The United Kingdom is pushing Internet Service Providers to automatically block access to pornographic sites. Adults could have the block removed on request.

The UK’s rationale is that pornography damages children and even teens who access it.* Sophistated juvenile users will always be able to get around the blocks, but not all juveniles are sophisticated users, and not all juveniles who come across pornography on the internet meant to. In any case, the more effort a youth has to make to get to porn, the easier it is to resist the temptation to do it. “Lead us not into temptation” is a powerful recognition of human weakness and the limits of human resistance. So I suspect the UK’s proposed efforts will benefit adults too. Some who might not have the late-night willpower to resist pornography lwhile fiddling around on the internet will have the day-time willpower to not ask their Internet Service Provider to take their filter off.

I strongly endorse the United Kingdom’s proposal for domestic American consumption. We are in the middle of an economic collapse perpetrated by short-term and medium-term practices that were unsustainable in the long-term. In the long run we’re dead, Lord Keynes said . . . over a lifetime ago. The long run has now arrived. We’re now realizing that the model of debt-fueled government spending and an international economy of Americans buying stuff from the rest of the world in exchange for home loans cannot last. But we are also shacking up with unsustainable social models. In fact, the unsustainable social models overlap the unsustainable economic models. Part of our trouble now is the demographic collapse of less people getting married and less marrieds having kids. Part is the illegitimacy explosion, which harms productivity (children from fatherless homes are subject to lots of ills and don’t have as much human capital) and which requires lots of costly government spending on welfare or law enforcement (children from fatherless homes are subject to lots of ills and don’t have as much human capital).

Our current partial social model of hook-ups and cornucopic pornography is unsustainable. A society by definition is about rich and multi-textured connections between people. It is also, if it is to have some sustaining depth, about children and child-raising. Hook-ups and pornography are not about any of these. They are self-centered and now-centered. Nothing comes of them. Their ethos is incompatible with a prior commitment to marriage and family.

But while that is all true, its just a little abstract. The UK initiative highlights a more common-sense reason why kids and pornography don’t mix. Put the ethos and all that to one side. Sing a sick paean to the joys of privacy, porn, and a bottle of pump hand lotion. Tell yourself that watching Black Girls S**k C**k III is an awesome part of your marital intimacy. Pathetic and wrong, but whatever. You still don’t want children and young teenagers being exposed to porn and neither does anybody else. We have a widespread consensus that kids and porn don’t mix. So our default internet access to pornography therefore means that, online, in our culture children and childrearing are secondary to even hollow adult pleasures. An afterthought. A sideshow. In perhaps the important arena of modern life, we are agreeing that kids are a nuisance that if you insist on having, you’ll have to protect them yourself.

That’s why sidelining pornography like the UK is proposing is so powerful. It reverses the reversal of values that puts porn above the young.

Stateside, we should do it too. Politically its feasible. This is the sort of proposal that could get bottled up in committee by lobbyists, but if it ever comes to a vote would pass by huge margins. Legally Congress has the power to do it under the Commerce Clause—I suspect, even under a non-maximalist interpretation. I do not believe our First Amendment jurisprudence would necessarily prohibit it either. States should also be able to implement these proposals, depending on how the legislation is structured.

This is a cause Mormons should support. We know the evils of pornography. We know the importance of family and children. We know we are called to promote legal measures that support the family. Swapping scary porn stats in sacrament meeting is fun, but someone who wants to do something should consider supporting worthy causes like this one.**

* suggestive evidence about the biochemical effects of pornography even on adults discussed here.

**Or worthy groups.

Cross-posted at the Old Country.

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