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April 7, 2004

Smut in Smut Out

Sorry for the absence of posts during the day, today. It was a bit of a blur, between work, illness, and all the talk about pornography. There's much worthwhile discussion in the comments to the previous post, if you're interested. It seems to be the topic of the day (or "days"), too.

Greg, the Hobbesian Conservative, catalogues some of the instances of inappropriate material seeping into the culture, from comic books to commercials. and outlines some answers to the question of who is hurt. Meanwhile, Craig Henry collects some links on the topic, including this from Jessica's Well:

What say we get together an organized campaign to mail to Mr. Jarvis' home one Playboy, Penthouse, or Hustler every day? I mean, he doesn't have to open his mailbox, does he? If he does he can always not look at what is there. And if he can't be there 24 hours a day to keep his kids from getting at the stuff, well.....I guess a little more supervision is in order at the Jarvis household.

Better yet, let's start spam, flier, billboard, commercial, and PR campaigns pushing hardcore religion — not only dogmatic material, but encouragements toward foreign missions — into the homes of libertarians and libertines. We all know how well received the pushers at the airports were. For me, unfortunately, the "larger meaning," "personal revelation," and "restrained proselytizing" things can be a bit of a handicap in the escalation of effrontery.

And here's Bryan Preston explaining why the anti-anti-porn whining is misguided and suggesting that winning the War for Porn by electing John Kerry might just prove a Pyrrhic victory:

Now, as to the porn effort itself, it's probably worth noting (though the libertarians probably won't acknowledge it) that all the Bush administration is doing is returning to enforcing laws that the Clinton administration did not enforce. In their 30 year history, the relevant laws that the FBI is using here have been enforced for 20. The Clinton administration stopped enforcing them ten years ago, and porn exploded into the gigantic global enterprise it is today, with the porn spam and pop ups on the web and all that assaulting behavior. The Bush administration is restoring enforcement, nothing more. If you don't like that, libertarians, get the law changed.

And vote for Bush. He's still the best chance you have at winning the war and thus maintaining your rights.

I'd add to Bryan's analysis that we don't have to lose the war against Islamism for our rights to fall away. If Kerry were to pull back the War on Terror, and if terrorists were to follow the troops back within our borders, civil liberties would be the first casualty. (And the socialists in the Democratic party are more substantively censorious, anyway.)

The more-difficult surprise comes from Michael Williams:

The government won't be able to eliminate pornography; there will always be "earthly things" to distract us from the holy thoughts and purposes God created us for. As a Christian, I must depend on God daily to give me the strength to focus my mind on the course he has laid out for me, ignoring the tempting scenery that could so easily lure me off the path.

For the fully formed adult, this might be true. (Although, even then, the problem can get to the point of such constant bombardment that one can barely take the prudent steps to avoid temptation during times of weakness.) However, our entire culture contributes to the formation of future generations, and easing the difficulty of doing so in a moral way clearly ought to be among the various factors that we balance in constructing our society.

There is a line at which the individual spirit becomes a personal matter, capable of being assisted by others only within relationships of various sorts. However, this view of the whole admits that, on the other side of that line, action through our sole institution that is entirely shared, our government, comes into play. I would prefer that religion weren't struggling to remain in the public square. Many of us would prefer that more leverage had been left with states to accommodate irreconciliably stark differences in worldview within the borders of the United States. But that's not the world that God has given to us to inhabit.

Everything Michael suggests is correct, in other words, but it's true as a foundation, not as a self-contained political and philosophical structure.

Posted by Justin Katz at April 7, 2004 9:50 PM

Thanks for the link. As I've argued elsewhere, by fighting these "moral" battles we often harm the cause of Christ more than help it. Making pornography illegal won't get anyone into Heaven.

Posted by: Michael Williams at April 8, 2004 1:46 AM

Belated thanks for the link.

You make a fine point about the formulation of future generations. Wish I'd said it.

Posted by: greg at April 16, 2004 3:49 PM