Daily Reading & Meditation: Tuesday (December 17)December 17, 2019
Msgr. Charles Pope: Rediscovering the Original Meaning of the Word “Relevant”December 17, 2019
By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, Human Life International, December 16th, 2019
Fr. Shenan J. Boquet serves as president of Human Life International. Ordained in 1993, he is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August, 2011. Raised in a devout family, which provided his initial formation, today he works with officials from the Vatican on down to villages in Africa. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI and has traveled over a million miles to 80 countries and counting, all to aid in building a Culture of Life.
Confronting the Scourge
The Catechism of the Catholic Church advocates what I would consider basic common sense when it urges civil authorities to stop the proliferation of porn. Pornography, says the Catechism, is a “grave offense” that “does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others.” Given this, “Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.”
The sexual revolution promised more sex and more pleasure; instead, it delivered a generation of men (and, increasingly, women) who objectify others, treating them as mere objects to be used and abused for their sexual exploits and pleasure. Pornography teaches us to pursue self-gratification at all costs, inculcating, especially in men, the mindset of using others for sex and then discarding them as if discarding an empty plastic container.
Pornography not only affects the person viewing, but every member of society. The violence being perpetrated against women and young girls in pornography gives a clear message – women, no matter their age, may be exploited sexuality. This message then transmits into other unacceptable behaviors. If I can use any person for my own pleasure, why should it be limited to pornography? What prevents me from extending my self-serving exploits? Why can’t I use another for other means of satisfaction?
By breeding citizens without any sense of virtue, honor, chivalry, self-sacrifice and generosity, pornography tears at the social fabric, breaking down the ties of love and service that are a necessary prerequisite for a healthy society. Pornography simply has no place in a just and moral society.
However, in the last week we have learned that a surprising number of self-styled “conservatives” think it would be a mistake to try to ban hardcore pornography. These conservatives, typically of a more-or-less libertarian bent, came out of the woodwork this past week, after four Republican congressmen wrote a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, in which they requested that the Justice Department start enforcing obscenity laws against pornographers.
The lawmakers note that new technologies have made porn more available, “visceral” and abundant than ever before and that this is leading to an “increase in violence towards women,” as well as human trafficking and child pornography. They point out that there are already obscenity laws on that books that, if enforced, could “effectively shut down the pornography industry.” They also note that President Trump, when running for president, signed a pledge to enforce these obscenity laws, but that so far there has been no follow-through on this pledge.
No Justification for Porn
Blogger Matt Walsh, who writes for The Daily Wire, and who has a huge social media following, promptly took up the cause, penning multiple columns pushing for a porn ban. But strangely, instead of rallying around an issue that, by all accounts, should unite people across the ideological spectrum – i.e. the concerted exorcism from our culture of the exploitative and increasingly violent, abusive, and misogynistic smut that has proliferated the internet – many conservatives instead decried this movement as fundamentally misguided, and even an attack on the Constitution and our freedoms.
Consider one typical example of this reaction, an article by author Casey Given in the conservative Washington Examiner. Given lambasts the “neo-Puritan zeal” that he claims has infected some members of “the socially conservative right.” Given claims that the call to ban porn is “rooted in intellectual laziness,” and worries that it would end with America becoming “a Christian version of Saudi Arabia.”
Surely, however, if anything is intellectually lazy, it is to compare the application of long-standing prohibitions against public obscenity to the excesses of a totalitarian Islamic state. Equally as frustrating is the response of Givens and others like him that rather than pushing for a government ban, conservatives should instead be pushing for better education, for better filtering technology, and for parents to be better parents.
Of course, all of this is quite true, so far as it goes. Without a doubt, parents everywhere need to seriously step up to the plate and take the necessary measures to protect their children from porn. If you have children in your home, and you don’t have robust filtering installed on all Internet-connected devices, it’s not a matter of whether, but when your children will access porn. However, at the same time, the notion that any amount of excellent parenting is sufficient to counteract the tidal wave of porn that has swept over us these past two decades is naïve, at best.
Porn Smut Marketed at Children
It’s not just that porn is “out there” and “available” to our children. It’s that the porn industry is proactively targeting and pursuing our children. Recently the gigantic porn website Pornhub posted a sickening image on their Twitter feed. The image showed the face of “baby Yoda,” a character from the recent Disney-produced Star Wars TV show, The Mandalorian. Reflected in both of the eyes of this infant creature was Pornhub’s logo. The caption on the image read: “10 seconds after my parents leave the house.”
