Folks who have been online for a while probably recall the infamous Rimm Report
from back in 1995, which was the first mainstream attempt to claim that evil "cyberporn" (yes, that's the word they used) was taking over the internet and threatening children everywhere. Of course, that report was based on ridiculously faulty research, but many have sustained this moral panic that online porn simply must
be evil. Enter UK tabloid The Daily Mail, who apparently has decided that this is an issue
that needs attention, in the form of some moral panic reporting
based on a couple of loosely sourced anecdotes. The story appears to be written by the mother of a kid who's going through the initial stages of teenagerdom/puberty, and his mother can't handle it, so she blames the kid's changes on access to porn online.
Martin Robbins, over at the Guardian does a pitch perfect satire in response
, mocking The Daily Mail's article. Here's just a snippet:
As an infant, I was exposed to breasts almost every single day. Thirty years later, breasts have taken over my life. Not a day goes by without some stray breast seeping into my consciousness. Occasionally I catch myself glancing at the breasts of my female friends, and I habitually pour milk all over my cornflakes. Worse, breasts have served as a gateway drug for vaginas.
I used to think I was alone, but extensive new research in the form of almost three anecdotes published by the Daily Mail - a seedy gossip website specializing in celebrity erotica, catering to men too old to buy Nuts and too married to run up hard-to-explain credit card charges on proper porn - has revealed the devastating impact that breasts have been having on other young children.
Each tragic case of boob trauma follows the same remarkable pattern. An ordinary little boy approaching his teenage years suddenly starts to change his behaviour: becoming withdrawn and moody and mysteriously growing about six inches in height. Detailed investigation of the child's browser history reveals that the cause is not the rough patch the parents have been going through, a recent change of schools, or puberty; but an addiction to online porn.
Of course, even more amusing is that Robbins goes on to point out that The Daily Mail's moral panic against porn might take on slightly more credibility if the publication wasn't well known for publishing nude photos itself (the links in the next paragraph may be slightly NSFW depending on your work environment):
The Daily Mail makes money from posting pictures of scantily-clad women on the internet. Sometimes these women are topless. Sometimes they are completely naked. Often the images are captioned with breathy descriptions of 'cleavage', 'dangerous curves', 'thigh-skimming' dresses. Sometimes the images are of disturbingly young girls, accompanied with phrases like the infamous "all grown up."
It's only worth a moral panic if it's not about the publication in question making money, it seems. I recognize that the UK tabloid culture involves moral panic articles like the Daily Mail's all too often, but you have to wonder how anyone takes such things seriously when those same publications are publishing naked photos online itself.