The Dark Road of Censorship


Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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100 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I keep telling them to go to Hell, but Hell keeps kicking them back out.Report

  2. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Under the old moral law the default would have been “none of my business”. Since the right has been dragged into having to fight within the arena of -everything is social-, now there is the new law of reciprocity.

    For decades the will to power leftists have done this really neat trick of presenting that the rightwards have few and unresolved answers for negative externalities. To resolve this the new law of reciprocity will consider and question the costs of these things on society. I don’t know how porn will fare when put through the reciprocity filter.

    I somewhat wish the left would have not messed with the pluralism and continued to recognize individual sovereignty, but as I have been told many, many, times on this site that everything is social. Maybe we are not far from seeing what that looks like.

    I suppose before this is over we will be wishing we had Libertarianism back, because the rightwards authoritarians aren’t interested in ruling your faction. They are interested in ruling YOU.

    (maybe we should have just banned camels)Report

    • Avatar North in reply to JoeSal says:

      The old moral law that sexual matters were no ones’ business? Heh, and what magical fantasy past was that Joe? Sexual morality has probably never been less regulated and restricted than it is now. The libertarian nirvana you pine for is now and it was achieved over the desperate opposition of the right, not the left.Report

      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to North says:

        I suppose that is one take on it. We would have to really sit down and parse where social constructs like ‘religion’ really belong, if ‘religious order’ is something you are parsing on the right.

        Of course I am not a good one to talk about religion, as my beliefs are something that I only recognize as my own beliefs. More social people would say that religion is only a social constructs, and not a individual construct.

        You are a intelligent person so I know that you have seen religious orders in other countries that are leftist and attempt to control the social authority.

        If you parse the split in american social thinkers, the early communalists/utopianists were just as religious if not more than the individualists. It was pretty well known that Josiah Warrens experimental communities in the early 1850s were said to practice absolute sexual liberty.

        After seeing the results, I don’t think he was against it, but to paraphrase, he said something along the lines of: you do this at your own risk.

        As Marx spread and became a natural enemy to established religion, I suppose it was just pressure and time that pushed religion into the right in this country. It may also be just a unrecognized reaction to how socialism infiltrates everything social. If the left can’t have two religions, then of course the religious had to move out of the left to make room for the one true religion.

        I say all this as someone with an internal unresolved conflict. I have individual constructs that are somewhat christian, in that christ favored the written and gods order, but this somewhat is in conflict of the constructs of individual anarchy/sovereignty, which tends to wall off imposing/receiving social authority. I don’t know if this is the rarified conditions of what my parents were like and where I lived as I don’t see it much anywhere else in the world.

        I do think americas past is unique.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

          I also don’t think the idea of ‘was achieved over the desperate opposition’ is useful. The conflict of what was occurring, was that the social objectivity of sexual liberty was and still is in conflict with what I call biblical objectivity.

          Since the religious folks have been able to move much of their religious authority into individual constructs we have been able to live in somewhat peace. I propose that is one useful aspect of individual sovereignty technology of the american experiment.

          There is nothing to say that it has to remain this way. In fact this idea of ‘we won’ and spiking the football without a end zone around is pretty dicey stuff. Those individual constructs can push their way back into social constructs again. Just because society doesn’t see it on the whole doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.

          I guess that’s part of why I have spent time around these parts, to repeatedly suggest that there is a lot of individual constructs that are ignored.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to JoeSal says:

            Sure, sure, the right didn’t oppose sexual individuality, they didn’t lose, they aren’t still opposing it today.

            I could make the same argument about socialism: the Democratic party has always been capitalist, no politically significant portion of the left in the US has ever really pushed nationalizing the means of production, so they didn’t get whupped by the right on that question…

            And yet… and yet… while the left wasn’t and isn’t remotely all (or even majority) socialists you do find most of your socialists on the left; dear ol’ Comrade Uncle Bernie isn’t trying to get the Republican nomination and all the sexual moral scolds still are doing their “we wanna impose our biblical social constructs on everyone” on the right where they’ve always been- they just are more ineffectual than they once were (and are mighty pissed about that).Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to JoeSal says:

            A lot of this is fueled by technology, specifically transportation and communication. The car meant that people could leave, not only their parent’s house to somewhere without supervision, but the entire town. Communication means would be lovers can locate each other, be they Gay or whatever.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Well i would say literacy and will to power are probably the two mechanisms.