Obscene material is not constitutionally protected! See more at Center for Human Exploitation, https://vimeo.com/212925875.
Get it? The cute little baby Yoda is just like all the other kids who can’t wait for their parents to leave the house so they can watch porn. This, I take it, was supposed to be funny. It’s not! It’s downright evil. In the first place, it shows that Pornhub and their ilk are keenly aware that children (the Star Wars creature is a baby) are using their site. And, far from doing something about it, they’re actually creating advertising targeting them and encouraging them with a sly nudge and a wink. In the second place, it shows that Pornhub knows that porn is so addictive, they want kids literally racing to their computers to use it the second they get a chance.
And what will those kids see when they do go to Pornhub, or sites like it? Well, as one horrifying recent report shows, they may well be watching actual footage of unspeakably violent crimes. That’s what happened in the case of one 15-year-old girl who went missing almost a year ago. Eventually she was found, after 58 different pornographic videos in which she appeared were uploaded to sites like Pornhub, Snapchat and others. It turns out she was being held prisoner by a 30-year-old man, who had filmed himself (and possibly other men) raping her and then shared the videos for the viewing “pleasure” of the porn-addicted masses. Among the crimes perpetrated against this poor girl is that she became pregnant as a result of the rape and was forced to get an abortion. Who knows how many men and young boys consumed videos depicting a crime that left one human being dead, and another human being scarred for life?
But even when these kids aren’t watching the actual rape of women and young girls, they will almost certainly be consuming videos that depict such things as rape, sexual violence, incest and bestiality. The anti-porn organization Fight the New Drug recently tweeted out a list of some of the “most-popular” videos on Pornhub. I can’t reproduce the titles here, which are too disgusting for words. Several of the videos, however, openly advertised themselves as depicting rape, including one showing a home invader raping a teen girl, and another showing a stepfather raping his stepdaughter. One recent video which earned the dubious distinction of being the most-viewed video of the week on the site depicted a boy raping his stepsister while she begged him to stop. (Pornhub has repeatedly and proudly publicized the fact that the “incest” category is one of the most popular categories on their site). The video was viewed over seven million times in a single week.
Don’t Stand for Porn
Savvy parents can certainly do a great deal to protect their kids from porn. But the fact is, they can do absolutely everything right, and have all their work undone in a few moments by the carelessness of the parents of their friends. So many parents these days are unthinkingly handing their young children unfiltered phones and tablets. It just takes one of those kids to stumble on porn, and then to decide to “share” what they’ve found with their classmates and friends. And, in fact, a constant deluge of anecdotes attests to the fact that this happens all the time. There’s a reason, after all, that the average age of exposure to porn is eleven.
Invoke our Guardian Angels, power advocates against evil!
However, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the porn debate is just about what happens when kids are exposed to porn.
I hate to even give them the dignity of mentioning their name again. But consider these further statistics from Pornhub, which has developed a habit of bragging about how many people use their site. Recently, they tweeted out that in 2019 there were over 42 billion visits to the site, or more than 115 million per day. As they themselves pointed out, the number of daily visitors to their site equals the total populations of Canada, Australia, Poland and the Netherlands combined. And this is just one of the many, many tens of thousands of porn sites on the Internet.
John Adams famously said that the U.S. Constitution was only suited for governing a “moral and religious people.” One wonders what Adams would have said if he knew that in the future an overwhelming majority of adult U.S. citizens would spend untold hours of their lives immersing themselves in oceans of material so obscene, degrading, and violent that even in his worst nightmares he wouldn’t have imagined it possible.
I am not a political scholar. But I have common sense. I know that any argument that suggests that the Founders would have done anything other than shut down the pornography industry, using the full force of the government if necessary, is absurd. Yes, we must find ways of doing so that respect the Constitution, our laws, freedoms, and, inasmuch as possible, the principle of subsidiarity. But rather than spinning dystopian fantasies about a porn ban leading to something akin to Islamic totalitarianism, our conservative thinking class should be exercising their cognitive and legal prowess in charting a path towards running the pornographers and their ilk out of town. The sooner, the better.