Over the past few days, conservative Twitter has descended into complete and utter chaos over one apparently divisive issue: pornography.
It all began when National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis shared the news that four Republican representatives had sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr demanding that the DOJ make moves to prosecute the makers of hardcore pornography that meets legal standards for “obscenity.”
“The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral,” the representatives wrote in their letter, which also served as a reminder to the DOJ about President Trump’s promise to roll out obscenity laws across the porn industry. “This explosion in pornography coincides with an increase in violence towards women and an increase in the volume of human trafficking as well as child pornography,” the letter added, according to National Review.
Quoting DeSanctis’ tweet, Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh commented that this was “a great move” and that “conservatives who act perplexed at the suggestion that government might have a role in restricting hardcore porn obviously do not understand their own ideology.”
And at that, all hell broke loose and a three-day-long Twitter-based porn debate ensued. Among the sea of digital dialogue, Walsh has been taking a lot of heat from libertarian conservatives. Fearful of government overreach and convinced that Walsh is suggesting the federal government be invited into their most intimate private affairs, many appeared distinctly triggered — several even began lambasting Walsh’s views as “tyrannical,” prompting dismay from the commentator.
“It’s “tyrannical” to tell people they can’t post hardcore sex videos on a public forum where 11 year olds will access it?” he asked in response. “Tyrannical? Seriously?”
Other critics took a slightly more measured view: “Any attempt at a government ban on pornography would both violate the individual rights of adults and fail miserably in implementation,” tweeted the DC Examiner’s Brad Polum.
But Walsh, not to be deterred, went on to argue that explicit material should be controlled under the law in order to protect the eyes of young children.
This assertion prompted retorts from the likes of Fox News contributor Kat Timpf, who insisted that “with this logic, you are arguing that anything that isn’t suitable for children should be banned from the internet.”
Walsh hit back: “No, I’m arguing that hardcore pornography has a specially significant and damaging effect on children, as many studies have shown, and the need to protect them from this harm outweighs anyone’s need to post their sex videos online.”
In a bid to broaden the debate and raise some of the most pressing concerns around pornography as a multi-billion-dollar-making industry, pro-life activist Lila Rose also weighed in.
“Regarding the debate on porn: It’s important to recognize there are two interconnected but separate issues — the production of porn & its consumption,” she tweeted. “The production of porn essentially involves prostitution. In both, people are paid to perform sex acts. Both violate the dignity of those involved, pervert the purpose of sex, often involve the exploitation of the vulnerable, & promote obscenity, which is NOT free speech.”
Others on the libertarian side argued that there should be no government regulation of the porn industry, instructing that “if you don’t like porn, don’t watch it!”
This simplistic rationalization was downed by DeSanctis, who tweeted, “’If you don’t like X, don’t do X’ is the dumbest argument plaguing public debate. ‘If you don’t like murder, don’t murder.’ ‘If you don’t like slavery, don’t own slaves.’ We can debate whether something’s harmful, but clearly government should enforce some set of moral norms.”
“If you don’t like X, don’t do X” is the dumbest argument plaguing public debate. “If you don’t like murder, don’t murder.” “If you don’t like slavery, don’t own slaves.” We can debate whether something’s harmful, but clearly government should enforce some set of moral norms. https://t.co/iBto5gzf0J— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) December 8, 2019
Of course, the defense of one’s personal and private choice to view hardcore pornography is blighted by the fact that the industry deals primarily in coercion and sex trafficking. Yes, those defending it may feel as if they possess a right to watch what they like, but the sordid process by which porn is produced and the proven detrimental effects inflicted upon those who consume such explicit material cannot be ignored.
Further, as Christians, we believe there is a whole other side to this issue. When followers of Jesus view pornography, it grieves the heart of God. Plus, let’s remember that every single person involved in the sexual acts being recorded and broadcast to millions of consumers are also children of God. They are made in His image. To objectify them and use them solely for your own sexual pleasure is a grave violation of God’s commands.
However, we must remember, too, that there is hope for those entangled in the throes of porn addiction. As Walsh remarked, many of those so desperate to advocate for the continued production of hardcore pornography are likely addicted to the stuff themselves. Others, however, may be desperate to escape its toxic allure.
On this, we can help.
If you are fighting sexual sin or a compulsion toward pornography, Faithwire has a seven-week video e-course — Set Free — designed to equip you with the spiritual and practical tools you need to eliminate it from your life. If you would like more information about the study, or if you’re interested in enrolling, click here