              The old religious orders had few and pretty simple rules, and only a few that a commoner would learn to read or put to memory. Pretty much the rest of script was held by the priests to interpret and voice as needed.

              Even in protestant america, the ten commandments were the simple rules.

              The rules people lived by could probably have fit on a piece of paper with room left over.

              It may be informative to consider that in context to what happened to the quantity of rules that occurred after Marx reached our shores.

              Marxists basically produce a secular marxist statist bible everywhere they show up in the geography. They have to have the new bible to replace the old one, to justify the expression of social authority.

              If the social objectivity of the bible didn’t mention anything about gay, (and fewer authoritarian busy bodies) we would probably have less conflict.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                Maybe that is the moral mirror, if the early Marxist bumped up against some nasty authoritarian religious order people, maybe they felt they needed to mirror that to equalize a authoritarian escalation.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to JoeSal says:

                The rules people lived by could probably have fit on a piece of paper with room left over.

                Knowing the text of the Bible, even just the highlights like “don’t kill” is pretty useless in practice because it can and will be spun to mean whatever the Priests in charge want it to mean.

                For example don’t kill or steal doesn’t apply to Indians if you want their land and so forth.

                Agreed about the Marx Bible however, that really is a religion pretending to be a system of government/economy.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yeah, and now that we can read regular text, there is an entire different format for legal text that requires the new legal priests.

                It’s just this same thing over and over.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to JoeSal says:

          I mean religious order, at least the kind that thinks it should inform civil social order, has been firmly parked on the right for the last century.
          Even if we exclude religiously imposed order the more secular sexual busybody-ness when it comes to infringing on peoples sexual decisions is, in all modern history, primarily a strain of right wing thought. I mean, sure, if ya wanna blame pervasive socialism as crowding out all rival things then you do you, but whatever the reason policing sexuality hasn’t been a left wing shibboleth since it was a universal shibboleth.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal in reply to North says:

            Biblical objectivity existed long before the concept of right and left. Correct me if I’m wrong, but secular objectivity would be even younger in concept than individual sovereinty.

            That maybe why we ended up with the two older concepts joined to battle the newer one.

            This may be the current convention, but it doesn’t at all parse where the manifestations come from.

            To do that on the right and the left i add the y-axis as seen in the political compass.

            The way I see it the left high y-axis expression of social ordering is focused on imposing control over the entire faction or factions.

            This is different than the right high y-axis expression in that control is imposed individually.

            The people who would make laws and rules to control would be a expression of the left.

            The individual that will personally impose control is a expression of rightwing authoritarianism.Report

    • Avatar Lee Ratner in reply to JoeSal says:

      I’m seconding North on this insanity. For most of American history, American governments generally enforced what could be described as Protestant sexual morality. Not only was outright pornography banned but so were ads for contraceptives and books on birth control practices or even giving birth itself, in case people got stimulated by that. Same is true for most of the world.Report

      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Lee Ratner says:

        The unmentioned would be that there wasn’t much government in american history. Almost everything you see today didn’t exist.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal says:

          It is therefore puzzling why tens of thousands of Americans in 1776, and again in 1860, felt the need to rise up in violence to overthrow the non existent government.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Meh, them amateurs stopped shootin’ after just a few years and didn’t really solve the problem.

            The ME taught us to fight for thousands of years until we have buildings with more bullet holes than wall, and how to hold really bitter grudges.

            This whole cultural exchange thing is going to be awesome!Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            In 1860 that was because of slavery… which for that era, meant economics. Lincoln was elected promising to destroy vast amounts of the South’s GDP.

            In 1776 the issue was somewhere between civil rights and economics. England decided the colonies would be run for the economic benefit of England and the colonists would have no say in what that meant. Tea’s Stamp Tax was an example of this, the issue wasn’t the expense of the tax, the issue was to sell Tea you had to have it… which in practice meant expensive English Teas would be sold instead of cheap Chinese Teas.

            The Colonists were to be treated as serfs. If an English military officer wants to sleep in your house then by law you have to let him. If he wants to sleep with your wife then you have to allow that too.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Also those damned British were letting the conquered apostates in Canada continue to worship as Catholics!Report

            • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Lincoln was elected promising to destroy vast amounts of the South’s GDP.

