The buzz this week on the internet regarding the nation of Iceland proposing to ban online pornography caught my attention. Apparently, pornography is already illegal in Iceland. Nevertheless, there are members of the Iceland government who feel that by banning internet porn they would be taking a huge step toward protecting children who may be exposed to harmful images via their browser. The proposal has started a debate over free speech, censorship, and promoting societal wellness.
I first experienced pornography by accident as kid. I must have been around ten years old when one day in the basement of my suburban, middle class home, while digging around with a remote control in the vast sinkhole of cable television, I struck erotic oil; scrambled porn was being broadcast on channel 99. Through the wavy discolored images jumbled up in a ubiquitous stream of signals, I could make out distinct body parts for seconds on hand; a woman’s bouncing breast, a man’s pulsating penis, gazing eyes, grasping hands, gasping mouths and dangling extremities. The orgasmic groaning, sometimes with or without musical accompaniment, helped to compensate for the distorted images on my television screen. Regardless of the fact that I could not see what was going on clearly made no difference to me. The simple fact was, from that day forward, I was officially hooked on pornography.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a child today and have the universe at your beckoning call with the simple tap of a finger. As addictive as scrambled porn was to me as a ten year old, how can something as outdated as a blocked Playboy channel compare to a Google search for porn. Such a search will return images and video of alluring women, commanding men, and bedroom rendezvous loaded with ecstasy. But they also may return sexually violent content that can ultimately shock, harm or endanger children incapable of properly processing such type of exhibition for years to come. And to think that parents can successfully safeguard their children from this type of danger with the type of technology at our disposal in the 21st century is nothing short of naive.
What to do? Although I am a proponent for free speech and do not like the idea of censorship, I wouldn’t mind seeing a ban on internet porn that is not provided by an authorized source. In other words, make everyone pay for the porn they watch online. By purchasing porn from authorized sources, you minimize the risk of acquiring viruses when you download it, as well as see the risk of inadvertently viewing content that is illegal, i.e. child pornography, diminish. If you regulate internet porn, you make progress in shutting down providers of illegal content who hide in the shadows of unregulated internet space, and also help to prevent the victimization of people who are forced to work in the sex industry against their will, whether they be immigrants or below the legal age limit. This is also why I believe prostitution should be legalized. Sex workers and businesses exist, so why pretend that they do not when you can regulate it, tax it, and prevent the inhumane abuses that go on everyday in the world when a pimp takes advantage of a woman or a child.
The simple fact is that sex has been around forever and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither porn, on or offline, nor prostitution, on or offline, are going out of business. I firmly believe that a society that embraces sex rather than shuns it is paced for ensuring its citizens live sexually healthy lives as opposed to degenerating into an existence of denial where abnormal sexual traits manifest in the most unlikely and unwanted places, like churches and schools. I’m sure there are many people who place pornography in a deviant status with regard to its role in society. I used to be one of them, due mainly to my strict religious upbringing. But no matter how many times I “prayed the porn away,” I always found myself enjoying it.
Frankly, I don’t find pornography offensive or obscene. I made the choice to start purchasing porn in addition to viewing it online, sparingly however, for the reasons I listed above (not to mention viewing internet porn can be as time consuming as a full time job, with less benefits and a sharp cut in pay). Buying my porn outright helps me to enjoy it in moderation, like everything should be enjoyed. I don’t pay by the hour, I pay by the unit. And why not pay for it. I watch it and get satisfaction from it, like the music I buy and the movies I pay a ticket to go see. Are porn-stars and adult film studios somehow less worthy of having their careers and businesses spared the ever-present threat of bootlegging?
What do you think?