Is online pornography a blessing or is it a curse for society at large? The simple answer is: NEITHER. Think of it this way. Just because something is available, doesn’t mean we’re forced to use it. Should we ban all alcoholic beverages because for some it has become a problem? How about gambling? Marijuana? Painkillers! Granted, the advent of pornography on the Internet has led to a whole new set of problems for our youth and those who have a tendency to become obsessed (addicted?). Yes, there are images contained in some of the porn that we can easily access via the Internet that many folks may find repugnant, but that doesn’t hold true for all sexually explicit material. I do agree that children should not be allowed to watch porn because they aren’t ready to make informed decisions about such things. Just like they can’t buy alcohol, or Cannabis (where it’s legal), or drive or vote or sign a contract. Of course, some people don’t approve of anything even remotely pornographic. And they have a right to their opinions. So I suggest that they avoid looking at them. If you don’t like Rock music, change the radio station. If you don’t like weed, don’t smoke it. Disapprove of imbibing? Don’t drink! If you don’t approve of same-sex marriage, don’t marry your own sex. Telling others what they should or shouldn’t do goes against the spirit of free will and basic human rights. Obviously, that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying. Some people just think they know what’s good for everyone, and don’t hesitate to go all out to force those beliefs on those of us who don’t agree.
That leaves us with a burning question. How does anyone know what we like until we try it? Some folks have a good idea in advance that they won’t like something because they have gotten information (opinions) from somewhere else. It’s called pre-judging. I’ve seen what alcohol, gambling, drug use, etc. has done to so-and-so and I know that it’s bad. Well, yes. For him or her, it was. For that matter, if you’ve ever seen what happens to someone who was the unfortunate victim of a motor vehicle accident you might not want to ever ride in a car. Is it the same thing? Yes and no. Yes, the results were disastrous. Was there a good reason for getting in that car? Probably, if you want to easily get from one place to another. Aha! When someone takes a drink, aren’t they trying to get from one place to another? You bet. If I have a migraine and take a painkiller, I want to get from agony to relief. Therefore, when someone watches pornography, he/she wants to get from here to there, too. And there is also spelled R.E.L.I.E.F. The Internet just makes getting there easier. Easier and faster. This is where the problem lies in both porn and in cars. Fender benders don’t cause massive injuries or fatalities. So, should we ban all vehicles that can travel faster than 5 MPH? Again, it’s not exactly the same thing…or is it? Just because my car can make it to the 100 MPH mark (and above) doesn’t mean I have to get it there. Just because pornography is available on the Internet doesn’t mean you have to watch it. Oh, I know…what about when the other driver speeds along the same road as I’m on doing 90-100? Well, that is a problem, isn’t it? There is a thing called risk. We all take risks every day. And, as reasonable adults, we know the risks and make informed decisions about when to take them and when not to. One thing, though. I have not seen an example of someone hitting another person on the Internet with their porn. Can I guess what you’re gonna’ say to that? Yeah, I think so. My response would be, if I’m right about this, is: Don’t open an unfamiliar file or click on a link unless you are sure what it contains. Some risk involved? Yes. Could it be deadly? I don’t think so.
Now, here’s a disclaimer. I am not without empathy. In my practice I have seen the damage done by porn addiction and compulsive sexual behaviors. I do a good job of treating those folks, too, by the way. Just like the substance abuse treatment providers do in their practices. Is this a reason to ban all access to pornography online? If you say yes, then I can only ask you to see if the drug and alcohol abuse counselors want to ban alcohol and painkillers from the market. I don’t think that many of them do. And if you find one that does, I hope they have a good explanation for why they do. So, now I’m going to take a guess as to what your next supposition might be. That I advocate for pornography on the Internet because it drums up business for those of us who treat it. Ok. That’s just crazy. First of all, that’s like saying Oncologists advocate cigarette smoking because it sends more lung cancer patients to their offices. But more than that, I don’t restrict my practice to the treatment of addiction to pornography. Yes, it exists and I have had great success in helping my clients overcome it. But if I thought that banning porn on the Internet would prevent it, I would reconsider my views. I didn’t say I would change my opinion, though. I said that I’d reconsider. I just hope it never comes to that. I still prefer free will.