Many people seem to shield themselves behind children using them as a scapegoat for their own prudery.
  • The vast majority of Pornography depicts consensual non violent acts. Yet proponents of a ban seem to be championing unwilling coercion.
  • Hypocrisy, many politicians would have used porn before

Comparisons

If I had kids I'd be more worried about the messages they get from women's magazines and advertising. Porn is fantasy, it is up front about the fact it's not realistic. Whereas Glamour and others like it say you can get this body in two weeks. They're telling you a lie.

"...it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak" - Robert A. Heinlein

Attitudes

Teenagers attitudes

What are teenager’s attitudes to banning pornography, does their opinion count?

From a biological perspective teenagers are not children.

Feminist attitude to porn

If nothing else there's plenty of gay porn available that doesn't feature any women at all!  Who is being exploited then?

  • Mainly men buy porn & are being taken advantage of
  • A lot of women watch porn as well.

Masculinists would naturally claim that men are the more exploited since they are reliant on visual and other cues to "get going"

When did sex become a bad thing?

  • There seems to be this consensus that porn is bad and we need to do something about. But it's not clear what the bad outcomes are. 
  • Sex is natural and is the basis of life on earth, you spend the majority of your life in a relationship with someone, so how does watching porn hurt you as a child/teen?
  • The problem is not porn, it's our maturity about how we deal with sex.
  • The whole thing seems like it's solving a problem which has yet to be shown to exist.

Expectations

"If my teenager didn't want to look at porn, I'd be more worried. My parents didn't talk about sex. My school was Catholic, so talked about it in a certain way. I learned a lot from porn. I am not a perverted rapist."

A child before puberty might find pornography amusing/silly/icky but one thing it won't do is be aroused or corrupted by it. A prepubescent child is physically incapable, by definition, of deriving sexual gratification from it.

Morally panicky organisations like The Christian Institute and it's chums seem unable to grapple with such basic facts.

Responsibility

Who's responsibility is censoring 'bad' things?

Causality

There were sex offenders before internet porn

Producer level censoring


Parent or self censoring

If a person has a child it is generally accepted that it's their responsibility to protect that child against burning themselves on the oven or scalding themselves with the kettle. Why then should another home electrical device become the responsibility of the state to safeguard children against? If you buy a PC it's your responsibility to be able to operate it, monitor what your children do!

Schooling

  • Banning porn is anti-education.
  • Porn helps teach some people all their best moves, it shouldn't be viewed as obscene as that’s a very subjective word.
  • If you would talk to your kids about the dangers of drugs, Alcohol, why not talk to them about the dangers of sex/porn?
  • Any filtering needs to be on a local level, a one size all approach does not work.

Externalities

Source of income and jobs

  • "cam girls" working from home 
  • If you speak to the people in the industry you find the female performers earn 4 times as much as the male performers. I'm not sure that implies that this is male controlled female suppressing industry. 
  • Unemployment would go up if porn was banned, and a demand would go down.

Porn can have positive externalities

  • Viewing the act of sex is not damaging, it's very normal and might even be helpful for young people.
  • Porn has been one of the main drivers pushing the printing press, video and internet forward making it what it is today.

Alternatives

  • If people want to live in a censored country, they should move to North Korea or Iran
    Perhaps tackling a real issue like teenage pregnancy, alcoholism or drug abuse would be a better use of time and money? 
  • Some concerned parents reading this might be interested in OpenDNS.com This service uses crowdsourcing to classify undesirable domains and URLs according to a number of criteria - not just porn
  • If you really want to censor porn its simple, give broadband users the options of having a 'phonebill' style list of sites they have been on per month.

What next

  • Laws banning under 18's having unsupervised internet access and for age restrictions on mobile phone ownership. 
  • Gauging out peoples eyes to protect them? 
  • The official Government book of acceptable sex positions?

Reference

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17826515

Links

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15252128
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20738746
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