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April 28, 2004


John S

Hugo-- I read your responce -- well done.

John F

Indeed. Bravo! ;-)


Does double anal really count as "natural" sexuality? It's not really something one sees a lot of on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel.

Jonathan Dresner

I have to admit, that I had a sense of deja vu reading that post. Then I realized: being a pornographer is a lot like being a Jew! What?

Well: Everyone knows about you and has an opinion: lots of them are wrong, or mostly wrong based on very limited experience. Right or wrong, everyone tells you what they know and think, except for the people who proceed to dance around the subject as though it doesn't exist, though you can tell they want to talk about it. Lots of them want to change your mind about yourself; most of the rest support you, though you wish they'd go away and leave you alone; a small minority really, really hates you and isn't shy about saying it, and they've made trouble for you before.

I almost hate to say it, but I almost understand where he's coming from. He's wrong, and his attack on Hugo was unwarranted and silly, and Hugo's response was appropriate (though I've given up trying to parse that last sentence; either you called him sick or you didn't, either way it's your blog).

Jonathan Dresner

I like a good malaprop as much as the next guy, but why did you retain the misspellings and highlight them by specifically mentioning their retention?

I saw three errors: The first is a neighboring keystroke error; the second a keystroke reversal which I make myself constantly; and the third a missing apostrophe, again a very common error (particularly in cyberspace where punctuation seems to be in short supply). I routinely fix minor errors when I quote people, even people I disagree with. It's not necessarily a particularly good indication of the quality of writing or thinking, in my opinion, and usually serves a very low-value rhetorical purpose.


Dear Jonathan:

With all due respect and affection, I find the Jew-pornographer comparison to be offensive. One is a question of identity; the other of profession; one refers to a people who have a unique and enduring relationship with God; the other, to a group that makes a fortune off of human misery. That may sound to DCypher like Christian rhetoric, but the misery is real and documented in the lives of performers, consumers, and addicts.

Would you have made the same comparison, Jonathan, had DCypher written in and said he was a hard-working drug dealer? How about a hard-working arms trader? Slave owner? The fact that he perceives himself as persecuted does not mean that he is undeserving of persecution! Does not your response, Jonathan (and I do mean this kindly), betray your own conviction that porn is, in the end, relatively benign? I'm just curious.

As to the spelling errors, I admit, it was a bit childish on my part to include them. The "sick imdividual" bit was too good to alter, however.

And yes, I did insult the fellow.


I have to confess that I am delighted by the connections that the world of blogging creates. How else do people "like me" (ick) get to interact with people "like" (double ick) Brian? I am excited to see/hear his viewpoints, whatever they are, and know that there is a forum where we can all intersect.

Jonathan Dresner

I was expressing empathy, not sympathy.

But a lot of your descriptions of pornographers has been applied to Jews in other times and other places, and there's a component of the White Power movement that actually sees pornography as a component of Jewish attacks on the purity of Aryan culture.

It seems to me that your interlocuter considers his profession to be a significant component of his identity: pretty core issues of sexuality and free speech underlie his position. The distinction between identity and activity is a very slippery one: how many religions have or had an "it's OK to be gay as long as you don't do anything about it" policy, for example; or perhaps you've heard "Christians/Atheists/Jews/Feminists are OK, as long as they keep quiet about it." someplace recently?

Regarding my views on pornography, I'll redirect your attention to http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/4743.html, where I argue that pornography is problematic but not a problem unto itself. The two most obvious related problems are non-pornographic but nonetheless degrading entertainment and prostitution, and I think addressing pornography independently of those problems is unlikely to be fruitful.


I guess where you and I break company, Jonathan, is that you are musing about what pornography "is" as a discrete category. It's an interesting question, but I am less concerned with its taxonomy than with the humble but brutal impact of a billion-dollar business on two distinct classes of people: the largely working-class women (and men, but mostly women) who are exploited (their consent does not vitiate their exploitation) -- and the largely male group of consumers of porn, who are hooked on it as on a drug, whose own sense of "choice" and "freedom" tends to vanish away as they become more and more immersed in this seedy cyber-world.

Is it "degrading entertainment" and "prostitutuon" -- sure, it's those things and (as the kids say) a "bag of chips". And those who make their living on it may sincerely believe that they are brave artists persecuted for a bit of harmless fun, but my own experience -- and the experience of many women and men whom I know -- as well as a mountain of research has led me to believe that it is far, far more poisonous than our liberal sensibilities like to imagine.

Jonathan Dresner

No, that's not where we part company. Where we part company is that you are focused on pornography as cause and problem, whereas I am interested in pornography as symptom and problem.

Yes, pornography is exploitative and degrading. We live in a society in which degrading exploitation appears in myriad forms, from "Fear Factor" to maquiladora labor. If we work to create a society in which degradation and exploitation are problematized, pornography will be less of a problem.

Yes, pornography is addictive and harmful to its consumers. But we live in a society in which addictive substances and entertainments are nearly the norm, and in which "do no harm" means "can I get sued?" If we work to create a society in which people have the balance and depth and connections necessary to avoid addictions, pornography will be less popular and less profitable. If we create a society in which self-harm is problematized and harm to others is considered more troubling than liability, the popularity and profitability of pornography will plummet.

Musings? Yes, I think about these things. Think about this: what forms of prohibition or censorship, in history, have succeeded?


I take what you said about "symptom" to heart, if only because that's what my consistent life friends say about abortion! Abortion and pornography are both -- in radically different ways -- symptomatic of a larger failure of community. Abortion rates are driven by a societally-approved disconnect between sexual behavior and commitment, porn is driven by a variation on the same problem.

I echo your call for "depth and connections." I don't propose banning porn -- I was clear on that in my original post; I do call for both greater restrictions on its production, and more seriously, devoted work on the "demand" side of the equation. We have to work on men's hearts and minds and souls -- and that is a role best played by the church (though a little government funding wouldn't hurt either...)

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