Pornography & Ethics Essay, Research Paper
Pornography & Ethics
Hum 437- Ethics
Pornography is a social problem and is a commodity brought into existence by certain characteristics of a highly developed civilization. The problem with pornography is that any form of censorship or suppression cannot solve it. These aggressive methods would merely aggravate the disease and create other deplorable consequences. Prevention is better than cure, and by diagnosing the psychological motives of those who consume pornography, we may be able to change the instincts involved (McCune, 1985:).
In pornography a visual or verbal image acts as a direct stimulus to the erotic drives or impulses, which are always latent and ready to be stimulated in normal people (McCune 1985: 13). Television perhaps more than any other medium, is the average persons first glimpse at pornography. It invades your home through regular programming, cable and videos. A large part of this pornographic blitz pairs sexual pleasure with violence and develops the concept that women are expendable (McCune, 1985: 18). There are countless plots on television dealing with rape, murder, kidnapping, and beatings. All of this done to the leading man?s wife or girlfriend and has become the rule. Similarly, pornography in movies has become common entertainment. These movies leave little to the imagination and exhibit the most violent scenes of bondage, rape, and mutilation. The ultimate being the so-called “snuff” films where the victim is killed at the culmination of the abusers sexual release.
Your telephone has also become a vehicle for pornography through the infamous 900 numbers. Business was so good for these pay per call services in 1991 that sales reached a record $975 million. Dial-a-Porn has flourished as teens and children joined adults on instant phone sex.
Pornography has taken another profitable turn in the past few years with gangsta rap. Gangsta rap glamorizes brutality, murder, torture, rape, and perversion, which is usually directed toward women. The lyrics are usually obscene and the tape or compact disc provides entertainment for a hard-core pornographer. Since it is easily available and widely distributed, gangsta rap is especially harmful to young people who look up to these rappers as heroes.
While rap music is assaulting our ears, the print media is seductively applying their trade with high-tech visual images. The three most well known pornographic magazines are Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse. Of these three, Playboy employs the approach in which centerfolds are portrayed as the girl next door. So readers are deceived into believing that everybody is using pornography. For this reason, Playboy may be more harmful than hard-core pornography, especially to the young. Playboy then uses articles about famous people to legitimize the pornography inside the magazine.
Other powerful visual images appear as advertisements. If you watch TV, ride a bus, or read magazines you have witnessed the lengths that companies will go to sell a product or an idea. The Design Industries Foundation for Aids plastered posters in cities depicting couples of all persuasions engaged in acts of all descriptions. Each poster bears the caption Safe Sex is Hot. We have all seen the gaunt Super Model whose vacant stare, unsmiling lips and frequently nude 105-pound body are on endless public display, mostly as Calvin Kline ads.
Then there is the newest and hardest to control pornography market, the Internet. All across America the pornography industry is invading our children?s bedrooms through home computers. You cannot access any site or any search engine without finding some link to pornography. Many Internet sites have the equivalent of an entire pornographic bookstore on line. Hard core pictures are being scanned into computers and being made available through web sites along with detailed pornographic stories. Federal law requires porno to sites make good faith efforts to restrict access to indecent material by requiring users to provide a verified credit card account number or a password. However, in a normal family children are usually the computer experts and have learned how to bypass this screening process by accessing newsgroups, and websites that display porno passwords.
Pornography is an attack on the family itself, the very foundation on which our society itself is built. Pornography undermines the moral fiber of the community and the nation. A nation that does not control pornography and protect acceptable standards of public morality does not survive (McCune, 1985: 14). Our families, cities, nation, and society are suffering with the disease of pornography.
Pornography is built on immorality and corruption, but in this it does not stand-alone. A world in which pornography was neither desired nor produced would be a better world. However, it is not within the power of government or even the majority of citizens to create such a world. A great deal of contemporary pornography constitutes an offense against human dignity and decency that should be shunned by citizens. Not because the evils of the world will thereby be eliminated, but because conscience demands it (Cliffered,1987: 44).
