CultureWatch

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

Turning the Porn Tide?

Apr 5, 2010

Two articles in the papers offer a glimmer of hope that the porn avalanche may be meeting a bit of resistance. It is early days yet, but these news items may well be the harbinger of more good news to come on this front.

The first piece I noticed in the weekend papers was just a short article, but a significant one I thought. It had to do with a noted actor actually refusing to do sex scenes because of his concern to put principle ahead of money. Now that is very rare indeed amongst the Hollywood sleaze set.

The piece opened this way: “Former ‘Desperate Housewives’ bad guy Neal McDonough has reportedly been sacked from a new TV series after he refused to do a sex scene. The 44-year-old actor was tapped to play opposite Virginia Madsen in the upcoming U.S. program ‘Scoundrels’, but was abruptly replaced just three days before the filming began. McDonough, a family man and devout Catholic, apparently refused to do heated love scenes with Madsen because of his principles. Deadline Hollywood said that the actor is strict with his values and won’t do sex scenes on camera.”

Wow, that’s a switch. For all the scuzzy actors willing to put money ahead of principle, this is an incredible turn-around. Well done Neal. We need many more such actors. A few dozen like Neal and maybe a real revolution could take place in Hollywood.

The second item was in today’s press, and it was as encouraging as it was surprising. Here is how the report in the Age started the story: “More than 30 of Australia’s leading child experts are calling for an unprecedented ban on the sale of adult magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse and other ‘soft porn’ material from newsagents, milk bars, convenience stores, supermarkets and petrol stations.

“The group has also asked Australia’s censorship ministers to review the rules by which so-called lad mags – such as People, Zoo and Ralph – are reviewed, arguing that they are becoming increasingly explicit and contributing to the sexualisation of children.”

Now that’s something you don’t see every day as well. Indeed, for years I and a handful of pro-family activists have been saying similar things, only to be howled down with scorn and derision. For two decades I have been called every name in the book for seeking to tighten up easy access to porn in the public.

“Wowser” has been a favourite term of abuse hurled at me so often, but plenty of other terms – some which cannot be printed here – have been levelled at me and others over the years. Thus it is amazing to see others finally calling for the same sort of thing we have been for so long.

I could write a book about all the flack I have had to put up with simply because I have been concerned about our children and the direction we are heading as a society. To simply argue that children should be protected from readily available exposure to sleaze has raised the wrath of the civil libertarians, the sleaze merchants, and so many of the trendy lefties in the mainstream media.

Indeed, consider one interview I did many years ago with the very same newspaper, the Age. In good faith I answered the journalist’s questions about how television has a corrosive impact on families. But when I opened the May 9, 2000 Age the next day I saw a very ugly hatchet job on me.

The journalist did her best to try to make me look like a buffoon simply for expressing concerns about how TV standards were falling, with children especially in need of protection. I was representing the Australian Family Association, and several other pro-family groups were featured as well.

All of us were made to look like complete idiots, and the whole piece was one long snide attack on anyone who dared to express such concerns. Journalist Anne Crawford had a lengthy piece running over two pages, and it was all an ugly and childish attack on those of us who wanted to protect children and families.

The headline – if you can call it that – said it all. This is actually what it said: “The truth is that TV is probably the most evil force at work in the universe. It is destroying your mind. Trust me.” Yes it even came with those words in bold.

The entire article was one long piece of mockery and contempt directed at the people that she interviewed. She seemed all sweetness and light when she interviewed me, but her fangs were certainly bared in the printed article.

This was quite common place treatment I must say. But at other times journalists would not even pretend to be polite and civil with me while conducting an interview. Often their contempt dripped out as we went back and forth. They sure hated us wowsers back then.

Those concerned about declining standards and the pornification of culture don’t get a very good run today either. But at least here is one high-profile group taking some steps in the right direction. Hopefully more such activities will happen in the near future.

Does all this mean that the stranglehold of political correctness is beginning to weaken, and a return to common sense and decency is on the ascendency? Time will tell, but to have these two articles in the past few days does offer a ray of hope. Let us all hope and work toward it continuing.

ibtimes.com.au/articles/20100403/neal-mcdonough-fired-from-tv-job-after-refusing-sex-scenes.htm
www.theage.com.au/national/put-soft-porn-out-of-view-experts-20100404-rlnu.html

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40 Responses to Turning the Porn Tide?

  • Wendy Francis of Family First Party Qld has done a great job of getting the message out there about getting rubbish off our billboards. She has been on Seven’s Sunrise program where many parents, including me, have written in agreeing that billboards should be G rated.

    Similarly, I agree with you that people (especially children) should not have to look at the covers of soft-porn magazines while paying for petrol.

