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The Political Problem of Pornography

The Name of Love

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Recently, I caused a bit of a kerfuffle in another server over my views on pornography and my social conservatism. In this thread post, I set aside the social conservatism for another time and focus specifically on my views on pornography. I believe that pornography is one of the biggest social ills in the modern world. Porn is as destructive to the individual as any drugs while being far easier to distribute; it undermines functioning relationships and religiosity, two of the fundamentals to a well-functioning society; it paradoxically promotes destructive egalitarian politics while promoting the sexual objectification of women; and acceptance of pornography is only growing.

Given these factors, I believe that only a coercive, political correction is the solution. I believe that Israel has shown the way their proposed anti-porn law. Their law would have ISPs block porn as the default, and if citizens want to view pornography, they would have to call their ISP to ask them to unblock it. This added difficulty would be enough to deter many people from getting hooked on pornography after having accidentally watched it as a child.

Though some might argue that banning pornography would also involve banning certain non-pornographic websites, or it might constitute some invasion of privacy, I believe the benefits far outweigh the consequences. I also hear people claim banning pornography may constitute a form of censorship or could lead to government censorship, but I believe this is confused. Freedom of speech developed as a way to protect newspapers criticizing powerful people from the resulting libel lawsuits. The teleology of the right to free speech, therefore, is to protect truth that is aired in the public square, not some vague notion of "privacy."

Lastly, there are people who will claim that my position is untenable because it's unpopular. You would be correct, my positions are unpopular with the wider public, but the idea I should change my position based on a popularity contest or how viable such policies are is highly problematic. To quote Edward Feser:
Edward Feser said:
Now, the dim prospects for short term post-liberal conservative political success can be turned into an advantage. Short term political calculation can make it difficult to think wisely about matters of political philosophy – and has done so with too many contemporary American conservatives, who trim the sails at the level of theory because of what they see in the polls and the ballot box. That is part of the reason so many of them have chucked out the traditionalist side of fusionism, and more or less become libertarians rather than genuine conservatives.

It is easier to resist such temptations when you have no illusions in the first place that your ideas are likely to have much electoral success. You can depoliticize political philosophy in the sense of focusing on inquiring into what is actually true, without being distracted by questions about what will play well with voters or be conducive to forming political alliances. And in the long run, when implementation becomes more feasible, it is also likelier to be successful, because the theory will have been worked out more rigorously.
Another thing I should point out is how unpopular political policies have been forced on us all the time by the elite classes - mass migration policies and same-sex "marriage" being two such examples. This tells me, in fact, that it is the agenda of the ruling class that controls our political policy ultimately, not what we peons desire. In fact, there's good reason to believe our elites promote pornography is to control people. Ancient wisdom has long told us that sexual liberation is, in fact, a form of enslavement. Our government elites also promoted the 60s counterculture, as shown here and here.

In summary, my position is that pornography ought to be banned for the good of society, but the political prospects for that happening do not look good. If the political prospect do take a turn for the better, I think I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.
 

ShadowsOfParadox

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...huh... assuming Israel's Porn Ban is exactly what you say it is I'm ALMOST okay with that sort of "porn ban"... which is fascinating because I was expecting any porn ban proposals to be absurdly privacy invading and/or free speech violating but that one is actually kind of fine...

I say kind of because it runs into a problem. Under this ban would say, Newgrounds suddenly not be able to be "Everything by Everyone" without running afoul of it?

Most of my issues with porn bans are pretty much unrelated to being of the opinion that porn is amazing, or definitively harmless (though I find that most arguments that porn is bad are applicable to a vast array of things people DON'T ever think of calling for the banning of). But rather with the question of "what ELSE can the government turn this power into"... Of course, I'm also an American, and the amount of power the federal government has derived from "necessary powers" and "interstate commerce" is... well... somewhat ridiculous.

