Pornography: Freedom of Speech or Public Health Issue?

Pornography: Freedom of Speech or Public Health Issue?

Thursday, June 03, 2021

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Debating Porn

Pornography: Freedom of Speech or Public Health Issue?

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In recent years, Pornography has become a target of censorship beyond just its obvious offensiveness to many people. Instead, pornography has come under fire by critics for being a public health issue. As more and more research is performed, experts are beginning to believe that watching pornography may have adverse affects on brain chemistry, having the negative impacts similar to addictive drugs.

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The research into the harmful impacts of porn have revealed some startling evidence, such as its ability to deliver short-term dopamine boosts to the brain which is similar to the effect of addictive drugs or gambling.

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Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Studies continue to show that men who watch internet pornography have higher incidences of erectile dysfunction, more marital and relationship problems, and lower expectations of relationships. But beyond these issues there is also the impact of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. There can be no argument that there are inherent risks in pornography.

The argument against pornography has taken on a new tone as a result of the new research findings. If pornography is actually causing harm to people because of its addictive properties and biological affects on dopamine then it is no longer a freedom of speech issue exclusively.

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From YouTube Video Below

In this situation, pornography becomes a public health issue which the government then can regulate as it would any other addictive substance such as nicotine or drugs. More than just regulation, society must balance the negative impacts of pornography with social demand much the way tobacco is still legal because it is too difficult to stop its use.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The Debate

There are two sides to the issue of pornography which typically fall into an argument of individual freedom of choice much like tobacco use. The strong personal freedom stance of the Libertarian party reflects the freedom side of this debate.

Libertarian View

“We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including, but not limited to, laws concerning: Obscenity, including “pornography”, as we hold this to be an abridgment of liberty of expression despite claims that it instigates rape or assault, or demeans and slanders women…” (Libertarian Party, 2012)

“We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including, but not limited to, laws concerning: Obscenity, including “pornography”, as we hold this to be an abridgment of liberty of expression despite claims that it instigates rape or assault, or demeans and slanders women…” (Libertarian Party, 2012)

But does the argument for freedom to watch pornography supersede the negative impacts of pornography? And does the negative impact of pornography warrant criminalization or at the minimum health warning labels?

One of the major problems with deciding this issue is the fact that there is little consensus. When studies are compared there is so much conflicting information that a proper determination of the impacts of pornography cannot be made. Millions of people who watch porn do not develop sexual addiction and do not have the problems suggested in the above video. This suggests that there may be a great deal of bias and assumption with regard to porn mainly due to ethics.

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Photo by We-Vibe WOW Tech on Unsplash

Ultimately, pornography personal choice may be the only sufficient choice since testing people for negative impacts of watching porn especially teens who appear most vulnerable, would violate ethics. For the moment, caution may be in order.

References

Libertarian Party. (2012). Freedom of speech. Retrieved from http://www.lp.org/issues/freedom-of-speech

~Citation~

Vincent Triola. Thu, Jun 03, 2021. Pornography: Freedom of Speech or Public Health Issue? Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/pornography-freedom-of-speech-or-public-health-issue

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