Pornography should be Banned

To best confine the harms associated with pornography, I propose a regulatory ban on all forms of videographic pornography. This complete and total ban will simplify the application of the regulation. A more technocratic approach may allow for greater nuance but would almost certainly compromise privacy or be too complex for application. Just as obscene videographic content is removed from the internet by search engines and internet providers, under this regulation so too will all pornographic content.

Opponents of this regulation will argue that a ban of pornography is an inappropriate limitation of freedom of expression. Is pornography an issue of freedom of expression? In my opinion, videographic pornography is obscene speech. The content is clearly lewd and I would argue, harmful to the community. Pornography is responsible for a large part of human trafficking. From the demand side, pornography can lead to harmful addictions and can cause developmental issues in children. Why should such content not be seen as obscene?

Pornography is one of the main drivers of human trafficking around the world. Estimates indicate that close to two-thirds of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation. In a digitized world, exploitation is increasingly done online. It is difficult to estimate what portion of pornography is non-consensual. It is perhaps more important to consider the fact that one can not tell which pornography is a product of trafficking. In order to distinguish between the two, producers of pornography would have to disclose the identities of all individuals involved. This causes obvious privacy issues for the performers. The proposed regulation would eliminate a vast portion of the trafficking industry without compromising privacy.

One of the most alarming aspects of the current regulatory environment concerning pornography is that children can easily access pornography. Children increasingly are completing schoolwork and conducting their social lives online. It is important to cultivate a safe online environment for children. The proposed regulation would eliminate the harm that videographic pornography inflicts on a developing mind. In addition, parents can enact browser-side solutions that prevent children from viewing any inappropriate content that does not fall under the ban, namely photographic, audio, and written material.

In my opinion, pornography is immoral from a consequentialist perspective. There is a long list of harms that are caused by pornography and a short and vague list of benefits. Pornography can cause addiction, increased social isolation, increased aggression, a negatively distorted view of sexuality and physical intimacy, and sexual dysfunction. As discussed earlier, pornography is a major driver of human trafficking.

In contrast, what are the benefits of pornography? Proponents may argue that it can have a beneficial effect on an individual’s sexual wellness and mental health. In my opinion, this is an absurd claim. It is important to consider that sexual wellness existed before pornography. Even if there is some benefit, it is vague in comparison to the medically and empirically valid harms.

We can reason from this point to answer the following question: should the human body be an object that can be transacted for money? Pornography proponents might say that selling a kidney is no different than selling pornography. I disagree with this framing. I think the key difference is that selling a kidney has a clear benefit and limited harm while pornography is the opposite. I believe that the body can be transacted, but the product can not be considerably harmful to society. In any society, an individual has control over their own body up to the point that their body begins to harm others.

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