MSNBC's Brian Alexander has an excellent piece about the Attorney General's new War on Porn. I don't think that the government should completely ignore minor law enforcement problems just because there are higher priorities like counter-terrorism. However, as Alexander points out, studies show that porn isn't a problem! A.G. A.G. should stop wasting taxpayer dollars scanning porn sites, and go after some actual criminals.
It is my opinion that Alberto Gonzales is engaged in political pandering to two constituencies: the religious wingnuts who see sex for pleasure as the root of all evil, and a vocal minority of parents who want the government to be responsible for raising their kids their way.
I'm not saying that a parent's job is an easy one. Quite the contrary. The ubiquity of online porn makes it difficult for children surf safely. However, there's no practical alternative to conscientious parental guidance (and good Web filtering) in this case. We can't effectively police the entire Internet without disconnecting huge chunks of it. That would hurt everything from trade to democracy to human rights.
In my opinion, parents should explain to children precisely what is and isn't acceptable activity, and parents should feel justified in setting reasonable limits on their childrens' behavior. Even if that means that their kids can't take part in every teenage social event, or can't surf the Internet without some form of supervision or surveillance.
Creating safety zones for teens is time-consuming, and comes with great responsibility. Simply erecting an information shield around the child to prevent access to all things sexual doesn't sound like a workable plan to me. Young people deserve information about safe sex and their sexual development, and they should get that information from appropriate sources (e.g., their parents).
Okay, so I'm not saying anything radical, here. I reckon most people would agree that, ideally, teens should be celibate. What about sex among consenting adults?
In my view, sex is like a blue sky or a starry night. Sex is something to be enjoyed and appreciated, something that enhances our quality of life. I think it's mean-spirited and malicious to make people feel guilty for enjoying the innocent gifts that Nature has provided to us. And the pleasure of sex is an especially good gift.
This is why authoritarian efforts to stifle consensual sexual behavior, or speech about such behavior, really bothers me. If anything, we should be making sex more wonderful, more safe, more socially acceptable and more available to adults. We should be fighting the social ills that are correlated with sexual activity, not fighting or stigmatizing the act itself.