(Photo: © Artur Marciniec - Fotolia.com)
You know morality and common sense are both under siege when a
plainly obnoxious practice is regarded with complacency and even
respect. “Defining deviancy down,” the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an
astute social observer, called it.
Draw your own conclusions therefore from the news that a journal called Porn Studies has arrived on the scene accompanied by the inevitable pseudo-scientific blather. Soon to come: The Bestiality Quarterly and The Review of Necrophilia? Just wait and see.
The scientific study of pornography as a symptom of sickness might actually have some value. But a writer on the Culture of Life website expresses skepticism about Porn Studies since
it originates with the same publishing group responsible for a journal
of homosexuality that serves largely as an advocate for the gay
Even so, one has to agree with the editors’ rationale
that pornography deserves study because it’s important to so many
people. What they don’t say is that it coarsens the cultural and moral
landscape and blights lives.
With the exception of child
pornographystill widely deplored and occasionally punished by
lawpornography is now taken for granted in the United States, a kind of
background noise you’re supposedly free to ignore if you don’t like it.
The Supreme Court used to wrestle with the issue occasionally, but
having lowered the legal bars, these days it generally leaves it alone.
It’s the price you have to pay for free speech, we’re told. And after
all, pornography does no real harm.
Really? Pope Francis cut to
the heart of it in his message for Lent, listing pornography along with
addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling as a form of “moral
destitution” whose essence is “slavery to vice and sin.” Often, he
noted, it begins with the young.
A central reason for the spread
of pornography is that some people get rich from it, thereby
capitalizing on the weakness of others. One estimate places the annual
value of the U.S. “adult video” trade alone at $20 billion. Pornography
is a pervasive presence on the Internet, with an estimated 12% of all
websites featuring it.
Confessors report that the use of
pornography has become a grievous problem for many men. It is a factor
in many cases of marriage breakdown, parent-child conflict, and other
forms of individual and social pathology. If all this isn’t real harm,
then it’s hard to say what real harm would look like. Yet our courts,
acting as agents of a secular cultural elite, have decreed a hands-off
a degree that my father could never have imagined, today’s father must
protect himself and his children from the relentless assault of an
increasingly pornographic culture; moreover, mothers share this sacred
home now stands in the pathway of this attack on our children’s
innocence and purity. If we are not vigilant, our sons and daughters
will pay a step and heartrending price.
These words come from a pastoral letter, Bought With a Price, by Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va. Its subtitle: Every Man’s Duty To Protect Himself and His Family from a Pornographic Culture.
Bishop Loverde originally published his letter in 2006. Recently he
issued it in an expanded form because the problem has gotten worse.
the quote makes clear, its message is that the solution is up to
everyone, with fathers at the top of the list. No one else will do it
for us. Least of all, the editors of Porn Studies.