Okay, serious post time. Commenter Gantz pointed out that this is a blog and that means text posts are an acceptable activity so, here’s one…
For those of you who don’t know, I live in England. The UK is one of those countries that always makes a loud noise about being “a free country” and lecturing other people about human rights and so on, but the sad fact is that we have always talked much more about freedom, as a nation, than actually implementing it, at least in the modern era. If we look at that modern era- let’s take that as the time after World War II, a general wave of social liberalism swept across the Western “free” world and one can reasonably say that in many respects Britain was the nation that resisted it most successfully. Or, infamously. Take your pick. As regards censorship, when censorship crumbled elsewhere in the late 60s and 70s, it remained ruthelessly enforced here, right up until the internet arrived and circumvented it. We have a draconian censorship system, headed by an organisation called the British Board Of Film Classification, which kept all pornography illegal until the turn of the century when, due to a court case they reluctantly caved in partially and allowed “penetration by penis, finger or dildo” (the phrase grudgingly published on their website when they lost the said court case). But the ruling class of Britain is deeply puritanical to the bone, and the availability of erotic material via the web is a thorn in their flesh and they are determined to stamp it out. The problem for them is that everyone has gotten used to it being available now, so they’re having to tread softly. But nonetheless, the return of censorship is on its way.
The anti-libertarian nature of Britain is particularly infuriating becuase we actually invented liberalism as a philosophy. The liberal US Constitution is modeled on the English Bill Of Rights (1689). The great John Locke was an Englishman. The reason for that liberalism though was in our “cultural genes”. England had a long tradition of restrained government and governance by consent, an unruly populace likely to riot and string up anyone who tried to exert too much power over them, and a great dislike of any monarch attempting to assert a Divine Right. Contintental Europeans looked with envious eyes at an Englishman’s freedom of association; whereas a Frenchman who wanted to form a club or society had to ask the monarch for a license, in England all he had to do was call a meeting. This political liberty was a reflection of England’s natural social liberty. The “Merrie England” stereotype of ale quaffing and bawdy wenches spilling out of their corsets is not so far from reality. If you pick the 18th century- after Cromwell and before Victorianism- you find a jolly, lightly ruled, enviable society with everything to look forward to. And yet after another century had passed it was all over. Starchy Victorianism had taken over, the government was growing by leaps and bounds and a bawdy nation had turned into one gripped by censoriousness and sexual repression. It’s a sad history to study.
So anyway, turning again to the present for now, there is a manufactured “debate” going on. You know the thing; a few politicians, well funded campaigners and newspapers declare there is an issue, and then they start saying “everyone is talking about it” and “everyone wants something done about it”, and then laws start getting passed even though 99% of us didn’t want them and weren’t demanding that anything should be done at all.
So, we have things like this article in the Daily Telegraph banging the drum for an “opt in” porn system. This is the idea that anyone signing up for an internet connection has to specifically ask for porn to be on it, otherwise the porn is by default censored. This means that somebody has to decide what is on the “banned” list, and no doubt the BBFC and another quango, the Internet Watch Foundation, will have a fearsome fight over who gets that power. Because, it’s a lot of fucking power to have, being a nation’s State-appointed internet censor. A fuck of a lot.
What is perhaps worse though is the bandwaggon that forms at moments like this. So for instance we have this sad case (this is the article which in fact prompted me to write this post) describing a sad case in which a 12 year old boy forced a 9 year old girl to perform some unspecified sex act on him, and what gets the blame? Oh, “internet porn”, and, the article is quite explicit in linking this to the opt-in “debate”. The article is full of unjustified assumptions and assertions, all designed to bang the drum for censorship. There is the assumption that he committed the statutory rape because he saw the porn, from which one must draw the conclusion that if he had not seen the porn he would not have committed the rape. Now this is trivially true, in the sense that history is chaotic i.e. sensitively dependent on initial conditions. If any of his past at all were changed, everything afterwards would have been different, so he probably would not have committed that particular criminal act at that particular time. But in the broader sense, this is completely meaningless. What we have is a horny young teenager who was morally prepared to coerce a younger girl to satisfy his sexual impulsion. And, if he was that strongly motivated and lacking in concern for others to do so, it is reasonable to conclude that he would have more than likely committed some act at some time regardless of what he had seen on the internet.
The main problem is that the judge, lawyers and press commentators are following a false theory of human nature that has been dominant (at least among ruling class moralists) since the Puritan revival that overwhelmed Britain in the Victorian Era. Back then, it was called the “Social Purity Movement” and they were calling for “Male Chastity” and it was they who transformed our social fabric to one of sexual repression and imposed upon us draconian censorship laws, prostitution laws, and the like. (And because Britain was then as much a superpower as the USA is today, these attitudes rolled out across our sister English-speaking nations- the USA, Canada, Australasia- which is why all these nations suffer a recalcitrant ruling class puritanism on matters regarding sex, drugs and rock’n’roll). The important thing to understand is that this “Second Wave Puritanism” expressed by reform movements was a profoundly, hysterically, religious phenomenon. The dominant religious ideology was Protestantism, with a fervent “Post-Millennialism”. The latter of those was the belief that Jesus would return to Earth only when mankind had been overwhelmingly claimed for Him (this is opposed to “Pre-Millennialism” in which mankind descends into total depravity and Jesus comes back to punish us and impose the Millennium). So, these reformers were driven by the idea that if they could stamp out sin on Earth, Jesus would come back and create a paradise right here on Earth. That kind of belief is pretty serious motivation.
