At Talk Back Northampton, Peter Brooks said he believes that the founders of NoPornNorthampton are “victims of the hysteria and fear that history shows can grip a community that is regarded as relatively educated.”
We reply that if you want to see hysteria and fear, take a look at how porn films and magazines view women. So many films are about giving women the “punishment” they deserve. How dare women try to be more than pieces of meat? The porn explosion may be partly a backlash against feminism’s gains in the 1960s and 70s.
We get the impression that Mr. Brooks is mainly concerned about keeping this a free and tolerant society, not about defending porn itself. We share that concern. But what we see right now is a culture that’s increasingly “intolerant” of innocence, destructive of intimacy and tenderness, and unsafe for children.
Peter is right that big cultural shifts can happen unexpectedly. Just 30 years ago it would probably have been unthinkable that porn stars would be lecturing at high school career days. A backlash may well be in the works. Perhaps it would be wiser for hardcore free-speech folks to compromise now by allowing some modest regulation of the worst excesses of the porn culture, to reduce the chances that outraged conservatives will overshoot the mark.
Cultures yo-yo between puritanism and libertinism all the time throughout history (compare the 18th and 19th centuries). Our society has already gone about as far as you can go in the latter direction, short of people bonking on Main Street. Let’s try to dampen the pendulum swing instead of insisting that it stay stuck in one direction forever. It’s not going to happen.