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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8427/sex-violence-and-the-culture-war/

Sex, Violence, and the Culture War

August 25, 2008 by

One of the fundamental problems in the social sciences is that correlation is not necessarily causation. Unfortunately, correlations are often reported and causality is inferred based on the predispositions of the analyst without adequately accounting for alternative hypotheses. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about this; indeed, empirical research is extremely difficult. However, it should cause us to view claims about causal relationships with some skepticism. FULL ARTICLE


newson August 26, 2008 at 8:39 pm

let’s not forget how inflation can corrupt societal values, as well.
the weimar episode devastated the german middle class and encouraged people to live only for the next day. lifetimes of sacrifice and discipline washed away in the orgy of paper money, and instant gratification became the winning strategy.

the cocaine flowed, the dance-halls were full of carousers. the young saw the dreams of their seniors were nonsense, and a devil-may-care mindset took hold.

sadly, the societal decadence allowed someone like hitler to become quite popular on a moral clean-up ticket. (in spite of his own very twisted tastes, golden showers etc.). remember that regime’s distaste for moral turpitude.

William August 26, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Pornography has been found to *reduce* sexual violence, and violent video games to reduce violence. This is probably an active vent and an opportunity to see what violence really does instead of discover what it does after listening to emotion.

Owl August 27, 2008 at 1:09 am


You are the one looking for exceptions to a general rule. You claim that the arousal men feel from porn, automatically leads to more rapes. This is apparently not the case, and in fact the reverse appears to be true: relief through masturbation and porn leads to less rape. But if it were a general rule that arousal leads to rape, you are making an exception for arousal within marriage. That is why I mocked your reasoning with a reductio ad absurdum: if this increased chance of rape makes such arousal immoral, then arousal within marriage also leads to rape, and therefore marriage should be considered as immoral as porn. It was not intended as a personal attack on you, but just to point out how selective you’re being when you follow such reasoning. In fact you seem a lot more insulting when you consider every man that watches porn an immoral automaton on the way to rape, or any homosexual as having been “recruited” or being “immature”.

And your double standard equally applies to that vacant term “objectifying”. Do you “objectify” your wife when you are aroused by her? Can it not be called “objectifying” when women are forced to wear certain clothes or avoid public spaces because men might be turned on by them? I don’t deny the theoretical possibility that some men cannot control themselves. But those men can also not marry, for the same reason. And it seems strange to force the potential victims, women, to be limited, when the potential culprits, the men who lack any self-control, are at fault. Those men (and women) that do no have enough self-control to prevent themselves from committing a crime when “tempted”, are the ones that must be forced to avoid those members of society that do not wish to run such a risk. It is the pyromaniac that must learn some self-discipline or seek therapy and avoid temptation, instead of his potential victims being forced to cover their property in a veil of asbestos. How ludicrous would it be when a shop owner is told that he deserved to lose his property to a kleptomaniac because he put it on display?

You also seem to ignore the fact that indeed most abuse and violence takes place within families. However, you probably realise that safety is not the sacred goal of life. If death is something to be avoided at all cost, having children would certainly be immoral. Procreation, apart from the risks and pains of childbirth (as attested in Genesis as divine punishment for the Original Sin) inevitably leads to death for the child. Yet I don’t begrudge you your desire to procreate, which you apparently couldn’t resist either, but please don’t call people immoral if they don’t idolise safety. I doubt if you value safety at all cost, so don’t use it as an “ultimate argument” against the things you dislike.

Or do you also support a ban on marriage, guns and cars from the same reasoning? At least that is consistent. Although that would still be arbitrarily selecting safety as the ultimate (and futile) goal in life.

Owl August 27, 2008 at 1:21 am

Lucas M. Engelhardt,

I see your point about parents being “honest but misguided” when they transmit certain values as “true”, if they sincerely believe them. Honestly, I wouldn’t even oppose parents (with force) if they’re lying to their children on purpose. I just find it somewhat distasteful and “wrong” (in that vague, subjective “moral” meaning). I also don’t oppose “indoctrination” if it is reversible and can be challenged later by rational arguments.