    Tracy Skellern-Smith

  • It’s a small start, Bill, but who knows which direction it will go. The senate inquiry into the sexualisation of childhood didn’t seem to do much in my opinion.

    In any case, it’s not just the television and the magazines. It’s groups providing information and courses to schools about families, sexuality and the like. These groups provide K-12 “sexuality education.”

    In the magazines targeted at young girls, there is a lot of acceptance of a sexual lifestyle, and none of abstinence in my reading.

    Some of my thoughts:
    http://rightwingdeathbogan.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-happens-when-feminists-have.html

    Debra Franklin

  • Bill,

    I am happy to look like an ‘idiot’ alongside you on this issue. There was a fantastic American lady speaking about this issue at a conference held in Canberra a few years ago. I would love to find out who she was, and if it is possible to access her speech. If anyone can help….

    Jane Petridge

  • Thanks Jane

    She was Dr Mary Ann Layden. Her talk is available here: http://www.sif.org.au/video_1.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, another small example of the right result, but maybe from the wrong starting point.

    Andrew Bolt commented on March 27th on the following (again from the Age – a bit surprising, maybe)
    http://www.theage.com.au/world/iceland-outlaws-strip-shows-20100326-r33n.html

    Due to feminist pressure (ie. not cold weather and not Christianity), Iceland has banned all strip clubs, sex trafficking and nudity for hire.

    The report comments favourably on the high female membership of the Icelandic parliament, and the openly lesbian head of government, Johanna Sigurdardottir, which makes for an interesting level of moral equivalence!

    The article comments further that all four Scandinavian countries have to some degree criminalised the purchase of sex. This makes a refreshing move away from the former libertarian atmosphere – especially in Sweden which was often portrayed as the leader in liberal morals.

    John Angelico

  • Porn has no place in civilized society if it values civil behaviour and the protection of the innocence of children.
    Porn on the internet needs to be filtered out and clamped down on. Otherwise it can corrupt the innocence of youngsters and create huge problems in society. This is NOT a matter of religious censorship, but of commonsense. Totally non religious Governments ban porn for commonsense reasons.
    Jerry Gonzalez, Perth

  • They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Jack Sonnemann

  • Hmm … I am always ambivalent about these sorts of things. Although I share your concerns about the “pornification of culture” (and being a recovered victim of it, I know of many of the negative effects and the daily struggles) at the same time I think there might be a better approach than the heavy hand of the law to solving these problems.

    I’m not surprised they mock you Bill, they hate you for calling attention to the obvious and pricking their deadened conscience into life.

    Still, I am concerned about approaches that rely on the fist of the law to deal with the problem. First up, it will fail too, although forcing bill boards to be G rated is a reasonable use of the law IMO.

    But banning the display of magazine in a petrol station ? I’m not so sure there, these are private businesses and we regulate these enough already.

    Wouldn’t it be better to encourage churches and concerned groups to do something more constructive? Perhaps it could be as simple as encouraging people concerned about such things to make a point of shopping at service stations that don’t sell explicit magazines. They do exist (depending on your definition of explicit), I make a point of trying to patronize service stations that don’t stock pornographic magazines (although the men’s magazines like Zoo etc are ubiquitous unfortunately).

    These seem like more constructive approaches than seeking the heavy hand of the law. Censorship is generally a bad thing, and although I don’t think pornography is entitled to protection from censorship and it is reasonable to regulate it to some extent, I am concerned about the effects of encouraging a “lets make a law” mindset that is so destructive and so common place.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Jason

    I am not sure that Christians are called to be radical libertarians. Certainly not anarchists. God created the institution of the state for our good in a fallen world. The question is how far it extends to various areas of life. I am no statist, and a biblical balance is necessary here.

    You say petrol stations are regulated enough. Does that mean if they want to sell heroin to kids on the side, it should be allowed to, so that we do not give the state too many powers? And the state already has powers – rightly – about regulating harmful porn as a reflection of community concerns, so no new powers are being asked for here, simply the enforcement of existing powers.

    You admits that “I don’t think pornography is entitled to protection from censorship and it is reasonable to regulate it to some extent” so there is no big push for big government here, just a request that existing government regulation be used to protect society and children especially.

    But as I say, it is hard to get the right mix here. There is a place for government, but not too much. Thus biblical Christianity endorses neither anarchy nor statism.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am not sure that Christians are called to be radical libertarians. Certainly not anarchists.

    I’d agree with that, but I think Christians could do with a larger streak of “libertarianism” in their approach to how a government should be run. Actually I think everybody could. How the government rather than how the Church should be run at any rate. Unfortunately it seems the “libertarians” (or should I say “libertines”) have infiltrated the church but encourage a decidedly anti-libertarian approach to government.

    God created the institution of the state for our good in a fallen world.

