Archive for August 19th, 2011

There are none so blind as them that will not see.  –  English proverb

Judging by the comments, some of my readers still aren’t convinced that “liberal” and “conservative” have become mere insults for political imbeciles to hurl at each other, nonsense words with about as much meaning as “poopyhead” or “cooties”.  In my column of June 13th I pointed out that most neofeminist rhetoric is not that of a “leftist” political philosophy as it’s usually labeled, but rather that of an anti-sex fundamentalist religion; well, today I’d like to show you the other side of that equation:  a writer from a so-called “conservative” think-tank reverently quoting Andrea Dworkin as though she were William F. Buckley in support of the “theory” that…don’t laugh, now…porn causes terrorism:

…pornography now appears frequently in the possession of violent terrorists and their supporters, including Osama bin Laden.  Regarding “smut” found on captured media, in 2010, a Department of Defense al-Qaeda analyst was quoted in The Atlantic:  “We have terabytes of this stuff.”  Terabytes.  That’s a lot of “smut.”  I wonder whether the pornography of today—now ubiquitous and increasingly grotesque—is one of the influences warping the mentality of those who aspire to or who actually go on to engage in ever more grotesque public violence.  Would those terabytes of pornography and such more aptly be dubbed “terrorbytes”?  Why, after all, would an al-Qaeda affiliate, as reported in 2009 from interrogations in Mauritania, select pornography to target new recruits?  We need to know…

…In a powerful 1993 article, Andrea Dworkin maintains that it was no coincidence that the former Yugoslavia was home to both a free-flow of pornography, which was remarkably fluid and unbounded by the standards of that pre-internet time, and then absolutely horrific violence.  She suggests that the wide circulation of pornography functioned as instruction in “a way of being:  dehumanization of women; bigotry and aggression harnessed to destroying the body of the enemy; invasion as a male right.”  In the former Yugoslavia, “the pornography,” Dworkin argues, “was war propaganda that trained an army of rapists who waited for permission to advance.  An atavistic nationalism provided the trigger and defined the targets.”  Ideas, ideologies, and –isms do matter, but they do not exist in isolation.  Consider an ideology like a seed and the disposition of the mind like soil.  The particular nature of the seed determines what may become of it.  Yet at the same time, the elements of the soil are part and parcel of shaping the manner in which the particular seed grows.  A seed in toxic soil can grow into a terrible distortion of the plant it is meant to become.  What happens when a radical ideology adheres in a pornography-saturated mind?

I believe our country needs to invest in research that questions whether it makes a difference when the minds that advocate for extremist ideologies are minds warped by pornography use.  Perhaps the twisting of the mind that results from pornography has an impact—an exceptionally dark, dangerous impact—on how radicalized individuals act out the concepts of their ideology.  Dworkin raised this specter in 1993, but since then, our general public attitude to the presence of pornography in violent conflict seems virtually unchanged.  Just as in 1993, our tendency today is to dismiss it as simply an indicator that “boys will be boys”…[the seizure of many accused terrorists’ personal effects] presents…an opportunity to bring research to bear on whether or not there is a nexus of influence with pornography and the grotesqueness of some modern conflict-violence.  We may need to invest in understanding the impact of pornography on those who use it, particularly on those who also become obsessed with extremist ideologies.  So, I wonder, is anyone in the U.S. government tracking and surveying the presence and types of pornography on these media?  If we have access to the libraries of the personal pornography preferences of those who support and engage in terrorist violence, we may have a window into the dark corners of their minds.  What lurks there?  It may be to our own peril that we would ignore this information before us.  In seeking to understand terrorists, studying their ideas alone is not enough.  We need to study and understand their minds—and in this day and age, this includes, in perhaps more cases than we are aware of, minds shaped by pornography.

As far as I can tell the author, Jennifer S. Bryson, is serious; she has several advanced degrees and has written a raft of articles, plus a Bible coloring book for children (I am not making this up).  So she knows full well who Dworkin is; she just doesn’t care because their ideology is essentially the same:  suppress and control human beings, especially men, and especially especially forms of sex favored by men.  Both Bryson and Dworkin are (were) willfully blind to male sexuality; they do not understand it because they don’t want to.  It’s much easier just to judge others than to admit that one’s own way of looking at the world isn’t the only one, especially if one is a religious fanatic.

There is, of course, a true link between porn and terrorism, though it isn’t a causative one; the total sex segregation of Muslim society, combined with a shortage of available girls due to polygamy and arranged marriages and a sharp divide between “haves” and “have-nots”, means that there are an awful lot of sexually frustrated young men with no jobs, no prospects and severely impaired judgment who have little hope of ever having sex this side of Paradise (where they are taught they will receive 72 virgins of their very own).  Is it honestly that surprising to Bryson and her cronies that these men love porn?  I’d say it was a sign of serious psychological maladjustment if, given their circumstances, they didn’t collect “terrorbytes” (gag) of the stuff.  Terrorists also have cell phones, TVs, books, cars, food and all sorts of other stuff but nobody’s trying to pretend there’s a causative relationship there because (all together now) sex is somehow different.  It reminds me of the way that religious fanatics and cops of the ‘80s made a big deal if teen suicides owned Ozzy Osbourne records or Dungeons and Dragons books…ignoring, of course, all the teen suicides who had sports paraphernalia or other kinds of books and records.

I’m going to let her demand for an increased surveillance state speak for itself, but I must point out that our country already has “invest[ed] in research that questions whether…minds [are] warped by pornography use,” twice in fact; neither Lyndon Johnson’s Presidential Commission (funded shortly after he left office in 1969) nor Ronald Reagan’s Meese Commission (organized in 1985) could find any evidence that porn “warps minds” or indeed has any harmful social or psychological effects whatsoever, though the latter report concluded with a statement roughly equivalent to “despite the lack of evidence, we say it’s harmful anyway”.  As porn has become more widely available the rates of abortion, divorce, domestic violence, forcible rape, teen pregnancy and sex crimes against children have all markedly decreased, and some studies seem to indicate that the increased availability of porn is at least partly responsible for the decrease in rape.  Of course, fanatics (whether “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Christian”, “feminist” or whatever they choose to call themselves) aren’t interested in studies, except for bogus ones which can be made to “demonstrate” whatever they already believe.

One Year Ago Today

Recognition” explores the awkward situations which can arise when escort and client discover they already know each other.

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