Online porn should be banned and it’s long overdue

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What I am about to suggest will seem bizarre, maybe even impossible, but hear me out. The United States should seek to ban hardcore pornography from the internet. The most obvious reason to do this is that children are inundated with an avalanche of smut. We learned in a 2019 study from the British Board of Film Classification that 51 percent of 11 to 13-year-olds had seen pornography online. 

This means tens of millions of very young children are watching hardcore pornography because we, as a society, frankly without much thought or discussion, have decided to allow it. This, despite the fact that one can still be arrested for handing a pornographic magazine to a child. Those two things make no sense together.  

And it’s not just kids, pornography has corrosive effects all over society, including for those in front of the camera. And it’s not just pornography either, it’s the internet itself that exacerbates the problem. Porn has existed for centuries, pornographic movies for decades, but never before the internet was an endless panoply of sexual material at our fingertips every waking hour of the day. 

For 30 years, we have treated the Internet like it’s, for some reason, untouchable by the state, this includes social media and big tech censorship, as well as porn. The internet intersects with our daily lives so wholly now, that this Wild West approach is simply no longer tenable. There is actually no reason why an information superhighway can’t or shouldn’t have rules of the road. Rules that protect kids from obscenity or stop important, accurate stories about laptops, for example, from being erased. 

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Online porn should be banned and it's long overdue

Florida Sen. Lauren Book speaks with Fox News digital about legislation that would strengthen Florida’s revenge porn law.
(Fox Digital)

And, of course, we do have some rules, regarding child porn, fraud, identity theft, and defamation to name a few. But when it comes to pornography, our society has been oddly permissive.  

For decades now, the internet has felt like something that is happening to us, not something we control. Its ubiquity makes it seem immune to our will, but there is no a priori precept that says porn needs to be widely available, for free, with no age verification, for anyone of any age to consume online.  

There are predictable objections to banning online porn, or even limiting access to it. Armchair libertarians, hands thrown up, say there is nothing we can do to stop young kids from watching it. “How can you even define it,” they ask. The Supreme Court has its famous and vague, “I know it when I see it” standard, but it can certainly be defined, this is not an epistemological quandary we need to surrender to. As to free speech, people are free to make porn, but they are responsible for where it goes. 

We are told that banning porn is impractical, people will find a way around it, and of course, that’s true of every law, we pass them anyway. Finally, we are told that this is up to parents, as if kids don’t go to libraries, or schools, or have friends. In this “year of the parent,” we have learned that many do not want to co-parent with the state, but they also see the need for state action to protect kids, such as bans on drag shows for them. 

Online porn should be banned and it's long overdue

In 1994, when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani began the transformation of crime and poverty ridden New York City, one of his first actions was to kick the porn theaters out of Times Square. It was not a minor policy, what he understood was that those coursing avenues are the public square, and porn was choking the life out of it. Today the public square is in the palm of our hands, and it is time to tear down the virtual porn theaters.  

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Porn would still be available in all of its other myriad forms, all of which are vastly more protective of children.  

If banning porn from the Internet seems like a radical idea, it is, but allow me to suggest that we have a radical problem on our hands, and if the delivery method supplying our kids with porn was anything other than the Internet, we’d have banned it long ago.  

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If there are more moderate but effective solutions out there, great. But what is not acceptable is to remain in this powerless slumber in the face of a drastic and harmful change in our society. We shouldn’t learn to live with kids having unfettered access to porn. We should stop it.  

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