PORN! PORN! PORN! WEB PAGES OF DEATH!

From Pages of Death 1962

From Pages of Death 1962

And round and round the censorship wheel goes.

Utah State Senator Todd Weiler is just the latest to try and shape the marketplace of ideas to his own superstitious views of morality. Weiler proposed S.C.R. 9, seeking to have pornography declared a public health hazard. The resolution is hilarious – or would be, if it did not take aim at our most important civil liberties, in the name of promoting a narrow view of morality. (A favorite target of mine)

This resolution:
` recognizes that pornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms; and
` recognizes the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.

Pause for a moment as you recall that Utahns consume more online pornography than any other Americans. (source) After the laugh track plays, you might want to be just a little concerned.

Weiler's theories are not exactly novel. In the late 1800s, Anthony Comstock convinced Congress to pass an Act for the "Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use". This later came to be called "The Comstock Law." Comstock devoted his life to defending the world from the plague of “immorality,” from contraceptives to works of art. Comstock went after all forms of sexual education, nude paintings by French modern artists, and even masterpieces like George Bernard Shaw’s play "Mrs. Warren’s Profession" and James Joyce's Ulysses. Before we laugh at the memory of the uptight Victorian moralizer, we should remember that Comstock boasted that he had convicted more than 3,000 people and destroyed “160 tons of obscene literature.” 3,000 lives ruined because it chafed someone’s narrow view of “morality.”

The Comstock Laws began to crumble as the light of the First Amendment began to shine on them. In a landmark decision, United States v. One Book Called "Ulysses," judge Woolsey wrote "If one does not wish to associate with such folk as Joyce describes, that is one’s own choice. In order to avoid indirect contact with them one may not wish to read ‘Ulysses’; that is quite understandable.”

Dickhead

Dickhead

Unfortunately, this did not exorcise Comstock's ghost. He continued to haunt freedom of expression – with anti-pornography propaganda becoming the stuff of today's comedy. The Oregon Historical Society just uncovered a campy Reefer Madness – style video, "Pages of Death," telling the fantastic tale of Paul Halliday, who “hung out reading pornography at Baker’s Variety Store until he couldn’t stand it any longer and murdered a girl in a whipped up frenzy of smut inspired rage” (source) It ends with a call to action, imploring parents that the next victim of a sex-crazed pornography consumer could be their little girl.

Clearly Comstock and "Pages of Death" peek at us from behind "conservative" positions. But, the very theories that they espoused came back, yet again, in the 1980s, when feminist academics began to ironically resurrect the Comstock laws. I say “ironically” because the Comstock laws were used not only to punish smut, but to punish distribution of intormation about birth control, abortion, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

But with no sense of irony, the Left picked up the torch of the Right and in Indianapolis, they passed a law that said that the mere existence of pornography (as they defined it) was a civil rights violation. Fortunately, the First Amendment did not permit these laws to remain on the books, at least not in the United States. In American Booksellers v. Hudnut, a court threw them out as clearly content-based restrictions on First Amendment protected content, writing "the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message [or] its ideas."

When John Ashcroft came into office, his justice department was tasked with "cleaning up" pornography, and it dutifully complied — prosecuting, and jailing, Americans for no worse crime than producing movies that the government did not like. The crime was "obscenity," which is the only crime you can commit without your conduct being illegal. All books and films are presumptively First Amendment protected. That protection is only stripped away if a jury watches the film and determines that it appeals to the prurient interest, that it describes sex in a patently offensive way, and "the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Once the jury makes that determination, then the work is no longer protected – but the American who made it or sold it is carted off to prison.

And now, we have this "obscene" tradition being taken up by Senator Weiler – again from the conservative side of things. His proposed law sounds almost as if it were lifted right from Pages of Death. It blames pornography for stunted brain development, emotional and medical illnesses, deviant arousal, harmful sexual behaviors and even biological addiction. He did leave out "and it will definitely make you murder little girls," but if you read the resolution enough, you can hear that in the background.

Even if you don't enjoy pornography — even if you despise it — this should trouble you. If you think not, remember that when the government tries to interfere in the marketplace of ideas, we all lose.

