The UK's porn filters are working well, at least according to those in favor
of internet filtering. In real life, it's easily circumvented
, generates false positives
and soothes the frayed nerves of "for the children" legislative busybodies by giving them a false sense of control
So, of course, someone in Canada thinks it's a great idea. Leah McLaren, novelist, columnist and "gold National Magazine Award winner
" advocates for porn filters -- not just "for the children" -- but for all the erectile dysfunctional adults of the nation
An opening anecdote details the porn-fueled formative years of Gabe Deem -- now a youth counselor who runs "reboot" programs for other porn-addled teens. This recounting concludes with the following paragraph:
“Ultimately it desensitized me and rewired my brain to my computer screen to the point where, in real life, I couldn’t feel anything in an intimate situation,” he said in an interview. “My generation was told growing up that porn was cool because it was ‘sex positive.’ But what can be more ‘sex negative’ than being unable to perform in bed?”
Deem did what any concerned young adult would in his situation: he self-diagnosed.
He Googled his symptoms and found a name for the condition: Porn-induced erectile dysfunction.
I Googled it, too. And got some dubious results
The first six hits lead to sites dealing with Gabe Deem's "reboot" plan to de-pornify (including Deem's own site) and one Men's Journal article
. This article links back to a now-deleted blog post
once hosted by Psychology Today. In fact, the entire blog ("Cupid's Poisoned Arrow") has been removed from the site
. The blog post [archive.org link
], "Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Growing Problem," cites a few studies from European nations and… multiple links to
Gabe Deem's blog, Your Brain on Porn.
The first real hit is a link to another
article hosted at Psychology Today -- this one debunking the myth
that porn can "induce" erectile dysfunction. This one is written by Dr. David Ley
, a clinical psychologist. The other one? By Marnia Robinson, whose bio can speak for itself
[another archive.org link since not even her bio survives
at Psychology Today].
[A] former corporate attorney with degrees from Brown and Yale who writes books about the unwelcome effects of evolutionary biology on intimate relationships and the striking parallels between recent scientific discoveries and traditional sacred-sex texts…
So, on one hand, we have a closed, self-sustaining ecosystem promoting the idea that porn use can create erectile dysfunction. On the other hand, we have actual psychology. This is McLaren's opening salvo, the one supposed to sway the uncertain onto her side of the issue -- and one that doesn't hold up under scrutiny.
But it gets worse.
Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is now well documented by the mainstream medical community.
No, it actually isn't. Pull a Deem and Google it, McLaren. And, of course, McLaren provides no supporting links. But her next sentence tops everything preceding it, making skeptics' cries of "citation, please!" possibly the most inadvertently satisfying words ever spoken.
Dr. Oz devoted a show to the topic last year, and just a few months ago, researchers at Cambridge University found that porn addicts’ brains have similar responses to pleasure cues as the brains of alcoholics or drug addicts.
If you're citing Dr. Oz on behalf of your argument, you've already lost. Mehmet Oz's long, terrible decline into talk show guest spot quackery has been well documented. Oz now throws the weight of his Ph.D behind homeopathy, faith healing and Reiki energy therapy
And as for the research, it only points to addicts' addictions triggering the similar pleasurable responses. Almost anything can be consumed up to the point that it becomes "too much of a good thing," but that's no reason to demand the proprietor (such as it were) control the end user's actions. But that's what McLaren does.
First, she offers up her own comparably pristine past as a shocking contrast to today's routine debasement.
While my generation learned to do sex by reading the dirty bits of Sweet Valley High novels and fumbling around sweatily in our parent’s basements, this generation will have learned to do sex by watching semi-violent six-ways involving hairy men and vajazzled strippers squealing on dirty linoleum floors.
Look at the language McLaren uses. There's more to her advocacy than a concern for the young men and women of the world. Her sense of shame has been violated by proxy and she's projecting it all over the Globe and Mail's editorial pages. "Hairy." "Dirty." "Squealing." "Six-ways." [??]
That's followed by this sentence, which is extremely jarring in its cognizant dissonance.
[T]he solution is surprisingly simple: The Internet is public space and we need to police it. We built it. We own it. It’s where we live and where our kids are growing up. We should be applying the same standards of decency to the Internet as we do anywhere else.
like a plea for personal responsibility and more attentive parenting. It's your house and your internet. Police it as you see fit. Use any number of third-party products to filter content if you need to (not that they'll work any better than those pushed by governments). Apply your preferred "standards of decency" to your actions and those of your children.
That's what it sounds
like. But it isn't.
No, this problem can't be solved by personal actions. It needs to be forced
on those who provide the connection. By the government.
In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron recently strong-armed the major Internet service providers into applying automatic porn filters to all mobile and broadband connections in the country... The service providers resisted heavily at first, claiming such controls were a matter of parental responsibility and tantamount to censorship, but after the government made it clear it would legislate if necessary, the ISPs relented. Unsurprisingly, the move has proved hugely popular, particularly among parents.
First, she presents the ISPs "relenting" as if it were some sort of equitable compromise rather than the only
response that would prevent further government meddling. What was "strong-armed" into place was preferable to the amount of damage that could conceivably be done by a handful of legislators operating under the influence of moral panic.
Second, it is not hugely popular
. It just is. The "mandatory" is always more "popular" than the truly optional. Add to this the additonal (if minor) hurdle of opting out of "voluntary" internet filtering. When you make something "opt out," most people will take the path of least resistance and go with the pre-selected choice: "opt in." Something strong-armed into pseudo-policy by a determined government is never "popular." It takes a very special kind of mind (and predisposition) to portray it that way.
McLaren wraps up her post by strongly suggesting Canadian ISPs be given the same mandate: filter or else. Make Canada every bit as ineffectively censorious as the UK, because Mehmet Oz, "porn-induced erectile dysfunction" internet circle jerks, and the "pornification of our children" demand it. (Yes. Actual quote.) But also do it to rid McLaren's Canada of the ultimate, unspeakable obscenities: "dirty floors," "hairy men" and "squealing porn stars."