Evan and Gordon Talk: The UK Porn Ban

GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, things are happening in England.

No, no that.

I’m talking about the recent decision by the Cameron government to make pornography blocked by default on British internet service.

EVAN: To segue into us talking about this in earnest, I thought it’d be good to go into our personal experience with this.

No, not that.

I mean that I spent four years in Thailand, a place where a lot of porn sites are blocked by default. To me, this is not really a foreign or strange policy.

GORDON: Seeing as how internet came to Syria relatively a short while ago, and most of the nation was- when I left anyways- still on dial-up, I really couldn’t comment about it. So long as the pornography didn’t question the regime, I guess it may have been tolerated, but I have no idea.

This wasn’t too far off…

EVAN: As far as how I personally feel about it, my personal experience really colours that. I mean, pornography is not being outright censored, people are still going to be able to access it. It doesn’t feel like a big deal to me.

GORDON: I guess I have to ask the obligatory “What is porn?” question.

Game of Thrones has some pretty graphic sex scenes, would it constitute pornography? The Statue of David? The Kiss?

EVAN: So are you worried that R-rated content will be made temporarily inaccessible as well as X-rated content?

GORDON: It wouldn’t the first time something like this has happened in Britain. Heck, just look at Australia.

Not this part…

EVAN: I’m gonna need a little more context. You know I don’t typically keep up with the world outside of Marvel and DC.

I’m also going to assume, based on your answer, that what I mentioned is a concern of yours.

GORDON: You assume correctly.

For example, in Australia, there is (unless something has changed) an outright ban on many video games classified as “violent.”

EVAN: Okay, I guess I see what you’re getting at. Let’s stick to the topic at hand, though, which is pornography.

I don’t really see the issue, since it will continue to be accessible to those old enough to view it. What do you think about it besides the fact that we don’t [the two of us, anyway] have a clear distinction where the line is drawn?

GORDON: Well, as many have already pointed out, spending all this cash to institute a change in a country that’s already suffering some pretty severe infrastructural problems is, well, just stupid.

I’m not going to disagree with that.

And it’s not like British culture isn’t saturated with some pretty raunchy stuff anyways.

But when it comes down to, I don’t like the idea of the government trying to legislate morality.

EVAN: It’s my understanding, and I’ve only skimmed a few articles on this, that this is primarily being done to keep pornography out of the hands of the under-aged.

Even with the above in mind, I can’t fault them for that. I, of course, am viewing this as the act alone, free of the fact that they’re spending an exorbitant money on this.

Looking at it like that, it’s just as much a legal thing, I think.

GORDON: I’m not trying to defend porn here, mind you, I’m trying to defend freedom and responsibility. I don’t think it’s the government’s job to be raising your kids for you. You don’t want your kids looking at porn? Then don’t let ’em. Chuck up a password, block sites- but that’s all your prerogative.

And while we’re at it, just exactly how many eight-year-olds are getting into internet porn? We don’t have any such law in this country, and I haven’t noticed society crumbling.

Blood in the streets.

EVAN: I just don’t see the problem with making it more difficult for kids to get at porn. If they want to get something badly enough they’ll get it, but a deterrent will stop a portion of ’em, and I’m more or less okay with that.

As far as how many eight-year-olds are watching X-rated stuff, I knew of one when I was in middle school. I’m not saying he’s going to turn into some kinda sex criminal when he’s older, I’m just saying it happens.

Would that have happened given this new law? I mean, maybe, but the possibility certainly decreases. In general, just because we haven’t noticed society crumbling isn’t really a good indication of whether anything is good or bad.

GORDON: Well, let me break it down for ya:

I. I will submit that deterring (not blocking, deterring) kids from porn is nowhere near as beneficial to the individual or to society as, I don’t know, funding healthcare, updating schools, providing a free, peaceful, and just society, or pretty much anything else you could do with that time, money, and manpower.

II. While I’d argue that porn is objectifying, deterring access to it doesn’t make go away- if anything, the inaccessibility is just going to make it more appealing to the very people the British government wants to keep it away from.

III. This opens the door to deterring anything some fat, Capitalist lap-dogs feel is “detrimental” to society, which opens the door to outright censorship.

IV. Again, raising your kids is your job, not the government’s. You instill values in them, not the schools, and definitely not whatever office drones have to waste their time monitoring and enforcing all this crap.

EVAN: I. Like I said earlier, we are, or at the very least I am, discussing the act itself and not its socioeconomic repercussions and so on. I don’t disagree with this point except that I don’t feel it as being especially cogent.

II. There’s a pretty apparent parallel in the Akeeps merican legal drinking age and underage drinking, I think. We’ve talked about this before.

III. I think this is the first time we’ve seen really hardcore “It’s Not Easy Being Red” Gordon hereabouts. As far as this point goes, I do have some trouble viewing this as censorship, whether outright or otherwise. The people who are of age to watch porn can still watch porn.

IV. On some level this isn’t even a really “raising your kids” thing. I remember doing research for papers in 7th Grade, and it is not hard to find porn online even if you’re not looking for it. This isn’t just kids who are actively seeking it out, but really just kids in general.