Remember the Indianapolis ordinance discussed above? Its proponents were rabid feminists, Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. They saw it defeated in court here in the United States, but they also pressed for such laws in Canada, where they remain on the books. However, rather than ending hardcore pornography north of the border, they have primarily been used to suppress gay material. This was a far cry from the mission these feminist moralizers sought to promote. And if you think you don’t like “obscene,” material, you need only look at 18 U.S.C. § 1462, which provides that even talking about abortion is , technically “obscene.” (Although no conviction under that would ever stand).

The lesson from that is to be careful when you call for, or even acquiesce to, restrictions on free expression. You never know when that will backfire on your point of view.

In Abrams v. United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a passage that ultimately became the cornerstone of a liberty-based view toward free speech, and which became the dominant theory in First Amendment jurisprudence. In Abrams, Holmes gave us "the marketplace of ideas." And what a brilliant theory it was.

Holmes noted that if someone was completely confident in the belief that they were right, then it would seem logical that they would want to suppress dissenting views. "If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition." Those who wish to wipe out pornography have no doubt that they are right, but they are precisely wrong.

Holmes, on the other hand, was right when he wrote: "[T]he ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market…That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution."

Weiler's proposal is directly at odds with our theory of the Constitution. It belongs in that discredited junk pile of ideas right on top of the rotting pages of Comstock and MaCKinnon's warmed over dreck, as it even lacks the campy humor of "Pages of Death."

Update: I am informed by a commenter that the "Utahns are more porny" study is bunk. And, it seems that it is bunk. Does that change the article any? I think not. But, let us not rest our tale on bullshit.

Last 5 posts by Randazza

Comments

  1. says

    We mustn't forget The President's Commission on Pornography, which conducted the first actual scientific research on the matter, only to find that the exact opposite was true.

    Of course, politicians had ten fits (and none of it), rather than attempting to reproduce the results they didn't like. Renouncing uncomfortable scientific results is a bit of a tradition, isn't it?

  2. Anon Y. Mous says

    If you are going to discuss the intersection of obscenity law and the first amendment, I don't see how you can ignore Miller v. California.

    1. Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment. A work may be subject to state regulation where that work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; portrays, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

    2. The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. If a state obscenity law is thus limited, First Amendment values are adequately protected by ultimate independent appellate review of constitutional claims when necessary.

    4. The jury may measure the essentially factual issues of prurient appeal and patent offensiveness by the standard that prevails in the forum community, and need not employ a "national standard."

    A mess of a decision, with plenty of blame to go around for both the "Right" and the "Left". One thing is for sure: John Ashcroft was applying the obscenity laws per SCOTUS precedent.

  3. says

    @ Alexander – I thought of that… but figured that putting that discussion in would just be lengthening the piece unnecessarily. But yes, you're right. IT debunked it, so then Reagan insisted on hand picking the Meese commission to come to the result he wanted.

  4. Observer says

    One specific nitpick: The article you linked to does not say that Utahns consume more pornography than anyone else. It says that they pay for more online porn than anyone else does.

    Considering the vast amounts of free porn available on the Internet, it is a pretty big leap from paying for the most porn to consuming the most porn.

  5. Psmith says

    Have you read Mrs. Warren's Profession? I haven't, but the fiction of Shaw's that I've read does not strike me as very masterful, and its prohibition seems more of a moral injustice than an artistic one.

  6. Kevin says

    It's funny but I remember when I was a teenager reading the Meese commission report in the library because it was the dirtiest thing in there.

  7. PonyAdvocate says

    @ Mr. Randazza

    The study you cite of pornography consumption in Utah is quite old (I recall having read the article you link when it was published, in 2009. If you read the article yourself, you may remember a reference to John McCain having run for President "last fall"). There are at least a few articles that are more recent, and which express doubt about this supposed Utahan peccadillo (one was in The Daily Kos, which is hardly an apologist for right-of-center viewpoints and those that hold them).

    I know the glee one can feel when one stumbles on a "fact" such as this that seems so ready-made to cast one's opponents in a bad light. It's almost always a good idea to suppress the glee and bring to one's own assertions and arguments the same skepticism to which one subjects the arguments of one's opponents. Otherwise, one can reasonably be accused of bad faith, or at least carelessness, and have cast into doubt everything one says.

  8. Igor says

    Sorry, boys 'n girls, I fail to see anything socially redeeming in pornography.

    Just because something is "legal" doesn't make it legitimate nor morally right.

  9. Evan Þ says

    Igor – I agree in most cases. Though, some socially-redeeming narratives and videos could easily be classified in that category. For example, a frank discussion or video recording of a rape can be very useful in discussions about criminal justice and society.