Also at least in America you probably couldn't get a federal or state law about it without hitting "But what happens when something is both porn AND speech?" Because remember, "you know it when you see it" isn't a valid legal standard, and I dunno if people can find a definition that hits "two people narrativelessly having sex" without also hitting "complex story in which sex plays a vital and thematic role" and one of those can be argued to NOT be speed and the other definitively IS speech.
 

The Name of Love

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Most of my issues with porn bans are pretty much unrelated to being of the opinion that porn is amazing, or definitively harmless (though I find that most arguments that porn is bad are applicable to a vast array of things people DON'T ever think of calling for the banning of). But rather with the question of "what ELSE can the government turn this power into"... Of course, I'm also an American, and the amount of power the federal government has derived from "necessary powers" and "interstate commerce" is... well... somewhat ridiculous.

Also at least in America you probably couldn't get a federal or state law about it without hitting "But what happens when something is both porn AND speech?" Because remember, "you know it when you see it" isn't a valid legal standard, and I dunno if people can find a definition that hits "two people narrativelessly having sex" without also hitting "complex story in which sex plays a vital and thematic role" and one of those can be argued to NOT be speed and the other definitively IS speech.
My opinion on this is one you might find novel, but I think is important.

I think we live in bizarro world, where the government concerns itself with policing things that it ought not police while not policing what it ought to police. This isn't an issue of "limited government vs. authoritarianism" like most people would frame it. The Edward Feser article put it best: if you think pushing the paternalistic line on the questions of drug legalization, censorship or pornography, and the push for "LGBT rights" is authoritarian, then you are committed to saying that pretty much all human civilizations before about twenty minutes ago were authoritarian.

For example, when it comes to freedom of association, I'd push it as far as possible. I'd argue voluntary association is the bedrock of a functioning society, and efforts by the government to restrict association would be not only unwise, but also unjust. I'm against modern anti-discrimination laws for that very reason. I also think there ought to be more devolution in government because of the principle of subsidiarity. I don't think a single centralized bureaucracy can make decisions for people outside of their area. This is why I think it'd be more viable to promote anti-porn laws in state and local governments rather than federal ones.

Got to love the way people use children as a shield for their own insecurities and moral busybody tenancies.
I love how people resort to Bulverism when they can't argue for their own positions coherently.
 

Captain X

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You've had plenty of people make coherent arguments against you position, and some of these are even from people who also see porn as harmful, but you keep doubling down, and now you're trying to use the classic Helen Lovejoy argument. I am genuinely curious if you can make an argument against basically what boils down to people having more freedom without using children as a shield. You aren't exactly winning me over with the anti-egalitarian argument or the "objectifies women" argument either. The last one is pretty ironic coming from a self-identified conservative, as it's the favorite go-to argument the regressive left likes to use, too.
 

The Name of Love

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You've had plenty of people make coherent arguments against you position, and some of these are even from people who also see porn as harmful, but you keep doubling down, and now you're trying to use the classic Helen Lovejoy argument. I am genuinely curious if you can make an argument against basically what boils down to people having more freedom without using children as a shield. You aren't exactly winning me over with the anti-egalitarian argument or the "objectifies women" argument either. The last one is pretty ironic coming from a self-identified conservative, as it's the favorite go-to argument the regressive left likes to use, too.
I addressed all of their arguments here. If they think my addressing of them isn't to their satisfaction, they can discuss that. To call this "doubling down" is uncharitable, to say the least. I was asked to provide reasoning and evidence for my position, and I did. But you will never be satisfied, will you?
 

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And your arguments pretty much come down to problems that I don't see as problems, and how you're basically fine with crapping all over individual rights as long as it gets you what you want, and a conspiracy theory thrown in just for fun. Actually the funny part about that last thing is that what you're actually proposing is that a group of elites control the population - by banning porn.
 