    Absolutely Bill, I couldn’t agree with you more, but I would agree with the thinking that governments tend to be a necessary evil because of our fallen state. We need the regulation they provide, but they are just as susceptible to being corrupted by our falleness as anything else is. Which is why limited government is a good idea.

    You say petrol stations are regulated enough. Does that mean if they want to sell heroin to kids on the side, it should be allowed to, so that we do not give the state too many powers?

    No, but the existing regulation would already cover that. I just think we shackle business enough already with regulation and perhaps a different approach would work better. Banning the display of pornography is service stations will do nothing at all to deal with the problem of its demand. Ultimately the demand side of the equation is more of a problem than the supply side.

    And the state already has powers – rightly – about regulating harmful porn as a reflection of community concerns, so no new powers are being asked for here, simply the enforcement of existing powers.

    True enough. I’m just not sure such laws would be especially productive, and that voting with our feet would likely be much more productive. I will side with the effectiveness of human greed over the effectiveness of government regulation to get things done in most cases. It is more a cynicism about government than anything that makes me reluctant to endorse a “there ought to be a law” mentality.

    just a request that existing government regulation be used to protect society and children especially.

    Sure. I just suspect other means would be more effective, that’s all.

    I don’t actually think on some level the supply of pornography is the problem (on some level. I realize how destructive it is and regularly financially support the work of groups like http://thepinkcross.org), the problem is one of demand. The supply side only exists because the demand for the product exists.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks for your comment Debra, I think that reflects much of my thinking on this. The popularity of pornography is a symptom of a deeper problem.
    Jason Rennie

  • Can I just clarify BTW. If I thought it would make a difference i’d criminalize all pornography tomorrow and go back to branding adulterers with the scarlet A, along with bringing back into common usage the words sodomite and fornication, fault in divorce, stigmatizing out of wedlock births, and a host of other things that would have people accusing me of being “puritanical” in my approach to sex.

    It would be great, but I also think it would be well ahead of where the culture is at morally, and as the debacle of prohibition showed in the US, you can’t successfully criminalize and stigmatize things that people on the whole see as “harmless”, regardless of the truth.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Jason

    You say “I just suspect other means would be more effective” but you don’t spell these out. Please do.

    All this new proposal has been about is not banning porn but simply restricting its access. Places like milk bars and other very public places where children are present is what is being considered here. I do not see that as being overly draconian nor giving government to many extra powers.

    As a father as well as a Christian and a small government conservative, I have no problems with such a proposal at all.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Jason

    Of course going from one extreme to another is not quite the way to proceed here (no bans – branding people). All societies must trade off personal freedoms for the common good. It is never and easy task, but it must be attempted.

    As to prohibition, I don’t buy the libertarian line on that. As I have written elsewhere: “But the facts speak otherwise. During Prohibition in America, consumption of alcohol declined substantially, as did the cirrhosis death rate for men (cut by two-thirds between 1911 and 1929), and arrests for public drunkenness dropped 50 per cent between 1919 and 1922.”

    And in a discussion about drugs I also wrote this:

    Ironically, one person advocating drug legalisation is also a world authority on market forces. Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman said several years ago, “Legalizing drugs might increase the number of addicts, but it is not clear that it would. Forbidden fruit is attractive, particularly to the young.” But as James Q. Wilson wisely pointed out, “I suppose that we should expect no increase in Porsche sales if we cut the price by 95 percent, no increase in whiskey sales if we cut the price by a comparable amount – because young people only want fast cars and strong liquor when they are ‘forbidden’.”

    But civil libertarians and social conservatives disagree about such matters. I am more happy to see limited government promoted in such areas as economics, but not so much in moral and social areas.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I am inclined to think that organized boycotts would be more effective. The problem is that the various store owners will scream a lot about a loss of revenue and the like if such laws are passed/enforced. This might be ok, but I suspect the backlash against such “woserism” would result in things being worse than they are now. Maybe not, but I would wager a small some of money that the effects would probably be on the whole problematic and counter productive.

    However a concerted effort and campaign to not shop at stores that openly display pornography would have the advantage of hitting the “displayers” (for want of a better word) where they will feel it the most (assuming it was wide spread enough) and would also allow groups advocating for such a boycott to quite honestly and forthrightly claim that people can do as they please, and that they are exercising the same freedom as everybody else and not seeking to “force their religion” down anybodies throat.

    I suspect if successful, it might be a good lesson for everybody.

    I agree it wouldn’t be overly draconian to enforce such laws, but I suspect it would be counter productive in the long run.

    Jason Rennie

  • Of course going from one extreme to another is not quite the way to proceed here (no bans – branding people).

    Of course. I just wanted to be clear that I thought the pornification of the culture was a negative thing. I don’t like it, I am just trying to be a realist. Plus I really don’t like the “there ought to be a law” mentality that is so prevalent and I don’t like to see it encouraged.

