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A Boring Post About Porn

December 30, 2009
by

One News Now is a website that claims to provide news from a Christian perspective. If I were Christian, I would be insulted; the site’s standards just plain suck.

To wit, a recent headline proclaims, “Child Trafficking and Adult Porn Correlate.” As I have mentioned in an earlier post, correlation gets you nowhere. It’s a commonly committed logical fallacy to mistake evidence of correlation for evidence of causation. Ice cream sales correlate to drownings, but only because they both peak in the summer. Otherwise, they have nothing to do with each other.

Before I go on, I just want to make clear that I find child abuse to be a horrific blight on society. I support strict punishment for child pornographers, molesters, and anyone else who would be so cruel as to rob a child of his or her sexual innocence. That said, I think that the methods we adopt to address the problem must be arrived at carefully and based in the best possible data and conclusions. If a compelling argument were made that adult pornography were in any verifiable way a cause of child abuse, I would support its ban in a heartbeat. It’s not that important. Of course, no such argument exists; opponents of porn are blinded by their own arbitrary morality.

The article’s defects run deeper than the stupid headline. There’s no data whatsoever. It doesn’t even link directly to the “study” it purports to describe. The article has no shortage of unfounded assertions, like:

If pornography just encourages more men to seek out prostitutes, indirectly — at bare minimum — it’s contributing to sexual exploitation of children,” he contends. “So my point is, if the Justice Department wants to curb or take steps on all fronts to curb sexual exploitation of children and prostitution, it needs to fight the adult pornography problem.

Well what the fuck is that? They don’t even bother explaining how prostitution can be linked – directly or otherwise – to child exploitation. I don’t see these people as likely to support legalized prostitution, even if regulations would assure that children aren’t exploited, so it doesn’t even really make sense to frame the argument as they have done here. Clearly, they’re using the idea of child abuse to support an illogical argument against pornography.

Now, I took the liberty of downloading the actual report from Morality in Media’s website. Take a walk with me through the logical fallacy minefield that is this document’s table of contents:

Part I: Perpetrators use adult pornography to groom their victims
Part II: For many perpetrators there is a progression from viewing adult pornography to viewing child pornography
Part III: Johns act out what they view in adult pornography with child prostitutes and pimps use adult pornography to instruct child prostitutes
Part IV: Children act out what they view in adult pornography with other children
Part V: Perpetrators use adult pornography to sexually arouse themselves
Part VI: Addiction to adult pornography destroys marriages and children raised in one-parent households are more likely to be sexually exploited

(Page numbers omitted & emphasis added)

Every section of the paper is vulnerable to the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument. Our daily lives are full of things that are dangerous when misused. Pornography is not “for” adults to groom children or any of the other ways it can be abused, it’s for adults to masturbate to or whatever. That it is occasionally misused in various aspects of child molestation is not a compelling argument for its outright ban any more than the 40,000+ motor vehicle deaths in the United States every year is a compelling argument for the ban of cars.

Part II describes a progression from adult porn to child abuse common to pedophiles. Stipulating the premise for the sake of argument, it’s still a shitty point. Regular pornography is widely available; it’s only natural that a nascent pedophile would have access to it prior to finding illegal child pornography. This section is an object lesson in the dangers of the “slippery slope” fallacy, and it fails to establish any causal relationship between regular porn and child molestation.

Section III states that regular porn is used to inspire the acts committed in child molestations. This is just stupid. People have a knack for discovering and improvising sex acts. If a person’s attraction is to children, he doesn’t need porn to show him what to do. Ditto for the instructional aspect. If a kid is held captive to be raped, his or her exposure to pornography is small potatoes compared to the utter horror of the situation.

Part IV is the one area where the report could have a decent point, though it is supported primarily by anecdotal evidence, so it’s hard to simply accept given the overall sloppy scholarship. Even granting it, it’s an argument for the restriction of kids’ access to porn, not for the ban of porn.

Section V says that adults use regular porn to sexually arouse themselves. You don’t say.

Superman may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but even he can’t make the causal leap that section VI demands.

Now to be completely fair, I have not finished reading the entire document. It’s long, and I am busy. However, from the sloppiness of what I have read, I have low expectations for the rest. It’s clearly an ideological hash of theses based on the author’s moral beliefs. That’s fine, but it’s certainly not newsworthy.

Anyhow, this post was supposed to be about the article, not the report, and the article gives no indication that its author even read the report. One News Now is a journalistic failure, and a condescending slap in the face to Christians everywhere.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 1, 2010 2:51 pm

    If I remember right, the most republican and conservative (i.e. religious) states also buy and enjoy more porn than the democrat and liberal (i.e. less religious) states. So are they calling themselves child molesters? It must be! It correlates!

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