The Name of Love

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And your arguments pretty much come down to problems that I don't see as problems, and how you're basically fine with crapping all over individual rights as long as it gets you what you want, and a conspiracy theory thrown in just for fun. Actually the funny part about that last thing is that what you're actually proposing is that a group of elites control the population - by banning porn.
You know, there are nicer ways to say "you and I have fundamentally different political priorities, so I'm going to have to disagree with you on this." Instead, you presumed my motives, accused me of "crapping all over individual rights" (side note: if we don't agree on politics, what made you think we agree on individual rights?), accused me of "doubling down" when I did no such thing, and then you slur my by throwing around the "conspiracy theory" label - a term invented by the CIA to discredit people - in order to dismiss me as some kook, ignoring how the idea of sex being a weapon used to control people has been around since Biblical times. I'd rather have an honest dialogue, but if we're going to be judging people based on presumed motives, I think your presuppositional libertarianism and porn habit would be great places to start.

Alternatively, we can discuss this in a de-politicized, honest way like philosophers (or at least, amateur ones). Your call.
 

Cherico

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The Victorians were not able to ban porn, the prison system isn't able to get rid of porn.

Any person with a camera can create porn, any person with a pencil and paper can create porn, the massive servaliance state that would be needed to get rid of pornography would be massively expensive kill innocent people and would also fail horribly. I mean seriously the efforts to get rid of prostitution, the war on drugs and prohibition show that its better to simply accept that vices exist then try to ban them.
 

Captain X

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We don't have to agree on individual rights for me to point out that you're crapping all over them - the Constitution lays out pretty well what they are. It's funny, because lately I've been fighting the new moral crusaders so much, but then something like this comes along and reminds me that the old ones are still around.
 

The Name of Love

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We don't have to agree on individual rights for me to point out that you're crapping all over them - the Constitution lays out pretty well what they are. It's funny, because lately I've been fighting the new moral crusaders so much, but then something like this comes along and reminds me that the old ones are still around.
Do you think the Founding Fathers put the First Amendment in there to protect pornography?

Do you not see you too are moral crusader, considering you want to impose your moral values of "liberty" onto others?

What is your metaphysical justification for individual rights?

The Victorians were not able to ban porn, the prison system isn't able to get rid of porn.

Any person with a camera can create porn, any person with a pencil and paper can create porn, the massive servaliance state that would be needed to get rid of pornography would be massively expensive kill innocent people and would also fail horribly. I mean seriously the efforts to get rid of prostitution, the war on drugs and prohibition show that its better to simply accept that vices exist then try to ban them.
Better argument than Captain X's, but one I think is overly pessimistic not to mention hysterical (porn prohibition involves the state killing people? Really?). I don't believe giving the government that power would lead to tyranny if they had a sense of proportion. I also think we should keep in mind that I advocate for subsidiarity; it would be state and local governments enacting these laws in accordance to the moral persuasions of their populations, not the federal government. I think state governments would be more effective at combating this issue.

That said, let us assume it is impossible to prohibit pornography the way I want. What then? What are we to do about it? The current libertine status quo is unstable because it undermines family formation and religion, both being bedrocks of civilized society. What would you do about the problem? Or do you not think it's a problem?
 

Bacle

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And I see a another reminder of why I was so doubtful, for so long, when it comes to trusting Conservatives to be less authoritarian and moralistic busybodies than the Left. They just have different issues they want to cram down people's throats.

This kind of thing is also why I consider myself a Liberatarian liberal, or cowboy liberal, not a Conservative. Everytime I see a Conservative talk about the 'harm/dangers of porn', I cannot help but roll my eyes at the blatant hypocrisy.

How about spending less time being moralistic busybodies, and more time addressing real, concrete issues that are actually important.
 

LifeisTiresome

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And I see a another reminder of why I was so doubtful, for so long, when it comes to trusting Conservatives to be less authoritarian and moralistic busybodies than the Left. They just have different issues they want to cram down people's throats.

