Webathon

Are We Really Gonna Do Another War on Porn?

Conservatives are wrong on policy, and really wrong on facts

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You may have been minding your own business the past 72 hours, but our illiberal-con friends certainly were not. On Friday, four members of Congress sent a hysterical letter to Attorney General William Barr asking him to "declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority," and "bring prosecutions against the major producers and distributors of such material." Then conservative commentator Matt Walsh spent the whole damn weekend demanding jail sentences and denouncing libertarians for being all libertarian-y.

On today's Reason Roundtable podcast, editors Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Matt Welch unpack the porn prohibitionists' phony statistics and openly big-government philosophies, while introducing some pragmatic considerations that hobbled previous conservative crackdowns during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. We also talk about lessons from today's big Washington Post "Afghanistan Papers" project, field still more listener questions (because of our annual Webathon, which you should totally donate to before it's too late!), and explore the deepest ocean cracks with James Cameron and Randy Newman.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

'Infados' by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Relevant links from the show:

"Pornography Is Protected by the First Amendment," by Damon Root

"The Fight Conservatives Are Having Over Theocracy and Classical Liberalism Obscures How Beaten Their Movement Is," by Nick Gillespie

"Anti-Porn Republicans Haven't Gone Anywhere," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Rick Santorum: 'Federal Obscenity Laws Should Be Vigorously Enforced,'" by Mike Riggs

"Reason.tv: All Charges Dismissed! John Stagliano Reacts Outside the Courthouse," by Reason Staff

"Stagliano on Obscenity, Justice, and His Upcoming Animated Video on the Federal Reserve," by Matt Welch

"Xtreme Measures," by Greg Beato

"Reagan's Smutstompers," by Martin Wooster

"The Government Has Been Lying About Afghanistan All Along," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Trump Just Can't Quit Afghanistan," by Matt Welch

"In Afghanistan, We Persist in Futility," by Steve Chapman

"The Forever War in Afghanistan," by Jesse Walker

"Obama Brainwashes the Public on Afghanistan," by Sheldon Richman

"Knitting Afghanistan," by Brian Doherty

"You Asked Reason Editors Anything. Watch How We Answered!" By Matt Welch


NEXT: Handwritten Notes Document the Collapse of the Phony Story That Led to a Deadly Houston Drug Raid

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  1. …because of our annual Webathon…

    If you go over your goal all proceeds beyond that go to the first donor. It’s the law.

  2. How do the Saudi terrorists you’re covering for feel about pornography?

    1. They demonize it in public and consume it in private…about the same as just about everyone else.

    2. Well we know that the bureaucrats they’re covering for really love it. That is, when they’re not screwing over others.

    3. Dr. Gobbel the former NAZI propaganda minister made sure when Poland was invaded it was rife with gambling, booze, prostitution and porn. The aim was to disrupt the family structure and dumb down and demoralize the citizens of Poland, making them easier to control. In Germany he chose classic movies, opera and good citizenship, the exact opposite of what was being done to Poland. So looks like the US has learned a lesson from Dr. Gobbel, we are more like Poland and the supreme court has defended porn as free speech, but try to protest or speak against government illegal war policies in the middle east and they will arrest you for sedition.

    4. I once new a diplomat who was born French to a Jewish mother and Catholic father, who knew five language fluently, and ended up being Muslim herself. Not orthodox Muslim by any stretch of the imagination, but still Muslim.

      She told the story of being on an Egyptian ship where all the professing Muslim crew would be gambling and drinking, and when they tried to hit on the sexy European Chick she told told them all off in Arabic, quoting the Quran. Then went back to topless sunbathing on the fore deck.

  3. “Are We Really Gonna Do Another War on Porn? Conservatives are wrong on policy, and really wrong on facts”

    This is cute, Reason staffers think it’s still 1985. They haven’t visited a university in the last 10 years I guess.

    1. Five-hundred attempts a month to ban male sexuality, but four silly congressmen grandstanding earns a discussion.

  4. The title of this should have been “Suderman mansplains wife beating to KMW”

  5. Lay off my porn, you Rat repubs (only those 4 Rats). I enjoy it whether you do or not!

  6. What’s beyond nuts is that the people sucking Trump’s dick the hardest are the first to want a new war on porn. This is Trump were talking about, the pussy grabber in chief who pays off hookers not to testify against him. And he’s the masthead for the new war on porn.

  7. This is going to be a part of Trump and Republicans 2020 election strategy to appeal to women and hurt Democrats/Biden with women voters.

    That’s why that letter talks about violence against women, trafficking, children….. That letter is a part of the political strategy. It’s the beginning of it.

  8. Another fun fact about Randy Newman: He arranged and conducted the orchestra on Peggy Lee’s last hit: “Is That All There Is?” That song was also the last hit written by the phenomenally successful songwriting duo Leiber & Stoller.

  9. Whoever continues to think that another war on porn will solve our current issues didn’t learn with the past. Instead of that if think we should embrace porno as a normal thing similar to what we do when searching for websites that only show for example nude women and are not considered exactly as an xxx free website.
    I’m aware that some porn websites are looking into those users as well when offering a beautiful nude women category on a website (see for example the example I give below) but that offer instead a section completely directed to porn.
    Myself as a woman, I also like to see other naked girls online and I can see them on a website like the one in the example I gave, but I’m not willing to see other free porn categories. I admit that the tricking question

    Mzansi porn nude women category -> https://mzansi.porn/videos/tag/naked-women/

  10. The War on Porn will always ebb and flow.
    Sadly, this time the moral authoritarians on the left have joined the moral authoritarians on the right.
    The feminists are demanding censorship of media objectifying women for male enjoyment. It’s strange, because on the one hand, they argue (correctly) that a woman should have the right to choose to be a sex worker, but if men enjoy sexy women, that’s super-bad toxic masculinity.

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