              He promised nothing of the sort.Hhe always insisted that the federal government — in peacetime — had no authority to touch slavery in the states where it existed, only the authority to ban its spread into the territories and, therefore, into states yet to be formed.
              In the long run, the inability of Alabama or Texas slaveholders to sell their surplus slaves to buyers in the territories or the newly-formed states would have become an economic problem, but they solved the problem by seceding, triggering the federal government’s war powers, and, eventually, having no excess slaves to sell.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci says:

                You have read the letters of secession from Alabama and Texas yes?

                (not that it would sway you or any of the leftists I have mentioned them to. Nor would even the actual spoken words of a confederate soldier veteran would even be acknowledged here)Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to JoeSal says:

                Are you going to start defending the Confederacy?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to greginak says:

                Naw, i’m making a case about reading comprehension.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to JoeSal says:

                Get you no where, that will.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to greginak says:

                It’s a known hazard of following leftist logic.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to JoeSal says:

                Oh i’ve been told at length only some types people posses the use of logic.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal says:

                I’ve read them. Why don’t you quote something so we can talk about “reading comprehension?” And while we are talking about reading comprehension, the original issue was what Lincoln campaigned on and promised, not what the secessionists said they feared. So even if the secession resolutions said what you seem to think they said — and they don’t — that speaks only to what they thought, not to what Lincoln stood for.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci says:

                Address yourself:

                In the long run, the inability of Alabama or Texas slaveholders to sell their surplus slaves to buyers in the territories or the newly-formed states would have become an economic problem, but they solved the problem by seceding, triggering the federal government’s war powers, and, eventually, having no excess slaves to sell.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal says:

                What is it you don’t understand?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yes. (I see that this appears to be a response to greginak. It is actually a response to JoeSal.)Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci says:

                There was a difference between President Lincoln and Candidate Lincoln.

                From Candidate Lincoln we get statements like “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other”

                He was considered a moderate within a Republican party that, nevertheless, took the radical position that slavery should be put on a course of “ultimate extinction” with the help of the federal government.

                Arguing President Lincoln was willing to compromise is fine but that’s President Lincoln. Arguing the process of ending slavery was set to take a while, decades even, is also fine but that’s not disagreeing with me.

                IMHO it’s pretty reasonable for a typical Southern to think there’s no way the North lets the process take forever which is what your suggested economic process would result in. One of President Lincoln’s compromise positions was that no new slaves would be created, i.e. everyone will be born free, but the existing slaves wouldn’t be freed. That’s not “let the market destroy slavery”, that’s “we use the federal government to do it, just slowly”. Worse, it’s seriously unclear if he could have gotten the Republicans to agree to live with slavery for the next 50+ years and that still doesn’t deal with a bunch of nasty corner cases like should the North return escaped slaves back to the South.

                If you believe the slave dependant economic industries of the South can’t function without slavery, and that the jobs which are involved simply vanish and leave people unemployed(*), then yes that’s burning down the South’s economy.

                (*) Neither of which was true just like we shouldn’t expect the robot ai revolution to destroy vast amounts of the GDP. This is an economic fallacy but it intuitively resonates with people.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter says:

                If that’s what you mean, then we don’t disagree. I thought you meant that Lincoln advocated some actual move against slavery in the states where it existed.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci says:

                I thought you meant that Lincoln advocated some actual move against slavery in the states where it existed.

                This didn’t make a difference from the point of view of the Southern States. This was being more and more dominated by binary thinking, maybe correctly. Lincoln attempted to find a middle ground to make the situation less painful for the South while still ending slavery.

                His efforts failed… but I think it’s seriously unrealistic some compromise ends slavery but also drags out it’s end for 50+ years. Such suggestions would be seen (correctly imho) by the South as comfortable lies while the reality would lead to ending slavery everywhere a whole lot quicker than that, and the only way to do that is “move against slavery in the states were it existed”.

                This reminds me of the gun control debate where the anti-gun people breathlessly proclaim they’ll fix the problem by banning something trivial, and everyone involved should know it can’t possibly work and they can’t possibly stop there. If you’re going to end slavery, then you need to end slavery, and that means ending it in the South. All the happy talk on how you’re going to end it via by something less is nonsense.

                Not allowing slavery in the territories was viewed as getting the votes to end it in the South.Report

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    If Facebook got regulated, it would probably survive as a bland, government-controlled, stifling behemoth.

    I would rather it collapsed and went the way of the dodo. On the current path, it might do that.

