Should pornography be restricted by law?Should pornography be restricted by law?

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lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How to define pornography has always been elusive. In the 1950s, this issue came to the forefront as the authorities sought to restrict freedom of speech through the written word. Works such as Alan Ginsburg's poem Howl and William Brurroughs Junky were labeled obscene, removed from shelves, and bookstore workers were arrested for selling them. Ultimately, however, these authors won their cases and their works were reestablished on the shelves selling more copies than they might have sold had the conflict not existed. Since then, there have been numerous cases both involving literature and art in which congress and state legislative bodies have attempted to codify a single definition of obscenity, with the end result being a vague allusion to those works whose express value is not art but gratuitous sexual titillation.

So, then, what is obscenity? Is it pornography? Then what about artistic works that are sexually suggestive? How do we define when something is art and when it is porn? It all depends on the subjective perspective and desire of the viewer. A teenage boy might be aroused when looking at a Greek or Roman statue of a naked person. Does that make the statue obscene and render its artistic value useless? A pedophile might become aroused when looking at Anne Geddes naked babies in flowers photography. Does this make her work pornographic?

Essentially, as there is no way to define pornography, there is really no way to illegalize it. Instead, it is better, in my opinion, to allow the individual to choose whether or not he or she wants to become involved in pornographic material and to what degree (reader, viewer, participant). As long as no one is being physically harmed in the process, pornography should be allowed as it is a form of free speech.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My opinion on this is that it should not be restricted by law as long as it shows only adults and only consenting adults.  As long as it does these things, then I can see no reason to regulate it (other than regulating it in ways that would ensure that children do not see it).

There are two major reasons why some people say it should be banned.  I reject both.

  1. It is immoral because people should not watch other people having sex.  This, to me, is a personal decision.  I think it's possibly immoral to have people beat the heck out of each other while others watch, but I wouldn't ban MMA or boxing.
  2. It harms women.  Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't, but I could argue that various religious ideas harm women and we're not banning them.

Under the First Amendment, we should only regulate speech when there is a really good reason to do it, and I don't see either of these as really good reasons.

linalarocca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post 4. I do not believe pornography should be illegal. However, I think minors should not have access to content that is inappropriate. Although I believe that minors should not have access to something they may not understand and content that could be potentially disturbing to them, I do not think that it we can truly protect children or young adolescents from pornography. If, for example, a couple with young children decide to have a fun day together by walking on the streets of a major city, are not minors exposed to store windows that include "inappropriate content", such as sex toys, provocative clothing (or lack of clothing!), adult films, or the words "GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS", written across the face of a strip joint!!!

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Under the First Amendment, pornographers have the right to produce pornography and consumers have the right to view it. Nevertheless, because of the adult nature of the material, it needs to be restricted so that minors do not gain access to it. That is the only restriction that should be imposed on pornography because we do have First Amendment rights in the United States. As distasteful as we may find some forms of expression, it is necessary to protect them in order to protect the rights of all producers of expression.
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, everyone has a different idea of what pornography constitutes. In earlier times, a woman's exposed ankle or knee was considered scandalous bordering on the pornographic. A nude painting may be exquisite art in one person's eyes and pornography in another's. So my answer is no, it should not be considered illegal. I do support the illegality of child pornography however, even though this, too, could be construed in many different ways be different people.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think that pornography should be restricted by law either if the individuals viewing it are 18 and older and the actors/actresses are not minors either. It is already restricted by law for minors.

A problem I do currently see with pornography has to do with the internet. The internet makes it very easy for minors to view pornography so I do think that something needs to be done about this.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In reasonable ways, sure. There should be age limits and consent agreements, strictly enforced, because of the potential for abuse and exploitation if you do not.  I do not believe, even if it is consensual with all participants, that violent pornography should be legal in the US.

All that being said, pornography that meets the test of what's safe and reasonable should not be restricted.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think if we are going to abide by the 1st Amendment pornography can not be banned. This does not mean that it can't be regulated to keep minors from viewing or participating.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Censorship of all kinds of mass media, including publications, TV ans movies is already being practiced in many countries. Such censorship is aimed at preventing exposure of public to many different kind of information and contents that can damage them personally or create undesirable disturbances in society. Control of pornography is just one of the many aims of censorship.

While the what kind of contents is proper or not proper for general exposure to public may be disputed in many cases. However, absolute lifting of all kind oc censorship can be advocated only by those who have no idea of impact of mass media on the minds of people.

We can debate what kind of material should be classified as excessively pornographic and hence controlled, but there is no justification for removing all controls on pornography.

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