    As to prohibition, I don’t buy the libertarian line on that. As I have written elsewhere: “But the facts speak otherwise. During Prohibition in America, consumption of alcohol declined substantially, as did the cirrhosis death rate for men (cut by two-thirds between 1911 and 1929), and arrests for public drunkenness dropped 50 per cent between 1919 and 1922.”

    It also saw the rise of organized crime and other social maladies. I guess it is a question of which result is worse. Everything is a trade off.

    One thing that I think is missed is that criminalization of things that people don’t think is wrong, makes them into lawbreakers for something they think is innocent. That isn’t going to be good for a general respect for law and order.

    But civil libertarians and social conservatives disagree about such matters. I am more happy to see limited government promoted in such areas as economics, but not so much in moral and social areas.

    Please don’t call me a civil libertarian! I am definitely a social conservative, but I am inclined to a certain attempt at realism (or at least I hope so) about what is possible vs what would be desirable. I’m also sensitive to unintended consequences, and one thing that is clear from the history of government regulation of things is that they tend to be long on unintended consequences. So I prefer approaches that are likely to have fewer unintended consequences.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Jason

    I am not sure how such a proposal would in any way be “counter productive in the long run”. If it keeps children – and adults – from harmful porn, and saves some from a spiralling out of control life of sexual addiction, that can only be a very good thing. If that makes it a bit more difficult for adults to get their fix of smut, tough beans.

    And recall that an overemphasis on letting adults do whatever they at the expense of the wellbeing and rights of the community and children (which is effectively what you seem to be doing here) also undermines all the arguments agisnt other things that I at least am trying to make (such as same-sex marriage and homosexual adoption rights). By your reasoning, Christians should not oppose these things either, for fear of expanding the powers of government.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Jason

    As to: “One thing that I think is missed is that criminalization of things that people don’t think is wrong, makes them into lawbreakers for something they think is innocent”. Sorry, but many criminals don’t think what they are doing is wrong. Many pedophiles for example think what they are doing is quite alright. So should we legalise this so they don’t feel bad about it?

    And in a fallen world there will always be “unintended consequences”. So what? Should we abolish all laws to ensure that this does not happen? A political realist takes into account the biblical doctrine of human depravity, and the need to put brakes on destructive appetites and behaviours which not only harm individuals, but harm societies, harm others, and harm children. Pornography is clearly in this camp. So I don’t think we need to be apologists for porn users. I am not ashamed at all to point out that the use of porn has no socially redeeming benefits whatsoever, but has plenty of negative consequences. So I am not ashamed to see restrictions on it, including the rather innocuous and minimalist restrictions being proposed here.

    By the way with all these comments flying back and forth, we are starting to fly over one another here!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I am not sure how such a proposal would in any way be “counter productive in the long run”. If it keeps children – and adults – from harmful porn, and saves some from a spiralling out of control life of sexual addiction, that can only be a very good thing.

    Sure. I don’t thin it would keep them from it though Bill, not in any significant fashion. I’ve yet to meet a porn addict that got started from something that purchased over the counter at a service station.

    And as I said, there will be much screaming from groups that this law effects there bottom line and is unfair persecution from a pack of wowsers. Do you really doubt that is how it would play out in the media ?

    If that makes it a bit more difficult for adults to get their fix of smut, tough beans.

    Sure, but again, I don’t think it would in practice.

    And recall that an overemphasis on letting adults do whatever they at the expense of the wellbeing and rights of the community and children (which is effectively what you seem to be doing here) also undermines all the arguments agisnt other things that I at least am trying to make (such as same-sex marriage and homosexual adoption rights).

    Maybe in part. Although the problem is a sense of narcissism and entitlement that pervades the culture. I think this is maybe just trying to apply a band aid to a sucking chest wound.

    By your reasoning, Christians should not oppose these things either, for fear of expanding the powers of government

    Come on Bill, you are much smarter than that. Also, to be honest, allowing same sex adoption and homosexual marriage “rights” would be an expansion not a contraction of governments meddling in peoples private lives.

    I think what it comes down to, is that I don’t think laws are a very good instrument for this sort of thing because they are very blunt instruments.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Jason

    And how many porn addicts do you know Jason? The social science literature on this is quite clear: soft porn is how it all begins, leading to harder porn and various sexual addictions and problems. So you are quite wrong here.

    And this is a perfectly honest and non ad hominem question: do you have any children Jason? I find those who seem rather cavalier about these sorts of issues usually do not have children of their own. Of course one can argue for the civil libertarian line on this whether one has kids or not. But it is always interesting to see where people are coming from.

    A bit of realism tends to enter this discussion when it gets out of the realm of mere social theory and into the realm of my own family and my own children and the very real dangers they face with easy access to harmful porn.