    Meanwhile, we as humans, and as a culture, need to develop new antibodies to all the crap that’s sloshing around out there. For centuries, we’ve had writers, editors, reporters, producers and publishers acting as filters for us, and we don’t have that now. So we have to develop that capacity ourselves. I think we will.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      We will. It took, what, 4 years before the bane of spam and internet scamming was reduced to a minor nuisance? This problem is a little bigger so I expect it’ll take longer; but not a lot longer.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to North says:

        Remember back in the 1990s something called the “I love you virus” on the internet? It was a spam email with “I love you” in the title, and if you opened it (or opened whatever attachment or link that came with it), it attacked your computer. As I recall, it made the national (network) news. While there would probably be people even today who would fall for it, there would probably be much fewer, and it probably wouldn’t be news.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          Exactly, the culture learns, people get more cynical and jaded and I expect heightened cynicism on news presented on social media will put paid to the “fake news” being genuinely believed thing. The bigger problem is people still love believing fake news that plays to their priors.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    No one is a bigger fan of saying “maybe we should lock that barn door” after the horse ran away and is a corpse being beaten another county over than I am.

    That said, on a purely utilitarian level, this won’t work.
    On a deontological level, I guess I can appreciate what it’s going for, but there are other deontological goals worth shooting for that are vaguely adjacent to this that won’t step on anywhere near as many sensibilities. (“Don’t get on the hedonic treadmill” and the like.)

    I mean, I see what they *WANT* and, to some extent, I agree that we, as a society, would be better off if we were more chaste (but not celibate).

    But the horse is dead. It ain’t here. And locking the barn won’t achieve what you want to achieve.Report

    • Avatar KenB in reply to Jaybird says:

      Instead of banning, maybe we could just pass a law limiting people to no more than 16 oz of porn in one serving.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      There are several things going on at once.

      I’ll concede that a chunk of my faction is indeed making a moral argument for banning Porn… no sense denying it. I’m fine making and having moral arguments on Porn, its effects on users and on makers.

      However, I also think there’s a skipped step where most of that faction is really asking for simple civic regulations on an industry that absent a total ban (whatever that might look like in theory or practice) would be in line with all sorts of things that we collectively manage and regulate.

      1. ISP/DNS level Opt-in or Opt-out… my team would push for Opt-In, I’d have no problem compromising for Opt-out. And, to assist DNS level management, better regulations/requirements for accurate metadata regarding site content.
      2. Domain Zoning (e.g. .xxx or .NC17 or some such) to assist with DNS metadata and potentially require declarations of practices that would be “protected” but also regulated such that businesses seeking to circumvent DNS metadata collection could be identified and penalized.
      3. Appropriate regulations around uploaded user-content and platform liability vis-a-vis TOS, content and reporting and violations
      4. Hardware/App specifications that allow for blocking to account for #3 above and allow greater flexibility.
      5. etc.

      I’d sidestep the entire “censorship” issue, in the interest of agreed-upon on-ramps and exit-ramps that adhere to standards. Right now even things like OpenDNS and all the other Tools/Apps are actively subverted by ISP’s resetting DNS servers, Apps and Hardware vendors colluding to “unhide” Apps so the data can be collected and all sorts of legal and plausibly deniable “user-error” issues that go with even sophisticated users looking to manage access for minors.

      Just help us with that.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

        It’s a non-starter. You can’t build the architecture of the police state and expect people not to try to capture its power to their own ends. The whole idea is a concession that I’d think no social conservative wants to make- that their convictions are too weak to stand on their own merits, without the help of an omnipresent state and weak willed or amoral tech firms.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Hotep Jesus wrote a lovely little essay about banning porn that I pretty much agree with.

        As for your 1-4… yeah. I pretty much agree with that sort of thing, I guess, even as I think “that won’t work”. But I can see what it’s going for and I agree with what it’s going for.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

          You agree with arming the government with content based restriction technology, a regulatory mandate to use it, and effectively a registry of who is and isn’t ‘opting in/out’ of that which is officially frowned upon (as though current tracking isn’t bad enough)? All to fight some nebulous moral harm?Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

            I’m surprised you’ve leaped to these conclusions. Everything I’ve mentioned above (except the zoning, sort of) already exists, and my suggestions aren’t for a Govt system, but rather for regulations that require disclosure so that 3rd parties can offer services that allow people to curate their content.

            The Govt can already call an ISP and get a list of all users and their web-browsing habits; Cable providers already have lists of everyone who’s opted into their porn offerings; we’re protected from this not by (weak) technology but from prohibiting Govt dragnet searches (which, as you well know, is already mostly ignored by Govt surveillance of the infrastructure passim).