GORDON: Well, speaking as someone who grew up in a country with some of the most brutal levels of censorship on earth, perhaps I’m just a bit more edgy about attempts to do stuff like this

EVAN: That is likely.

GORDON: Still, it just doesn’t stack up.

This doesn’t protect anyone anymore than turning on safe-search in Google.  If a kid wants to find porn, a kid’s going to do so, and in Britain where their tabloids make ours look like Puritan-era newspapers, it’s really not going to be hard to do.

This is why you don’t get an Empire…

It’s just so uncalled for.  This- this– is the immorality the British government is concerned about?

Yeah, let’s let the EDL and BNP and a host of other white-supremacist groups terrorize and murder immigrants, but kids maybe, possibly seeing more than they do in our of our commercials? The horror!

Seriously, Europe has a pretty major white supremacist problem…

EVAN: I think the thing is, as I start to wrap things up, is that we’re viewing this very differently.

You definitely bring a lot of very good, valid points to the table, but ultimately the hyper-racist supergroups that are active in the UK don’t come into this. The main thing that you said is whether or not this is effective.

Honestly, it may not be. As far as I understand, after an adult has okayed porn for the household that’s that, meaning that after taking off the filter everything’s same old same old.

What I agree with is the sentiment of “let’s try to deter kids from looking at pornography.” That I entirely get behind. If this isn’t a plan that really gets things done then that’s disappointing, and it also means that I can’t support it anymore than you currently are.

GORDON: I don’t want to make it sound like I’m okay with the government doing this. What my children do or don’t have access to is up to me as a parent.

‘Course, I want my kids TO read dreck like Atlas Shrugged, Mein Kampf, and Leviathan, so again, I guess I’m biased.

But what do you, the readers, think? Leave your comments below, as well as a suggestion for next week’s topic.

EVAN: Seriously, you guys. You all used to be so good at that.

GORDON: Don’t let us down.

EVAN: And, with that barely veiled threat, I’d like to thank you all for reading. You’re all <insert generic compliment here>. Have a good one.

A little parting thought from Dr. Cox, from one of Gordon and my favourite shows.

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7 responses to “Evan and Gordon Talk: The UK Porn Ban

  1. Oh man, would have loved to weigh in on this one. Wrote a paper on porn a few years ago and still have some resources tucked away. I pretty strongly believe that the way porn affects young boys is hugely detrimental. For one thing, younger men tend to end up gravitating towards violent scenarios whereas older men tend to seek out images that at least involve some levels of intimacy – apparently this is linked to spikes of testosterone in youth vs increased estrogen later in life. I don’t really see how that can’t affect someone in their treatment of women, even if it is just in their subconscious perception/ expectations of women. Not to mention the majority of mainstream porn is phallocentric so it sets up terrible expectations about the female body and how it should work.
    Early expose can also affect men’s performance later in life (check out this awesome ted talk on it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU)
    And boys in England do have an increasingly younger age of exposure, and we still don’t fully know the effects of porn on a mind that is still developing (obviously you cant do an experiment on underage kids involving porn).
    I don’t want to throw up too many links in here, but here is an interesting documentary that touches on some of my points above. http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Doc+Zone/ID/2201416792/

    As for the act of legislation, what I’m really curious about is how it will affect cellphones because I think that’s the real source of access. My nieces have told me that they have seen kids on their elementary (grades k to 7) school bus passing around cell phones playing clips of porn.

    • Man, we really need to coordinate a little better. Gordon and I would be more than happy to have you join us for this feature, but we just have to work it out ahead of time.

      Your most interesting point was this one:

      “And boys in England do have an increasingly younger age of exposure, and we still don’t fully know the effects of porn on a mind that is still developing (obviously you cant do an experiment on underage kids involving porn).”

      And I wish I had known this, or that you had mentioned it during our talk. It’s very relevant. As per your earlier comments, I’m going to speak on Gordon’s behalf and say that he wasn’t at any point defending pornography, though it’s of course always beneficial to look into and remember why we keep it away from minors in general.

      • Don’t worry, I didn’t think he was. I mostly just love discussing/researching human sexuality in general so most of my comment wasn’t pertaining to the actual legislation, just interesting interesting info about porn in general.

  2. Like Evan, I think it’s a good idea to try to keep pornography out of the hands of minors, so I see this as a step in the right direction. Maybe it won’t be effective, which would be too bad, but that just means we should come up with another, better solution. Gordon might have problems with the way the UK government is run, but I don’t think the fact that they aren’t doing things about other big issues means they shouldn’t do something about this issue. Like Evan said, it’s not really the question at hand. I don’t think this is censorship. It’s more like an option. Like, instead of assuming that you automatically want pornography with your internet access, the government is telling internet providers to assume that you don’t want pornography, and then you have the option to say, “Yes, actually, I do want pornography.” It’s not really limiting access for anyone except for those for whom it’s already illegal for them to have access (minors).

    And I think Kat’s question about cell phones is really excellent. Does anyone know how this law will affect smartphones?

  3. Suggestion for next week’s discussion: thoughts about what the most prominent communicative media will be in the next ten years, and what that might mean.

  4. Pingback: Why I’m Not Scared Of Porn | Culture War Reporters

  5. Pingback: Culture War Correspondence: Censorship | Culture War Reporters

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