My top three stories (aside from all the hoopla about Herman Cain (see my blog Narcissism, Sex, Power and Herman Cain 11/2/11) relate to the utterly over-the-top, flailing around that is taking place in the attempt to respond to the epidemic of internet pornography addiction and child pornography.
First is a story in the Chicago Tribune from which reports that the Wisconsin state Assembly had before it a bill to make the viewing of pornography on a school district’s computer reason to revoke a teacher’s license. This is reportedly built on the notion that teachers’ licenses should be revoked for “immoral conduct.”
What are we to make of this? The 2010 Neilson data showed that more than 25% of those with internet access at work viewed pornography during working hours (an increase from the 2007 figures). Another statistic from the Internet Filter Software Review states that a total of 40 millionU.S.adults regularly visit pornography websites, and that 20% of men say they access pornography at work.
My own opinion is that most attempts to outlaw pornography are probably not going to make much of a dent in the epidemic. A second story from Forbes.com reports that a 22 year old man fromLong Beachdeveloped an online relationship with a 10 year old boy fromOklahomawhom he met online while they were both playing the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on their Xbox LIVE gaming stations. The upshot was that the man got the boy to text him phone photos of his genitals. I mention this disaster only to illustrate the idea that where there’s a web there’s a way and that the attempt to stem the tide of sex addiction by making pornography illegal may be as effective as prohibition was is addressing alcohol use, let alone alcohol addiction, which is to say not at all.
The third article that caught my eye was one from the New York Times with the headline “Life Sentence for Possession of Child Pornography Spurs Debate over Severity.” This is for real. Many sensational headline cases of excessive sentences for child porn viewing turn out to be cases where the defendant had also committed “contact offenses” such as child molestation. Not so in this case. Here a circuit court judge inFloridaon Thursday gave a sentence of life without parole to a 26-year-old stockroom worker who had hundreds of pornographic images of children on his home computer. The man had no previous criminal record. The article points out that “…a growing body of scientific research shows that …many passive viewers of child pornography never molest children” and that “…we ought to punish people for what they do, not for our fear.” The question remains whether punishing everybody who becomes obsessed with pornography of whatever kind will solve the problem anyway, even if the punishment is “appropriate.” The whole idea of sexual obsession as a disease (like alcoholism) is lost in the debate. So is the idea of rehabilitation and recovery through treatment.