Pornography

Ross Douthat: 'When They Take the Porn, You Can Curse My Name'

New York Times columnist and Decadent Society author defends prohibitionism in a conversation on The Fifth Column.

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"Healthy regimes strike a balance between prohibition and permission," claims conservative columnist Ross Douthat in the latest Fifth Column podcast. Libertarians, God love us, tend to have a different point of view.

The New York Times writer was on the program to discuss his new book The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, which is more an exercise in analysis and debate-framing than moralistic finger-wagging. The trad-con nonetheless heard an inevitable earful from co-hosts Kmele Foster, Michael Moynihan, and Matt Welch about his trailblazing role in social conservatives' recent reanimation of the War on Porn, and where that all fits with the post-Trump ideological realignment on the right.

You can listen to the whole thing conversation here:

And below is an edited transcript from the more porny part of the conversation:

Douthat: I…think the smarter populists have a reasonable point, that right now, the people saying we should be content with 3 percent growth and not try for 4 percent or something are often the centrists. The sort of, respectable, somewhere between Barack Obama and the Simpson-Bowles Commission, or maybe the presidency of Joe Biden. There is that quality of let's just sustain our slow growth rate to a lot of…centrist and elite discourse right now.

And the[n there are the] populists, who are sort of casting about and saying, "Well, why can't we have an industrial policy? Why can't we rebuild manufacturing?" All of these things. Some of their ideas may be bad, but they do at least have ambitions for a 3 percent or 4 percent growth society.

Welch: Is it that, though? I mean, it's been Manifesto Season in your—or on their/your—part of the right for like the last 18 months. How many goddamn manifestos are we going to read in The American Conservative?

Douthat: You don't have to read them….

Welch: I want to know what they're coming for.

Douthat: It's OK.

Welch: Well, they're coming for porn, which you started….

Douthat: When they take the porn, you can curse my name….

Moynihan: Talk about that a little bit. Because I mean in the book, you talk about how the worst fears of the Andrea Dworkins and Catharine MacKinnons and James Dobsons, on both sides of the aisle, turned out to be wrong….That this was going to increase sexual violence, et cetera, et cetera.

That didn't turn out to be true, but then you did write a column in 2018, where the headline said that you wanted to ban—

Douthat: "Let's ban porn."…

Moynihan: Make the case to a roomful of skeptics, and in one case a porn addict, who I will not name—I will not name Matt Welch; I won't. Why would I do that? Why would I do that to you?

Make the case, and give us the précis of why you think banning porn is the right idea.

Foster: While Matt stares daggers at you.

Douthat: There is sort of a Catholic argument, and a decadence argument, and I think the Catholic argument you probably know pretty well—

Foster: "The wages of sin is death."

Douthat: You are inherently dehumanizing, blah, blah, blah.

The decadence argument, which is compatible with the Catholic argument but somewhat separate, is that porn in the internet age has become essentially a substitute for forms of human gratification that lead to actual happiness in relationships, and kids and family and flourishing and all these things. And that porn basically has a numbing effect on the male libido; that you keep seeking out more and more outré forms to satisfy yourself. You don't become some sort of psycho rapist, as people worried in the '80s. Instead, you end up with erectile dysfunction, basically, and can't relate to women in the real world….

I think there's a fair amount of not entirely dispositive but pretty indicative medical and social science research to suggest that that's the case. And that's bad! It's bad for the future. It's bad for men. It's bad for women. It's bad for everybody. So why not get rid of it?

Welch: Because prohibition also is bad, right? Like, it's hard to imagine a thing that is either popularly done, or consumed; or a behavior that is done by tens of millions—not just by 200,000, like tens of millions—where an attempt to ban it has worked out, that hasn't created terrible black markets, that hasn't led to a lot more danger and violence and death, and also contributed to the architecture of entire policing apparatuses that have made the world less free.

Douthat: So yeah, I mean, that's a sweeping statement. I think that I'm more sympathetic to the idea that healthy regimes strike a balance between prohibition and permission. So in a healthy society, you maybe have gambling in Vegas and Atlantic City, and you don't have a casino at every corner, right? In a healthy society, you don't ban alcohol entirely, but you can have blue laws and age restrictions and all of these things.

I think a porn ban would end up functioning in roughly the same way….You don't have to empower the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice to hunt down pornographers in their lairs, to have a world where it's a lot harder to find pornography on the internet….

The world of Pornhub and so on is a world that in its own way encourages all kinds of sexual exploitation and human trafficking and pedophilia and so on.

Moynihan: Does Pornhub, you think—let me just take the last one you said. Pedophilia?