This kind of thing is also why I consider myself a Liberatarian liberal, or cowboy liberal, not a Conservative. Everytime I see a Conservative talk about the 'harm/dangers of porn', I cannot help but roll my eyes at the blatant hypocrisy.
Left and right are both trouble. Just the left are worst cause they are wining unlike the conservatives who failed in the past.
 

The Name of Love

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And I see a another reminder of why I was so doubtful, for so long, when it comes to trusting Conservatives to be less authoritarian and moralistic busybodies than the Left. They just have different issues they want to cram down people's throats.

This kind of thing is also why I consider myself a Liberatarian liberal, or cowboy liberal, not a Conservative. Everytime I see a Conservative talk about the 'harm/dangers of porn', I cannot help but roll my eyes at the blatant hypocrisy.

How about spending less time being moralistic busybodies, and more time addressing real, concrete issues that are actually important.
So let me see here:

First, you call me "authoritarian," which I think is a sign you've drunken the liberal Kool-Aid. By that standard, every society up until twenty minutes ago was "authoritarian" because none of them saw you as having a right to do those things. So it's only now, in the modern, post-Sexual Revolution West that we've had a truly non-authoritarian form of government?

You accuse conservatives of "hypocrisy" for no reason whatsoever. Very classy.

You also demand that I concentrate on "real, concrete issues that are actually important." This is actually a form of begging the question because whether pornography is an issue or not is what we're arguing about. But I guess this is your brain on liberalism: you as an enlightened, tolerant, and ever-questioning individual make no effort to understand the points of view of others nor question your own.

But please, carry on about how I'm the closed minded one.
 

prinCZess

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Do you not see you too are moral crusader, considering you want to impose your moral values of "liberty" onto others?
This is not how responsibility or liberty works. Liberty is not an 'imposition' on those who would not take advantage of it, restrictions on it, meanwhile, very much are. If you hold a different opinion on something's virtue...You don't avail yourself to it. If you view violence as forbidden by God or as an immoral act regardless of circumstances, you do as Quakers did and set yourself aside and refuse wartime service and the like--not seek to have all of violent activity in society banned so that it can (ostensibly) conform more closely to your own views.

Vice being available is not an imposition of it upon those who would not use it in any manner, shape or form. If individuals are incapable of holding themselves from vice, they are at fault personally and individually for that failure*--not some amorphous social order which DARES allow the possibility of them being 'corrupted' by the presence of a temptation they 'cannot' overcome (temptations which, like alcohol, gambling, drugs, and any other variety of item, can demonstrably be overcome or not resorted to by means of human willpower anyways--though some assistance and moral aid may well be required and is certainly a moral duty for those preaching virtue and self-control, people being people and sinners and whatnot, it's not guaranteed to work 100%).

*Barring exceptional circumstances

You're also not doing a great job of argument by resorting to de facto assertions that liberal views on sex are themselves unfavorable (Okay, you believe it to be the case...Good for you, others disagree. What justifies your positions enshrinment in law as opposed to the one where, as noted, no imposition takes place--your answer as yet seems to be 'because I consider my views to be superior'--which is brilliantly circular logic). Also a number of your links attempting argument are opinion/advocacy pieces by an outlet with an agenda, and those should be viewed with skepticism at best from the outset, not as hard justification.

That said, let us assume it is impossible to prohibit pornography the way I want. What then? What are we to do about it? The current libertine status quo is unstable because it undermines family formation and religion, both being bedrocks of civilized society. What would you do about the problem? Or do you not think it's a problem?
I'd be firmly on the 'Don't think it's a problem' wagon.
But, to easily and quickly jump to the former side of the river?
You reach out to people individually and via like-minded communities to attempt and assist and encourage your values being taken up by them and they reject the particular vices you believe they should reject. Goodly number of people with self-control issues who would appreciate such, and plenty of such stories of folks improving themselves by such a journey--and you do a damned-sight better 'marketing' and spreading of your religion and ideals of virtue by such methods than you could ever do so by institution of such ideals by mandate of law (or even the mere advocacy of such) which will both build resentment and rejection of you and your ideals.

