The GOP: America's Self-Proclaimed Masturbation Police?

Friday, November 11, 2005

The GOP: America's Self-Proclaimed Masturbation Police?

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) thinks he knows what people are thinking about as well as what they are doing when they're alone, especially when it comes to sex. From Salon:
"I think most Americans agree and know that pornography is bad. They know that it involves exploitive images of men and women, and that it is morally repugnant and offensive," Brownback said, kicking off a hearing of the Senate's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights, which he chairs. "What most Americans don't know is how harmful pornography is to its users and their families."

With those words, Brownback kicked off a 90-minute discussion of hardcore sex scenes, self-gratification and its negative impacts. "This is not just a simple, benign form of expression, but rather a potentially addictive substance," explained one of the subcommittee's panelists, Jill Manning, a sociologist from Brigham Young University. "People watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, but they masturbate to pornography. In that difference, you have a different stimulation to the brain."
C'mon, is masturbation that widespread of a problem? Have large numbers of people locked themselves in their bedrooms or stopped going to work? While I agree one should keep their pornography away from their children (it is something best enjoyed alone or with another consenting adult) and if someone has a problem with pornography taking up too much of their life, they should get help. However, is it really something that rises to the level of a congressional hearing? Well, I suppose it is if you're an unattractive, repressed senator seeking out reasons to obsess about kinky sex, talk openly about it in public.

Of course, Brownback and other folks like him should probably start by looking in their own backyards first before attacking the whole porn-hungry nation. Additionally, a decade or so ago it might have been safe to take on Big Porn. But now? I suggest strong caution.
"Typical of his hearings, he has stacked the panel," said Tom Hymes, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, the porn industry's trade group, which claims to represent several billion dollars in yearly revenue and more than 1.2 million adult Web sites. In a telephone interview after the hearing, Hymes pointed out that porn is widely, and regularly, consumed by consenting adults in each of the 50 states. "Red states, in fact, enjoy the adult material more than the blue states," he said. "The hotel rooms in Utah, for instance, download more adult movies than any other state. I have that on a very good source."
However, as much as Brownback seems to fantasize about stopping the spread of evil, dirty porn, his proposals about what to do are, well, rather flaccid.
To date, Brownback has put forward no specific legislation to address the problems he sees with pornography. But he mentioned several possible options, including a law that would encourage families to file civil suits against porn producers if they felt harmed by the material, a strategy that might put Brownback at odds with many of his Republican peers, who have championed restrictions on civil litigation. He also talked about a federal public education campaign, along the line of anti-drug advertising, to inform Americans about the dangers of watching explicit sex.
Brownback seems interested in bypassing the "Nanny State" altogether and turning the government into the Overbearing Daddy State, he just doesn't seem to have figured out how to regulate masturbation...yet.

Sentator Brownback, I know there seems to be a shortage of real, tangible problems facing America right now, but are you sure there aren't about 4 or 5 other issues that come before this? Aren't we, like, at war or something? Actually, I have a feel-good proposal for you to fantasize about next time you are alone. Why not push legislation banning the use of pornography by anyone in the military? It would certainly get the attention of the American public, raise awareness of your issue and you could say it is in the name of fighting terrorism! You could even sell "Support Our Porn-Free Troops" magnetic car ribbons! Or go truly below the belt with a campaign slogan that clearly states "Pornography Supports Terrorism!" or what about "Pornography=Terrorism at Home"? or "Just Say No to Self-Love"? Your base would certainly approve! What do you think?

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