Douthat: …There was a piece recently that basically said, you know, Pornhub does not obviously promote or condone pedophilia, it just happens that obviously lots and lots of people are attracted to women, young women, in the zone between maturity and non-maturity, and that Pornhub ends up as a zone where you get a lot of cases that seem to look a lot like the human trafficking of minors.

But it's very hard to tell, and Pornhub doesn't do a lot about it. So it's more that it's creating a space with minimal policing for a lot of bad things to happen.

Moynihan: Yeah, I don't know of any of those cases in the U.S. at the moment. I mean, I remember very famously the case of Traci Lords, who had faked an I.D. and the rest of it, and they pulled a bunch of films that she made when she was, I think 15. [Editor's note: 16.]….

Douthat: But this is the thing about the internet: You don't have the discrete population of porn stars that sort of define the pornography world of the 1990s. Not that I, as a good Catholic, had any awareness of any such world….

Moynihan: You were just writing a book.

Douthat: I had friends, right?…

This is the argument, of course, that people say: "Well, you can't ban it, because it's so democratized and widely distributed."

Foster: It's hard. Three of the top 10 websites in the world are pornography websites.

Douthat: Right. But those websites… I mean, there's like one company in the U.S. that manages a bunch of those. There's a sort of Matt Stoller–style anti-monopoly argument, right, for breaking up—

Foster: And as soon as we knock that down, we'd get a bunch more….

Moynihan: But just be clear about this. The headline of your piece, and it seems to be explicit: We need to ban it. That's still your desire, right? To just ban pornography, and make the production of it illegal?

Douthat: Yeah. I think that a low and a sort of moderately enforced ban would have the same effect as milder forms—

Moynihan: What do you mean by "moderately enforced"?

Douthat: I mean what I said. That you would not break into people's homes to arrest them for making amateur pornography videos. That you would go after large-scale producers. I mean, I think this balance exists in other areas. I think it would have been possible to sort of maintain a world where you had marijuana prohibition. I think marijuana should be banned, and I think that ban should not be enforced in the way the War on Drugs was enforced for many years. I think this is—

Welch: How is that going to happen, though? "I want a lighter banning. A gentle banning."

Douthat: Well, I mean, this is how we handled gambling in the U.S. before the age of the first Indian reservation casinos, and then casinos everywhere. You weren't running massive FBI operations to eliminate the local bookie. You had a few places where it was legal, and I'm—

Moynihan: But the local bookie could be arrested.

Douthat: Yeah, he could be. He could be.

Moynihan:  And he could go to jail.

Douthat: He could be arrested, yeah….

So basically a pornographer has to assess a set of risks. And he knows that in most cases, if he's making amateur pornography, he's not going to get in trouble, and if he scales up his operation, he is.

Foster: I could certainly imagine a universe where you knock off the really big players in the porn industry. I also imagine the scope-creep that inevitably happens with regimes like this, where once they knock off the big guys, they start to go after the medium-sized guys, and then they start to go after smaller guys.

But even worse than that, if we think Pornhub is a problem, I don't know that the proliferation of a bunch of copycat websites is actually going to be a good thing.  It strikes me that you can at least go after Pornhub, and sort of strangle them a bit, to invoke a metaphor….And they would probably try to get their act together. Those other folks might not.

And to invoke one more piece of evidence from The New York Times, there's been a lot of really good and totally fucking terrifying reporting about child pornography and its proliferation online, its explosion online, and the fact that it is completely illegal, and we have no capacity to stop it whatsoever. So I think the difficulty of this is actually an impossible task, and in criminalizing it even a little bit we run the risk of driving it underground, making it much worse, and then necessarily having some risk of scope-creep, that makes an ever wider percentage of the population subject to punitive actions from the state, which always makes me nervous.

Douthat: I read those same articles, and I came away convinced that, one, nobody was putting any law enforcement energy towards this; and two, major internet providers, on whose messaging services these things were happening, were facing no pressure whatsoever from public authorities to do anything about it. So I don't think it's the case that those horrifying stories reflect the failure of law enforcement. They reflect an absence of law enforcement will and pressure on companies.

Now, I agree that if you extend that forward, as with anything—if you're trying to catch terrorists online, right?—there's always the danger of mission creep and so on.

And, look: You know, if you write an op-ed column, you need a catchy headline! I don't expect porn to be banned in a comprehensive way in my lifetime, but I would much rather have the problem of worrying about that the civil liberties of the amateur pornographer might be infringed, than to live in a world where teenagers get their sex education from pornography that is not even remotely like the pornography that hypothetical friends of mine, certainly not myself, might have gotten their sex education from….

Welch: I initially brought this up to say that Sohrab Ahmari isn't talking about 3 percent growth, and that all of the manifestos he's signing his name to is "pornography" this, it's "trade" that, it's everything, it's immigration. That's the problem with you damn trad-cons….It seems like that…what's getting people up in the morning to do their chest pushups is the social stuff.

