Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can we ban porn?

Meghan Murphy wrote an article titled: You want proof that criminalization works? Look no further than the feminist movement

Quoting Murphy:
In the article, Ruth Rosen points to various male “behaviours” like rape that, while once were viewed simply as “custom” were redefined, thanks to the feminist movement, as crimes.

In the feminist reality, sex crimes simply wouldn't be crimes today without people like Andrea Dworkin.

Ignoring for a moment that many Abrahamic religions have gone as far as to say many forms of adultery are punishable by death, let alone buying sex.

Not so long ago, you may or may not recall that there was no such thing as rape in marriage. Husbands were entitled to sex, with or without the consent of their wives. Not so long ago, date rape was common, unnamed, and completely acceptable. There were no conversations about consent when it came to sex. It simply wasn’t relevant.

While attitudes towards marital rape have indeed changed, it's hard to imagine a time where date rape was acceptable.

In the days before widely available contraception, was date rape "unnamed" and completely acceptable?

Quite a picture this paints. While it can be said that more conservative political philosophies are less sympathetic towards rape victims, it's another thing entirely to suggest that self-described feminists were the only ones that found date rape objectionable.

In any case, this "feminism is about making things illegal" mantra is all lead up to talking about porn:

Lately the issue of banning pornography has been a hot(ter) topic of debate due to the fact that Iceland is considering banning online pornography. Tracy McVeigh noted, in her article for The Observer, that Iceland, one of the most progressive countries in the world, ranking in first place in Global Gender Gap Report 2012, that the ban is widely supported among police, health professionals, educators and lawyers.

Some simple math here - in terms of population, there are currently 1000 Icelands in the United States alone.

It would be a bigger deal if the Birmingham, Alabama metro area decided to ban Playboy and Penthouse.

Of course, if they did that, they would be the crrrrazy conservatives and not the enlightened feminist progressives!

Murphy counters the allegation that she's conservative, by simply stating she's not conservative:
Iceland guy: "We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech" 
In other words, this is a feminist initiative.
Now, talk of bans or of criminalization of things like pornography often lead to people to say things like: “FREE SPEECH!” “RIGHTS!” “CENSORSHIP!” But these people are stupid.
We live in what is commonly known as “a society”. Within said “society” we tend to rely on things we call “laws” in order to help us function in a way that is conducive to living in said “society”. This isn’t to say that all laws are necessarily good laws and, often, criminalization targets the marginalized in disgusting and oppressive ways.
This is not the case for feminist laws that prevent men from abusing women.
Murphy's line of reasoning is: "You might think this about free speech, but this is about laws and civil society!"

Which is an interesting argument, since free speech is codified into law, as it is a pre-requisite for civil society.

Let’s reflect on some of the behaviours we’ve criminalized in our society: murder, rape, domestic abuse, animal cruelty, advocating genocide, and creating, buying, or selling child pornography. There are other behaviours we’ve criminalized that are silly, like doing certain kinds of drugs, but that’s a whole other political can of worms.

Let's think about this for a moment.

Murphy has accepted, in the case of drug policy, that incarceration and criminalization does not work.

Why doesn't she apply the same logic to sex work and pornography?

The issue seems to be her categorization.

The categories:
  1. Consuming drugs is human behavior that is going to exist regardless of the law; as people sort of work that way. It is sort of like eating too much chocolate.
  2. Consuming porn is human error and can be corrected by the criminal justice system; there is no respectable excuse for doing it. It is sort of like murdering your family.
That seems to be the groupings Murphy has created.

The point is that, as a society, we support the censorship of things we believe are deeply harmful to individuals and to society as a whole.

At this point it's clear that Murphy doesn't understand the extent of free speech laws in the United States. And perhaps several other countries.

Nor does Murphy really grasp libel laws.

This article is criticizing Murphy. This may be deeply harmful to Murphy as an individual.

The law does not care. This is not hate speech. This is not libel.

There is no need to share “information” that encourages and perpetuates and supports the oppression of women. In fact, I’m pretty sure that would count as some kind of hate speech. Pornography encourages and perpetuates and supports both rape culture (so, violence against women) and the oppression of women.
True freedom and true freedom of speech would exist in a society without systemic oppression. In a world wherein male violence against women is an epidemic, it is not reasonable to say that we live in a free society. It is also not reasonable to defend behaviours that perpetuate oppression and violence on account of “freedom” and “freedom of speech”. Those who argue this are stupid, narrow-minded jerks who’ve spent too long eating American freedom fries and only care about “rights” in as much as those “rights” provide them with access to the sex/money/power they believe they were born entitled to.

What decade is Murphy arguing in? The 1970s?

In Murphy's mind, porn is a thing that Hugh Hefner creates to make money.

Meanwhile everyone that has consumed porn in the past five years will tell you the following:
  1. There isn't a bottomless pit of money in porn
  2. Porn isn't always created by corporations
Murphy would do well to surf the many naughty parts of the internet with user-submitted content.

Much like the anti-abortion crowd, Murphy hasn't put ten seconds thought into actually writing the law that would define pornography, let alone prescribe punishments.

To those who argue that it’s impossible to ban pornography because it’s so popular, universal, or “normal”, well, so was marital rape at one time. So was smoking in hospitals. So was owning slaves.

Now the slavery card. Next up: you know who loves Jenna Jameson? Adolf Hitler!

Now, pornography is not “good” for society and it isn’t “good” for women (it isn’t even “good” for men!). Because of the Internet, it’s readily available to children which means that this generation and all those that follow learn that women are to be fucked and to be humiliated and to be degraded from the beginning. Pornography shapes and will shape their worldview.

Instead of invoking Godwin's law, Murphy has instead chosen to give us a heartfelt think of the children.

It is important to consider how products may impact minors. That is why it is already illegal to sell pornography to minors.

Murphy is suggesting that minors are viewing porn even though it is illegal for them to do so.

There is a great irony here.

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