Attorney General's Commission on pornography

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Stanley Friesen

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Sep 16, 1986, 3:19:41 PM9/16/86
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In article <14...@mtx5a.UUCP> m...@mtx5a.UUCP (m.terribile) writes:

>Excuse me. I don't read the results the way you do. And I suspect that you
>are discounting *all* testimony given to the commission. I suspect that you
>are not admitting any evidence that has not been subjected to a statistical
>analysis. We don't need a statistical analysis to determine that a woman was
>raped before a camera and the film sold as porn through organized crime
>channels. Anecdotal evidence, if properly established, verifies *that*.
>And that evidence, if it can be made to live up the extraordinarily strict
>rules of evidence that our court system requires, can be adaquate to imprison
>a perpatrator for the rest of his life.
>Anecdotal evidence has a place, Oleg.

Certainly such evidence has a place. And its place is exactly
the way it is used in court, as an aid to determining whether some
*individual* event occurred, and in what manner it occurred. When it
comes to a question of *patterns* and *causes* however such evidence
is of little value. Indeed it is often highly misleading. What if a
film of an actual rape was made and distributed? That has *nothing* to
say about the intrinsic value(or lack of it) in erotic entertainment!
Erotic films can be(and are) produced without such things happening,
so why should a peripheral incident have any bearing on the legality
of such films? Or, if you maintain that the incident was *not*
peripheral you must provide evidence that such things are in fact
intrinsic to erotic film production. And I mean scientifically valid
evidence not more anecdotes, which just introduce more individual
events of no proven significance.

>> The Meese Comission members have stated that they did NOT base their report
>> on "scientific data alone". The dissenting minority (all of 2 scientists on
>> the comission) has firmly stated that the comission could not have reached
>> ANY conclusions based on the avaliable data(no exhibited relationship between
>> porn and violence!).

>I'm damn glad that they didn't. First of all, scientific data are of no
>import in constitutional law. (End rhetorical device.)

Maybe not, but scientific data *are* of import in justifying
restrictive laws! At least unless we want a society in which every
action that any group considers harmful is banned! We would quickly
find most activities banned.

>So? If you worked to save the lives and psyches of people who could quite
>reasonably be said to be victims of pornography and the industry that surrounds
>it, would you feel that you had to be unbiased in determining the real extent
>of the damage you see every day, and what can be done about it?

Yes, because if there is no real damage due to the pornography
per se, then there is nothing to save anyone from! Just because you
percieve there to be damage dosn't mean there really is. If you have
already decided ahead of time that pornography *must* be damaging, you
will of course find it to be so!

>Again, what I read in the studies is frightening. Note that the commission
>does not deal simply with ``violent'' and ``non-violent'' pornography. Some
>attempt, at least, was made to catagorize the material examined for psycho-
>logical violence. You may not feel that such violence is present. I do, and
>what's more, the way I read the studies they indicate a high likelyhood
>that such material *is* damaging, if not to the people who read it, then to
>their spouses and possibly to their children.

OK, then what about the psychological damage from watching
Rambo or even The A-Team, with all of its powerful violence in which
no-one is actually hurt! Or do you think it is OK to think that you
can go around shooting machine guns because no-one will really get
hurt? The problem with the Meese report is its tunnel vision in not
truly considering the whole range of literature types. By excluding
purely violent material and concentrating on sexually oriented
material it becomes impossible to properly differentiate what the real
cause of any given effect is.

>And there we have a *duty* to be conservative, to err on the side of caution,
>just as in supplying disaster relief we must be prepared to provide that relief
>without overly detailed examination, to err on the side of caution in providing
>the aid on time.

There is one difference, disaster aid does not involve
coercion! It is simply made available to those who want it.
Censorship, in *any* form involves coercion, and coercive laws
require, or should require, far more justification than others.


---

Sarima (Stanley Friesen)

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