Douthat: Yes.

Welch: And it's stuff that's infringing on my zone of freedom.

Douthat: Every day, in new ways. That's right.

Welch: Every day, in new ways.

Douthat: Sohrab wakes up and says, "What kind of library story am I going to prevent Matt Welch from attending today?"

Welch: It strikes me as a strange thing.

In some way, nodding to what you were saying before, there is an acknowledgement that the world is not the world that we lived in in 2015, and you and they are acting on this, and trying to create new programs and new ideas, and like, "Let's shape the alignment in an interesting way." And I have respect for the game of doing that.

Douthat: Manifestos, man. They pay the bills. I've got kids. They've got to eat.

Welch: But this is not going to be popular! As soon as you start giving the sense of, like, "Hey, you're getting into my grill"—

Douthat: So, pornography is actually not that popular. I mean, you can dispute the polls—

Moynihan: In polls. It's not that popular. Hmmm. Let me close this tab.

Douthat: First of all, women, even now in our enlightened age, are not generally big fans of pornography.

Moynihan: Is it one in three women consume pornography once a week, I just saw the other day?

Foster: I think people lie.

Moynihan: Yeah, and people also lie. This is the one thing I'd lie about. The masturbation Bradley effect.

Douthat: I think it runs the other way. Certainly, in the circles that we all run in, sort of political journalism, to be against porn, let alone against masturbation, is to be a hopeless loser and a square, right? I don't see there is all this social pressure to be anti-pornography that would manifest itself in opinion polls….

I do actually think that not banning porn, but restricting porn, would be more popular than, say, rolling back same-sex marriage. I think that one of the things that the trad-cons are arguing is that there are things that social conservatives could be in favor of that would be more helpful than re-fighting some lost battles on other issues.

NEXT: Champaign (Ill.) Emergency Order Doesn't Ban Guns, But Does Authorize (Likely Unconstitutional) Emergency Gun Bans

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  1. Thank goodness our society is making authoritarian, superstitious, bigot-befriending, stale-thinking, prudish conservatives such as Mr. Douthat culturally and politically irrelevant.

    1. It is certainly making your blood pressure rise Rev. I expect you to blow any day now. And what happened to the clinger reference. Got tired of cutting and pasting?

      1. What is it about disaffected hayseeds that inclines them to offer medical opinions?

        Lack of self-awareness coupled with delusions of adequacy, I suppose.

        1. After three decades of Hillary Care, Obama Care, and the dissolution of the medical system by left wingers, I advise you to take my medicine and swallow it whole.

        2. “What is it about disaffected hayseeds that inclines them to offer medical opinions?”

          What is it about asshole bigots which causes them to make such public asses of themselves?

    2. Even when we agree on an issue, I still find you to be an insufferable cunt.

      1. What he said.

      2. That’s because I’m not a superstitious, can’t-keep-up bigot.

        1. You’re a classic case of a loser.

          1. Except for the culture war?

            1. All your whining says otherwise.

        2. You’re a fucking jackbooted idiot.

    3. I congratulate you on the first comment you’ve made I wish I could agree with.

      On the other hand, I’m not convinced that they’re becoming less culturally and politically relevant. There are a lot of groups that tend to vote democrat who are fairly socially conservative, but those social preferences aren’t politically manifest because they vote democrat for other reasons. If a major party re-alignment happens, and I’m sort of expecting it to in the next several decades as the major parties become increasingly out of touch, social conservatism could see a massive political revival. (Not to say that this is true across all social issues, so it would be a little more eclectic than 1980s moral majority stuff).

      1. Here’s the landscape for Douthat fans:

        Gay marriage has arrived and is here to stay.

        Church attendance is plummeting. Church membership is plummeting.

        The end of the war on doobies is within sight.

        Creationism is never returning to legitimate science classrooms. School prayer is gone for good, too.

        Young people, in particular, are rejecting prudish authoritarianism and organized superstition.

        The push to criminalize abortion is mostly a fundraising and political gimmick designed to separate the gullible from their nickels and votes.

        Catholic schools are closing, consolidating, and perhaps even failing.

        Focus on the Family outrage isn’t even a speed bump for modern communications and entertainments. Most Americans laugh at those clingers.

        Conservatives lost the American culture war. They will continue to lose.

        America’s electorate is becoming less white, less rural, less bigoted, less religious, and less backward, with predictable consequences for social conservatives. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are not nearly enough to combat this existential threat to Republicans.

        America’s bigots have been defeated to the point at which they no longer wish to be known to be bigots, at least not publicly. This is enormous and important progress, achieved in roughly a half-century.

