Pornography refers to the visual, verbal or written material whose aim is to stimulate sexually. It raises a big debate as to whether it ought to be or it should be illegal and immoral. At times, the illustration of non-sexual violence against people is at times referred to as pornography.
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In most societies pornography is officially suppressed and its distribution is controlled. Screening is done to movies and books and rating done on the basis of the pornographic material they posses. Some are completely suppressed and others revised or adjusted to evade being held back (Narveson J, p. 276).The main argument is whether the act of scrutinizing and suppressing pornography is actually justified.
According to the liberal view point, people should be let to live their lives in the way that they choose. Free will is valued and people should not be subjected or controlled by others. The conservatives on the other hand advocate for collectivity where what is good or upright should be to the whole society. The liberalists will advocate for pornography as people ought to be left free to do what they please. Allowing authorities to screen and restrain pornography will be unfair as it is subjecting to rules of others. The definition of what is being good or bad should be left at the individual level. The liberalists are therefore concerned with who defines what morality is and why should their views be generalized.
The conservatives would vary as to whether pornography is morally upright or not. They believe that there are right and wrong ways of life and that people should work towards the right ways by all means even if it entails compulsion. However, perception of what is right or wrong varies with varying conservatives.
Pornography would be morally right if it caused no harm to others. The critical question that arises is who is defining ‘harm’. Some people may argue that pornographic material is harmful to those exposed to it but the definition of what is harmful could mean different impacts from what pornography can actually cause. For instance, a liberalist may define harm as that which causes physical damage to a person, property or rights of which pornography does not affect. Consequently pornography would be okay to a liberalist (Narveson, p. 277).
The conservatives may argue against pornography on the grounds that it is ‘abhorrent’ or ‘disgusting’ but this subject to individuals. Claims that pornographic materials are disgusting are uncalled for especially if the individual does not react on those lines. Pornography may not be disgusting to some who may derive pleasure from it.
Pornography is good as in most places it is done in private and not in public. It would cause no harm to those not interested. Those watching it derive some form of satisfaction or utility from it and no one has a right to tell them off especially if they are in their own private place. Those who opt to feature in pornographic films are not forced by anyone but out of their free will they weigh the options they have and chose accordingly. The society today seems coerce people to follow certain ways of life which may not actually suit them. Since pornography is not done in public but privately, people can choose what they actually want to see.
Pornography is objected by two major view major viewpoints both of which are further highly debatable. Feminist view is that pornography demeans women and they are portrayed as ‘sex objects’. Generalization would not be appropriate as people are rational and choose for themselves what they want. Again the deeds could be to portray the character of a minority group and consequently would act to teach a lesson.
Pornography is natural as people are naturally inclined to have the desire to know. It serves the purpose of satisfying their curiosity. Since the information given is true regardless of the fact that people have different perception on how to handle it.
The other major view is that those exposed to pornography are motivated to 20 evil. This ideology is very questionable as the perception that those using pornographic material will be corrupted by it is not true. People are rational with their own minds and consequently responsible for their actions. Moreover though pornography to those who would fall victim of crime does not justify suppressing it as there are others ‘millions’ who do not fall prey. (Course notes, p, 35). It is contradictory as whether children should be allowed to watch pornographic films. This is because exposure may not have adverse effects on some it could on others. It could be beneficial to some children and be disastrous to others.
Pornography is ethically right. The Canadian criminal code section 319(2) states clearly that communication is unlawful if entails spreading hatred through communication. The section 319(2) further indicates that people have the freedom of expression which can be communicated in form of spoken or written if the statements or information is true or done in good faith, relevant to a subject of public interest or done in good faith to point out for the purpose of removal. Pornography entails activities that are done by human beings and so what is portrayed is true. Its perpetrator would be doing that for a reason for instance inform of how ‘sex’ an important aspect of life is done. That way it performs the informative role.
People have the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression” it is therefore ethically right to express one’s view or expression regarding sex as long as it is not false. Pornography does not comprise of falsehood but of things that exists. Striking a balance between what is not an incentive to cause chaos in the society and that which allows for freedom of expression. “….. is that freedom of expression is a qualified right representing the balance that must be struck between the social interest in the full and frank discussion appropriate for a free society and social interests in public order and individual and group reputation on the other.
