Do readers have to worry about a war on porn?

Do readers have to worry about a war on porn?

Reading is freedom.

You can go anywhere, be anyone, do anything…if you have a book.

In a grey area, I will tend to be on the side of greater freedom of expression.

I want people to be able to march and speak in support of ideas I find absolutely antithetical to my personal morality…there are things I support that would have gotten people thrown into prison or tortured for supporting a century or more ago.

When there was a concerted effort to suppress comic books, as well documented in

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

there were people who thought it served public morality to keep comics away from children. There were literally public bonfires to burn them. It’s one reason why some older comics are so valuable today.

Certainly, there were people who classified them the way that some people classify pornography today.

I’m talking, at this point, about legal, consensual, adults only participating explicitly sexual material. Not coerced, not children, nothing like that.

That’s why it is chilling to me when I see efforts to suppress pornography.

Lately, there have been stepped up efforts in that area.

One of the political parties recently said that pornography was a public health crisis. During a public health crisis of certain kinds, people can be involuntarily quarantined. It’s a powerful terminology, not just a literary review.

Starbucks and McDonalds are talking about blocking pornography on their Wi-Fi networks that customers use in the stores.

Now, understand: that doesn’t mean that I want a child being able to see porn on someone’s tablet. You should have to keep it not visible (or audible) to other patrons…and I think that’s true regardless of what you are watching. A lot of parents don’t want their kids watching violent content. The same could be said for some political material. There are privacy screens you can put on a monitor, which makes it virtually invisible to people not directly behind it…we used that in medical areas where I work to protect patients’ medical information.

That’s where some people might right away see a divide. Pornography doesn’t typically refer to the written word, it usually means something visual. However, there is no reason why it can’t, and books have been banned or restricted because of their words.

I know some people probably think I’m a prude. I don’t write the word d*mn in this blog without the asterisk…and I don’t use language like that in my real life either. I don’t have a problem quoting someone else who has used it. I don’t have a problem with reading sexually explicit content, although I like to know it will be in the book. That’s why I warn people…it should be up to you if you read it.

Not up to a store or a political party.

That’s my opinion, but what do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

8 Responses to “Do readers have to worry about a war on porn?”

  1. Sherri Says:

    We should be able to read whatever we want to and visit whatever websites we wish. Some of our political figures are now practically advocating “thought police” to determinate our personal beliefs, so banning books based on personal whim is surely on their radar. This would turn us into a society of rampant censorship – and certainly no longer a modern democracy.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sherri!

      That is one of the clear indicators of a repressive government…censorship.

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    Mixed views here:

    I am absolutely against the political party and thereby the government from trying to legislate morality or make any decisions whatsoever to block citizens from viewing porn, religious or non/anti religious material, or any other literature or art as defined by the reader/viewer.

    However, if a private company wishes to block access to anything I have no problem with that at all. It is a private business decision and only affects their privately provided service. Many businesses could be accused of blocking access to everything simply by not providing wi-fi to their customers at all. We cannot force a retailer to provide wi-fi nor can we determine the extent of their offering. Should we force Starbucks to sell or provide dildos or condoms to their customers as well as require them to provide access to pornography?

    As an aside (and this started a joke when my right-wing SIL visited our house for a few days years ago) … I adjusted the settings on our cable TV and blocked Fox and all the religious channels before she arrived. When she tried to turn to any of her favorite programming and couldn’t find them she “inquired” as to what channel number they were on I just said that we don’t have any of those on our plan. I’ve never unblocked them since as have no desire to watch them anyway. Porn? I don’t watch nor do I block it; it’s not dangerous to the mind like Fox.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Oh, I absolutely agree with the private company argument. A company which provides Wi-Fi for its customers should not be compelled to provide access to specific sites or categories of sites. I’m’ fine with the market determining that.

      However, I do think your compelled provision argument is an imperfect analogy. I would say it is more like Starbucks providing a locker for your personal goods when you are visiting…but not allowing you to use it if you have birth control or a sex toy, because those offend other customers (even if they aren’t visible).

      I think we also disagree on whether or not seeing content of a given viewpoint is dangerous. I have deliberately watched and read advocatory works that opposed my thoughts, even so advocatory as to perhaps be intentionally fraudulent…and I doubt I was hurt.🙂

  3. hsextant Says:

    I agree we should not censor porn for the reasons that you and the above commenter stated. But what I find truly despicable has been our society’s irresponsible censoring of good sex education in the schools.

    Perhaps if children and young adults received something beyond the equivalent of “just say no,” porn would not be a “public health crisis.” When you rely on porn to fulfill educational requirements that should be delivered by the schools and parents, don’t be surprised if you have a public health crisis on your hands.

    Harold, your story about your SIL cracked me up. Well done!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hsextant!

      I understand your feeling about education in school. Facts should be available…opinions are a different thing. Should legal guardians be able to have a child exempted from a class? If they can also do that with math and English, sure.

  4. Man in the Middle Says:

    One non-obvious consequence of trying to filter out undesired Internet content is slower processing of Internet data requests, as each first has to pass through the filter. This was very obvious at an orphanage where we serve in Mexico. With the best of intentions, its IT staff tried to block all kinds of content, not only questionable matter, but also content that would use up too much of its limited Internet access bandwidth. The result was a horribly-slow Internet experience, often unable even to keep up with Email, let alone load a n active Web page such as Google News.

    Eventually, the content filter server failed, and everything has worked much better since.

    Personally, I consider it a management problem, not a computer problem. If you manage a Starbucks and don’t want customers displaying orgies on their laptops for nearby kids to see, tell them so, rather than trying to somehow block them technologically.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      Yes, that’s absolutely an issue. It’s another layer between the customer and the site. There is also the issue of false positives…classically, it has been anti-pornography filters blocking information about breast cancer, for example.

      From what I’ve read, they will be doing this because they were asked to do it by special interest groups…and they don’t even know if their customers want it. So, asking, even if it resulted in no porn in the café, wouldn’t satisfy the ability to show those groups that they’ve done something effective.

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