Campaigners For SESTA See It As A First Step To Stomping Out Porn

from the good-luck-with-that dept

There are obviously a lot of mixed motivations behind the push for SESTA -- the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act -- with many of those motivations based on good intentions of actually stopping sex trafficking. Of course, we've explained in great detail how SESTA isn't likely to help at all, and is quite likely to make the problem worse. It also seems clear that many of those lining up in support of the bill see it as a wedge -- a way to slowly dismantle intermediary liability protections for platforms on the internet. And thus, some just see it as a way to attack Google and Facebook out of a general dislike for those companies -- without realizing (or without caring) just how much damage it will do to free speech online and the platforms that enable such speech. We've also been perplexed by SESTA supporters using completely bogus stats to insist the problem of sex trafficking is much larger than it truly is. As we noted, sex trafficking is both very real and an absolute tragedy for those caught up in it and their families. But we should be realistic about the actual scope of the problem -- and many SESTA supporters aren't actually able to do that.

But perhaps the motivation behind some SESTA supporters is... even more absurd. An email popped up in my inbox recently with a bunch of really strong language supporting SESTA, coming from a group calling itself the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE). They run the website "End Sexual Exploitation" and are strong supporters of SESTA. But what caught my eye is that the end of the email noted the true mission of NCSE isn't to end sex trafficking... but to rid the world of the "public health crisis of pornography."

You see, NCSE began its life in 1962 as Morality in Media, and was a reaction to a ridiculous moral panic over "pornographic material" being left outside of a school. NCSE appears to believe that all porn is pure evil and must be eradicated. The group has insisted that porn is a "public health crisis" and has worked to get states to declare it as such. It also posts a Dirty Dozen list of organizations that it needs to shame for "perpetuating sexual exploitation."

Want to know how totally fucked up the list is? They include the American Library Association and Amnesty International on this year's list. Really. They completely misrepresent the ALA's opposition to mandatory internet filters to claim that libraries have been turned into "a XXX space that fosters child sexual abuse." It put Amnesty on the list because Amnesty dares to call sex workers "sex workers" rather than prostitutes. They also list the Justice Department as an honorable mention for failing to enforce obscenity laws, which NCOSE wants to use to basically criminalize pornography. In other words, NCSE supports pretty blatant censorship.

Now people can certainly differ on their beliefs about prostitution and pornography, but having groups like this at the forefront of destructive, counterproductive bills like SESTA -- which will do nothing to stop actual sex trafficking, and plenty to harm free speech online -- raises some serious questions about what really are the goals of SESTA. NCSE certainly seems to think it's part of the plan to wipe out all pornography. Considering that other SESTA supporters insist (incorrectly) that SESTA won't have any impact on speech online, they might want to consider why one of their major coalition partners seems to be eagerly looking for ways to censor the internet.

Filed Under: porn, sesta
Companies: morality in media, ncse


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  1. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 2 Oct 2017 @ 11:52am

    Re: Assertions so silly call for quote-and-contradict:

    The argument about their behaviors renders the "ad hom" not an argumentum ad hominem whatsoever. Stepping back further, the arguments have already long been made why the bill is bad. Pointing out who supports it, and why, is perfectly valid. It's good to know about all these things, not just the bill itself, as they are all about either violating the first amendment or other rights, or promoting a bad idea that won't help.

    SESTA is completely counterproductive and destructive. There, have a counterargument equal to your initial argument on that point.

    "Actual" as opposed to fining someone we don't like because they didn't remove something arbitrarily fast enough for us, while the ad will just move somewhere else, whether or not the offer involved someone trafficking another human being. (Note that the definition of "sex trafficking" changes between narrow and broad constructions depending on to whom they are trying to sell their bad idea / line of bullshit). They will stop no trafficking by doing this. On the other hand, they could easily watch for ads and go after the people posting them...

    @@ - citation needed.

    If the goal of SESTA is to reign in corporations, someone may want to introduce a valid bill on that matter and not lie about what it is for. And stop destroying the minimal regulations we did have for some of the egregious corporate behaviors, maybe.

    I frequently notice the lack of dissent of any quality myself. Well that isn't really true. Make that "completely contrarian opposition dissent". I see plenty of dissent on particulars.


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