Pornography is a six billion-dollar a year racket and the
available profits are astronomical (McCune 1985: 13). A hard-core magazine for example, which is sold in an adult bookstore costs
between $1.25 and $1.75 to produce (McCune 1985: 13). The
bookstore then charges $10.00 or more for the magazine. With
profits like this, it is no wonder why organized crime has moved
into the pornography business. Two grand juries have found that
organized crime controls 90% of all hard-core pornography in this
country alone. Pornography is one of the largest moneymakers for organized crime ranking third behind gambling and narcotics
(United States Attorney Generals Commission on Pornography, 1986:
157). It is impossible to be in the retail end of the pornography
industry without dealing with organized crime according to the
The prime reason pornography flourishes is because everyone and everything in this world relates and reacts to sex. People are fascinated with sex and are anxious to see something new or something they have not seen before. People are always looking for a form of sex that is different than the associated group of norms. This is pushing the pornography industry to progress one step further each time to keep up with the demand.
In addition to the endless number of other harms and antisocial effects brought about by pornography. There is a definite link between organized crime and many other types of criminal activity in the pornography business (United States Attorney Generals Commission on Pornography, 1986: 296). Physical violence, injury, prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse are so interlinked in many cases.
A 1998 study by the FBI found that 81% of all violent sex offenders regularly read or viewed violent pornography. A Michigan State Police study found that porn was viewed just before or during 41% of 48,000 sexual crimes committed over the past 20 years. Violent pornography is like a how-to-manual for rapists and child abusers. A FBI study on serial homicide concluded that the most common interest among serial killers is pornography. Ted Bundy states ?I?ve lived in prison for a long time now and I?ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography? (McCune, 1985: 140).
The traffic in pornography and obscenity has reached freighting proportions in this country. The smallest cities and towns have been invaded by it. There are almost 750 so-called adult movie houses in the United States (McCune, 1985: 11). These houses show the most obscene films imaginable. Many of the 750 houses sell VCR cassettes of hard-core movies in their lobbies. Adult bookstores are so numerous now that it is impossible to count them on a national level. There is pornography going through the United States mail everyday.
Pornography is basically a violation of several of the norms in our society. Meaning that in this country where we live and are citizens, there is pornography that depicts the humiliation of women. Every single way possible of humiliating a women is taken to be a form of sexual pleasure for the viewer and for the victim (United States Generals Commission on Pornography, 1986: 198). Women are covered with filth including feces, mud, paint, blood, and semen. Women are tortured for the sexual pleasure of murdering women (United States General Commission on Pornography, 1986: 198). This material exists because it is fun, excitement, and a form of pleasure for the viewer. There are some who say it is a form of freedom. Certainly it may be a freedom for those who do it and for those who use it as entertainment. However, being asked to believe that it is a freedom for those whom it is being done to is ludicrous.
We see pornography having introduced a profit motive
into rape. We see that filmed rapes are now like protected speech (Attorney Generals Commission on Pornography, 1986: 199). We see pornography in serial murders. We see the average age of rapists going down. We are beginning to see gang rapes in elementary schools that are committed by elementary school age boys imitating pornography. We see sexual assault after death where frequently pornography is the motive for the murder. This is because the person believes that he will get a particular kind of sexual pleasure from having sex with a woman after she is dead. It is essential that all women and men realize that rape and violence are not normal forms of sexual excitement. Further more that pornography is not adult entertainment, but an abusive weapon that dehumanizes as all.
Pornography is not just a woman issue anymore. Children are also being sexually exploited throughout this country in variety of ways. Most commonly they are being used as prostitutes or models for the production of pornographic photos and films. The number of children involved in pornography range from thousands to the hundreds of thousands (McCune 1985: 76). Congress has concluded that child pornography and child prostitution have become highly organized industries that operate on a nationwide scale. It has been estimated that these enterprises may gross a half a billion dollars a year (McCune, 1985: 78). There have also been cases where child pornography and prostitution have been organized into sex rings.
