Commentary:Perspective on Pornography - No Socially Redeeming Value

It's apologists' way of thinking is abhorrent and make profit more important than human dignity. 

Los Angeles Times                                                           
Sunday, January 29, 1995
By Donna Rice Hughes and John D. McMickle 

Does hard-core pornography serve any beneficial purpose? The apologists for the pornography trade are suspiciously silent on this question. Much of their energy is devoted to the proposition that not all pornography causes rape and other violent crimes against women and children, but very little is said about pornography's other harmful consequences or why America is better off because of pornography. Nadine Strossen's new book, "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights,” is a case in point. Strossen’s unexceptional conclusion is that some pornography might not be harmful. 

This, it appears, is the best that can be said. Unlike firearms, which have beneficial as well as harmful uses, hard-core pornography serves no good purpose. 

In its most benign forms, pornography creates an attitude where sex is a mere commodity and intimacy atrophies. At its worst, hard-core pornography (i.e., incest, rape, bestiality, torture and mutilation), which has never been protected by the First Amendment, contributes to sexual violence in a real and direct way. 

Some examples: Thomas Schiro, who was convicted of the rape and murder of a 28-year-old woman, unsuccessfully raised the “pornography made me do it” defense. This brutal crime occurred after Schiro had been thrown out of a coin operated “peep-show” booth for exposing himself to a clerk. Shortly thereafter, Schiro raped Laura Jane Luebbenhusen three times before bludgeoning her to death. A forensic pathologist concluded that Schiro then raped Luebbenhusen’s corpse and mutilated it. According to a psychologist who testified at his trial, Schiro had been exposed to hard-core pornography depicting rape and simulated murder since he was 6 years old. Another expert testified that continual exposure to hard-core pornography creates “a person who no longer distinguishes between violence and rape, or violence and sex.” 

Despite this evidence, the decision to reject “pornography made me do it” defense was proper- Schiro should be held accountable for his violent acts. The more interesting question is whether the producers and sellers of the pornographic materials, which quite obviously contributed to Luebbenhusen’s horrible death, should be held liable for inciting rape and violence. In the view of many Americans, the answer should be yes: As a matter of sound public policy, pornographers should be held accountable for the personal and social pain that are the consequences of their pornography. 

In another example, a popular pornography magazine published what amounted to a blueprint for torture and mutilation that was mimicked within days of the magazine hitting stands.

The pornography apologists’ habit of focusing the overly broad feminist definition of pornography and their refusal to recognize the relationship between hard-core pornography and rape is dishonest. It reveals a way of thinking that is abhorrent to our culture and makes profit more important than human dignity. 

A profit-driven pornography industry, with the help of smoke-and-mirror tactics, is waging war against women, children, and the moral fabric of our society. As a result of this campaign deception, the wrong question is being asked: Is pornography destructive? Unanswered is the question: Is it constructive? 

The best case for pornography is that some pornography is less destructive, preying on our deepest needs and diminishing our capacity for intimacy. In its most destructive forms, pornography directly contributes to sexual violence. Either way, society derives no benefit from pornography. 

Donna Rice Hughes, who first came into the public eye in connection with Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign, is communications director for the “Enough Is Enough®!” campaign, and anti-pornography women’s group. John D. McMickle is the litigation coordinator for the National Law Center for Children and Families, a non-profit legal center that assists in the enforcement of anti-pornography laws. Both groups are based in Fairfax, VA.