Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Regulating pr0n

Cramner moves from David Cameron's rape speech to the government's attitude on pornography and reaches an odd conclusion.
Sadly, he has either missed or purposely ignored what Jack Straw and his Ministry of Justice have recently concluded, and that is that pornography is profoundly harmful to society, and that there is now ‘a substantial body of mutually corroborative evidence of the harm of effects of extreme—or other—pornographic material’

The research reaffirms previous findings that there is ‘clear and consistent’ evidence that ‘exposure to pornography puts one at risk for developing sexually deviant tendencies, committing sexual offences, experiencing difficulties in one’s intimate relationships and accepting rape myths’.

Unfortunately, Cramner—who then goes on to wonder whether the state should, in fact, regulate internet porn—has made a fatal mistake: he believed something that Jack Straw said. The fool!

As Timmy explained, a while back, one has to look at the motivational status of porn.
It lies in the old distinction (for those bright people, economists, at least it is old) between complements and substitutes.

For example, think of the upcoming plans to ban "violent" pornography. Is such a complement? Does viewing it make people more likely to go and commit violent sexual crimes? That’s the argument used in favour of the banning, certainly. But what if the opposite is true? That it is in fact a substitute? That viewing such material replaces the desire to physically act out the fantasies?

Well, can we answer that question? Yes, we can; or, rather, Strange Stuff can.
The available data is quite explicit. The availability of porn does not lead to sexual violence, it actually decreases the incidence of it.
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25 years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers and adults.

Not good enough? How about in the land of tentacle sex?
Within Japan itself, the dramatic increase in available pornography and sexually explicit materials is apparent to even a casual observer. This is concomitant with a general liberalization of restrictions on other sexual outlets as well. Also readily apparent from the information presented is that, over this period of change, sex crimes in every category, from rape to public indecency, sexual offenses from both ends of the criminal spectrum, significantly decreased in incidence.

Most significantly, despite the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly.

So the evidence shows that if you make porn more freely available, then the incidence of sexual crimes decreases. In essence, porn is a substitute for doing the deed, not an incitement.

By extension, one can say that it is likely that, if you make porn less freely availble, the incidence of sexual crime will increase. Thus, most worryingly, if you criminalise violent porn, for instance, you may well get more violent sex crimes.

The government's legislation on this subject is stupid in the extreme, as Dizzy pointed out some time ago*. But then, in terms of drafting deeply flawed and illiberal legislation, NuLabour are the masters.

Of course, the legislation—which is being campaigned against by Backlash—was not the result of careful and considered study, but of a highly emotive campaign by a bereaved woman.
A mother whose daughter died at the hands of a man obsessed with violent internet porn has won her fight for a ban on possessing such images.

The government has announced plans to make the possession of violent porn punishable by three years in jail.

Mrs Longhurst said: "My daughter Sue and myself are very pleased that after 30 months of intensive campaigning we have persuaded the government to take action against these horrific internet sites, which can have such a corrupting influence and glorify extreme sexual violence."

I wonder who is going to point out to Mrs Longhurst that her success may, on all the evidence, have precisely the opposite effect to the one that she intended?

And who is going to point out to Cramner that believing a word that Jack Straw—or any one of the rest of these authoritarian NuLabour charlatans—says is a recipe for disaster?

* I would link to the article at Dizzy's place but unfortunately he uses the fucking shit, useless, crappy, Google Adsense Search bar which finds precisely fuck all. Seriously, guys, don't use it: it's even worse than Blogger's native search bar.


Anonymous said...

It's another handgun ban.

Pandering to the shroud waving of the bereaved is a feel good option, it does not produce good law, and usually produces perverse results.

Banning the legal ownership of handguns did not lead to a reduction in gun crime, indeed it seems to have exploded. Crackdowns never work, they are just a way for a lazy government to be seen to be "doing something".

JuliaM said...

"It's another handgun ban."

Or Dangerous Dogs Act...

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

These campaigners really get on my tits. Blighted by the myopia of bereavement- why can't they just fuck off instead of making the rest of the world wallow in their extreme emotions.

Reminds me of those fuckwits campaigning to ban pen lids. FUCKING PEN LIDS! It wouldn't have happened if they'd schooled their child in the discipline of common sense! Fuckers.

LFB_UK *The Legend* said...

Along with an "open mind" and a tolerance for porn, what some other countries have in common is legalised prostitution. Which along with the access to porn reduces the predatory attacks on women.


A good area to examine this hypothesis would be South Africa, where there is a rape every 17 seconds.just love that rainbow nation!

El Draque said...

Interesting factoid, that 85% reduction in rape, says the Greek boy. And he's right. But one would want to check the whole list of reasons for rape, to avoid the "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy.
Nevertheless, if the same pattern emerged in several countries - like America and Japan, with vastly different religious and cultural heritages - then it would be significant.
Rape was rare in Victorian England, and pornography was common. Or was the rape rarely reported?
One tragic case can make bad law, and this isolated factoid could lead us down a false path just as easily.

Roger Thornhill said...

lfb, I agree. Drugs and prostitution should be decriminalised§. The result would be a huge reduction in the number of women in prison, for a start and allow the authorities to focus more on trafficking, underage, forced imprisonment etc. Let the light in, so that the dark corners and dirt can be seen more clearly.

Graham said...

Welcome to the Dangerous Pictures Act...

The Home Office has recently produced a "Rapid Evidence Assessment" which they say demonstrates that porn incites people to commit acts of sexual violence.

What they don't mention is that that "Assessment" was authored by two feminist anti-porn campaigners who cherry picked evidence that agrees with their views, even when it has subsequently been discredited for failing to be impartial and not being produced with proper academic rigour.

The "Assessment" has also been criticised by over 40 leading academics: "The evidence presented in the Rapid Evidence Assessment is extremely poor, based on contested findings and accumulated results. It is one-sided and simply ignores the considerable research tradition into 'extreme' (be they violent or sexually explicit) materials within the UK's Humanities and Social Sciences."

The good news is that a Labour(!) MP, Harry Cohen who is on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill Select Committee has proposed amendments which would remove all the subjective "appears to risk" criteria from the CJIB and add an exception for images of consenting adults.

See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/amend/pb1301910a.95-98.html para 184 onwards for details.

I would urge anyone who objects to this proposed Thought Crime (if they don't see it, they won't do it) to write to their MP via http://www.theyworkforyou.com and encourage them to oppose the law or, at least, support the amendments.

Anonymous said...

That dangerous pictures act is mad.

How the hell would it work? They can't get cooperation from other countries on it, so how are they going to find the people who look at this stuff in the first place?

Not to mention the whole idea of locking up some sad wanker, cos he gets off on nasty fantasies, instead of really doing something nasty.

What's next?

Are this bunch of loonies gonna lock us up for what they think we are thinking?

Anonymous said...

Eight teen boys in Australia were given a slap on the wrist after sexually assaulting a 17 year-old girl, taping the assault, and distributing it as a porn movie.

The girl was filmed performing oral sex on two boys, had her hair set alight, was spat at and urinated on during the incident at a park at Werribee, in Melbourne's outer-west, in June last year.

...A DVD of the attack - which was titled 'C**t the Movie' - was distributed throughout the community, the court heard.

(nothing to see here. This is completely normal)