A Call to Suffocate Pornography


During both World Wars, the U.S. government supplied tobacco to our troops. By 1964, 46 percent of adults in this nation smoked—including inside public buildings, during commercial flights, and on televised advertisements. That year, with the help of Surgeon General Luther L. Terry’s book, Smoking and Health, the winds of change began to blow in fresher air.

In 1965 Congress required manufacturers to post health warnings on cigarette packs. In 1969 Congress outlawed tobacco advertising on television and radio. In 1989 smoking was banned on all domestic flights. In 2000 California banned smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants. Twenty-six states have since followed suit, including Minnesota which established an indoor smoking ban in 2007.

Today less than 20 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke. Over the last half century, scientific research, governmental regulation, and public information campaigns have combined to alter our society’s perspective on smoking. While tobacco usage remains legal, what once was widely regarded as a harmless pleasure is now deemed an addictive health hazard.

The Witherspoon Institute

The Witherspoon Institute (TWI) recently proclaimed that what the U.S. has done with tobacco must now be done with Internet pornography. TWI first met in December 2008 at Princeton, NJ. Its participants published The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations, a brief summary of The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers, edited by James R. Stoner, Jr., and Donna M. Hughes. It is vital to note that the signatories represent “every major shade of religious belief … from atheism and agnosticism to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Both the left and the right in American politics are represented, including social conservatism and contemporary feminism.” The signatories also supply a wide range of professional expertise in “economics, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, sociality, journalism, and law” (p. 10).

2428 reads

Internet: the Great Leveler? Part 2

keyboardRead Part 1.

When Internet discussions take the form of posting frenzies in which people at all levels of knowledge and character have an equal voice, the result is rarely that the most knowledgeable and good are the most heard. In these cases, control of the conversation is leveled, and much of the ethos of the participants is leveled as well.

Critics of the medium rightly complain that little good can come of having those who know nothing speak as much as, or more than, those who are well-informed. I believe they’re also right that little good comes of giving people who have never done anything the same kind of authoritative voice as persons of true stature and achievement.

But is this leveling tendency inherent in the medium, as some allege? Does this leveling tendency look as important when we observe what is not leveled? How is the leveling tendency affected by changes in how people implement the technology? And how does the discussion technology of the Web really compare to older mediums such as the printed page or the face to face conversation?

1924 reads