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May 14, 2008

The Lighted Candle Society: "Protect Your Family. Fight Evil."

Sounds great, where do I sign up?

Wait-- what the crap?

The third mission of the Lighted Candle Society is to overpower the demand for pornography. We work to do this by publishing and distributing scientific information regarding the effect of pornography upon an individual’s psyche, the identification of those who produce and distribute pornography, and the financial motivation of those same individuals and entities. By providing this information to individuals, families, ecclesiastical leaders and educators we are confident that the spread of this plague will be overcome.

You call it a "plague." I call it a "mid-day pick-me-up."

I'm not sure about some of these Trustees (and yes, these are real):

Trustee: DR. MARY BEARD, M.D.

Trustee: RALPH HARDING.

Trustee: JOHN SWALLOW.

Sample vid below the fold.


Snark aside, this is similar to drug prohibition and gambling restriction lobbying. A lot of people get addicted to gambling and ruin their lives. A higher percentage (I'm imagining) get addicted to drugs (including alcohol) and ruin their lives. And in ruining their own lives they usually manage to bring down their families, too.

The question is always whether those who can handle such stimuli have to suffer under a prohibition regime to protect that minority which can't.

I really doubt that actual pornography addicts -- as opposed to those who simply aren't having sex with their wives for whatever reason and so seek release in porn -- greatly outnumber "sex addicts," assuming such addicts really exist at all.

I have little doubt that for some mentally unsound teenagers, violent videogames (and movies) may indeed stoke their already-existing urge to inflict real violence on real people. But how many are we talking about? And how much can society outlaw to protect members vulnerable to addictive and antisocial behaviors?

When I used to listen to Howard Stern (which was like ten years ago now) he would sum the prohibitory impulse up succinctly: "Great, let's do what they want, then we'll be a bunch of adults watching Barney the Dinosaur all day long." A bit overstated, but basically right: Prohibit every vice, from petty to solemn, and you may wind up protecting the would-be addicts.* But you will end up with a society is all but intolerable for most of us.

* Of course, prohibition never really works to stop the problem cases from indulging their addiction of choice. Being addicted, they'll break the law to satisfy their jones, and pay top black-market dollar for it to boot. And they're loyal repeat customers, so servicing them is a lucrative occupation.

Primarily prohibition stops the casual indulger in vice, because such people aren't really willing to go to great lengths to indulge in a vice. I don't do drugs because 1) I'm not a big fan but 2) because they're illegal, expensive, and hard to come by. I don't play online poker anymore because the game was essentially made illegal; sure, I could play, but it would be a major pain in the ass to set up offshore (and illegal) accounts for the purposes of betting, and then I'd be playing with almost nothing but card sharps who go through such steps because they're seriously good at poker and so they still could make some amount of money off the game. (Less, though, as they're now largely playing against a small field of talented competitors, and now lack the casual players -- the marks, the fish -- that made the game profitable five years ago.)

So the prohibition regime successfully dissuaded me from indulging in either vice. On the other hand, I never really liked drugs and I stopped paying much poker after I got beat for a couple of hundred bucks so I'm probably not the sort of person the prohibition is really designed to stop from indulging.

And yet the more motivated drug takers and problem gamblers keep on keepin' on. They're just paying more for the privilege.

The really disastrous prohibition of course involved alcohol, because so many people liked the stuff, even those who weren't alcoholics or problem cases, creating immense disrespect for the law and giving organized crime money and power of which they previously did not even dream. I wonder if pornography is now so accepted and enjoyed that an actual prohibition would have the same result.

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posted by Ace at 12:54 PM

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