Pornography, Hate Speech, and Censorship

Table of Content

Is a government justified in limiting the access of consenting adults to pornographic materials? Censorship laws seek to limit access to pornographic materials but preventing their distribution, sale, or exhibition. Censorship laws can also prohibit the production of pornography or even its possession Commission Reports on Pornography The 1970 Commission Had an explicit anticensorship stance.

Congress est the Commision on Obscenity and Pornography. Members had to do a thorough study of obscenity and pornography and on the basis of the study, submitting recommendations to regulate obscene and pornographic materials. Fundamental recommendation: all legislation prohiting the sale, exhibition, or distrubition of sexual materials to consenting adults be repealed.

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Commission recommondeation: continue lesiglation intended to protect nonconsenting adults from being confronted with the materla through public displays and unsolicited mailings, continue lesiglationprohibiting commericial distribution of certain sexual material to juveniles.

They made these recommendations on this basis: Thereis no evidice to support the contention that exposure to explicit sexual material plays a significant role in the causation of either social harms or indivudal harms. Recommendation report cons 2/18 members supported the fundamental recommendation. President Nixon believed the report unsatisfactory. Public outcry that the conclusions were “morally bankrupt”. Conclusion: there was no significant movement to implement the fundamental recommendation.

The 1986 Commission Supported censorship and laws already criminalizing sale, distyrubtion, or exhibition of legally obscene pornographic material.  Later, an 11 member commission reexamined the problem of porn in society.

Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography submitted the final report:  Defines pornography: material that is predominantly sexually explicit and intended primary for the purpose of sexual arousal. Distinguish among violent pornography, non violent but degrading pornography, and nonvioland and nondegrading porography. Conclusion: both 1 and 2 but not 3 bear a causal relationship to undesirable attiduinal changes and acts of sexual violence.

Since production of child porn entails sexual abuse of children, commission pointed out that there is a distinctive rationale for laws that prohibit the production sale, exhibition, or distribution of child porn. Observed that over the past years, porn has become increasingly violent, degrading and pervasive.

According to the “Miller standard” material is legally obscene if 3 are satisfied:  average person would find that the work taken as a whole appeals to the lustful interest, the work depicts sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law. Content must be explicit in nature, rather than merely suggestive the work as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value Liberty-Limiting Principles Limitation of individual liberty involves laws limiting the access of consenting adults to porn materials.

Four suggested liberty-limiting principles are noteworthy to justify the limitation of individual liberty: The harm principle – Individual liberty is justifiably limited to prevent harm to others a. Most widely accepted liberty-limiting principle b. This category involves both personal injury and general welfare of society c. John Stuart Mill believes that only the harm principle is a legitimate one d. Mill strongly rejects no and  The principle of legal paternalism – Individual liberty is justifiably limited to prevent harm to selfe.

Supporters believe this principle is like a parent limiting his or her child’s liberty in order to save the child from harm f. Non supporters such as Mill believe that the gov’t does not have the right to meddle in the private lives of citizens. Such meddling causes more harm than prevents The principle of legal moralism – Individual liberty is justifiably limited to prevent immoral behavior g. Law may be invoked to prevent immoral behavior or enforce morals. h. An appeal to the harm principle already provides a widely accepted independent justification i. As a result, this principle usually invoked only when there are so-called victimless crimes j. Mill rejects use of this principle as a basis for limiting liberty. In his view, accepting this principle would be allowing the “tyranny of the majority. “

The offense principle – Individual liberty is justifiably limited to prevent offense to others k. “Offensive behavior” is understood as behavior that causes shame, embarrassment, disgust or other psych. Discomforts l. It is not advanced to justify laws that would limit the access of consenting adults to pornographic materials m.

Sometimes advanced to justify laws that protect non-consenting adults from offensive displays of porn Is Censorship of Pornography Justified? Harm Principle The most important procensorship argument is based on the harm principle. Supporters argue that people exposed to porn will commit sex-related crimes. However, they fail to prove if crime is a causal result of exposure to porn. 1970 Commision reports that there is no evidence to support this causal connection. But, 1986 commision reported the existence of this causal connection. Overall, these are continued to be debated.

Since this is widely accepted principle, there is the argument that there is a causal connection between use/production of porn and harmful behavior. This can be harms involving actresses/actors in the production of porn. The Principle of Legal Paternalism Supporters argue that exposure to porn develops or reinforces emotional problems and that people can render themselves incapable of love and other human relationships necessary for a happy/satisfying life. Also, they argue that frequent exposure to porn “depersonalizes” or “dehumanizes. ”

This argument is answered in 2 ways: the alleged self-harm does not occur, regardless of how true or false this claim is, the principle of legal paternalism is not an acceptable liberty-limiting principle Principle of Legal Moralism The argument on this principle is answered in 2 ways: The alleged conseus of moral opionon is nonexistent. Regarless of how truth or false the calim of existing moral consensus is, the principle of legal moralism is not an acceptable liberty-limiting principle A gov’t can rightfully restrict the activity of consenting adults only on the grounds that such activity is harmful to others.

At the present time however, it has not been est that the access of consenting adults to porn stuff presents a “clear and present danger. ” Thus, censorship will be abused and is clearly unwarranted Feminism and Pornography Feminists do not ordinarily object to the sexual explicitness that is found in porn. Rather they are concern with 2 principles: porn typically portrays women in a degrading and dehumanizing way, there is sufficient evidence that the production of porn violates Mill’s harm principle in many ways

Longino defines porn as materal that explicity represents degrading and abusive sexual behavior so as to endorse/recommend the behavior as described. In contrast, Brison emphasizes the connections between porn and harm. She beleaves that there is ample evidence that porn causes a variety of harms primarily to “participants” in porn. Wicclair defends anticensorship where he values the principle of freedom of expression. He argues that the connection between porn and harm to women is too theoretical to warrant the social costs of censorship. Regulating Hate Speech

Mill argues for complete freedom of expression where societal attempts to suppress unpopular/unorthodox opinions are more productive of harm than are unregulated opinions. He also is not committed to the view that no restrictions on expressions of opinion are justified, meaning sometimes expressions of opinion are actually harmful to others (ie. When speech is used to provoke angry mob to violence). This is where he believes the harm principle would come in to allow restrictions. Corry v. Stanford University Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America

On Liberty – John Stuart Mill Mill argues that society is warranted in restricting individual liberty only if an action is harmful to other, not when an action is harmful to the person who performs it. He rejects both the legal paternalism and legal moralism principles and argues on utilitarian grounds that society will be better off by tolerating expressions of individual liberty involving no harm to others. He also has an overall argument for the free expression of opinion.

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