        1. Whine some more, fuckhead. Trump will still be re-elected, and I’m not even voting for him.

        2. Much of what you say is true, and good. However:

          1. Prop 8 was approved, largely because of Catholic latinos. You were shocked, shocked, and ran off to the courts to disdain democracy and it as proxy for “cultural change”.

          2. Religion dying is seen as due to government taking it over. If you look at some of the very earliest writings about Christianity in the Bible, you see listed how they care for the sick without concern for themselves.

          Basically, one giant memeplex, politics, has stolen memes from another.

          I am not sure this is a good thing in the long run, because it is obvious the new giant memeplex is ruling with the same iron fist, and doing so with the approval of their own people.

          It’s sad the lessin from history wasn’t “live and let live” but “whoever gets to control gets detailed control over everyone’s life.”

          In short, death to millenia of religious control, good!

          Birthing of the same, sans one word, “God”, bad.

        3. In addition to the points addressed by Krayt, you also wrote this:

          “America’s electorate is becoming less white, less rural, less bigoted, less religious, and less backward, with predictable consequences for social conservatives.”

          Lumping “less white” in with “less bigoted” is probably not warranted. Just because white bigots are more obvious and more organized, with those organizations having existed for an disappointingly long time, doesn’t mean that fewer whites would necessarily lead to less bigotry overall. Did you read the recent Reason.com article which covered the JADL’s assessment of prejudice against Jews by demographic group? In a nutshell, according to the JADL study results for groups exhibiting having significant bias (the JADL used a different term, but I can’t remember it) against Jews: for whites, roughly 1 in 10; for blacks, roughly 1 in 4; and for non-white hispanics, roughly 1 in 3. Just like the author of the Reason article, I think there are some minor problems with the study, but overall, I’d say it stands up to scrutiny, and the results have been generally consistent for over a decade.

          Also, you’re aware that one of the BLM leaders is an outspoken black supremacist, right?

  2. Why should I wait, you miserable piece of shit?

  3. Blah blah blah …. its fun to back prohibitionsists of any stripe into a corner where they can say the stupidest things, but the contraband itself is not the problem, it’s that they think they know how to run everybody’s lives better than the people themselves, that moral superiority, that self-selected elitism.

    My life is mine, and nobody else’s; everybody;s life is their own, and nobody else’s. Unless I am interfering with your life, you don’t get to interfere with my life. Don’t make excuses about the future of the human race, or offending your morals, or leading the children astray by poor example. Just go away, mind your own business, fuck off!

    Just fuck off, slaver!

    1. Agreed. Oops! I should have stayed the fuck out of your comment section. Eh, you get my point though. Sorry!

    2. Catholic socialists are a special type.

  4. What frosts my ass so much about all these control freaks is how they claim their particular corner of State control will improve GDP growth, improve medical research, improve social manners, improve this that and the other … yet all of them add regulations and government infrastructure and taxation-redistribution inefficiencies, and that is a direct sap on the economy, reducing market efficiency, reducing growth, adding friction to daily life, making it more productive for people to mind other people’s business than their own, and in all ways slowing down social and economic progress.

    Everything last thing they do works against what they claim they want to do.

    It makes my want to cry, sometimes, thinking about how much more advanced the human race would be, in all ways, without the Statists fucking everything up, throwing their particular brand of moral sand in the engines of progress, just so they can get a boner from telling everybody else what to do.

    Just fuck off, slavers! Go fuck yourself and your fellow slavers. Leave me and everybody else alone.

    1. But Ross represents that special version of church-as-state control. I wonder what we would find if we compared both intellectual growth and material well-being in countries and eras with and without theocracy?

  5. Fuck you, Ross Douthat.

    1. Yeah, that too 🙂

    2. This

    3. Film available on Pornhub.

  6. There was one unintentionally funny quote:

    And that porn basically has a numbing effect on the male libido

    Whether true or not as he (I think) meant it, numerous studies have reported a reduction in sex crimes (rape, child molesting) after porn was legalized. But he doesn’t mention that. Only mentions increases in erectile dysfunction and not being able to relate to women. He had to skip the one true aspect of banning porn, because it worked against his premise.

    What a fucking loser. Fuck off, fucking loser.

    1. I’d like to see some actual evidence about even the ED and not relating to the opposite sex (not just women, because men are not the only ones that consume porn).

      I have never heard of anyone who preferred porn to the real thing. It’s like someone preferring to down multivitamins and protein powder to eating a delicious meal. Show me someone who prefers a poor substitute.

  7. I’m not going back to the goddamn Macy’s circular. I won’t.

    1. What about National Geographic?

      1. Too hit or miss for me.

  8. If Mr. Douthat is still a Catholic (let alone one who proposes that Catholic thinking should be persuasive in modern America), he lacks the character and judgment needed to be a contributor to modern, reasoning, decent society.

