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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Here's a comment on the porn debate that we can all get behind

Well, so I thought. First, the piece in question is over here, by Michelle Griffin.

Many of us worry about internet pornography, or some kinds of it, or some kinds of it when seen by the wrong people, or whatever. It's a complex issue and I don't think there's a straightforward answer, even though I am opposed temperamentally to censorship ... and at the level of principle I want to see stronger arguments made out than anyone has produced so far before I support any tightening up on censorship of pornography. I have a lot of concerns about where that could lead us, and I still have fresh memories of the Bill Henson debate/debacle not all that long ago. Still, I am not dogmatically opposed to taking some action on some kinds of pornography if the right data is provided.

But set all that aside. Who, on any side of this, could possibly object to the idea that sufficiently bright teenagers should be reading books by the likes of Nicholson Baker ... as Griffin argues? I love Nicholson Baker's work, though I haven't yet read House of Holes. I can totally recommend Vox, though, for any teenager. Well-written novels, even, up to some reasonable point or other, supposedly "pornographic" ones, that depict the endless variety of human sexual desire and experience can only be good for teenagers.

Predictably, of course, there are people criticising Griffin about this. I roll my eyes at them. I bite my thumb in their general direction.

1 comment:

Bubblecar said...

OK, I'll try a bit of gentle opposition:

"Let's arm adolescents against the reductive messages of commercialised porn"

Hmm, is it all that "reductive"? Sexual behaviour itself is inherently a rather limited experience. And in what way is a commercial novel necessarily less commercial than a commercial website? Not being a fan of porn, I don't pay much attention to it, but I don't expect it to be terribly subtle or varied, which would be somewhat defeating the point.

"Sex therapists report that porn is limiting young men's visions of a good time to mere delivery-man thrusting".

Maybe that really is all that interests them. Many people don't actually invest much importance in sex, and that's arguably a good thing :-)