Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Mainstreaming of Sleaze (and its Consequences)

Jun 4, 2008

A newspaper item today tells of two schoolboys, both aged 14, who have been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Brisbane. This is shocking enough, but what is even more shocking is that such occurrences are becoming almost commonplace. On a daily basis we read of sexual assaults, rapes and other sexual crimes, often involving people at ever younger ages.

Of course we live in a sex-soaked and sleaze-coated society where everything has become sexualised, and our young people are often the major targets. Thus the steady increase in reports of sexual deviancy and crime by more and more people, including children, should not be all that surprising.

Yeah, yeah, I can already hear the libertarians and porn-defenders chanting their mantra about no connection existing between the tsunami of sleaze and the rise in sexual misbehaviour. So just what were these two schoolboys feeding on? Cookbooks? Were they soaking up math textbooks? Somehow I don’t think so.

If they are like most other sexual offenders, they had been feeding on a steady diet of smut, sleaze and porn. But the sad bit about all this is, one need not even go to Internet porn sites to get this. Unfortunately, smut, sleaze and porn can be found in big supply on plenty of “mainstream” sites today.

Consider our daily newspapers. Most of them now have web versions of their printed newspapers. But these web versions tend to be even more daring and provocative than the print versions. Consider just one example (although most of the others can be just as bad – even the so-called respectable ones like the Melbourne Age feature plenty of sleaze on their websites).

If one looks at the home page of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, one can find plenty of examples of pure sleaze and smut. Indeed, a large portion of the home page features stories, articles, and plenty of pictures of what can only be described as soft-core porn.

Let me simply list what is featured there today. And this is not unusual in the least. Every day there is more of the same. So consider some of the items found on the site today, and bear in mind that almost every one comes complete with heaps of colour pics, indeed, of whole galleries of pics readily available for consumption.

Starting at the top, the very first of the main “news” items involves the “Tania Zaetta sex scandal apology”.  The site also kindly offers us a Zaetta picture gallery as well, seemingly to help those whose reading skills are not quite up to scratch.

The third news item is about some Australian scientists informing us that incest offspring are “healthy”. Unfortunately no pics go with this one however.

Then in the “Don’t Miss” section we have a feature on “Carmen and Kim: Nice Pair”. Of course this bit of newsworthiness comes complete with pics of Carmen and Kim, “two of the world’s curviest stars”.  And just next to it we have this important item: a singer is about to debut as a lesbian vampire.

Move down an inch and we find a section on “Kylie’s sexiest photos ever”. Sure enough: more galleries. And when we get to the national news section, the first story is headlined, “Drug co-accused was a stripper”.

And in the sport section, we have this important item: “Leading ladies of golf”: all in varying stages of undress. Yes, there is a big gallery of pics to go with that “story”.

No section of the site seems to be spared. The lead story in the travel section is “Pole dancer goes underground.” And you guessed it: there is a pic to back that one up. And another news item tells us that the Pope’s visit to Sydney will result in an increase in brothel usage.

Then we have a “wacky world” section. So what do we find? You got it: more galleries of sleaze, this time of the “world’s best bottoms”. And in the “Lifestyle” section we have a story on “Children’s book of boob jobs”.

I could keep going on and on, but I think you might be getting the picture by now. The Daily Telegraph website is one big exercise in sleaze and smut. But as I say, many of the other newspaper sites fare no better. So one need not even visit an adult-only website to get a load of cheap thrills. One can simply visit some of these newspaper websites and get a daily batch of sleaze and sexually explicit material.

Back to our opening paragraph: Give two hormonally-charged 14-year-olds this kind of sleaze day in and day out, and what is the outcome? If they are conditioned to think of women as sex objects, and see them portrayed as such on a daily basis in our “newspapers”, then it may not be surprising for some of them to act out what they have been feeding on.

Of course I am not claiming that everyone living on a daily diet of sleaze is going to go out and sexually assault someone, but the evidence makes it quite clear that nearly everyone who does go out and sexually assault someone has been feeding on sleaze and smut.

Common sense tells us this. Indeed, the advertising world depends on such truths. They believe that constant exposure to images will result in changed behaviour – in people buying their products. They are convinced of the power of repetitious imagery to influence behaviour. So why should we be surprised that regular exposure to sexually stimulating imagery may well result in some unwanted outward expression or manifestation of that material?