Willing converts are your best spokesmen and best practice. Enforced submission is just going to earn you a nation/state/county of pastor's daughters in rebellion against your enforced strictures of morality that are justified on a basis of 'because I say it's good for you'.
 

Edgeplay_cgo

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You aren't exactly winning me over with the anti-egalitarian argument or the "objectifies women" argument either. The last one is pretty ironic coming from a self-identified conservative, as it's the favorite go-to argument the regressive left likes to use, too.
Having known a couple of porn celebrities, several sex workers, and one producer personally, talked to a few more face to face, and others by e-mail, I say the "Objectified" and "Oppressed" arguments are bullshit. The girls I have met have all been self assured, confident, and self empowered young Ladies. A couple were saving money for college. A couple were setting up legitimate businesses, and most of them were cool people to chat with, if you weren't a prurient asshole.

I'm sure some are oppressed and objectified, but that describes hamburger flippers, low end laborers, and other menials as well.
 

The Name of Love

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This is not how responsibility or liberty works. Liberty is not an 'imposition' on those who would not take advantage of it, restrictions on it, meanwhile, very much are. If you hold a different opinion on something's virtue...You don't avail yourself to it. If you view violence as forbidden by God or as an immoral act regardless of circumstances, you do as Quakers did and set yourself aside and refuse wartime service and the like--not seek to have all of violent activity in society banned so that it can (ostensibly) conform more closely to your own views.
Liberty is an imposition because you are talking about what the political order should be, and all politics is inherently an imposition. Questions of politics always concern questions about the common good (that is, what is good for all members of the political community). Part of the problem I have with liberalism is that it seems to posit that it doesn't have a substantial vision of the good while invoking "liberty" as the highest political value, which is, in fact, a substantial vision of the good.

I don't see anything wrong with "moral crusades" because laws ought to be derived from ethical considerations of contingent circumstances. What I'm noting here is a double standard. If I value natural order in the Aristotelian-Thomistic sense and want to see my values reflected in politics, I'm "imposing my moral standards" or going on a "moral crusade," and that's wrong for some reason. But if you value liberty and want to see your values reflected in politics, you're not imposing anything, you are "liberating" people. This anti-conservative fallacy is discussed in greater detail here. Highly recommend you read it.

Vice being available is not an imposition of it upon those who would not use it in any manner, shape or form. If individuals are incapable of holding themselves from vice, they are at fault personally and individually for that failure*--not some amorphous social order which DARES allow the possibility of them being 'corrupted' by the presence of a temptation they 'cannot' overcome (temptations which, like alcohol, gambling, drugs, and any other variety of item, can demonstrably be overcome or not resorted to by means of human willpower anyways--though some assistance and moral aid may well be required and is certainly a moral duty for those preaching virtue and self-control, people being people and sinners and whatnot, it's not guaranteed to work 100%).
As an Aristotelian, I believe the moral character of individuals is inevitably deeply influenced by the character types and sensibilities prevailing in the society around them. A society where people are free to commit all manner of vices is, therefore, unlikely to create a lot of morally upright individuals and would be, therefore, an unjust society. Your assertion that "if individuals are incapable of holding themselves from vice, they are at fault personally and individually" is correct but entirely misses the point. The question isn't whether people are at fault for succumbing to vice, but whether or not we want a society where the majority of people succumb to this vice. And I think we ought not to. As I pointed out earlier, pornography promotes both the decline of religiosity and the decline of the family, and both of those things are central to a functioning society.

Do you concede that, if you had your way, if your ideal society came to fruition, you would be creating a society that I don't consider to be just?