    And for the stuff that definitely isn't socially redeeming, let us follow the laudable recommendation of Judge Woolsey and avoid reading or viewing it.

  10. Albert ARIBAUD says

    Sorry, boys 'n girls, I fail to see anything socially redeeming in pornography.

    Just because something is "legal" doesn't make it legitimate nor morally right.

    Well, I fail to see the precise relationship between being socially redeeming and being legitimate or morally right (not to mention the fact that social and moral appreciations are highly subjective). Also, why the need for quotes? If something is legal, that does not need quotes. And if you think something is not really legal to the point of needing "quotes", then you should just just say so openly.

  11. says

    Utah State Senator Todd Weiler

    I find news stories are usually much clearer when I read "State Senator" as "someone who's probably too dumb or corrupt to be in Congress".

  12. AH says

    You know, I was just thinking, the problem with the obscenity test is the "average person" doesn't even know what "the prurient interest" means.

  13. Vince Clortho says

    You're leaving out the real question here: What is the name of the porno-version of the film "Pages of Death"?

  14. strongpoint says

    I find news stories are usually much clearer when I read "State Senator" as "someone who's probably too dumb or insufficiently corrupt to be in Congress".

    FTFY

  15. Trevor says

    @Vince Clortho

    You're leaving out the real question here: What is the name of the porno-version of the film "Pages of Death"?

    That would be, "The Cages of Beth".

  16. Jonathan says

    I'm not sure why, but I find you a tiresome addition to this blog.

    Just continuing in the tradition of the Clark haters I suppose.

  17. says

    Marc, with respect, I think you are throwing around terms like "the Right" and "the Left" rather loosely and without much basis. In the case of the Indianapolis ordinance, the move to declare pornography a civil rights violation was advocated by a small coterie of feminist academics that many people on the left, like me, thought were on a foolish crusade. The mayor of Indianapolis at the time, William Hudnut, was a Republican who could scarcely be confused as a "Leftist"

  18. says

    You are correct… in the interest of keeping things short, I have cruised through a few places where more detail is likely a good addition. Hudnut most certainly, like all in power usually in Indiana, was Right wing. But, the origins of the law were, as you say, a coterie of feminist academics … who would be properly classified as "Left."

    My point is not to say "The Left sucks…" I count myself as a "Far Left" person. But, it is important, I think, to make it clear that the Regressive Left is just as much an enemy of free expression as the "Far Right."

  19. TimH says

    @Jonathan,

    Just curious, but what exactly did you expect to achieve with your post? Convert MR to righteousness? Shirley not. Then what?

  20. Doctor X says

    @TimH:

    He wants him to "govern himself accordingly!"

    The reaction to reasoned opinions are a funny thing in This Al Gore's Interweb. Whether one agrees with Marc or not, he wrote an opinion with evidence. It is not a screed of unsubstantiated claims which one may dismiss as the ravings of a Person with an Agenda™. Jonathan should, if serious, respond with criticism directed to Marc's evidence–"you cite Aschroft v. Twinkelbottom incorrectly! Besides, it was replaced by Clinton v. Pussygalore!"–and opinion–"how can you interpret the First Amendment to read that you have a right to all my beer?!"

    One of the reasons I read these and the commentary is most commentators give such criticism. Heck, Marc corrects his post based on comments made.

  21. Ryan says

    Just curious about the passing remark about "also pressed for such laws in Canada, where they remain on the books."

    Are you referring to the 'Corrupting Morals" offences in s.163 of the Criminal Code? http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-36.html#h-58

    I ask because these laws are rarely prosecuted – for a myriad of good reasons – and it remains questionable that, if they were regularly used, they'd stand up in a Charter challenge in the Supreme Court today in any but the most offensive of cases. Though I should disclose that there was a recent guilty plea in Alberta for a web host who posted what turned out to be a real video of a gruesome murder (http://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/edmonton-gore-site-owner-pleads-guilty-in-magnotta-video-case).

    It's tangential to your overall point, but I was curious if you'd found another obscure offence I was unaware of.

  22. TimothyAWiseman says

    @Igor

    You are correct that just because something is legal does not make it morally right. The question is should something be illegal just because it is immoral? Even more pointedly, should something be illegal because some think it is immoral, since reasonable people can disagree on what is immoral?