I just worry that some values (especially false ones) might “stick” with the child for life, leading to even more mess. Basically, in this I am like the puritans that don’t want children to be “damaged” by porn. I know that the “damage” is relative, reversible and subjective, and they can still choose to act and think in the “undamaged” way, but I don’t like the increased risk of the child choosing not to oppose his indoctrination. However, I am not going to use coercion to force what I (maybe wrongly) perceive to be the “truth” down their throats, nor will I try to forcibly shield them from what I consider a bad influence. I just wish that those people who dislike things like porn, violence and other influences which the child is free to act upon or not, if it wishes, would do us the same courtesy.

As far as Loki’s Wager and the definition of pornography is concerned, you could solve this by giving a clear definition that doesn’t also include “arousal in general”, or makes a completely arbitrary distinction between “arousal outside or inside a relationship” (which itself is a somewhat blurry concept). The whole problem is that it probably can’t be done. Which is why I said in this case Loki doesn’t seem so much to disprove my point, but rather reinforces it, if you get what I mean?

newson August 27, 2008 at 1:27 am

i like rtr’s slant on this argument.

when deacon enters libertarianville, he must take off his white hood, and put down his flaming cross.

when libertarians want entry to deaconville, expect the no gays/no porn/no drugs rules to apply.

fair all round.

Deacon August 27, 2008 at 5:58 am


Attn: Owl et al

That boys/men are aroused
by sight of the female body
is a GENERAL rule, not an
exceptional case.

I don’t have a link to this testimony
by Dr. Reisman. Read and learn:

Given at a Science, Technology, and Space Hearing:

The Science Behind Pornography Addiction
Revised from November 18 2004 – 2:00 PM – SR 253

The Testimony of
Dr. Judith Reisman
California Protective Parents Association[1]

Good afternoon, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am Judith Reisman, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Media Education, specializing in the communication effects of images on the brain, mind and memory; fraud in the human sexuality field; and on the issue of the addictive properties of sexually explicit images, commonly called pornography.

Thanks to the latest advances in neuroscience we now know that so-called “soft-core” and “hard-core” visual pornography imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail, arguably, subverting the First Amendment by hijacking rational thought. Moreover, once such neurochemical pathways are established they are difficult — or impossible — to delete.

Pornographic images cause secretion of the body’s “fight or flight” responses. This triggers excitatory transmitters and produces non-rational, involuntary reactions; intense arousal states that overlap sexual lust–now with fear, shame, and/or hostility and violence. Media erotic fantasies become deeply imbedded, commonly coarsening, confusing, motivating and addicting many of those exposed. (See “the Violence Pyramid” at http://www.vbii.org/violence.html) Pornography triggers myriad kinds of internal, natural drugs that mimic the “high” from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erototoxins — mind-altering drugs produced endogenously, by the viewer’s own brain.

How does this ‘brain sabotage’ occur? Brain scientists tell us that “in 3/10 of a second a visual image passes from the eye through the brain, and whether or not one wants to, the brain is structurally changed and memories are created – we literally ‘grow new brain’ with each visual experience.”

This scientifically documented neurochemical imprinting affects children and teens especially deeply; their still-developing brains process emotions differently, with significantly less rationality and cognition than the adult brain.

Children and others who cannot read will still instantly decode, feel and experience images. Largely right-hemisphere visual and non-speech stimuli enter long-term memory, conscious and unconscious. Any highly excitatory stimuli (whether sexually explicit sex education or X-Rated films) say neurologists, “which lasts half a second within five to ten minutes has produced a structural change that is in some ways as profound as the structural changes one sees in [brain] damage…[and] can…leave a trace that will last for years.”

Pornography psychopharmacologically imprints young brains – thereby invalidating notions of informed consent. Moreover, the mainstreaming of pornography since the 1950′s directly coincides with the unprecedented explosion in sexual disease and an exponential increase in new types of pornographic copycat sex crimes committed by and inflicted upon juveniles and adults. Such facts should inform the legal arguments about free speech versus pornography in public and even private venues. I have spent decades documenting the effects of pornographic “humor” and photos on children, fathers, husbands and wives and communities, much of which is found in my book, “Soft” Porn Plays Hardball, 1990, in my U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) report, Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, and in my white paper on “The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography: Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech” (http://www.drjudithreisman.com/brain.pdf).