    Even if one makes allowances for the superstition (consequent to childhood indoctrination, perhaps), the pervasive depravity of the institution has been more than enough to repulse every decent person.

    1. You might want to rethink this, Art. Unless you’re saying you won’t vote for Joe Biden in November?

      According to Time, Biden is a “devout Catholic” who “has been open about relying on his faith after the death of his son Beau Biden at the beginning of the summer. ‘For me, my religion is just an enormous sense of solace,’ Biden told Stephen Colbert in a recent Late Show appearance. ‘Some of it relates to ritual, some of it relates to just comfort in what you’ve done your whole life. I go to Mass and I’m able to just be alone, even in the crowd. I say the rosary, I find it to be incredibly comforting.'”

      #LibertariansForBiden

      PS — Nancy Pelosi is also a Catholic. You wouldn’t question her fitness to lead House Democrats would you?

      1. Aw sweethearts in love. Don’t fight.

        1. Pelosi and Biden are old and set in their stale ways with respect to religion. I prefer choosing reason over superstition, science over dogma, and modernity over backwardness with respect to civic issues.

          To their credit, they do not use religion to attempt to justify bigotry and backwardness, as lousy people do. If it provides some comfort to them or inclines them toward good works, that is good.

          1. I prefer choosing reason over superstition, science over dogma, and modernity over backwardness with respect to civic issues and that’s why I am a libertarian.

            FIFY

    2. The Catholic Church is on your side crusading against plastic straws, praising left-wing economics soft on divorce, etc. The rapes, cover-ups, cocaine sex orgies, etc. are for you and your team to explain away.

  9. “And as soon as we knock that down, we’d get a bunch more….”

    This logic is the problem. Why bother knocking it down? The existence of the site isn’t the problem. It’s business model is. The business model of operating off of user-generated content and the lack of verification for models is the problem people complain about, but instead of addressing that they want to shut down the site. The Traci Lords problem was solved for porn companies with Section 18 2257. Yet, those Traci Lords films appear on Pornhub.

    Why?

    Make the website verify the ages of all models like porn companies do. When a store sells a DVD that information is right there on the disc and displayed in the credits to the movie. Should a problem arise the source is easily found. When you go to one of those websites you don’t have that. Just make them do that. The issues they complain about are solved and the site still exists. Copycat sites will have to do the same.

    These foreign companies hosting free porn sites use US servers for a reason. Our laws are the best for their business. Comply or get hosting elsewhere. Complying would be the best choice for their business.

    If a pornstar wants to get herself verified on Pornhub she has to provide them with all kinds of credentials to prove to them it is her. However, if a user uploads a pirated scene of hers they don’t have to provide squat.

    Why?

    1. Pretty sure Porn Hub does not host any Traci Lords videos that she made when she was underage. The only ones you can find there are the ones she made after she turned 18.

      1. Users have uploaded them. They’ve appeared on the site. Pornhub has nothing in place to stop that from happening. Just like the pimp that got arrested for putting a 15 year old up there. If someone doesn’t report it then it stays up. Sometimes even 3 years after it was reported.

        1. Users upload copyrighted material onto YouTube too. It takes someone pointing it out before they take action. The point is, as soon as Pornhub is alerted, they take it down. If it is that important to the government then they could easily task someone to search the sight daily or create software that searches the site constantly for the known scenes where she was underage. Also note that the only reason she was able to make porn while underage is because the government itself gave her a valid ID stating she was 18.

          1. The ability for people to view New Wave Hookers post 1985 is a problem though. It is a problem that can be easily remedied. If someone is able to upload that to your site then your business model is severely flawed. As a company they can fix it. They simply choose not to. That will soon change though.

            “The point is, as soon as Pornhub is alerted, they take it down.”

            No they don’t. People have complained for 3 years about videos and they weren’t removed. One girl had to resort to lying and claim she was a lawyer to get them to remove a video of her being assaulted while unconscious. It took 6 months. She was underage in the video as well. She discovered the video because people in her school were sharing links of it on facebook.

            Their system does not work the way that they advertise it.

            Banning porn is idiotic, but small steps can be taken to prevent people from having instances to build their arguments for doing so upon.

            1. If they aren’t taking down those Traci Lords videos then how come I can never find any whenever I search for them?

              1. You’re searching for underage stuff? Woah buddy… Kinda fucked up.

                Because if it has her name it’s easy to find and removed. If it’s named something like 80’s blonde it’s harder to find. However, how do you know what to report? How can they identify illegal material?
                They do use a digital finger printing tool, but it’s shitty, doesn’t work, and how do they fingerprint an illegal movie that they can’t own or obtain unless someone uploads it? Removed scenes get reuploaded all the time. GDP case is a perfect example.