    I do indeed hope you are a social conservative Jason, but everything you have said so far here makes you – at least on this particular issue – a civil libertarian.

    But hey, we are sort of monopolising the comments here! Other folks can feel free to enter in.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Sorry, but many criminals don’t think what they are doing is wrong. Many pedophiles for example think what they are doing is quite alright. So should we legalise this so they don’t feel bad about it?

    Actually I think your example perfectly makes my point Bill. There is a stigma associated with sex with children and a general revulsion to it across the community. That is why, in spite of a few sicko’s in favor of it, laws against pedophilia are so successful.

    But when you seek to criminalize behavior that is considered basically benign or at least harmless, you run the danger of turning otherwise law abiding citizens into law breakers, which will diminish the respect for law and order across the society.

    Again, I agree it would be great to ban it entirely. But I suspect the way it would play out would be counter productive and have unintended consequences. I don’t say this lightly either. I know first hand the wreckage pornography and associated evils can wreak.

    And in a fallen world there will always be “unintended consequences”. So what? Should we abolish all laws to ensure that this does not happen?

    Of course not. I’m just suggesting that caution be used as it seems that there is a clear likely consequence that would be counter productive. You yourself admit the media would happily paint this as a bunch of wowsers trying to be kill joys and paint the purveyors of this filth as the victims here. What good would come from that? I suspect the victory would be ultimately pyrrhic and nobody wants that.

    Pornography is clearly in this camp. So I don’t think we need to be apologists for porn users. I am not ashamed at all to point out that the use of porn has no socially redeeming benefits whatsoever, but has plenty of negative consequences.

    Absolutely true. I’m not denying that society would be better off if we had greater respect for the sexual powers and took their use more seriously. Unfortunately we don’t as a society and that is the problem that many of these things are symptoms of.

    So I am not ashamed to see restrictions on it, including the rather innocuous and minimalist restrictions being proposed here.
    I’d be happy to see restrictions as well, as long as the victory achieved is not pyrrhic.

    Why would a concerted boycott campaign not prove useful ? Especially if the sentiment is widely felt in the culture.

    The last thing you’d want to see is some sort of perverse case of someone choosing to flout the law and display pornography and then being held up as some sort of civil rights martyr. Surely that would be worse than the status quo. And I don’t think such an outcome (sadly) is far fetched (if only).

    Jason Rennie

  • Hi Bill,
    I would like to add my very basic thoughts here please. Yes maybe there will be problems if ‘gov’ intervenes and some people may even get upset. But i dont remember Jesus walking around saying to his disiples, “now careful we dont upset anyone”. or “its ok they are praying to baal the main thing is we dont”.
    Daniel Kempton

  • Thanks Jason

    We have both probably made our points by now, so I don’t wish to belabour this or drag it on much further. Just one final thing if I may, you speak of “behaviour that is considered basically benign or at least harmless”. But that is where we seem to disagree. By any measure I believe pornography consumption is harmful – it damages everyone who comes into contact with it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Pornography is dangerous, no doubts about it, it is extreemely addictive and it usually starts with soft core mediums. It is proven that pornography is addictive, progressive, and destructive and is the leading cause of many peoples sexual orientation. As a Minister of 5 Churches and 17 years of flat out Christian ministry the No 1 reason given to myself and Ministers from people who are struggling Christians as well as new converts regarding their sexual struggles and orientations is the introduction of pornography (usually soft core as a child) into their lives. People are literally begging us to help them establish right accountability within their lives so that they simply cannot have easy access to pornography through such things as the internet, pornography should be made illegal, it warps the mind of what is right and straight and dehumanizes people. It is everywhere and the tide is coming in more and more, action must be taken against such.
    Dorian Ballard

  • Thanks Dorian

    Yes, I have been told by marriage counsellors that up to 85% of the cases of marriage breakdown they deal with is due, at least in part, to pornography. Given how immensely destructive it is, anything we can to do reduce its easy availability, certainly to kids, is surly a very good thing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • There was a big debate surrounding porn going on in South Africa untill recently. DSTV, the supplier of Sattelite tv to SA and many parts of Africa, tested the market’s position towards the introduction of an additional “adult viewing boquet”. At an extra cost, DSTV subscribers would then be able to subscribe to the porn channels each month. Petitions went around and one of them collected around 40 000 signatures against the introduction of porn channels. DSTV was amazed at what happened as they did not expect such a deliberate response -they merely wanted to see how the issue would sit with the public – and decided to not introduce such channels at this stage. The debate then only started in the papers and on blogs among the general public.