Testimony from victims and police commonly finds pornography an on site sex crime manual. In one 1984 Senate hearing, John Rabun, now COO of DoJ’s Missing and Abducted Children Center, testified that when arrested, “all, that is 100%” of rapists, pedophiles, etc., in their study possessed adult pornography, “such as Playboy, on up….”

A basic science research team employing a cautiously protective methodology should study and report on the role of erototoxins on the brain/mind/memory/body. State-of-the-art brain scanning studies should aid in informing the polity with hard, replicable data as to the toxic properties of various media….An offensive strategy should be planned, mandating law enforcement collection of all sexually explicit media at crime sites….These are a few concrete steps that can and must be taken to address the effects of pornography on our children, our communities and our country.

Thank you very much.


Deacon August 27, 2008 at 10:48 am


Attn: Owl

Well done, Owl!

You’re correct, regarding
my use of the FALLACY

I had wondered if you’d
catch that.

Now, this thread is getting
unmanageable, so I won’t
explain the EXCEPTION to
the rule of NOT MAKING an
exceptional case in refuting
a general rule.

There is one, which is
soundly logical.

Suffice it to say, porn -
even within its exceptinal-
case parameter of causing
some men to rape – effects
a degree of bad social
outcomes which far exceed
the admittedly questionable
argument for censoring
it for the sake of corralling
rape ( I hope that makes
sense to you ).

I submit this once again:

[ and, Attn: William ]


It’s curious that Art has not
weighed in, as I think he
may have changed his mind,
after having received INFOR-
MATIVE documents which
blow away the conclusions of
the two studies he has cited
in his piece.

Art, where art thou!


Attn: Michael A Clem

You opine:

“Exactly! You want government to treat adults as children. And since government is made up of the people in the society, you want CHILDREN to control other CHILDREN! Or another way to put it is this: people who you claim are irresponsible and need government to coerce them are the ones deciding (in a democracy) which irresponsible people will be in government, and thus coercing the rest of society. This is quite contradictory with your statement that the morals of society are created by cooperative people.”

Forgive me, but that’s sophistry.

Re-read my above passages.


Attn: newson

You’re brighter than to resort to
name-calling, tagging me with the
“white hood” and “flaming cross”

Re-read my H.L. Mencken quote:

“The danger of free speech does not lie

in the menace of ideas, but in the menace

of emotions. If words were merely logical

devices, no one would fear them. But

when they impinge upon a moron they set

off his hormones, and so they are

justifiably feared.”


Deacon August 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm


Attn: Lucas M. Engelhardt

I enjoy your well thought-out,
measured opinions.

To Owl, you’ve made
these points about
damage to children:

“I just worry that some values (especially false
ones) might “stick” with the child for life, leading
to even more mess. Basically, in this I am like
the puritans that don’t want children to be
“damaged” by porn. I know that the “damage”
is relative, reversible and subjective, and they
can still choose to act and think in the
“undamaged” way, but I don’t like the increased
risk of the child choosing not to oppose his

Bingo, Lucas!

You’re mind will be forever changed,
regarding any question about the
PERMANENT damage porn may
cause. Please!, please read the
entirety of Dr.Reisman’s testimony
(( scroll down to the list of panelists
on this page, and click on
“Dr. Reisman,” then read the rest )).



Deacon August 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm




To clarify:

They are Owl’s points;
ergo, I had meant to

“To you, Lucas, Owl
has presented these

And, further down
that page, it ought
to read:

“Bingo, Owl!”


Michael A. Clem August 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm

My conclusion was the logical result of what you said, Deacon. You want government to treat its citizens the way a family treats its children. Yet while it is clear that in a family there are adults and there are children, there is no equal and sufficient separation between the morality of government agents and the morality of society in general. Thus, the family analogy just doesn’t work. Even in families, children grow up and become adults. Would you allow that a responsible person who watches porn and doesn’t commit violent crimes doesn’t deserve to be punished? Or would you punish the responsible with the irresponsible?