                As it now stands someone can upload a 16 year old and until someone reports it they make money and there is underage material on their site. They may not remove it too. How do they as a company prove it is underage? They don’t.

                Their ability to defend that happening is dying fast.

                1. “You’re searching for underage stuff? Woah buddy… Kinda fucked up.”

                  Only for educational purposes obviously…

                  1. “Research!”
                    A SF Catholic church official caught with kiddie-porn on his computer claimed it was ‘for research!’
                    Can’t find the link; pretty sure he’s still in the slammer.

                2. “You’re searching for underage stuff? Woah buddy… Kinda fucked up.”

                  Isn’t she also in videos made after she was of legal age? (Genuine question – never was interested in her, and not interested in searching now, in case of what might come up.) If so, then someone looking for the legally made catalogue might expect to occasionally find the illegal stuff in the mix of results.

                  Not speaking for Dyzalot’s motives, but that seems plausible.

            2. “If someone is able to upload that to your site then your business model is severely flawed”

              Retard.

            3. “If someone is able to upload that to your site then your business model is severely flawed. As a company they can fix it.”

              Exactly how? By what technological means? If your answer is “image/video fingerprinting”, then that is almost trivially defeated. If your answer is “AI”, then you don’t understand AI. If your answer is “human review”, then you don’t understand the scope of the problem.

              “No they don’t. People have complained for 3 years about videos and they weren’t removed. One girl had to resort to lying and claim she was a lawyer to get them to remove a video of her being assaulted while unconscious. It took 6 months. She was underage in the video as well. She discovered the video because people in her school were sharing links of it on facebook.”

              Got a link to back up that incident? Got a few others as evidence that that problem wasn’t a one-off? No way am I going to search the internet for that, and I’m not inclined to take your assertion at face value, given the claim by you that 70 million instances of child exploitation were reported: https://reason.com/2020/03/09/senators-push-sneaky-anti-privacy-bill/#comment-8160409

              We all (well, most of us, I think) want CP purged from the internet, but it’s not so simple to achieve that without without granting the government an unacceptable powers.

  10. I go blind watching Shauna Grant in Private Schoolgirls.

  11. “Healthy regimes strike a balance between prohibition and permission,” claims conservative columnist Ross Douthat in the latest Fifth Column podcast. Libertarians, God love us, tend to have a different point of view.

    I think we all strike a balance, it’s just that the balance differs based on the weight you attach to individualism and collectivism and whether you’re considering the transactional costs and the ancillary effects. If you’re concerned with sinful behavior, very few sins are committed by dead humans but most of us I think would consider extermination of the human race to be an unacceptable cost of achieving a sinless society. Alternatively, all manner of social ills might be addressed by locking everybody in cages but again you would have the question of an acceptable cost.

    I have to wonder if Mr. Dothat believes that perhaps China might strike the proper balance between prohibition and permission. Oh, sure, he might quibble about the details of what is to be prohibited and what permitted, but I could see where he might find the general principle quite attractive.

    1. Some of us used to have a pretty clear dividing line: physical or economic harm. As long as you don’t cause them to happen to me, you are free to do what you want. Murder, assault, theft no; gay pride parades, Nazi arm bands, porn yes.

      But now that emotional distress is a recognized harm, even reasonable people are coming up with all kinds of prohibitions, centered on “don’t make people feel bad”. With this standard, potentially all behavior is subject to restriction, and the only “logic” comes from choosing a certain brand of ideology.

      Of course many (most?) humans have little ability to mind their own business, or have sacred ethics that even others are not allowed to insult. Thus porn is bad because even willing, happy participants are an affront to somebody, somewhere.

      1. “Some of us used to have a pretty clear dividing line: physical or economic harm. ”

        Ross is concerned about decadence in society and how our love of pornography contributes to it. The dividing line is not nearly so clear as you’d have us believe.

        1. “Ross is concerned about decadence in society and how our love of pornography contributes to it. The dividing line is not nearly so clear as you’d have us believe.”

          Your bullshit is, as always, unsupported with facts, bullshitter.

        2. Many of us here (but far too few people overall) are concerned about government poking its nose in where it doesn’t belong, particularly when it is at the insistence of moralizing busybodies motivated by religious or quasi-religious views. I would say that for many of us, the dividing line is quite a bit less fuzzy than you would seem to think.

      2. Pointing out that Hitler’s mom was catholic causes emotional distress in mystical fascisti, and therefore men with guns need to rush out, point those guns, and do whatever it takes to put a stop to that uncoercive exercise of the First Amendment. Someone on the Tokyo Rose commitee will try to add that to the Libertarian platform, just you watch.

