from the we-got-tired-of-dealing-with-issues-our-constituents-want-us-to-deal-with dept
A handful of Congress members seem to think we need a War on Porn to go with our War on Drugs and our War on Terror. They think they have the right person in the DOJ to get this war machine mobilized.
Yes, it’s Bill Barr. The same man who decided the DOJ should start pushing obscenity prosecutions back in 1992 when he was Attorney General is being petitioned by a moral minority in the House to Make America Unconstitutional Again.
The letter, signed by Reps Jim Banks, Mark Meadows, Vicky Hartzler, and Brian Babin, asks Bill Barr to turn the DOJ into an anti-porn organization again. A statement accompanying this attempted First Amendment broadside was sent to the National Review by Rep. Banks. It includes two links to Fight The New Drug — the group of non-medical/psychological experts behind the push to label porn a “public health crisis” — and one to the UK’s infamous Daily Mail, to give you some idea what sources these reps consider credible.
As online obscenity and pornography consumption have increased, so too has violence towards women. Overall volume of human trafficking has increased and is now the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. Child pornography is on the rise as one of the fastest-growing online businesses with an annual revenue over $3 billion. The United States has nearly 50% of all commercialized child pornography websites. Pornography is ubiquitous in our culture and our children are being exposed at younger ages. Nine in every ten boys under the age of 18 have seen porn. Children are struggling with pornography addiction.
The letter [PDF] reminds Bill Barr of his anti-porn roots and suggests he all but killed the industry nearly 30 years ago before the next administration decided fighting CHILD porn might be a better use of the DOJ’s resources.
There’s a moral panic to be had here. Not a new one, mind you. This moral panic has resulted in multiple states buying what these moralists-posing-as-researchers are selling, as well as the UK’s multiple failed attempts to mandate some sort of porn filtration system for the nation.
It begins with some dubious claims and gets stupider from there:
The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral. This explosion in pornography coincides with an increase in violence towards women and an increase in the volume of human trafficking as well as child pornography. Victims are not limited to those directly exploited, however, and include society writ large. This phenomenon is especially harmful to youth, who are being exposed to obscene pornography at exponentially younger ages.
There has been no increase in violence against women. The number of reported rapes has been declining for four decades straight. So have other forms of violence, including intimate partner homicide. Correlation is not causation, as we all know, but attempting to correlate the increasing accessibility of porn with an “increase in violence” that doesn’t actually exist is a whole new level of intellectual dishonesty. The rest of the paragraph is deliberately vague, invoking some sort of existential threat the actual facts don’t back up. And sooner or later, someone’s going to need to be writing angry letters to the DOJ because fetuses are being exposed to porn, if the “exponentially younger ages” trend continues.
More honestly, this Gang of Four reminds AG Barr that none other than the President himself promised to wipe out porn. The “Children’s Internet Safety Policy” was signed by Trump in 2016, a few months before he was elected. It was crafted by Enough Is Enough, a non-profit warmly regarded by Fight The New Drug. The “pledge” included footnotes that complete the circular reasoning loop, citing the number of “public health crisis” declarations by state legislatures that groups like Enough Is Enough and Fight The New Drug pushed for and co-wrote as evidence of porn’s ability to upset the public health apple cart.
It’s all very stupid and the worst kind of virtue signalling. Unfortunately, it’s also likely to grab Barr’s attention. It’s not even subtle about its intentions to give Barr something he would love to run with because it’s just the sort of thing Barr would love to run with. It opens with “we write to you out of concern for the rule of law,” for fuck’s sake, which is Barr’s thing. No one loves the “rule of law” more than this blue-backing, encryption-threatening, civilian-bullying loudmouth, so this is basically saying the things he’s probably already thinking.
AG Barr has never been too concerned about what the Constitution says his agency can and can’t do. The First Amendment implications of running with this half-assed idea will be shrugged off as well. If Barr wants a war, he can have one. It just won’t be the war he expects.
Make Free-Speech Lawyers Rich Again. https://t.co/tsCptAQfEz
— The ????nisher. (@NoLongerBennett) December 6, 2019