Deacon August 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm


Attn: Michael A. Clem

You opine:

“Yet while it is clear in a family
there are adults and there are
children, there is no equal and
sufficient separation between
the morality of government
agents and the morality of
society in general. Thus, the
family analogy just doesn’t

If, as I point out in the GARY
NORTH missive, the family
unit is run like a democracy,
then…?; that is, in the case
of parents and children
cooperatively agreeing on
household rules, your point

Or am I missing something
you’re trying to relate here?

Generally, in a democratic
society, at-large society
agrees on rules, to be ap-
plied by appointed govern-
ment agents, who operate
the systems for making
certain the rules are
obeyed (( police, courts,
and the legislatures for
subtracting and/or adding
rules that at-large society
wishes to effect through
its representatives; those
tyrannical, activist, we-
make-the-rules judges
and courts notwithstanding )).


newson August 28, 2008 at 12:27 am

to deacon:
appeals to mencken don’t mean anything to me; and it’s a strange thing for a jounalist to say, in any case. i don’t support censureship, however well-intentioned may be its proponents.

as for my caricature of you, well, you make your bed and then you lie in it. the racial stereotypes were yours, not mine.

your prescriptions for the porn menace are exactly what?

run your family anyway you want, just don’t expect everyone else to dance to your tune.

newson August 28, 2008 at 3:00 am

paedophilia is a criminal act, violence against a minor. this is to be prosecuted, as is all non-defensive violence.

i’m not in favour of public broadcasters, so i’ll dodge that hypothetical. i can watch murders on tv, and yet be guilty of no crime. i repeat, i am not for censureship, as in the state dictating what adults can, or cannot view. i hope that’s clear enough.

as for your facts, they’re a movable feast. your original claim was that black men have higher testosterone levels than other ethnic groups. this i dispute.
now you’ve come back with the fbi figures on black rapists, and asked me to join the dots. not on.
i accept that blacks on sex offences are disproportionately well-represented. what you haven’t proved is the testosterone link. one, that they do in fact have more, and two, that this is the causal factor. the fbi won’t help you here, and genetic racial profiling is a dead end, at least at this point in science. check out how impossible it is for prosecuting authorities to prove that my pit-bull is a pit-bull, and not a pit-bull/

and no, you don’t have management rights over other families, provided they don’t harm or encroach on your life.

newson August 28, 2008 at 3:06 am

“…and not a pit-bull/mastiff cross.” typo.

David Ch August 28, 2008 at 4:29 am

‘I’m concerned about how
everyone else runs their
family because mine has
to live in an INSANE world
you and yours may wish to
build, to impose on me and


I suppose the thought that others might condsider the world Deacon wants to impose on them as insane doesn’t occur to Deacon.

WHile we are on stereotypes, allow me to invoke one here: this is precisely the sort of statement that issues from the mouths of those who declare they are justified in executing gays(sodomites) and adulterers (whores) as an act of self defence against the possibility that their (possibly imaginary) god might smite their city.

You endorse coercion in matters of private moral choice. Tell us, is hanging, crucifixion, stoning, or simple clubbing your preferred method?

Deacon August 28, 2008 at 9:25 am


Hmmm…dear readers…what is it that
separates the ideologies of a LIBERAL
and those of a LIBERTARIAN?

On matters of human sexuality and the
family, they appear unitary; that is,
human sexuality as a recreational sport,
unrelated to the idea “human procreation,”
which sport necessarily holds a tolerate-
everything approach to pornography.

So, NEWSON “dodges” everthing, not
just the hypothetical, while DAVID CH
argues the obvious, to which I reply:

Yes, we differ on our approach to what

constitutes good family values (no porn

in the house) and good government (no

toleration of porn in the market place),

and fight one another over those dif-

ferences. Duh! Doh! Oops!–as

Homer Simpson would exclaim.

Come on, folks! Leftism/libertarianism
is wrecking Western civilization.