  23. David Schwartz says

    Wouldn't this reasoning extend to child pornography, assuming no laws were violated in producing it in the first place? (Say it was filmed by the only participant or made in a country whose laws had a lower age threshold than the United States.) And if not, aren't we arguing about degrees, not kind? Pretty everyone agrees that there is some information that it should be unlawful to merely possess.

  24. Matt says

    As an aside, getting the Ulysses case in front of Judge Woolsey is kind of a fun story. I caught the Readers' Digest version on an episode of Mysteries at the Museum. Basically, IIRC, an American publisher bought the US printing rights, figuring it would sell like hotcakes if they could get it past the Comstock Act, and then had to get somebody to smuggle the book in from Europe and then get arrested by Customs for it so they could get it in front of the court. Apparently, due to how busy Customs was that day, they weren't going to bother searching the smuggler's luggage, and the guy had to basically beg them to do so so they would find the book and confiscate it, etc.

  25. says

    David,

    This is a very interesting philosophical discussion — is there information that it should be unlawful to possess? I suppose I would have to agree that, perhaps, if there is information that could only be used to summon Cthulhu, then maybe. But, I can't think of any information in the real world that is so dangerous, so corrupting, so horrifying that someone should not be able to possess it.

    Regarding your child porn example, my view is that the CP laws are insane. In the USA, for example, you can have two people who are 17 years old, and thus can legally get married (in some states). If they film their wedding night sex, they've just created child pornography, and can go to prison for possessing and manufacturing it.

  26. says

    Great post. Here are some data on porn use — and why Senator Birdseed-for-Brains is not only a First Amendment trampler but going exactly the wrong way. Basically, there have been data for years showing that where porn use goes up (with Internet use), rape stats go down:

    http://christopherjferguson.com/pornography.pdf

    Researchers Christopher J. Ferguson and Richard D. Hartley write:

    "Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates. Data from other nations have suggested similar relationships. Although these data cannot be used to determine that pornography has a cathartic effect on rape behavior, combined with the weak evidence in support of negative causal hypotheses from the scientific literature, it is concluded that it is time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior."

  27. Jonathan says

    @ TimH et al,

    I didn't hope to achieve anything. Just registering my irritation – I think perhaps with Marc's style? I don't even necessarily disagree with the majority of his conclusions.

    Anyway, bad form I know. Mea culpa.

  28. whhey says

    The article brings to mind a ballot proposition to ban obscene matierals in California. It was nicknamed the "Clean Amendment". It included provision for private suits to be brought against materials deemed to be obscene.

    One group publicly announced that, if it passed, they were going after the Gideon Society for distributing obscene literature. The measure went down in flames.

  29. BadRoad says

    @Marc Randazza

    Regarding your child porn example, my view is that the CP laws are insane. In the USA, for example, you can have two people who are 17 years old, and thus can legally get married (in some states). If they film their wedding night sex, they've just created child pornography, and can go to prison for possessing and manufacturing it.

    In my state, at least, they could even be tried and sentenced as adults, despite the fact that, had they actually been adults, their conduct would have been entirely legal.

  30. AH says

    CP laws sound great on paper. It's the implementation of them that is off. What you want to do is disincentivize the creation of material which requires harming a minor, because you often can't go after the actual abuser due to jurisdictional issues. Again, on paper, this seems like a great plan.

    The Issue comes with edge-cases like dating teens, or the truly mind-boggling ones like some hentai and other drawn material. I mean, how old is Lisa Simpson (she's apperently been somewhere around 7-9 years old for more then 20 years!), and what child was harmed by the London 2012 Olympics logo?

  31. TimothyAWiseman says

    @David Schwartz

    First, no, not everyone agrees that there is information that it should be illegal merely to possess. I have heard serious arguments that it may make sense to allow pedophiles to possess pre-existing deviant material since it could satisfy their urges, while vigorously searching out and stopping production of new material. I personally do not hold this belief, but serious people can and it is not accurate to say that everyone agrees that there is information that should be unlawful merely to possess.

    Nevertheless, one can believe that certain very narrow categories of banned information exist while arguing vigorously against expanding those at all. I for instance believe that with child pornography it is proper to ban mere possession (whether that should extend to a slightly underage person possessing images of a fully consenting slightly underage romantic partner is another topic…) and I am comfortable banning possession of detailed instructions on creating nuclear weapons. But I join Marc in vigorously resisting any expansion of information whose mere possession is illegal.

