Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pornography has no place in civil society

I was recently asked to contribute an opinion piece on pornography to the Murray State News. Here it is. Also, a link is provided to see the opposing perspective and the responses.

Somehow we’ve been conditioned to believe that pornography is a matter of free speech, personal freedom and privacy and that any restrictions would undo the First Amendment. People like Larry Flynt tell us that banning it could lead us down the wrong path. As if the path our pornified nation is already on could get any more jaded.

Pre-Hefner America perceived pornography to be incompatible with public decency and civility. Post-viagra America is now picking up the pieces. Study after study shows a clear connection between pornography use and sexual crime. According to Jan LaRue, attorney and pornography expert, “86 percent of convicted rapists have admitted to regular use of pornography; 57 percent admitted imitating pornographic scenes in the commission of their crimes.” Between 1960 and 1999 "forcible rape" increased by 418 percent according to the U.S. "FBI Index of Crime".

Gene Abel of the New York Psychiatric Institute studied convicted rapists and found, "One-third reported that they had used pornography immediately prior to at least one of their crimes." Charles Linedecker author of Thrill Killers, a Study of America 's Most Vicious Murders, reports that 81 percent of these murderers ranked porn as their primary sexual interest. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice reported 148,110 victims of rape or sexual assault.

The idea that porn is victimless is now about as convincing as saying that long-term exposure to carcinogens isn’t linked to cancer. Women become demeaned and devalued. They are objectivized as playthings whose sole purpose is to fulfill someone’s twisted fantasy. A certain percentage act on their fantasies, but nearly all porn addicts are hindered from developing healthy relationships with woman according to psychologist Gary R. Brooks, author of The Centerfold Syndrome. Brooks says that porn promotes distorted images of women and fosters an obsession with visual stimulation.

Listen to how it affected one former student at Eastern Kentucky University: “Many people think looking at pictures of naked women is a progressive thing to do. It’s progressive all right,” said Angie.* “It gets worse and worse. And soon watching is not enough.” Angie dropped by her boyfriend’s apartment on campus where she caught a glimpse of a sex scene on TV. She confronted him, but he said it “was just a guy thing.” Later that night that scene became Angie’s worst nightmare as her boyfriend raped her at gunpoint. Angie escaped with her life, but she still has scars.

Other women aren’t as fortunate as Angie.

In the 1980’s more than 30 women died at the hands of a porn addict whose descent into sexual deviancy began when he discovered dirty books in the neighbor's trash. His name was Ted Bundy and violent sexual acts accompanied his murders.

Just before his execution in 1989 Bundy said: "There are those loose in [your] towns and communities, like me, whose dangerous impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in the media, in its various forms -- particularly sexualized violence ... . There are lots of other kids playing in the streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today."

How many more Ted Bundy’s are in the making right now? How many more vulnerable woman and children have to be exploited and hurt before something is done? Porn advocates can wrap themselves in the First Amendment all they want, but their vacuous arguments leave them just as exposed as the Emperor and his New Clothes.

It’s time to tell the charlatans that porn has no place in civil society.

*last name withheld “Defeating Depravity,” The Southeast Outlook, summer 2004

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