Liberals’/libertarians’ positions come
down to this: They sexually molest babies
and children by advocating tolerance for

How?: by removing the SACRED from human
sexuality and framing it as a recreational

Listen to liberals/libertarians arguing against
the idea “abstinence” for teens. Well, can
abstinence protect babies and children from
the SICK results of their anything-goes
SEXUAL REVOLUTION–particularly those
babies and children abused in child-porn?

Read Dr. Judith Reisman’s report on the
stunning increase in sex crimes against
babies and children, because of liberals’/
libertarians’ live-and-let-live, don’t-coerce
tolerance for family- and nation-wrecking

“Child-porn crimes have gone from a
rarity on federal court dockets to
a phenomenon, with prosecutions
jumping nationally from a scant 30
in 1995 to more than 2,100 last
year….Typically, they are catching
successful people – engineers,
businessmen, professors and lawyers
- who are under the false impression
that their habit is personal,
harmless and anonymous.”

If abstinence doesn’t work to corral
teen sex, then it won’t work to corral
adults who like to diddle kids.

Go figure, you-tolerate-everything


Owl August 28, 2008 at 9:45 am


I never expected to see that Reisman woman again since I stumbled upon her musings on the internet some years ago. Suffice it to say that she sees porn everywhere. Even in cartoons, which I actually might agree with, since some characters can look quite “stimulating”. She is like the dwarves deciding that because Loki’s head and neck are not very distinct, they’ll just chop the whole thing off:


Anyway, you seem to have missed my point. I don’t really know, nor care, if porn leads to less, more, or equal danger. The whole point is that if it does lead to more danger, and if you think that is the reason to ban it, that means marriage and all forms of exposure to any sexually stimulating experience (including cartoons) must also be banned. But the logic ends where the subjective valuation begins. When people say, “porn leads to less\more\equal rapes”, they make a statement of (supposed) fact. But if they say, “more rape is bad, “so” we must ban it”, they make a value judgement. This becomes obvious when you notice the opponents of porn never argue for a consistent application of their logic. It would mean the end of all sex, relationships and procreation. Except through IVF (without masturbation obviously) and cloning perhaps.

If the safety argument is considered valid in all cases, then human beings will be enslaved to it. Which is exactly what our totalitarian states in the West (and elsewhere) are doing. Governments, lobby groups, and their so-called “experts” always use research that shows a link between some activity and increased danger, as the “ultimate argument” for any prohibition or obligation. Whether it’s about guns, cars, the environment, obesity, anorexia, drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, gambling, “dangerous sports”, terrorism or whatever our neurotic fellow humans fear or dislike. What they neglect to tell you (or maybe don’t even realise), is that every decision a human being makes is a weighing of various risks and benefits. Therefore, if you MUST always go for the lowest risk, every choice from now on is already made for you.

And you also seem to ignore the meaning of what I said about indoctrination. The problem here is the same, because when I say you should not wilfully tell a child lies, or when you say you should not let a child see porn, because it “predisposes” them, we go down the same path. If we make that rule compulsory, it means that a child (and it’s parents) become enslaved to lowering the risks that the child might have in the future. You would always be forced to only communicate those thoughts that lower the risks, but never increase it. So for example, mentioning the existence of Mount Everest, or cars, guns, planes, sports, swimming, etcetara, would be banned, since that increases the chances the child might want to try those things and die or kill someone. Making commercials for any product that could lead to death, or to spending money on anything other than health and safety, or telling the child that it should get married and have sex with it’s wife or husband, would predispose it to danger.