    Even though I agree that it is a matter of degrees, that does not necessarily lead to anything else. Most people (though not all) will agree that the First Amendment should not be absolute. Marc has been properly called a "First Amendment Bad Ass" for successfully fighting against adding more limits to the First Amendment, while still agreeing that certain speech which fits into certain well established and long-standing categories (such as defamatory speech) is properly actionable after the fact.

  32. ravenshrike says

    @ Amy Alkon

    The real question is if it's only rape rates going down or sex rates across the board, and if it's limited by gender. It would be interesting to find out. After all, if it does significantly depress sexual intercourse rates across the entire population, one could argue that it is in society's best interest to outlaw porn so as to avoid societal extinction. Which would be rather amusing as the reason for the laws would be the direct inverse of what Comstock was complaining about.

  33. says

    @Igor:

    Sorry, boys 'n girls, I fail to see anything socially redeeming in pornography.

    Just because something is "legal" doesn't make it legitimate nor morally right.

    And I fail to see anything socially redeeming, legitimate, or morally right in your comment. Despite this, I still believe throwing you in prison for writing or posting it would be a grave injustice.

  34. says

    @whhey:

    One group publicly announced that, if it passed, they were going after the Gideon Society for distributing obscene literature. The measure went down in flames.

    I expect there's plenty of fun to be had by asking people who support book banning on religious grounds whether they think a book should be banned for — and then describing a biblical passage.

    "A man gets blackout drunk then has sexual intercourse with both of his daughters. The book describes the act as if *they wanted it*."

    And don't even get me started on the poor refugee woman who gets impregnated without her consent and then has to give birth in a feeding trough.

  35. Echo says

    Wow, this guy's behind the times. He should have just find/replaced every instance of "health impacts" or "societal harms" with "rape culture!!", and nobody would have dared to oppose it.

  36. Michael Cox says

    @TimothyAWiseman and others of sympathetic ilk

    While I am skeptical that your "being comfortable" with banning information is a narrow and focused test for abridging my freedom of speech, I am wondering what you would propose doing with people like me, who could actually design and build a nuclear device? Shall we be banned? Locked up for the common good? What are you going to do with the other several tens of thousands of people like me who possess this knowledge and might let it slip in a drunken binge to the scary evil people? How about the millions of chemists that can whip up explosive or chemical agents easily and quickly? Don't get me started on the biologists! Engineers? My god man! Quite a few software guys I know who could probably hack your bank, utility or favorite government agency. Maybe best just to off us all for the common good? Head back to living in caves, right?

    Knowledge and information is not the danger you're looking for…

    You cannot legislate thoughts, only actions. Legislating thoughts or possession of information leads down a road to preemptive enforcement actions. Have we not yet learned the dangers therein? We cannot confidently convict people of actions, much less thoughts or unrealized intentions. Perhaps I could interest you in a nice preemptive middle eastern conflict…

  37. Echo says

    @Cox
    But Cox, what if you told us how to build a nuclear weapon, and we went home and made one out of household materials in a drunken stupor?
    We could put someone's eye out with that kind of irresponsible knowledge!

  38. Doctor X says

    Belated @Jonathan: Thanks in that you respectfully acknowledge the criticism.

    If your main issue is with Mark's rhetoric, you have a right to that opinion of course.

  39. Jerry says

    Marc, this is the position I would expect you to take, for you are a free speech absolutist.

    And yet, there is a real issue here that did not exist in Comstock's day.

    In particular, the widespread availability of Internet porn does seem to have major societal implications. Across the world, young men substitute porn for actual sex, and actual sex has been declining, along with fertility.

    Sex (the actual kind) has been declining for 20 years. For those who think sex is good and is a big part of who we are, this is depressing.

    As virtual sex gets really good, civilization may actually be FUBARed. Fertility across the developed world is already well below replacement. Have free speech advocates, victorious against all vestiges of Comstock, gifted us with a nation of wankers? Is this our bright and glorious civilization, with everyone isolated in rooms by themselves, rubbing away? Yes. Yes, it is.

    So this is how it ends… My question is, are there any science fiction writers that called this particular end, so that we can recognize them?

  40. Joe says

    Yeah, Popehat, i don't think Marc is a positive addition to your blog. His writing is immature, and based on this article, lacks thought, and relies on incomplete arguments to make his points.