            What I’ve pointed out above is akin to business practices designed to subvert 3rd party technology for reasons that aren’t related in any way to censorship. Asking for standards and practices that allow for self-curation of content is the intent… you could call the regulations: The Internet is for Porn Act as far as I’m concerned. Metadata and Standards are pretty much what the Internet is… better metadata and standards that prevent the circumvention of those metadata standards isn’t censorship.

            The feedback I’m providing is that despite best efforts of technologically savvy laymen, 3rd party curation tools are being actively subverted such that they don’t work as advertised – and can’t work as advertised. I’m sure there’s probably a libertarian approach that goes through ICANN and the standards/practices of Domain Registries… the reason it becomes a public policy/regulation issue is when ICANN, the Registry Services and the ISP’s have interests that align toward less Information and misrepresentation. And those are not really libertarian free-exchange principles.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re proposing but if it’s a regulation it’s a government system. If an industry body wants to come up with some standards that may or may not be freely adopted that’s up to them, but to the extent its driven by the state, directly or indirectly, it’s a threat.

              Again, assuming I’m not misunderstanding, the underlying assertion you’re making is that anonymity and privacy have no value. Now we all know that true anonymity/privacy is and long has been dead but one of the things that still protects free expression and is a frustrating factor to the surveillance state is the enormous morass of information that exists and the difficulty in assessing its reliability/actionability at any given time. This is reinforced by what big tech has learned, namely that collecting data is easy but exploiting it effectively is hard.

              Creating some kind of verifiable metadata standard takes us one more step to the ideal of the CointelPro crap exposed by Edward Snowden, that being some bureaucrat connected to law enforcement and the military knowing what everyone is saying, doing, and thinking all the time. The fact that this is being brought up in the context of pornography is no coincidence and itself shows the thought process.

              If third party curators are being subverted, well I say that’s a good thing. We should all be our own personal curators, and that is and must always be the responsibility of a citizen in a free society. Which just to clarify is why I don’t have much of an objection to whats going on in CA with the CCPA. If we want more regulations empowering people vis a vis big tech I say that’s great. But those guys in the bunker in Ft. Meade or that data center out in Utah aren’t the people, though I do think they find the ideas of all the radical feminists and Christian moralists out there to be quite useful to their ends. To me, this approach plays right into their hands, hence my jump.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

            Here, let me say what I said again: “I pretty much agree with that sort of thing, I guess, even as I think “that won’t work”. But I can see what it’s going for and I agree with what it’s going for.”

            Something like mandatory paywalls for porn, only for how old you are. On top of that, a virtual red light district where you go when you need an itch scratched and where, if you don’t go there, you are a lot more likely to avoid seeing xtreeeeeeem scratching.

            Compartmentalization, I think it’s called. I’m a fan.

            Sort of like free-speech zones. But for pr0n.

            And, yeah, it won’t work (in the same way that laws don’t work to prevent murder). But we do a pretty good job, as these things go, at keeping teenagers from buying booze. We might be able to keep them from wandering over to and watching, oh goodness… Is that a thing? Tell me it’s not a thing. Oh, there’s an entire genre devoted to this…Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

              The thing I object to is using an attempt to create the totally reasonable justifiable outcome that we all can agree on but know won’t actually work to give the surveillance state another edge. They would love nothing more than the ability to impose universal standards that they just happen to control. All to protect the children of course…Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                If feel that you are objecting on principle to principles not being invoked.

                If I use your framing, the outcome is accurately cataloged content and an agreement that persons may curate that content without interference from vendors that might have alternative objectives in serving unwanted content to boost traffic, or ad-revenue of which they get a piece… to name just a couple of reasons.

                Asking those actors who have positive interests in not restricting access, or negative interests in providing that option, is the reason why “self-regulation” fails, and why we step in to provide regulations at a government level.

                Unless you’re the sort of libertarian who thinks any regulation ever is immoral and impotent, then your objections aren’t aligning with my suggestions.

