Answers to sceptics’ top 6 objections on the harms of porn

[notice]This article is adapted from the Chapter “Dealing With Objections” in Porndemic by Taryn Hodgson.[/notice]  

porndemic1When trying to convince sceptics about the harmful effects of pornography, and the need to criminalise it, one often encounters the following objections: 

1. “There’s no proof that porn causes harm.”

This is a claim founded either on ignorance or wilful deception. Lindie Wadhams, formerly of Safeline says: “It would be unethical to expose human beings to large doses of pornography… monitor them and their behaviour to the point where the sexual crime is committed and then analyse this process. This cannot be done on ethical grounds. Pro-pornographers capitalise on this.” Similarly, a researcher cannot give someone 30 cigarettes per day for 20 years and then monitor the process of them getting lung cancer, but there are many other ways of linking the causes and effects.

Edward Donnerstein, a leading experimental researcher in the field of pornography, points out: “The relationship between sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and cancer.” One article by Dr Catherine Itzin, reviews over 150 studies that prove the links between harm and pornography.  

There is a difference between causality and correlation. Dr Catherine Itzin explains: “When evaluating scientific evidence, it is necessary to distinguish between causality and correlation. Although there is evidence of causal links between porn and rape (in the case of copycat crimes, for example) there is an even greater body of research which consistently establishes correlation between porn and sexual violence. Correlation does not prove causality. It never can. Causality is a standard of proof that rarely, if ever, can be achieved, and is rarely, if ever required. However, correlation is itself evidence.”[i]

 2. “You can’t legislate morality.”

What about laws against theft, fraud, libel, rape, incest, or murder? Are these laws not legislating morality? All laws codify moral values. The only issue is: whose system of morality will be the source and foundation of our laws? If we do not enforce Biblical Law against pornography, abortion, rape and murder, then in all likelihood we will experience the results of enforcing humanist law: legalised child killing and pornography, forbidding of prayer in school, special rights for criminals — especially murderers — and the resultant massive increase in crime, rape and murder. The law may not change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.

 3. “Porn is everywhere on the Internet and people go everywhere with their Internet-enabled devices. That makes it impossible to control.”

The claim that the Internet cannot be policed is false. Internet banking fraud and child abuse images are policed internationally and locally and it makes a positive difference. Child abuse images are primarily distributed on the Internet and because it is illegal, its circulation is substantially depressed. Internet porn can be successfully blocked on a national level by requiring all Tier 1 Service Providers to filter websites being accessed by Internet users in the country and on a Tier 2 level by cloud-based ISP filtering systems. Yemen and United Arab Emirates block all porn at a Tier 1 Level and Australia has put measures in place to block Refused Classification material at a Tier 2 level. Several countries such as Mauritius have put technology in place to block child porn on a nation-wide scale. Iceland is considering such legislation in parliament at this time. The top 4 Internet Service Providers in the UK have agreed to automatically block porn on all their users’ devices. Adults who want to view porn, have to ‘opt in’ through passwords etc. 

While we cannot banish porn in every form completely, by making it illegal we can substantially limit its circulation and restrict its harm. At the very least, making porn illegal stigmatises it, and it is seen by much of society as something wrong and dirty, rather than a ‘right’. 

4. “Legislation against pornography would cover too much ground and limit freedom of speech.”

Man, being a sinner and possessing knowledge often faulty, will pass laws that are quite likely to be faulty also. This has always been the case and will continue to be the case. Should we abolish all laws as a result?Parliamentary review and court action are processes whereby errors in laws can be rectified. There is no reason to fear that a law, in and of itself, can remove our liberties. Unless a people have first lost interest in true Biblical freedom, no state can limit its liberties without thereby endangering itself. 

5. “Banning porn will only increase its circulation and appeal.”

The belief that if you make pornography freely available, people will lose interest in it, is naïve and ignorant. In countries where pornography has been legalised for many years, it has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry. Not only has the porn industry increased in South Africa since its legalisation, one only need look at Holland and the Scandinavian countries to realise that porn has not decreased, but increased! These countries were historically the most permissive in the legalisation of porn and later became the “pioneers” in the child porn industry. Between 1969 and 1979 Denmark led the way and legalised all forms of pornography including child pornography. The Danish Theander brothers became the biggest producers of both adult and child porn probably in the world at that time. Porn made during that period is still available on the Internet today. The children involved were pre-pubescent, generally between five and 10 years old. The titles of the magazines and films they made are revealing: “Incest Family”, “Schoolboys Orgy” and “Jo and his Uncle”. Incest and child abuse were made to appear normal. Some of the most shocking child porn, which includes babies being raped and horribly abused, is produced and disseminated from Holland. The interest in porn has not waned in Holland, but has become even more depraved. Increased exposure does not lead to indifference, but to desensitisation, which in turn demands greater stimulation in order to derive the same excitement or pleasure. 

6. “Pornography is protected by freedom of speech.”

All rights are limited. The freedom of speech and the press is designed to protect a free and safe society, but is never an absolute freedom. No-one has the right to falsely shout ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theatre. No one has the right to print lies about others. Speech is limited in many ways. Copyright violations, false advertising and libel are just some of the limitations placed on the freedom of speech. The liberals hysterically scream ‘freedom of speech’ when it comes to porn, but forget all about that freedom when it comes to censorship of racial slurs and hate speech. 

Furthermore, there is no right to engage in something that is harmful to others. There is no freedom for rape and child abuse, neither should there be freedom for an industry that fuels and encourages such exploitative behaviour. Drug dealers, for example, cannot claim freedom of movement or workers’ rights! Pornography is as addictive and harmful as drugs.


[i] Dr Catherine Itzin, The Evidence of Pornography-Related Harm and a Harm-Based Equality Approach to Legislating Against Pornography, 1992).

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Answers to sceptics’ top 6 objections on the harms of porn - News Watch

  2. I commend these excellent answers. File them in the mind, and have them ready to use – the opportunities will be many. Porn enslaves the mind and degrades the character.

  3. Some studies of people convicted of sex crimes show that a fundamentalist upbringing is more likely to be a precursor to sex crimes than pornography consumption:
    http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/28803/title/Porn–Good-for-us-/