It's the newest public health crisis.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert kick-started a national debate recently by declaring pornography "a public health hazard" that leads to a "broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and social harms."
Smut peddler Larry Flynt responded by announcing he would mail free copies of Hustler magazine to members of the Utah state legislature. He insisted pornographers are "no danger to the public, only to the repressed."
However, a number of studies indicate pornography is strongly linked to sexual aggression. Other experts argue it functions like an addiction, similar to drugs.
Bestselling author and WND Managing Editor David Kupelian, author of "The Marketing of Evil," "How Evil Works" and more recently "The Snapping of the American Mind," said the prevalence of pornography in American life is unprecedented and has dire consequences for the entire country.
"Pornography has become so explicit and pervasive that tens of millions of Americans are outright addicted," said Kupelian. "Porn activates the exact same addictive pathways in the brain as do drugs like heroin, and all addictions – whether to opioids, food, gambling or pornography – are extremely harmful and, by definition, a public health crisis."
While social conservatives and some feminists have been longtime critics of pornography, more apolitical voices have been increasingly vocal in recent years about its harmful effects.
Gary Wilson's TED Talk on "The Great Porn Experiment" has over 6 million views on YouTube. Wilson argues evidence shows the brains of pornography consumers react the same way as the brains of drug addicts. Furthermore, compulsive users find it increasingly difficult to have intimacy with partners in real life.
Some celebrities have also spoken up about the dangers of pornography. Movie star and former National Football League player Terry Crews confessed his own struggles with pornography addiction in a series of videos in February, claiming his compulsion "really, really messed up my life."
He also urged women not to tolerate pornography consumption in their male partners.
According to Joel Hesch, founder of the anti-pornography ministry Proven Men , "Porn should be considered a public health crisis because the addiction rate is climbing at a rapid rate, which in turn is harming the workforce and triggering a breakdown of families."
A 2014 national survey commissioned by the organization found one-third of men ages 18-30 admitted they are either addicted to porn (23 percent) or are unsure if they are addicted (10 percent).
"According to our survey, over one-half (52 percent) of men age 18-30 admit to risking their careers and livelihood by viewing porn at work within the past 3 months," Hesch told WND. "The numbers are even higher for men ages 31-49, with nearly three-fourths (74 percent) watching porn at work."
Porn addiction is also leading to affairs and divorce, he said.
"According to our survey, the same percentage of married men or women that regularly look at porn end up having an extramarital affair. Our survey reveals that 40 percent of married men watch porn at least several times a month and 35 percent of married men have sexual affairs. Similarly, 22 percent of married women view porn at least several times a month and 17 percent of married women have sexual affairs."
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Hesch argues it is a mistake to view pornography as a harmless vice that only affects the user.
"Porn is a gateway drug that harms real relationships and often leads to losing a job, having an affair, or getting divorced," he told WND. "It should be little surprise that the more frequently a married person looks at porn, which is often a form of sexually fantasizing about someone other than their spouse, the more likely they are at acting upon their fantasy through a sexual affair. When a porn compulsion damages relationships and causes people to ignore such high risks of cheating on your employer or spouse, it’s not just an addiction but a crisis that affects us all."
"It's simply indisputable that constantly injecting graphic hardcore sexual images into the minds and souls of millions of Americans, including an overwhelmingly large segment of young people, constitutes a gigantic and growing problem," he said.
But the veteran journalist and culture critic worries any government action against sexually explicit material could be used as a precedent to abolish freedom of speech and regulate political discourse.
"It's great that Utah is officially recognizing porn as a public health crisis, but determining what government should do about it – beyond advocating good behavior – is a vexing question," he said. "Yes, porn is as addictive and destructive to individuals and families as heroin, and yes, it would be great if it magically disappeared from the Internet, but we Americans also treasure our near-sacred First Amendment right to free speech.
"The biggest obstacle to banning hardcore pornography from the Internet has to do with government itself. Today government is so incredibly perverse, especially at the federal level, that as soon as we start censoring porn on the Internet, some of our leaders will want to use that same precedent to censor truth, which of course they'll label as 'hate speech,' or perhaps 'rhetorical pornography.'"
Thus, Kupelian says state action to restrict pornography would likely do more harm than good in the present environment.
"If we ever again establish a moral government ruled by common sense and Judeo-Christian values, then it might be OK for government to impose some reasonable restrictions on hardcore pornography, including online," he argued. "But in the meantime, since we don't want to encourage our power-mad government to get the idea it can start censoring controversial speech – say, like criticism of government, as is so common in China and other totalitarian states – possibly the best solution to controlling online porn is technological. Since we were able to put a man on the moon during the 1960s, and since today more technology exists in a single smartphone than was on that moon rocket, it seems we should be able to come up with a technological solution capable of getting the scourge of ubiquitous pornography out of our lives."
What is unquestionable, Kupelian claimed, is the negative impact caused by the spread of pornography. Such degeneracy, he said, could endanger America itself.
"For decades, social scientists have documented the fact that civilizations rise and fall based on their sexual morality," he observed. "For example, in 'Sex and Culture,' Oxford anthropologist J.D. Unwin surveyed 86 human civilizations, from the tiny South Sea Islands to the Roman Empire, and found that a nation's destiny hinged on the limits it placed on sexual expression. What he called 'absolute monogamy' was the hallmark of the strongest, most economically successful and scientifically innovative societies in history.
"With the explosion of pornography and sexual anarchy, America is currently heading in the other direction."
A few years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ted Bundy in Florida's electric chair after he confessed to the sex-inspired murders of dozens of girls and women, the man who met with Bundy the night before recalled the interview.
The interview came about at Bundy's invitation to Dr. James Dobson, then head of Focus on the Family and now of Family Talk.
Dobson had served on a federal pornography commission, and Bundy had read its report. Bundy, said Dobson, "talked about the role pornography had played in his life."
He said Bundy admitted becoming addicted to porn as a teenager and acting out his fantasies on his victims.
"He never blamed porn. He took the blame for [his actions]. But he said this played a major role," Dobson recalled on the anniversary date.
Dobson recalled telling Bundy, "For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls."
"That's true," Bundy told him.
Bundy then described his early encounters with softcore porn as a teen, and his discovery of hardcore and violent images.
"The most damaging kind of pornography – and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience – is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces – as I know only too well – brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe," Bundy said.
He continued: "In the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process. Then, at a certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it, making it into something that is almost a separate entity inside.
"I was dealing with very strong inhibitions against criminal and violent behavior. That had been conditioned and bred into me from my neighborhood, environment, church and schools," Bundy said. "I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled, largely, by pornography."
Bundy said there came a point "where I knew I couldn't control it anymore. The barriers I had learned as a child were not enough to hold me back from seeking out and harming somebody."
He then killed his first victim.
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