    The big argument from the pro-porn camp came from the position that they felt everyone should have the freedom of choice. Freedom of choice, even it meant definite destruction? This was the big question that I had and that upset me a bit. People would fight for a principle such as freedom of choice even if it meant that that so-called freedom would destroy lives and could not in any possible way influence anyone positively. No one came forward to share their personal testimony of how porn changed their life for the better. People are not always fit to choose and make quality decisions, especially when it comes to addictive material/substances. Good on government if they put restrictions in place which promote a healthier functioning society and protect individuals from harming themselves.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  • Peter Tatchell’s view of pornography will soon be commonplace. Scroll down to Pornography on slide bar to left of page http://www.petertatchell.net/
    David Skinner, UK

  • We have both probably made our points by now, so I don’t wish to belabour this or drag it on much further. Just one final thing if I may, you speak of “behaviour that is considered basically benign or at least harmless”. But that is where we seem to disagree. By any measure I believe pornography consumption is harmful – it damages everyone who comes into contact with it.
    Just to clarify Bill, that I think we are talking past each other. I don’t disagree with you, I think pornography is dreadfully destructive to the actors, producers and consumers of it. I don’t think it is in any way harmless.

    What I was trying to say was that the culture as a whole tends to regard porn’s use to be “mostly harmless”. Certainly those in the media and others seem to regard it as “mostly harmless”.

    My concern was directed at this reality about how the wider culture sees pornography and not at some suggestion that I thought pornography was harmless.

    Perhaps that puts our perceived disagreement in a different light. Hopefully so.

    Jason Rennie

  • Seeing that the subject has broadened a little into the general effects of pornography as such, may I recommend that anybody who has issues with viewing pornography, or even just controlling internet usage in their household, they consider a change in ISP to Webshield. This small company from South Australia runs an excellent service that is quite customizable to whatever sites and even times you wish and does not require any software to be loaded onto your computer whatsoever. The guy who set it up did so as a result of the suicides of two young men he knew and although it’s more expensive than an unfiltered service, you may also want to consider what peace of mind is worth.
    The service is Australia wide and it shouldn’t matter which telephone provider you are with.
    Sorry about the ad.
    http://www.webshield.net.au
    Mark Rabich

  • Good to see that more actors are starting to say no to overt sex in movies.

    I know that Kirk Cameron of Growing pains fame wont even kiss another women in any of his movies. His wife was brought in for the final kissing scene in Fireproof. Hopefully more people will start to stand on their morals rather then just go with the flow and accept what some call normal.

    Paul Wakeford

  • Jason,

    I take issue with your suggestion that as Christians we should only promote in legislation “what is possible” rather than “what would be desirable”. Why is it up to Christians to compromise our values so as to accommodate those of the secularists? Do the secularists give a damn about Christian values and attempt to accommodate them in their legislative agendas? Quite the contrary, they are flat out doing everything they can to eliminate Christian morality from the public square.

    If advocating a total ban on porn causes the ungodly to call me a “wowser” then so be it. I frankly couldn’t care less, in fact I would wear it as a badge of honour. Furthermore, I think it would be a very healthy thing if Christians returned to using terms like “fornication” and “living in sin” in their proper contexts. It’s partly because of the genuflection of Christians to the standards of modern popular culture that has seen all kinds of perversions tolerated and normalised.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • I take issue with your suggestion that as Christians we should only promote in legislation “what is possible” rather than “what would be desirable”. Why is it up to Christians to compromise our values so as to accommodate those of the secularists?

    Because getting legislation through is a matter of what is possible not what is ideal. Is it better to have some legislation that achieves some of your aims that can pass or legislation that achieves all of your aims and is unable to be passed?

    Any proposition in terms of legislation needs to be done in terms of what is possible because there are no other terms that make sense.

    Do the secularists give a damn about Christian values and attempt to accommodate them in their legislative agendas?

    Where that is a constituency they need to get on board for the votes to pass, then yes they do.

    If advocating a total ban on porn causes the ungodly to call me a “wowser” then so be it. I frankly couldn’t care less, in fact I would wear it as a badge of honour.

    You might, but if such stereotyping ultimately results in the legislation being over turned in a back lack and you ending up with a more permissive environment than we have right now then badge of honour or not you will have harmed your cause rather than helped it.

    Surely it makes no sense to take one step forward only to later take two steps backwards.

    Furthermore, I think it would be a very healthy thing if Christians returned to using terms like “fornication” and “living in sin” in their proper contexts. It’s partly because of the genuflection of Christians to the standards of modern popular culture that has seen all kinds of perversions tolerated and normalized.

    I agree with you and I wish more Christians would use such language.

    But here is the thing. The culture didn’t get into this mess over night, it has been a gradual process over time. It will take a similar process (or a miracle of God, something to prayer for, or an over throw of government and replacing it with a much more authoritarian government) to reverse the process.