        1. “Pointing out that Hitler’s mom was catholic causes emotional distress in mystical fascisti, and therefore men with guns need to rush out, point those guns, and do whatever it takes to put a stop to that uncoercive exercise of the First Amendment. Someone on the Tokyo Rose commitee will try to add that to the Libertarian platform, just you watch.”

          Hank, you should try posting *after* you’ve taken your meds.

  12. There are a couple of hidden assumptions here (beyond the obvious about outlawing victimless activity):

    1) Banning porn actually reduces porn consumption
    2) The ban on porn will not result in a significant loss of other liberties.

    It’s #2 that I think is most concerning. Look at the war on drugs. I don’t do drugs, I’m not interested. Yet I (along with everyone else) have still lost my financial privacy. We are all subject to ridiculously orwellian (“civil asset forfeiture”) theft thanks to it. We have considerably worse service and less competition in banking thanks to it. These are all extremely negative outcomes that fall on people who never had any interest in drugs at all.

  13. “… And that porn basically has a numbing effect on the male libido; that you keep seeking out more and more outré forms to satisfy yourself. You don’t become some sort of psycho rapist, as people worried in the ’80s. Instead, you end up with erectile dysfunction, basically, and can’t relate to women in the real world…”

    He’s no different than Kellogg with his bizarre and completely incorrect notions of the horrible diseases and dysfunctions we’re supposed to suffer from masturbation. Douthat is clearly no conservative either, in fact a seething liberal as he envisions a government so powerful it is charged with controlling behaviors, under threat of loss of freedom, that cause erectile dysfunction. That’s definitely not an enumerated power in the US Constitution.

    1. I think a priest touched Douthat in the no-no area

  14. Well I’m sure we can trust cops to only go after the “big guys” rather than the small fish. Just like the drug war when only cartel kingpins had their lives ruined and small timers were untouched.

  15. Note how the people who want to ban stuff and police stuff never want to adjust society in any way to help people out. Loot paychecks in the name of helping people? Sure. Send the cops to ruin people’s lives? Yes! Actually help people? No.

  16. If you’re into bondage, whips and chains, be sure to check out this link:

    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/203/203-h/203-h.htm

    1. Not a chance I’m gonna click on that, but is it, by any chance, a history of the Gutenberg bibles?
      I’ve tracked most of them, but not all..

      1. It’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

        Or maybe that’s NSFW nowadays, too?

        1. Well, since it contains the word “nigger” 109 times, probably.

          -jcr

  17. “You weren’t running massive FBI operations to eliminate the local bookie.”

    Optomestrist recruited in sting operation to engage in sports betting, shot and killed by SWAT team.

    https://reason.com/2011/01/17/justice-for-sal/

  18. I like to listen to The Fifth Column, but whenever one of the participants waxes pedantic, I think… You know what would make this better? If I were reading a transcript.

    1. +1
      No way it gets full attention absent a transcript.

  19. When the United States sends people to Mexico, they’re not sending their best. They could be sending disease carriers. And some are, I’m sure, healthy people.

    “Mexico is considering closing its border to stop Americans bringing coronavirus into its country as US case count passes 2,000”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8110163/Mexico-wants-close-border-Americans-stop-spread-coronavirus.html?ito=social-twitter_dailymailus

  20. Douthat is a wussy turd. No wonder he writes for NYT, just like the other “conservative” David Brooks.

    Has Douthat ever considered that free and easy access to porn has helped preserve that cherished conservative institution of marriage? Better for a husband to wack off to it now and then than to chase after other women (or men).

    1. “Douthat is a wussy turd. No wonder he writes for NYT, just like the other “conservative” David Brooks.”

      I don’t have a fully precise definition of “conservative,” but no sensible definition includes “writes for the NY Times,” no, not even as the token chorus of castrati who supply their “intellectual diversity” slots.

      1. But the pro-Trump/anti-Trump axis has reconfigured editorial diversity and repopulated the Times stable.

  21. Personally, i don’t think watching porn is a bad idea, the age at which the individual does however is the real issue here. The same goes with rel=”dofollow”>buy wonka oil carts flavors.

  22. The Catholic argument used to be “crush their knees with wedges and sledgehammers”–as translated from French records in Loudon by Aldous Huxley. After sinners obtained sniper rifles the argument changed to “get mindless voters to beg the political state to send men with guns to rob, arrest and shoot sinners.” Pure initiation of force to create sumptuary laws pointing death at victimless recreational sects. That is why conservatives have to spend so much time denying they represent fascist national socialism.

  23. For fuck’s sake, people. Starting another War On Porn is the one way the GOP can get itself expelled from the levers of power, which means the fucking Democrats take control and then everyone’s screwed.

