Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bluenoses On The Attack (Updated)

Apparently a determined sort can turn anything into fuel for his cause celebre. In this op-ed, noted neo-Grundy Donna Rice-Hughes uses Jennifer Lawrence’s recent troubles as a launching pad for a new anti-porn campaign:

In her recent interview with Vanity Fair, actress Jennifer Lawrence addresses her emotions following the widely publicized hack of her and several other actresses’ iCloud accounts, in which privately taken nude photographs were posted on the Internet, saying, “It’s not a scandal; it is a sex crime.”

Miss Lawrence also states she tried to write an apology when news of the hack broke, but expresses she didn’t regret taking the photos, as it was in the context of a “loving, healthy, great relationship” of four years that often took place over long distance; “Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn, or he’s going to look at you.”

Though we cannot (nor should we) know the full context of Lawrence’s relationship, the assumption that one’s boyfriend would turn to pornography in the absence of his romantic partner speaks to how normalized viewing this material has become today. Furthermore, the Internet proliferation of private photos has increasingly become a tool to shame, threaten and blackmail women, as in the numerous instances of “revenge porn.”....

Peer-reviewed research confirms there is a social cost to today’s extreme forms of Internet pornography we cannot ignore. It harms children, fuels violence against women and leads to addiction in both youth and adults. Moreover, Internet pornography, particularly of a deviant and violent nature, fuels the demand for human trafficking of sex slaves. In 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation found a horrifying 58 percent of Internet child-abuse domains originated in the United States, and the United Nations discovered that between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of global child-trafficking victims had risen to nearly one-third.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of parents and caring adults, we cannot completely protect ourselves and our loved ones in a culture that permits child pornography and obscene content, neither of which are protected under the First Amendment, to flourish. Aggressive law enforcement of such federal laws, combined with certain relatively easily implemented measures, is necessary to effectively curb the tsunami of exploitative Internet pornography.

From the "Right"...and "for the children!" Gentle Reader, words threaten to fail me yet again.

Is Miss Rice-Hughes unaware that there are already federal laws against child pornography, and that they're vigorously enforced, to the extent of ignoring their targets' Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights? Is she unaware that for a "public accommodation" to expose unwitting and unwilling others to such images is also against federal law? Or is she simply of the opinion, pace Rahm Emanuel, that "you should never let a good crisis go to waste?"

Or perhaps she's merely stupid. (As little as I like it, there are some stupid persons on the political Right. No political family is without its unfortunate members.) The Supreme Court has proved, by repeatedly attempting the task and failing miserably, that there is no way to define "pornography." Potter Stewart's "I know it when I see it" approach that characterized the most recent attempts, with the consequent rise of an equally undefined "community standards" regime that had neighbors inspecting one another's underwear, fell into desuetude thirty years ago. The lesson the attempt left us should not be lost on anyone bright enough to read these words:

Banning an undefined practice puts infinite power into the hands of the State.

It would seem that some "on the Right" have forgotten this -- and at a time when the Left is desperately seeking a popularly acceptable rationale for State control over the Internet! -- which puts the task of defending the right to create and publish sexual images, including images so bizarre that virtually anyone would be disturbed by them, on the shoulders of this devout and rather priggish Catholic.

An image or statement is not "obscene" except by the standards of some evaluator, with whom other evaluators may disagree. In other words, a judgment of "obscenity" is inherently subjective.

Anti-porn crusaders want you to overlook that inconvenient fact. They want you to conflate porn with objective actions such as murder and rape. The evidence is before us, yea, even in Miss Rice-Hughes's own column. Read it over again; you'll find it.

I shouldn't try to diagnose such persons. I have neither the expertise nor the information, and anyway, I have my own troubles. But I am heartily sick of seeing their fire and brimstone expended on a matter that's properly the domain of parents and schoolteachers.

With all the objective threats we face, is a fresh crusade against porn really the best place for them to expend their energies? Why do they think so? Has a sexual image assaulted them personally, perhaps leaping out of the bushes as they passed by? I'd be interested in hearing about it, as such a thing is outside my experience. Or are they of the opinion that all sexual practices are "obscene," and therefore all depictions thereof, or of the naked human body with which we "practice" sex, must be "obscene" also? In which case I'd like to know where they think children come from.

Away with the BS about "peer-reviewed research" and "social costs." Such pseudo-logic, which is always couched in undefined terms, can be used to support or attack any position or practice whatsoever. There is no cause-and-effect linkage between what one sees on a computer monitor and what one does with, to, or for others.

By now we who prize freedom should be aware that any attack on freedom of expression endangers all forms and subjects of expression, regardless of how the attacker strains to narrow it. It was the Left, which was originally "pro-porn," that produced Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, who attack images even as mild as those in Playboy as crimes against women! Indeed, both women have also attacked a great deal of clothing advertising as "unacceptably sexualized," and "assaults on women's dignity." If they include in that assessment the women who are carefully groomed and trained and handsomely paid to pose for such photos, I have no idea.

If only we'd return to shouting "Mind your own BLEEP!ing business!" at such persons, whether their totem object is "the children," or "women's dignity," or just their tenure on the lecture circuit. But we appear to have forgotten the phrase. Or perhaps what we've forgotten is the immense breadth of the subjects that belong outside the reach of State power. Your Curmudgeon fulminates; you decide.


Any subsequent commenters who have such clever things to say as "if you don't want nudie pics of you on the Net, don't put them there" will be permanently banned from commenting here. As they're both moronic and obviously not germane to the subject of this article, persons who make such comments are plainly not bright enough to be Gentle Readers of Liberty's Torch.


LindaF said...

That's why I'd like to have 2 dedicated sites:

.xxx - for actual porn (Kiddy Porn is STILL not permitted) - on that domain, nobody is prosecuted for showing, displaying, trading, or selling porn - AS long as the activity was consensual, and all parties in the representation agree with its distribution.

.npx - naked pictures, not intended as pornography. Again, explicit permission must be given for the pix to be uploaded to the site, by ALL parties in the pictures, otherwise cannot be displayed, traded, or sold.

By doing so, we segregate the activity to those enjoying it. All others can block those sites. Children not permitted. If they lie about their age, it's on their PARENTS to punish them. The operators are NOT liable for some punk kid who presents adult ID getting on the site. Your kid, YOUR problem.

Reg T said...

And the apparent fact - if I haven't misread what has been written - that the photos were posted to a private location, with no intent for it to be shared with the public at large, negates her entire argument.

Unclezip said...

I agree that we need more people saying "Mind your own business"; However, my Mother would remind me that adding expletives changes the velocity, heading, and attitude of the message, and may result in a black eye. I can, and do, go either way, depending on the target.

Thanks for a great blog.