    Look, I am all for passing what legislation we can. But the culture as a whole tends to view pornography (at least the soft-core stuff) as “mostly harmless”. Until they view it differently (think smoking 50 years ago, that was “mostly harmless” as well) you will have a hard time getting laws passed to control and ban the stuff.

    By the way, I don’t think we need to accommodate the sensibilities of the enemy (the secularists in this case) but you do need to accommodate the general moral climate of the culture and you can’t expect they will happily go along with banning or restricting something that they regard as “mostly harmless”.

    Does none of this make sense?

    Look at the case of an evil like abortion in the US. A law passed in a state to ban it outright will simply be overturned, but states had great results passing entirely reasonable laws on things like a requirement that a doctor performing abortions be registered in the state in question. This law did wonders to shut down abortion clinics because they couldn’t find doctors as often the abortion doctors are from out of state. This is perhaps the sort of out side of the box thinking that would achieve the desired end without immediately tripping over the people who are “in the middle”.

    Politics is the art of the possible. It is ugly and messy and full of compromise, but that is the nature of the beast.

    Jason Rennie

  • Jason, I agree with much of what you say concerning the fact that politics is the art of compromise, however I differ in when and how to apply that strategy. As Christians our starting point should be a no compromise position and from this position we can then negotiate some kind of lesser of two evils compromise with our opponents if need be. I have been a candidate for a Christian party, and my preference is to be up-front about what Christian morality says and how that would translate into law via government.

    When in campaign mode there is no need or reason to start advocating compromise positions. If the electorate doesn’t like the Christian position then it doesn’t have to vote for it. That’s how democracy works. If by God’s providence the Christian candidate is elected to parliament, then begins the “art of compromise” process. You will probably say that there’s little chance within the present (im)moral climate that a candidate openly advocating a return to Christian morality would be elected. I would agree but take the attitude that I would rather be faithful to the biblical program and let God take care of the outcomes.

    As for your suggestion that to advocate for the Christian view may result in a backlash which then may mean we end up with a “more permissive environment”, how could we possibly predict this even if you think it possible? A better tactic is to simply advocate for what we know to be the righteous position (i.e ban all porn) and trust God that since we are honouring His righteous standards the result won’t be even more unrighteousness. How bizarre to think that promoting righteousness could result in unrighteousness!

    I believe Wilberforce, although taking years to eventually stop the slave trade (and doing so by measures other than an outright ban), did not start out by compromising with the slave traders of his day. Bill can correct me if I am wrong, but was he not openly opposed to the practice of owning slaves from time he involved himself in the issue?

    Leaving the example of Christian political parties aside and considering the situation whereby Christian and pro-family groups are lobbying governments to restrict porn for example, I still think the Christians should not be afraid to state our preferred position (i.e. that all porn should be banned). From such a position we certainly can and should work for an incremental implementation of our policies, but I don’t see why we should at the outset put forward a compromise position as if it were our considered preferred position.

    You said, “I don’t think we need to accommodate the sensibilities of the enemy (the secularists in this case) but you do need to accommodate the general moral climate of the culture and you can’t expect they will happily go along with banning or restricting something that they regard as ‘mostly harmless’.” But isn’t “accommodating the sensibilities of the secularists” and “accommodating the general moral climate of the culture” basically the same thing since the secular moral view is now basically the reigning moral climate of the culture? I think we do need to be aware as to where the “general moral climate of the culture” is at, but not try and accommodate it. And I don’t expect most to “happily go along with” the Christian moral viewpoint, but I at least expect Christians to stand firm and continue to witness to the truth of it nevertheless.

    It’s true that “our culture didn’t get into this mess overnight”, and that it’s going to be a long and difficult process to ever get back to some level of moral sanity again. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is achievable short of a nationwide Christian Revival. Christians can only have a limited influence on society through government considering we are such a small minority now. Much better that reform happens from the bottom-up than from the top-down, but having said that, we still have an important role to play in politics. We can be witnesses for righteousness and since law has a pedagogical effect, simply advocating for laws based upon a Christian moral code is going to have some positive impact.

    Concerning the example of abortion in the USA, I don’t think that pro-life activists deliberately avoided advocating for a ban on abortion so as to avoid “tripping over the people who are in the middle.” The numbers simply have not been there to criminalise abortion so those other measures you mention were the best that could be achieved under the circumstances. But at all times many pro-life groups rightly continue to proclaim the message that abortion ultimately should be outlawed. I’m suggesting that we do the same across the full spectrum of the moral social issues.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • As for your suggestion that to advocate for the Christian view may result in a backlash which then may mean we end up with a “more permissive environment”, how could we possibly predict this even if you think it possible?

    Because we’ve seen it happen before. It will be pitched as a bunch of “wowsers” seeking to spoil peoples harmless distraction. This will make ppl sympathetic to the sale of this “harmless distraction”.