                Invoking the surveillance state based on what I’ve written does indeed mean that you are misreading me. Are you not familiar with OpenDNS? If I use a service to curate content based upon metadata about the site that is collected and managed by a 3rd party… do you think that the Govt has not already mapped the content of the Internet with their own metadata lists? In theory there would be a fractional improvement in Govt metadata management if metadata standards were improved at the Regisitry level, but that’s a very strange objection. And has nothing, really, to do with Porn or there morality thereof; it would apply to any further attempt to better catalog and manage the internet standards… which are ongoing.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

                At a base level I have no objection to an agreement between a consumer and a service like OpenDNS or to OpenDNS in general and services like it being out there in the market. What I have an objection to is a regulatory regime established in support of it, and I strongly question the public interest in creating one. I think cynicism about state involvement is well earned even if on day 1 that the regs go into effect not much practical really changes.

                I do not object to all regulations, and there are regulatory ideas around data that empower consumers which I’m amenable to. The objection I have here is the top down approach in an area, where again, I think some cynicism about actual intentions and effectiveness is well earned.

                As an aside I will take the libertarian accusation as a compliment I guess. I haven’t gotten it in awhile and if I’m a libertarian I’ll have you know I’m a really, really bad one.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                And I understand that. But you know that thing that we were able to do to neo-nazi sites? It worked.

                I suppose the logistical problem is that porn has a lot more of an ability to lobby on its behalf than not-porn. More money in it.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                I dunno, I kind of think the jury is still out on whether it worked, and as best as I can tell that was a shaming thing not a regulation thing.

                And yea there’s also the popularity issue of course.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

              inventing an online ID system to verify your age is great, but it will be hard to get something that’s actually trusted to be accurate unless you tie it to specific identities, and nobody will ever believe that the websites aren’t recording which IDs visit and when and what they looked at, and if ID is tied to a specific identity then now you know what porn that guy likes.

              I mean, maybe you could sell hardware-dongle things like RSA tokens in a store, where you have to show ID to purchase it but the store doesn’t record who bought which token (basically the way we purchase age-restricted items like alcohol and tobacco and spraypaint). And the websites can use this RSA token ID as the verifier. But it’ll still be possible for underage persons to steal the token and use it, like a kid stealing the car keys (or the keys to the liquor cabinet) and we’d have to decide whether that’s a failure mode we’re willing to live with.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                We should all have barcodes tattooed to our foreheads.

                Barring that, I think that just saying “limit things *THIS* explicit or worse to a .xxx domain and those domains can be blocked at the router level” would be sufficient enough for jazz.

                And, yes, I know that that wouldn’t work in practice.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                The library and our corp networks already don’t allow people to access all sorts of sites.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

          I wonder how many people here know who the Hoteps are, and why it is completely unsurprising that JB would link to them.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Correct me if I am wrong, but it looks like you want a technology solution for a moral problem. And that cannot work for a variety of reason as shown in this thread.

        To solve a moral problem you need a moral answer.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

          My local liquor store occasionally has wine tastings. Just walk in, belly up to the counter, and they will *GIVE* you some free wine.

          But you have to be of age.

          Asking liquor stores to not give free product away to people who are not of age does not strike me as particularly problematic. Even though, when I was 19-20, I had people buy booze for me.

          (related: I *DO* think they need to reduce the drinking age to 18 and I also think that the way our culture introduces booze to adolescents is probably the wrong way to do it and I have no idea how we should introduce adolescents to weed even though I think it should be legalized and rescheduled to Schedule V.)Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

            I was going to go on about something or other regarding drinking ages, but the reality is we are relying on a technological answer (showing ID) to solve a moral problem (drinking age.) And this is defeated at every opportunity by those who don’t share the morality of that. They hang out in front of stores, get fake ID’s, ask older siblings and co-workers, etc. That tech solution fails in the face of moral disagreement.

            (I absolutely feet that the drinking age should be dropped to 18. Along with with the handgun purchasing age, and anything else you are not allowed to due until a later age such as run for president. I am also good with raising the driving age to 18. I don’t think that would be the greatest strategy and feel much of these things should be allowed limited introduction at a point before the age of majority.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

              And this is defeated at every opportunity by those who don’t share the morality of that. They hang out in front of stores, get fake ID’s, ask older siblings and co-workers, etc. That tech solution fails in the face of moral disagreement.

              But it works for the most part.

              If something doesn’t work 100% of the time, it’s not (necessarily) a failure. An 80% solution *IS* a solution for 80% of the problems we have to deal with 80% of the time.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                Do we know it is 80%? It was more of a ramping effect for me, going from 100% in, say junior high to 10% in college (there were a couple of bars I couldn’t get into).

                My point is that we are relying on that card (one little trick!) to prevent what is to many some level of moral failure (underage drinking), but it doesn’t stop the determined much at all, as they don’t share the moral structure of the prohibitionists. (Which is another great example.)