The truth is, these newspaper websites have a lot to answer for. They are becoming little more than soft-core porn sites, with sprinklings of real news tossed in to make them appear legitimate. I would encourage concerned readers to start contacting some of these websites and asking them a few hard questions.

Let them know that the increased sexualisation and pornification of their sites is simply not acceptable. Remind them of their civic and community responsibilities, and encourage them to go back to genuine news reporting, and ease up on the rampant porn and sleaze.

[1030 words]

6 Responses to The Mainstreaming of Sleaze (and its Consequences)

  • Even separating all that BS and putting it on a separate goss website or something would help prevent innocent victims stumbling upon that rubbish. Me being 14, I was quite shocked by that headline – I didn’t think that society would slide that far down. I guess you must expect anything these days.

    Also, when I occasionally visit the news websites to view headlines or vote in a poll, I get appalled from all the rubbish on there too.
    I heard that in England, the newspapers are worse – on page two, apparently, there’s nude pics and the like! Who knows what else could be in there!

    Daniel Smith

  • Interesting that The Age, a noticeable purveyor of sleaze is the preferred paper of the intellectual elite. This is the same crowd that are defenders of pornographic art. It seems that if you are in the privileged class you are above the moral constraints of lesser citizens.

    John Nelson

  • Bill, one of CS Lewis’s essays is pertinent to the sub-plot of pornographic art and the current ‘Henson debate’.

    In “Sex in Literature” (published in “Present Concerns – Ethical Essays” 1986 Fount Paperbacks, edited by Rev Walter Hooper) he comments on two major assumptions or justifications applied to such art:

    1. that if a book is real “literature” it cannot corrupt. No-one can predict what may inflame adolescents, any more than what may frighten children;… This is the stock argument against forbidding certain books. But it is equally an argument against this particular plea for tolerating them.
    2. That if a book is a great “work of art” it doesn’t matter whether it corrupts or not, because art matters more than behaviour. … This sounds very like nonsense.

    John Angelico

  • John Nelson – I’d go a step further and say that it is the privileged class (perhaps the same ‘intellectual left’?) who recreate the moral boundaries, or at the very least smear them.

    In today’s world, it seems, everything is coloured a bleak gray rather than in the sharp contrasts of black and white.

    Mathew Hamilton

  • How insane this world is!!!!!! We have one report of a large number of people being busted for being child perverts (sick sick people) and on the other hand Henson is close to winning the case of his beautiful art of a nude thirteen year old.
    The ABC news includes the following in its report.

    “Ms Churcher says the photographs are a work of art and depict a sense of innocence.”

    She says the images were taken out of context.

    “It’s been made to look obscene by putting those little bars of censorship across areas,” she said.

    “If you see it in its entirety it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

    Betty, it’s obvious you need real brains for this job. I wonder what ‘context’ you are describing?? The context of art?? So pornography is acceptable in the context of art?? Betty, were you photographed nude at 13 years of age for a national gallery exhibition??

    Taking photos of nude thirteen year old does not sound INNOCENT to me.

    And the following from

    “ARTIST Bill Henson says he is reassured the law still allows the expression of ideas.

    Henson today welcomed a decision by New South Wales police not to press charges over his controversial images of naked children, describing public support during the recent furore as “humbling”.”

    Well Bill, rest assured, there are many in the public who have been revolted by your recent work, including children.

    Teresa Binder

  • Hi all,
    Salvo has a whole magazine dedicated to this theme. Plenty of science in there proving what common sense has told has for a long time – sexualisation of society means an increase in sexually related crime (at a minimum):

    Now without turning this into a “society is to blame” argument, aren’t we all at fault to a certain degree by allowing this to happen to our world? I always wonder what the parents of children like this are doing for this to happen. I know when I was a kid my father (an immigrant) made it very clear to me that if I ever smoked, looked at porn or got a tattoo he would beat me to within an inch of my life. When he did find a Playboy in my room I indeed got a beating. Those three restrictions have stayed with me my entire life because of the fear my father instilled in me as a kid (and as an adult the respect of what he was trying to achieve in me from a morality point of view).

    Have parents just thrown their hands up and surrendered? Or its just so overwhelming its impossible to 100% protect our children without changing the whole of societies shared values? I expect a slow back-lash against the smut is building but I just wonder if it’s too late. The dam may burst at anytime and we will all be swept away.

    Michael Mifsud

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