    Heck, look how much sympathy abortion provideres in the US get when someone shoots one of these blood drenched animals.

    A better tactic is to simply advocate for what we know to be the righteous position (i.e ban all porn) and trust God that since we are honouring His righteous standards the result won’t be even more unrighteousness. How bizarre to think that promoting righteousness could result in unrighteousness!

    Such is the nature of morality and law making. If you push harder than the society can bare and get to far ahead of where it is morally, it will push back against you.

    Changes to laws needs to be done slowly because rapid law change has negative effects.

    This is actually why I suggested a boycott as a more fruitful endeavor. It doesn’t “push your morality” on anybody, but it is effective in taking a stand. Especially if the feeling is actually quite wide spread in the community. I suspect the tolerance for pornography is actually much less than the wider media would like us to believe, but nobody is doing anything about it.

    Jason Rennie

  • Jason, you said:

    Because we’ve seen it happen before. It will be pitched as a bunch of “wowsers” seeking to spoil peoples harmless distraction. This will make ppl sympathetic to the sale of this “harmless distraction”.

    Heck, look how much sympathy abortion provideres in the US get when someone shoots one of these blood drenched animals.

    Can we have an example please? I don’t believe that the example of shooting an abortionist is relevant. And again, how could we predict the outcome anyway?

    Such is the nature of morality and law making. If you push harder than the society can bare and get to far ahead of where it is morally, it will push back against you.

    Even assuming you’re right about this, how do we judge whether or not we are “pushing harder than the society can bare”? It’s all so subjective.

    Changes to laws needs to be done slowly because rapid law change has negative effects.

    Even if this were true concerning our discussion about laws regulating porn, changes are not likely to happen rapidly because the democratic process will not allow it. Even if all Christian lobby groups immediately started advocating for a total prohibition on porn (and I wish they would), it’s not going to happen instantly due to the realities of politics.

    The secular left dominate government at present meaning there is little chance of an immediate radical improvement, so what are you worrying about? It’s not even possible that laws could get “far ahead” of where society is morally.

    You might then ask why we would want to advocate a position that we know we can’t achieve in the short term? In addition to the reasons I gave in my previous reply, I would also add that in doing so we would be fulfilling our role as prophetic witnesses to a society in declension.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Ewan I agree with you. This is really limiting God’s power. Trying to get through a little bit of a law change is the better plan? Like you said, “start at a moral high ground and then negotiate” well not in those words but that’s how it sounds to me. To me, letting God take the wheel, instead of me trying to drive. Anyway the “little bit of control of the porn industry” isn’t working is it? Because that’s what we have now. I mean if they had their way now, we would have triple xxx in the movie theatres now right?
    Bless you all.
    Daniel Kempton

  • It has recently come to our attention that the disgusting ”horror” film, “House of Flesh Mannequins,” will be shown at the “A Night of Horror Film Festival ,” in Sydney on Thursday April 22.
    This film is nothing but an excuse for perversion and pornography. It features sex and acts of perversion performed by pornographic and “fetish” “film stars.” It even has a child in the cast!
    When the film was shown at a similar festival in the US, many of the festivalgoers walked out. As you can see from the attached article the director of the festival even questioned her own (liberal) taste by showing this piece of filth.
    http://www.thehorrorpress.com/2009/12/house-of-flesh-mannequins-disgust.html
    http://www.filmink.com.au/filmbiz/notice/2274/
    In the US we have no classifications for such trash. But you in Australia can remedy this problem. The film must be RC.
    Thank you for your time and trouble.
    Sincerely,
    Bob Jones

  • Dear Bill M.

    Now I do have to admit that you are right as in touching: turning the porn tide? For there did a teenager age of 14-15 madly want to be erupted by the fancies’ of teenage and beyond that range of ladies. He was into the hunt to find joy which must be a part of him at all times, which he could not find even though he search diligently of the internet for sexual feelings. Nonetheless the devil had not a stand in His life, for I can tell you that this teenager at now this day is fully committed in seeking to glorify the King of praise whom is Christ Jesus the true risen Lord and saviour. For the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the risen saviour JESUS Christ of Nazareth whom was and is mighty in words before God and men). The Omnipotent, supremo and never changing His word, for who so ever that the Son of Man shall set free shall be free indeed. (Amen).

    Sunday Babatunde Teniola

  • Dear Bill,

    When I found this article this afternoon I immediately thought of something, which I discovered several years ago when I had serious problems with one of my children, and that is the use of characters from children’s cartoons in pornography.

    Why is it that the owners of these cartoons don’t take legal action against the people responsible for this cartoon porn?

    I can recall a case where someone created a “Simpsons” screen-saver, and he was jumped on very quickly – not so the pornography industry.

    Donald Battaglini

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