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Archive for December 14th, 2020

I’ve got a new article out in Reason; you can read it on their website, but here’s a taste to get you started:

Mastercard and Visa…announced that they will no longer let customers use their cards on the adult video site Pornhub.  This new policy was prompted by political pressure, making it the latest government victory in a long, censorious quest.

Governments can define actual actions as “crimes” and threaten dire consequences for those actions, but the intangible contents of the human mind are forever out of their reach.  So officials covet the next best thing:  the power to stop individuals from sharing the products of those minds—ideas, fantasies, art—with others.  In America they are constrained by the First Amendment, and so for centuries they’ve dreamed up ways to circumvent that restriction.  The courts have rejected most of these attempts, but one has had remarkable staying power:  an exception for the nebulosity called “obscenity.”  This used to be a fairly hefty cudgel; most big publishers, movie producers, and so on were unwilling to be dragged into court for a principle, and most of those who were willing were too puny to put up much of a defense.  That started to change in the 1980s, when cheap video equipment made it possible to churn out shoestring productions for the new and rapidly-growing home video market…

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