    That reason alone is enough to tell the porn haters to sit down and shut the fuck up already.

  24. What exactly is meant by “soft” enforcement of a porn ban? No hard dicks displayed? Or is it more along the lines of you can still find girlie mags wrapped in plastic in a shady corner shop and some may display intercourse, but the shop owner better pray the vice squad doesn’t walk in

  25. There is no federal enumerated power to ban products or services.

    States dont have plenary powers so they would need to amend their constitutions too to ban products and services like porn.

    Porn is a product AND service, right?

    1. “Porn is a product AND service, right?”

      You don’t even have to go there. It’s art. True, most are shitty artists, but that should never be for the government to decide.

      The fact that it is a product and money is being generated seems to be what causes the problems here. We have an extensive knowledge of the government wanting to regulate things. If you’re making money clean up your act a little so the rest of us don’t have to suffer. Even Larry Flynt had learned this.

  26. I think that I’m more sympathetic to the idea that healthy regimes strike a balance between prohibition and permission. So in a healthy society, you maybe have gambling in Vegas and Atlantic City, and you don’t have a casino at every corner, right? In a healthy society, you don’t ban alcohol entirely, but you can have blue laws and age restrictions and all of these things.

    You shouldn’t be prohibiting anything, and I don’t need your permission.

    1. We don’t trust your discretion or your self restraint. Two important conservative values you surely lack.

      1. “We”

        Way to be an individual, collectivist.

      2. I’m unsure who you mean by “we”, but whoever might be a part of that group would do better to mind their own business rather than attempting to restrict that which causes no demonstrable direct physical or economic harm.

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  27. This Douthat is one of the most disgusting creatures I’ve heard of in the recent years. What a worthless degenerate.

  28. Ok, Matt: why exactly are you giving this autocratic little shit a forum to spooge his power fantasies from?

    Since he’s ostensibly a catholic, he’d better clean up his own superstition franchise first.

    -jcr

  29. Let me just add that when that degenerate closet pederast, Anthony Comstock, barged into JP Morgan’s office to steal and/or vandalize the pictures of naked women that Morgan had on his walls, he should have been beaten to death, or shot if Morgan was feeling generous.

    -jcr

  30. Wow. His arguments were one giant exercise in motivated reasoning.

    Everyone is against porn….. but porn is driver of the most popular sites on the internet.

    People lie to pollsters and tell them the watch porn… because it is cool?

    This is some impressive avoidance of cognitive dissonance.

  31. Christ, what an asshole

  32. Moynihan: Make the case to a roomful of skeptics, and in one case a porn addict, who I will not name—I will not name Matt Welch; I won’t. Why would I do that? Why would I do that to you?

    Matt Welch: NeverTrump “republican strategist”, arch-segregationist revealed as porn addict.

  33. Conservatives just won’t let this one go, will they?

    The only comforting thing is that the public has grown more socially liberal in the last couple of decades. So it’s going to be harder and harder for them to push this one through.

  34. Tracy Lords really didn’t look underage, though. Her main draw was her enormous chest

  35. Matt giving Douhat, one of the leftists that pretends to be a conservative at the Times, a forum to spout his nonsense to put out the idea that ACTUAL people on the right support Douhat’s ideas.

    1. There are people on the political right who would support his ideas. The most obvious example that comes to my mind is Rick Santorum.

  36. Let’s ban drugs, too. And Prostitution. And undocumented immigration. And guns. And alchohol. And abortion. And speeding. And stealing. And Medicare fraud. And…

  37. It’s unfortunate that the paternalistic, nationalist jesus freaks are by far the most influential in “conservative” u.s. politics these days.

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  39. “Douthat: He could be arrested, yeah….

    So basically a pornographer has to assess a set of risks. And he knows that in most cases, if he’s making amateur pornography, he’s not going to get in trouble, and if he scales up his operation, he is.”

    While I can appreciate Douthat’s effort to lead us into the 17th century, his understanding of how law enforcement works is mind numbingly stupid.

    When it comes to vice enforcement against gambling, alcohol, sex, pornography etc, extreme laws are passed under the pretense of going after the King Pins, but they are never used against “the worst of the worst.”

    The pattern is to get extremely draconian laws passed under the claim they will pursue “the worst of the worst,” then use those extreme laws against clueless low level offenders who only broke the law under the most technical interpretation of it. Generally those who knowingly break the law take measures to avoid arrest (since they are aware they are breaking the law) while those who meet some technical definition are unaware they even violated the law before their arrest. Why do you think “not knowing the law is no excuse” is used so frequently by prosecutors?

    If we want our jails filled with couples shooting home porno’s while the Pornhub’s avoid any prosecution at all, the this guys got the plan for you!

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