Child Molesters use pornography to seduce children into engaging in sexual activity. According to the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991 pornography was used in two-thirds of all child molestation cases over a 10-year period. In a study of the Justice Department in 1994 it found that 10,000 female children under the age of 18 were raped in 1992. At least 3800 were girls under the age of 12. Twenty percent were raped by their fathers, 26% by other relatives, 50% by friends and associates, while strangers attacked only 4%. The study concluded that the distribution of child pornography had greatly impacted on these results. The United States is the largest Consumer of internationally produced child pornography.
On May 21, 1984 President Reagan signed the Child Protection Act into law to wipe out the evil of child pornography (McCune,1985: 81). The president said, “There is no one lower or more vicious than a person who would profit from the abuse of children whether by using them in pornography material or by encouraging there sexual abuse by distributing this material” (McCune,1985: 82).
The mere existence of laws like this means nothing however, unless they are enforced and enforced vigorously. Continuous enforcement of pornography and obscenity laws on every level, federal, state, and local could see an end to the pornography plaque with in two years (Attorney Generals Commission on Pornography,1986: 113).
Other solutions lie in a vocal public urging of
continuous law enforcement. Use federal, state, and local laws that make it a crime to traffic in pornography. The Supreme Court said, “That in determining whether material is obscene or not the community standards must be applied.” But a judge or jury cannot know what these standards are if the community does not express them and express them loudly.
We need to use legislative statutes against the
makers of adult fare, charging film producers who procure another person for the use of prostitution. We need to treat any second conviction of selling pornography as a felony, with a mandatory prison term.
We need to adopt forfeiture laws to seize the assets of any business engaged in the sale or production of prescribed materials. This would permit the seizing of an entire convenience store if it sold the wrong magazine.
We need to appoint a high level Justice Department
Taskforce to investigate pornography cases. Along with establishing a data base on the pornography industry for use by law enforcement personnel. We need to make it illegal to employ models under the age of 21 to do sexually explicit poses. We need to clean up our most influencing form of entertainment, meaning TV. Most of all we need to educate people on the effects of pornography while they are young and let them know how it affects their community.
We need to start using state racketeering laws and
Federal racketeering statutes to obtain seizure of sexual materials. We need to make it an unfair labor practice to have actors and actresses under the age of 21 engaging in sexual activity and if they do, treat it as child pornography. We need to have the FCC crackdown and close all dial-a-porn services. But most of all the community must enlist in the front line battle against pornography.
In summary, Americans have a wide range of views on what should be done about pornography. Many want to ban it all, some want to regulate it, and a few even want to promote it. These views exist primarily because people disagree about the effects pornography has on individuals and on society. I believe that pornography is a disease of society. It will continue to flourish until the demand for pornography is eliminated or until there is no longer a profit in it. The laws that we presently have are not doing the job. Pornography is influencing people to get involved in other crimes as well. We see these crimes moving into our Elementary schools; so now no one is safe from being influenced by pornography. We need to start educating our people about the effects of pornography as well as work on changing people?s attitudes about pornography. We need to take pornography off of the Internet, cable, and prime time television. Parents need to do a better job in passing on family values to their children as well as monitoring their children?s activities. Last of all we need to implement different ways for our Judicial
McCune, Gary Pornography and Sexual Violence 1985.
US Department of Justice, Final Report of the Attorney
General?s Commission on Pornography, 1986.
Rutledge, Dom Does Pornography Matter, 1972.
Nobile, Philip United States of America Sex, 1986.
Carmen, Arlene The Meese Commission Exposed, 1987.
Lindecker, Cliffered Children in Chairs, 1981.
Kendrick, Walter The Secret Museum, 1987.
and Legislature to go about handling our country?s pornography disease.