To put it in terms a (troll pretending to be a) religious person might understand: Safety is not God, but an idol.

newson August 28, 2008 at 9:53 am

and you, ####deacon#### should find a different congregation if you want to do the fire-and-brimstone bit.

the confusion between libertinism and libertarianism is unfortunate. accusing libertarians of encouraging paedophilia will sure win over many to your cause.

i guess you’ll be the guy with the artline and steamed-over glasses in the censor’s office. after all, who better to decide for everybody else what’s fit and what’s not. ######

Deacon August 28, 2008 at 12:48 pm


Hi, Owl:

You opine:

“I don’t really know, nor care, if porn
leads to less, more, or equal danger.
The whole point is that [X] if it does lead
to more danger, and if you think that
is the reason to ban it, that means [Y]
marriage and all forms of exposure
to any sexually stimulating experience
(including cartoons) must also be
banned…So for example, [Z] mention-
ing the existence of Mount Everest, or
cars, guns, planes, sports, swimming,
etcetara, would be banned, since [E]
that increases the chances the child
might want to try those things and
die or kill someone. Making
commercials for any product that
could lead to death, or to spending
money on anything other than health
and safety, or telling the child that it
should get married and have sex
with it’s wife or husband, would
predispose it to danger.”

Using the rules of sound logic, X
cannot soundly express Y because
the societal dangers of porn may
the societal benefits of sexual
attraction within marriage, or an
unmarried couple’s commitment to
one another. As for Z, it, too, can-
not LOGICALLY express E because
of ALL OF LIFE is dangerous, from
accidentally swallowing an ice cube
down the windpipe to taunting a
pit bull in your neighbor’s yard; that
is, DANGER is ubiquitous, and a
fact of living, while pornography’s
dangers target specific groups
subjected to its mental and physical
effects–in other words, catching VD
by screwing with abandon has
nothing to do with dangers inherent
in cars, guns, planes…


Attn: newson

contributing to the sexual
abuse – even murder! – of
babies and children by their
LIBERTINE views about,
and support of, those who
make and sell porn.

And I’m not “deciding for
everyone else,” but asking
everyone to consider my
points and join me in halt-
ing the increasingly bad
affects of porn on at-large
society, by opposing the
making and sale of it.


Okay, I have to leave my
computer for a couple of
days. So, I’m finished
posting here.

- my apologies for exiting,
but you’ll have the last
word, which is a power-
ful position to hold in
any argument -

Have at it!

Best Regards,



In the study of logic, what do logicians
call this kind of fallacious argument:
“As a 40-years student of anthropology,
sociology, psychology and the history
of civiizations (Will Durant’s volumes)
I…”–within the context of our discuss-
ing the pros and cons of porn?


newson August 28, 2008 at 8:12 pm

…and so ###deacon### leaves the post, and hopefully pursues his anti-porn crusade through moral suasion, and not through the legislator’s pen.

Steve Perry August 29, 2008 at 6:59 am

When I was in grade school, in the late ’60s, I had to drive to school through San Francisco’s North Beach where all the strip clubs were. Their signs and posters outside were fairly explicit at worst, highly suggestive at best. In the ’70s, there were pornographic newspapers on sale on most downtown streetcorners; there were more machines selling those papers than the Chronicle or the Examiner. Their front covers were as explicit as they would dare to make them. (They dared a lot.) When I was in my 20′s, there was a Pussycat theater in an otherwise entirely ordinary residential and commercial neighborhood near my appartment in Oakland. When VHS became widely available, every local movie rental store had a closed off area for adult films.

All of these things are largely gone now. Why? Because “better” is available for free* on the internet. How can these compete? Those who would ban pornography on the internet should take account of the fact that it has out-competed and therefore eliminated these much more visible and intrusive phenomena. Even adult “bookstores” are basically blank boxes with nothing spicier than lingerie in the windows (if they even have windows).

I find it interesting that the research suggests that the greatest users of internet porn are teenage boys. This may not be something to be “happy” about, but it does suggest that they eventually “grow out of it,” does it not? That they eventually get bored with it or that other things occupy their minds and time? I hope this is the case.

*By “free” I mean not only no, or low, money cost, but low social cost because of the privacy of use.

William Smith September 1, 2008 at 4:43 am

Art Carden means well, but I prefer the Larry Flynt defense.

Richard Land is a statist pig.
By indulging in a debate over the utilitarianism of porn, one concedes Richard Land’s “right” to regulate speech, steal physical property and destroy intellectual property.

A better subject for analysis would be the profit motive of Richard Land. These windbags must compete with the products of Larry Flynt, the Sam Walton of Sunday morning entertainment.

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