You're also not doing a great job of argument by resorting to de facto assertions that liberal views on sex are themselves unfavorable (Okay, you believe it to be the case...Good for you, others disagree. What justifies your positions enshrinment in law as opposed to the one where, as noted, no imposition takes place--your answer as yet seems to be 'because I consider my views to be superior'--which is brilliantly circular logic). Also a number of your links attempting argument are opinion/advocacy pieces by an outlet with an agenda, and those should be viewed with skepticism at best from the outset, not as hard justification.
I conceded my views on sex are in the minority, and that the liberal views on sex are themselves widely popular, and then said that that's not an argument for the wrongness of my position. It's like you ignored how I gave my arguments for my position (porn undermines family formation and religiosity, promotes egalitarianism, promotes unrealistic ideas about sex and women), provided some responses to possible counter arguments (like "how will it be implemented without tyranny ensuing?" or "doesn't this violate the first amendment?" or "Don't you see how unpopular your position is?"), and then gave an aside as to why I think our current status quo is in place (because our elites favor it for nefarious purposes).

What's so fallacious about that? Where did I not address liberal views on sex? Where did I use "circular reasoning"? It just seems like you are throwing accusations and seeing what sticks.

I'd be firmly on the 'Don't think it's a problem' wagon.
But, to easily and quickly jump to the former side of the river?
You reach out to people individually and via like-minded communities to attempt and assist and encourage your values being taken up by them and they reject the particular vices you believe they should reject. Goodly number of people with self-control issues who would appreciate such, and plenty of such stories of folks improving themselves by such a journey--and you do a damned-sight better 'marketing' and spreading of your religion and ideals of virtue by such methods than you could ever do so by institution of such ideals by mandate of law (or even the mere advocacy of such) which will both build resentment and rejection of you and your ideals.

Willing converts are your best spokesmen and best practice. Enforced submission is just going to earn you a nation/state/county of pastor's daughters in rebellion against your enforced strictures of morality that are justified on a basis of 'because I say it's good for you'.
Your solution would only work only if we assume a Cartesian view of the individual whose ideas are entirely their own. But in fact, we as individuals are shaped by our societies irrevocably. I wouldn't have the values I had without my parents, my Church, my peers, and my choice in reading material and friends. I can choose these things, sure, but it was unlikely I would ever come to these opinions I have on my own, and those choices were heavily influenced by my previous experiences and values, which were also shaped by society. I had to actually go out of my way to not do these things.

Now before you strawman me, I'm not saying people don't have free will and they aren't responsible for their actions. They are. But can you understand my wanting a society that reflects my values, especially when I think the things that I value (traditional families and religion) are essential not only for individuals but for the political order itself? Can you blame me for wanting a political order whose goal is to help people become the best they can be while giving them enough liberty to grow? I don't think it's fair to presume that I'm some kind of control freak that hates freedom because I disagree with you on what the political order is?

If you are curious about this, I think we can have a broader discussion about political philosophy (which is why I started this thread; to be a place of dialogue between people of differing political philosophies). Stop, take a deep breath, and recognize that I'm not some evil boogeyman.

I can agree with @The Name of Love

that family and marriage which is the bedrock of civilization has been utterly undermined.
Well yes. I think you could make the case for a paleolibertarian or fusionist order, where private institutions rather the state enforces moral laws. I don't personally agree with it, it's a position that's out there for everyone to make.
 
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Well yes. I think you could make the case for a paleolibertarian or fusionist order, where private institutions rather the state enforces moral laws. I don't personally agree with it, it's a position that's out there for everyone to make.
To some extent, that's actually the only way to make a democratic republic not founded on explicitly religious grounds enforce moral order, and it's done in India to a certain extent where family law for each major confessional group is handled by separate jurisdictions. Indeed, that might be a model for how you handle substantial confessional differences--India has lots of problems, but it is an intact and functional state, with much higher standards of morality than the west, despite being democratic. Of course, the actual position of each confessional family courts system is established by regular legislation, but conversely that also means it is subject to interference by the state.
 
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