Bravo to Eric Holder!

I hadn’t expected to type such a title. A fan of Mr. Holder, I am not. If there is one issue that the some elements on the Right get as regulatory-obsessive as Henry Waxman it is pornography. Obviously there is a broad consensus that some genres of porn warrant investigation and legal proscription, but in its outline this is one component of the “Culture War” than the anti-porn Left and Right long ago lost.

Holder accused of neglecting porn fight:

Earlier this month, Hatch and 41 other senators sent a letter to Holder pushing him to bring criminal cases against “all major distributors of adult obscenity.”

“We write to urge the Department of Justice vigorously to enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography,” said the April 4 letter, circulated by Hatch. “We know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking. This material harms individuals, families and communities and the problems are only getting worse.”

Most signers were conservative Republicans, but Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and six Senate Democrats also signed on: Ben Nelson and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Tom Carper of Delaware, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Dianne Feinstein of California.

A few distinct issues:

– There is no problem in my book with “legislating morality” on principle. There’s plenty of legislation which upholds the morals of a society.

– I am skeptical of the empirical evidence that adult pornography is a major harmer of “individuals, families and communities.” The arguments made from the feminist Left and religious Right on this issue are usually anecdotal. I often joke that young liberal feminists are the eminent experts on the male consumption of hardcore pornography, judging from how often you see this particular demographic authoring reflective pieces on this issue. I suspect most males do not reflect on pornography much because it is more, shall we say, a matter of reflex for them.

– In terms of harming “individuals, families and communities” I think the slow slouch toward destigmatization of adultery is far more problematic. I’m sure you could name many other issues which might be targeted by morals legislation which would likely be more efficacious in upholding the norms of bourgeois Western culture than anti-porn legislation.

– The triviality of finding the most filthy pornography in a matter of seconds makes the expenditure of funds on prosecuting obscenity charges when it comes to adult pornography farcical. Sometimes actions must be taken even if they are futile. But should we really make our stand on pornography?

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