                Banning handguns in Britain didn’t stop murders, nor in Japan. Indeed, Mexico, despite a near-total legal ban on firearms has a murder rate five times higher than the US. Those laws don’t solve for the root cause.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                The local liquor store near the college cards *EVERYBODY*. Like, they card *ME*.

                This isn’t *THAT* onerous.

                Even if it were easy to filch booze in the 90’s.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                And everybody still drinks.

                Thus we don’t really need the IDing, it serves another purpose or no purpose.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                The goal for ID is not to prevent drinking. (They tried that a hundred years ago.)

                It’s to prevent underage drinking.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                And I am saying it failed. Miserably. Like you, I am in a college environment. So much drinking goes on, and due to many of these efforts, we have binge drinking, drunk driving still exists, theft and so on.

                And these preventative measures can have corrosive effects downstream also. Like DUI equipment that doesn’t work. Roadblocks. It is also another aspect that adds to the loss of respect for the law. Which is an important function of government.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                There are sites where you have to click a button which says “I’m 18” before you can continue. We could insist that all p0rn sites do that.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dark Matter says:

                “You boys eighteen?”
                “huh-huh, huh-huh…no?”
                “*ahem* You boys eighteen?”

                (six hours later)

                “You boys eighteen?”
                “huh-huh, huh-huh…uhhhhhhh, yeah?”
                “Great! Come on in.”Report

          • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

            My unlucky youngest brother turned 18 the year NY raised the drinking age to 19 and turned 19 when NY raised the age to 21. Now, for unrelated reasons, he can’t drink at all.
            I always thought the drinking/driving age was badly handled. In my day, you could get a license at 16 and drink at 18. It’s just a fact that young men are lousy drivers, so you have them out on the road doing their hormonal thing and — WHAM! — you hit them with booze. Predictably, the next few years are American Carnage until the kids learn to hold their liquor, as most eventually do. As someone whose family was in the beer business, I drank, modestly, well before the legal drinking age, in safe environments, and without the frisson of rebellion. In other countries, I saw kids as young as 12 having a bit of wine or beer with dinner. (The 12-year-old palate generally can’t take hard liquor.) I always though we should lower the drinking age to 12, to allow kids to get a grip on their drinking for four years before putting them behind the wheel.
            I am not surprised that I have never held public office.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

              I wrote this back in 2014.

              This is one of those things where I think it’s okay for a 25 year old (or 47 year old!) to drink to the point of inebriation but think that a 16 year old shouldn’t.

              And I think that we, as a society, aren’t particularly bad for having that as a policy for the society. (Even if we know it won’t have 100% compliance.)Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Aaron David says:

          Ok, I think you’re kinda wrong.

          The morality question I framed separately and it exists; whether or not the making of pornography harms participants, always, sometimes, never, directly and or indirectly are moral questions… whether participating in the consumption of porn is also a morality question.

          If it helps, I’d suggest that what I’ve written above is not a morality question but rather a consent question. That technology could easily permit one to consent or not consent to content seems hardly controversial. So, yes, the asymmetrical vehemence with which opt-in/opt-out consent is being mis-interpreted as the moral argument for/against pornography does require correction.

          So to further clarify, there are indeed two threads:
          1. Ban Pornography (The Moral Question)
          2. In a free society where lots of things aren’t banned, curation and consent is not something we should really object to. (The Technical Question)

          So, my bad if I’m not engaging 100% with Michaels primary challenge to #1… but I thought I was pretty clear that that was what I was doing.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Marchmaine says:

            OK, that is clarifying. I see your point about separating #1 and #2, but I disagree that it is as simple as you make it sound. For example, I used to manage a book store, and we carried a few common magazines. Playboy, Penthouse, that sort of thing. And at one point a person came in and complained about this. By the way, it was a fairly religious section of CA. There were a few simple actions that could have been taken such as putting them behind the counter, but as a book store, my boss and I felt that any and all censorship was wrong, as it could lead down a slippery slope to bans of not just this but of other product. (I also sold the Kama Sutra, the C*** Coloring book, not to mention erotica)

            All of that is to say that I would not let someone, anyone, justify what is and what is not porn to me. I can read, look at, or otherwise use various images and feel that they are either educational or prurient, but that is my choice. Not some third person rando. Likewise, I feel that movies such as Saw or Faces of Death are obscene and should be dealt with, but only by such private interest as the MPMA. Not by gov’t fiat, which has been encroaching on the 1st for far too long.Report