Freedom of expression should be considered first and given priority since “ it is esteemed more highly and weighted more in legislative scales”…..legislation should be so drafted to permit maximum freedom of expression consistent with its purpose and the needs of a free society. Pornography should be accessed to improve ones ability or knowledge.
When a balance is arrived at or reached an optimal level is acquired and the moral aspect is considered. Pornography can be considered ethically correct because it does not entail any form of sedition or defamation. Those involved in it do so willingly.
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The section 319(2) strikes a balance between the freedom of expression and the protection of minorities. Freedom of expression allows people to communicate through arts. A society that has numerous languages uses a single one to communicate effectively among the diversified nations. Effective communication enables expression of ideas and opinions to flow better. People claim that ‘pornography is evil but its censorship is more evil’. Opposition to pornography are mistaken ideologies. (Soifer E, p. 516). Opponents of pornography argue that it is ‘intrinsically’ evil that leads to other harmful attitudes or behaviors. Rationalizations ought to be avoided and people should better understand others. People perceive what is good or evil differently (Soifer E. 518). There are those who may term ‘normal’ activities animalistic.
Sexual feelings are normal and so are sexual fantasies. Treating people involved in pornography as sexual objects do so unfairly. This is because they depict human beings with normal feelings. Again treating them as objects because pornographic photos themselves are objects is not justified it is like animating a doll to view people as objects. Impersonal sex is also seen as treating people as objects. Viewing in all these incidences, sees humans as objects, a clear indication that the human physical body is actually an object (Soifer E, p. 520).
Love and lust originated from the persons body and soul and should have same treatment. Pornographic material does not just have sex there are other content which prejudice may hinder one from seeing.
I think pornography is morally and ethically alright. Freedom of expression as long as it does not affect the other person’s welfare or disrupt the well being of society should be respected. Those acting in pornographic films should not be seen as objects may be there is something they derive from the intercourse. Not all pornographic material seem abusive others have a wealth of experience on sex which they can disseminate through the movies. Again some of the pornographic films could have some ‘better’ issues which one can learn from. Just as we do not condemn some one who feels attracted sexually to someone else we should not condemn him (Soifer, p. 520).
People should be respected regardless of what they do and they should not be viewed as objects. There are other faculties that comprise a human being not just the physical for instance, the spiritual and intellectual. People are never forced or coerced to watch pornography and so those who have problems watching should not watch nor complain when those gaining from it are watching. Human beings are rational and should be responsible for their deeds. The suppressing pornography because it may lead to subsequent behavior like rape is a generalization that doesn’t justify the cause. What about the other large population who gain from it? Few incidences ought not to be used to hinder a large population from deriving utility or level of satisfaction (Narveson J, p. 286).
Since in most cases pornography is not seen in public then it posses no harm to others. It therefore should not be suppressed. People should be left to choose whatever they want to see or read regardless of the content. Pornographic material is the artistic work of individuals of which people should not make solid judgment about sexual fantasies as seen on the movies many not imply the real impact to women in societies (Narveson J, p. 285).
It is only natural to be curious, human beings will want to know more and more about almost everything and this will perpetuate watching and reading almost every movie and reading magazines to be more knowledgeable.
People opposing pornography on the basis of degrading or demeaning women are over reacting. They are building a mountain out of an ant hill. They base degradation on a scenario where men are dominant. Women are supposed to be submissive to the males. This is another incidence of coercion where the society seems to perpetuate the gender differences. Male dominance and female subordination is perpetuated by such incidences.
However I think children should not be exposed to pornography, regardless of whether they would be neutral or negatively affected if they watch them. I would advocate for them watching them when they are adults and are aware of what they actually want in life.
Arguments that pornography would cause other problems like marriage are just hypothetical with no tangible evidence. It is therefore not justified to suppress pornography and the freedom of expression on something you are not sure of. I think pornography’s effects vary with ranging individuals and generalization would not be appropriate. It tells of what people deal with. It does not deal with something that is inexistence. (Narveson J. 286).
- Narveson Jan: Moral Matters: Pornography, Prostitution and Sexual Harassment 2ed Chapter 12 (Broad View Press 1999).
- Eldon Soifer: Ethical Issues: Free Expression, Censorship and Pornography 2ed Chapter 7 p (Broad View 1997)
- Course Notes lecture 15 Pornography and Free Expression Lecture 10 to 18.
- Audio Lecture 15 Pornography and Free Expression.