    I always liked Popehat, but less so now.

  41. says

    But I am not an absolutist.

    Sex has been declining? Really? Not saying you are wrong, but if you have the time and the inclination to back that up, I would like to see where you get that from.

  42. TM says

    @Jerry

    Any citations that the declining birth rates in the developed world are due to the correlation with porn consumption as opposed to the correlation with wealth?

  43. Encinal says

    Mark Wing says

    Utah is a shining beacon of morality. That's why there are so many casinos on its border with Nevada.

    You mean "Nevada's border with them"?

    AH says

    What you want to do is disincentivize the creation of material which requires harming a minor, because you often can't go after the actual abuser due to jurisdictional issues.

    Why is what happens in another jurisdiction our business, and why are there special rules for children? Why aren't videos of ISIS beheading people illegal? When protesters shut down a street, and news programs cover it, they're giving the protesters exactly what they want. Why aren't there criminal sanctions for that?

  44. Fasolt says

    Joe says:

    I always liked Popehat, but less so now.

    Ken says:

    Dear Joe: we'll miss you. Sincerely.

    I say Joe likes Popehat a lot less now. If only Joe had not succumbed to the lure of being a Popehat brand guardian.

  45. Fasolt says

    @Jerry, and quoting in part:

    …Across the world, young men substitute porn for actual sex, and actual sex has been declining, along with fertility.

    Sex (the actual kind) has been declining for 20 years…

    Fertility across the developed world is already well below replacement.

    Jerry, how about some citations for these statements? And for the words I emphasized in the first quote, did you mean the birth rate is declining? Fertility and birth rate are two different concepts. I'm sure you meant birth rate in the "Fertility across the developed world" sentence". Otherwise that sentence makes no sense.

    If your statement that we're all having less sex is true, it does not necessarily mean there are less births. People using birth control will usually have no births (likelihood depending on the method) whether they are having more or less sex. You are also assuming a consumer of Internet porn used to be more sexually active and then lowered or ceased their sexual activity after discovering their new hobby. It's certainly possible they stopped having sex after they started consuming internet porn, but also possible that they were not sexually active prior to their consumption.

  46. TimothyAWiseman says

    @Michael Cox

    Either I horribly failed to be clear, or you are deliberately tilting at strawmen. I never said anything about trying to regulate thought, and agree that it would be both a horrible violation of the constitution and a horrible idea if it was constitutional.

    Even in terms of possession of information, you seem to believe my stance is far from where it actually is. It is both constitutionally (at least under current jurisprudence) and pragmatically defensible to ban mere possession of child pornography and mere possession of the details of how to create nuclear weapons. When I said I was comfortable with it, I was expressing my personal opinion and that it was contrary to the opinions of others that David said did not exist. I was not stating that my opinion should constitute the defining contours of the First Amendment, though the courts have already expressed their concurrence on those fields. As for knowledge of creation of other weapons beyond nuclear ones (and incidentally, even if you have access to the details that the government protects I am skeptical that you have memorized enough of them to do it), I didn't say anything about that.

  47. R. says

    What if pornography is indeed a public health hazard, like say, alcohol? Majority of people have no issues with it, once they grow out of their 'get completely shit-faced once a week' phase*, however chronic overuse is a real problem for a minority, because the liver eventually gives out and then they die and it messes with the brain well before that.

    There are people who say internet porn is a public health problem, because it's ubiquitous, practically free and thus allows people, specifically teenagers, to overindulge in it, which, in the long run, makes them unable to function sexually and only able to achieve an erection while watching pornography.

    *practically everyone but weirdoes in eastern Europe goes through that phase, usually in their teenage years. Underage drinking is the shit no one cares about.

  48. c andrew says

    .

    Regarding your child porn example, my view is that the CP laws are insane. In the USA, for example, you can have two people who are 17 years old, and thus can legally get married (in some states). If they film their wedding night sex, they've just created child pornography, and can go to prison for possessing and manufacturing it.

    Jesus… that just makes your head explode, doesn't it?

    Well then, this story, also out of Utah, should raise your inter-cranial pressures to dangerous levels…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2433879/Girl-13-boyfriend-12-labelled-sex-offenders-having-consensual-sex-other.html

    I particularly like the legal stretch that the Utah Supremes indulged in by suggesting that mutually underage sex is akin to dueling.