Big problem, small response
This week the Idaho Senate passed a resolution declaring pornography to be a public health hazard. The vote was unanimous, proving that Senate Republicans and Democrats are capable of agreeing on something.
This is not nearly as interesting as it appears. Nothing happens because of it. No new laws, no counseling programs, no public service outreach. Just an acknowledgement that—wait for it—porn is bad.
Since the resolution is toothless, one wonders why they bothered. My guess: now they can all add a couple of sentences to their campaign stump speech to boost their bona fides as moral warriors without having to approve a penny for increased counseling or education. That, my friends, is a political win-win.
Don’t get me wrong. Pornography IS a public health hazard, and has been since Neanderthals figured out how to draw pictures on cave walls. Throughout history there have always been people willing to pay for depictions of procreation.
The collateral damage associated with pornography is immense. For reasons that husbands routinely struggle to understand, wives tend to view pornography as a betrayal of marital vows of fidelity. And “but honey, it’s only a video,” isn’t an excuse.
Marriages can be destroyed by pornography. Destroyed marriages can injure or destroy children.
And whether its users are male or female, married or not, pornography degrades intimacy. Over time porn retards the ability to develop healthy human relationships.
Teenagers add an extra level of volatility to the porn problem. Today’s teens are as immensely curious about sex as you once were.
Whether your teenagers say anything to you or not, they are dying to know more about how sex works—both emotionally and mechanically. Not answering their questions doesn’t make the questions go away. It just makes the kids look elsewhere for answers. And in a free market economy, where there’s a need there’s a product to satisfy it.
What makes porn the extraordinary problem it is today isn’t the content, which hasn’t changed much through the centuries, it’s the distribution. As the Eagles predicted, we’re all dealing with “life in the fast lane—everything, all the time.” It’s what we’ve always wanted, and now we’ve got it. It’s a goal that looked better from a distance.
But back to the legislature. Not only are our lawmakers anti-porn, the majority are also opposed to providing information in the schools to answer teenagers’ basic questions about you-know-what. They reason that talking about sex in schools will encourage kids to have sex. So they’re leaving this important job to parents.
I’ll be bold enough to suggest that their strategy isn’t working very well.
Here’s my two cents. If most parents aren’t going to educate their children about the emotional and mechanical realities of sex beyond saying “there’s this thing called sex, and all you need to know about it is to not do it,” then we have two choices—we can educate them in school, or let them self-educate with pornography. Kids are kids. It’s going to be one or the other, whether you and I like it or not.
Yes, some parents give it a real try, sometimes with the help of good church-produced teaching aids. But in the end even the legislature realizes that “Idaho, we have a problem.”
If nothing else, perhaps the state could help create some decent educational material to help parents teach their kids. Many would find such information useful.
And while they’re at it, why not fund a full-on media campaign so parents know where to find it. Billboards. Websites. Newspapers. Radio. TV.
Or here’s another idea. We send out coupons for free shovels, suitable for digging holes into which we can stick our heads. Because whatever great things you’re doing in your home, the fact remains America’s porn problem is growing, and it’s starting with kids who don’t yet have the maturity to cope with it. What bothers me most about this week’s Senate resolution is the illusion that something’s being done about it. The illusion is the opposite of the reality.
Chris Huston lives in southern Idaho and has enjoyed a 30-year career in journalism. Connect with Chris at www.chrishuston-modernlife.com, and on Facebook at Chris Huston-Modern Life.