Pornography & Liberty

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19 Responses

  1. I had always thought the porn/militant Islam connection was sort of backhanded. If you really believe that flying a plane into a skyscraper and blowing yourself up guarantees you a place in Paradise, then you’d might as well live it up in the meantime too, right?

    Beyond that, the attempt to use porn sites to recruit jihadists just seems like a way of capitalizing on guilty consciences — not an integral connection between porn and jihad, but just its opposite.Report

  2. Avatar Boonton says:

    I think you’re missing an key element of the hijackers religious belief: that their impending martyrdom guaranteed all sins would be forgiven. As a result they indulged in a lot of forbidden activities before 9/11 because they felt it was ‘fair’ if they were giving up their lives to the cause.

    Go try to open up an adult bookstore in the middle of some Taliban controlled area and see just how ‘open’ things really are.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

      @Boonton, BOONTON!!!

      My take is that they were demonstrating to themselves how totally decadent this country actually is and talking themselves into how much better off everything will be when sin is finally wiped out.

      An analogy would be the rock and roll five-minutes-hate that my churches had on occasion when I was a kid. “Look at this album cover! Look at these lyrics!”Report

  3. Avatar Boonton says:

    This type of indulging is hardly unique to mdoern day Islamist terrorists. I recall reading that early Christians sometimes ‘indulged’ before their martydom because they too believed dying for Christ would automatically generate forgiveness for any sins.Report

  4. Avatar Sam M says:

    “The point of the post is that there also isn’t any integral connection between pornography and liberty.”

    I am not sure I follow. Who is saying that “Behind the Green Door” is, in and of itself, a guarantee or integral part of “liberty”? I don’t think that’s true of any individual piece of art or speech or culture. Is there an “integral connection” between liberty and an individual lawn sign saying “Vote for Joe Jones for County Comptroller”? That is, does that sign itself matter? I don’t think so. What matters is that nobody can tell you what to do with your vote, and you are allowed to say whatever you want about the county comptroller race. Odds are, Joe Jones is not going to have any world-changing ideas about comptrolling. But that’s not the point.

    Similarly, Larry Flynt doesn’t matter, no. What matters is that if I feel like working in a coal mine for 16 hours a day to make $200, and some woman wants to take of her shirt so I will give her half of that money… there’s nobody to throw us in jail for doing so.

    What matters here is not some philosophical or moral “right” to look at someone’s boobs. What matters is a philosophical or moral force AGAINST telling people how to live their lives.Report

  5. Avatar Freddie says:

    If you think you’re proving your pornography-loving cred by owning a Playboy, think again.Report

  6. Avatar Max Socol says:

    sometimes I forget that Stephens found a place at the WSJ, and then something like this reminds me and I’m gobsmacked all over again. This guy almost destroyed the Jerusalem Post, and no one I met there had anything nice to say about him. It’s a real strike against WSJ’s credibility that they continue to employ him.

    (Fun factoid: during his tenure running the Post, the paper gave person of the year to Paul Wolfowitz. Despite reminders to Stephens (gentle and otherwise) that the paper was supposed to be Israeli, and not American. Is it possible to be a bigger bag of neocon tools? I doubt it.)Report

  7. Avatar Sam M says:

    Freddie raises an interesting question I brought up on the last thread: Where does something like Playboy stand? Is it pornography? Is a lapdance pornography? Is “Oh, Calcutta” pornography? I know the response is, “I know it when I see it.” But honestly… Playboy? Yes, it’s nudity. But it seems quite a bit less bawdy than certain sections of the Canterbury Tales.

    So is nudity the standard we are using? To what extent does that “damage” us? In objectifying people for the wrong reasons? I suppose an episode of Cribs does the same thing. But people hardly get worked up about it.

    I guess I just don’t get it. Sure, it’s weird for some dude to burn his rent money downloading pictures of Scandinavian teenagers. And damaging! But to speak of “porn,” writ large, bypasses a lot of really important questions.Report

  8. Avatar Boonton says:

    Seapking of bad logic:

    Matthew opens his attack on Stephens by making a red herring out of his argument. His argument is that America’s committment to freedom includes both the noble and ignoble. He mistranslates that as a claim that “porn is good because the hijackers hated it”. Well that’s not the point. Who cares that terrorists looked at porn? If they read Ayn Rand novels would you say the 1st amendment was suspect and we needed a new list of forbidden books????

    He then goes to:

    Stephens begins his article by disclosing that he has a Playboy in his office drawer. I take it that Stephens shares the common opinion that pornography, precisely because it has so little value as speech, is the greatest sign and guarantee of our liberty. After all, if a government refuses to restrict something as worthless as pornography, we can be fairly certain that more substantial forms of speech are protected. This is the kind of thinking that I’d like to see my more secular and libertarian-minded friends abandon. Whatever you think of pornography’s ill effects, its presence is no sure symbol for freedom.

    Isn’t freedom, though, the right to live with the consquences of bad decisions? The smoker is free to smoke but more likely than not he is making his life worse for it. The idea that ‘ill effects’ mean that somethign isn’t a symbol of freedom gets it backwards.

    The only justification for limiting freedom are serious ill effects. The old Catholic list of ‘forbidden books’ was a restriction of freedom supposedly to avoid the ill effects of ‘bad ideas’ spreading through the intellectual atmosphere. Ill effects are, in fact, a symbol of our freedom. Our bad marriages and romances reflect the fact that we are free to choose our lovers as we please. Our lousy TV shows reflect that we have no interest in a ‘culture czar’ regulating the content of our TV stations. Our oversized bellies indicate that we aren’t being woken up at 6 am and lead in a series of exercises by Big Brother in our TVs ala ‘1984).

    Now maybe you can make a case that porn has such huge ill effects that it merits limiting freedom in order to restrict it. That’s fine but Matthew should not be throwing rocks from his glass house when he talks about logic. Stephens is on point when he asserts living with ill effects (also called bearing responsibility for your own decisions) is an excellent symbol of our freedom.Report

  9. Avatar Francis says:

    “I take it that Stephens shares the common opinion that pornography, precisely because it has so little value as speech, is the greatest sign and guarantee of our liberty. After all, if a government refuses to restrict something as worthless as pornography …”

    This is precisely backwards. A. Governments are always trying to regulate pornography. It’s the courts, applying the constitution, that have prevented them from doing so. B. If pornography has so little value, why is it that pornhub.com is more popular than foxnews.com (according to Alexa)?

    Back when I was in law school in the early 90s, there were huge battles over porn and adult entertainment generally. Maybe things have died down a little due to Internet privacy, but I’m not so sure. Hasn’t Congress passed a couple of statutes in recent years trying to regulate Internet porn that were struck down by the Sup.Ct.?

    I think that the word “value” in the quote above is being asked to do too much. Quite obviously many people value porn quite a bit, and many other people would value deny those people the opportunity to view it if they could.Report

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