  5. Avatar Lee Ratner says:

    To borrow from start law, I think that sex is something of an activity that can not be made safe. We know that a lot of people really like sex, like it in all it’s varieties, and can some times do really immoral or wicked stuff to get it. A young judge in Kentucky recently got into trouble because she pressured lawyers and her staff to engage in threesome with her and her ex-pastor lover in her judicial chambers (and what is about sex that you just end up getting really dirty when you write about it). Last week I attended a stand up comedy show. One of the comedians was a young woman whose not very good act was about her wild sex life. It was more pitiable than funny. She had a varied sex life but that was all she seemed to have in her life.

    So obviously sex is a very powerful force and can drive certain individuals to extreme and immoral actions to get it. The belief is that if we can ban pornography and restrict sex, we can tame it’s wild edge and make it safe. I’m not sure about this. The dark side of sex, from rape to just people kind of going nuts about it, simply becomes an elephant in the room. Everybody knows it is there and nobody talks about it.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Banning porn is as stupid an idea as hate speech. Different direction, but just as bad.

    There are legitimate things that the gov’t is there to deal with. And these are actual crimes; exploitation of minors, rape, violence, etc. Porn, in and of itself, is none of those things. It is speech though. Which is protected, and that protection must always be fought for against such dangers as these.

    And frankly, no matter the damage to any group that porn may cause, it is lessor damage than censorship is in society.Report

  7. “. The crusaders have a ready-made response to that: that obscenity isn’t speech, usually going for one of the Censorship Tropes that Ken White so ably compiled.”

    The lawyers here can tell me where I’m wrong, but isn’t obscenity technically something that the government can regulate under current jurisprudence? I’m not saying I agree with that jurisprudence, but if the jurisprudence opens the door, I can’t say would be censors are completely wrong as far as the legalities go. (I still disagree with them, however.)

    As an added note, while the supposed harms of porn are definitely exaggerated or unproven, I think it behooves us to have honest discussions about whether and in what ways it can be harmful. Maybe in some ways it does promote violence or “desensitize” or “disincentivize” the desire for real-world sex. Maybe if it does, it does so “subtly,” as the OP says (mostly tongue in cheek), or in a a “sub-systematic” way that is difficult or impossible to measure scientifically. But that doesn’t mean those supposed harms don’t somehow lurk in the background.

    I’m not pro-censorship (except, for example, banning child pornography), and I don’t consider myself anti-porn, even at a personal level. But porn does have its dangers, or at least arguably has them.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. It’s just that coming up with a consistent definition of obscenity is very hard. For many people anything mildly dirty or sexy is obscene even if it is just a very dry book on contraceptives. Other people believe that hardcore pornography is not obscene.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      There’s a three prong test (the Miller test). Its application makes it very difficult for something to be deemed obscene. Someone with more 1A expertise should probably weigh in but I’m not sure there’s ever been a case where porn met the requirements, in large part due to the ‘contemporary community standards’ prong.Report

      • Avatar Margos in reply to InMD says:

        The contemporary community standards is the real issue. It’s a holdover from the old “Banned in Boston” days, pre-incorporation, when federal courts were much more tolerant of state and local governments policing the speech and morality of the public. It’s a bit amazing that the Court in Miller used it, as if they really would have allowed a small Southern Baptist town in West Texas in 1979 to prosecute people for selling pornography. It’s possible that the Court realized which way the winds were blowing in the mid 70s, and didn’t want to declare “The First Amendment protects any and all pornography”, so couched it in language that said some porn could be obscene and therefore illegal, but in practice (because the era of mass media, and the concomitant collapse of “community standards”, was well underway by then) knew that the standard would be unworkable and no case could be successfully brought (demonstrated by the various attempts to prosecute for obscenity certain sellers of heavy metal and rap records, and sometimes even the arts themselves, in the 1980s). In other words, an intentional dead letter.Report

    • Thanks, Lee and InMD. I thought I remembered hearing both that obscenity isn’t protected and that it’s hard to justify (or at least justify consistently) that something counts as obscenity.Report

  8. Nitpick: the relevant grifter is Matt Walsh. Joe is almost sane these days. (As is the other Joe, even after all he’s been through.)Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Reason, of all places, has a good argument (it boils down to “you won’t get something ‘in theory’, you’ll get something ‘in practice'”):