So, what sins did they focus on? The same sins that nigh on two centuries later they’re still tring and failing to vanquish- sex, drugs, gambling, everything which might “corrupt” us. Ah, corruption. You see, the other fundamental idea was a kind of reversal of Christian belief regarding corruption. For most of Christian history, it had been assumed that man (and woman, particularly) came into the world stained by Original Sin- inherited from naughty Eve and her apple-related exploits- and thus faith was a means of “salvation” from this sin. Inherently associated with this was the idea of woman as corrupting, particularly sexually. Women were Jezebels whose sexuality was innate and dangerous. For some reason which remains unclear, at least to me, the new Victorian protestantism reversed this around. Firstly, women were portrayed as sexually pure, with no innate sexuality whatsoever and babies, rather than coming into the world corrupted by original sin, were “innocents” who are corrupted by the world. So the idea rapidly developed that male sexuality is the corrupting influence and, if you could (a) protect children from the world and (b) have their upbringing dominated by women (who are chaste and pure) rather than by men, the said children would grow up free of sin, the cycle of each generation corrupting the next would be broken, a sinless, Christian Earth would be the result and Jesus would come back and reign it in His majesty.
And so, we come to an understanding of the mindset behind the court decision in that article. Rather than understanding the simple biological fact that sexual desire is innate to both male and female, and thus that horny 12 year old boys are going to have sexual desires, it treats the boy as an “innocent” who has been “corrupted” by access to the corrupt world, and none of this would have happened had he been sufficiently isolated that he could retain his state of innocence. Pornography, rather than being seen as an expression of normal human sexual desire, is seen as the process by which corruption is passed on from one corrupt generation to corrupt the next which, without it, would have remained innocent. Of course, the religious origin of these beliefs is no longer stated, but the beliefs themselves remain.
So, we get stuff like this-
He [told] the court pornography was discussed by first-year pupils at secondary school, concluding: “There is a real risk that young people of the current generation of teenagers are growing up with a skewed view of what sex is and sexual activity.”
So, the idea that young teenagers (first year at secondary school is 13-14) might have a whole bunch of post-pubertal hormones producing a natural interest in sex is replaced by the idea that they must be getting it all from porn. Furthermore, this idea is “skewed”.
Skewed? In what way? The acts shown in porn are just normal sexual acts. What upsets our modern day puritans (we can safely say that every stern moralist in that courtroom follows a puritan ideology, at least publicly) is that they have lost control of the public discourse. What they want is for young people to get no information about sex that isn’t given by themselves in stern Sex Education lectures driven by the modern puritan ideology promulgated by the Feminist/Femiservative coalition who are today’s Social Purity Movement. Which takes me back to Male Chastity.
Male Chastity was the idea that the whole problem with sex was that men want too much of it. What is the right amount? It’s the amount of sex that women want. But let’s pause and ask- which women? The answer here was those stern, starchy Victorian matrons dominating the Social Reform movements, women who, by any liberal standards, were erotophobic and whose ideology continues today in a presumption by that same class of women that the female appetite is normal and anything above it is abnormal, and that women just shouldn’t give sex to men too often in case said menfolk start enjoying themselves.
And this, at its heart, is why porn is hated so much. It dares to depict women unlike themselves. It shows women, like my Lucy, not just as sexual participants, nor even as “willing”, but as sexually proactive. It portrays an image of women that they’ve spent nearly two centuries trying to deprecate; women who actually enjoy sex for its own sake. It is that which they find, most of all, intolerable. “Women should not be compliant!” they shriek! “Women are not sex objects!” they howl!
That is the reality that young people are getting from the internet- that sex is normal and fun and people, male and female, rather enjoy it- and that is the reality that they will stop at nothing to prevent youngsters getting access to. The “corruption” they are fighting against is simply the truth.
[pauses for breath]
So, what’s going to happen next? I have little doubt that censorship will come back in. How far they will succeed in imposing it, I don’t know. They are certainly planning this “opt-in” rubbish, and then after a couple of years they will be back, complaining that it hasn’t gone far enough, that young people are still seeing tits and bums and blow jobs, and that “something more must be done” and that something more will no doubt be a steadily growing list of blacklisted websites that can’t be accessed from the UK. No doubt there will be futher porn “possession” offences to be used against consumers, as they extend the definition of “Extreme Pornography” (which is illegal here- “extreme” being defined by whatever the jury decides) and “Minors” (they recently made underage cartoons illegal here. Since there is no way to prove the age of a cartoon character, again it is arbitrary decisions by juries).
But they are fighting against reality. It’s difficult to know how much the UK population will tolerate a heavily censored web when it remains relatively freer even in fellow Anglosphere nations like America. So obviously they will be trying to bring in such censorship at an international level so there is nowhere more free to compare us to. Will they achieve that? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.
But we will not be free- anywhere in the world- from the spectre of censorship until, somehow, the Puritan ideology is driven out of our ruling classes. And that isn’t going to be easy. It provides them with justification for power- the need to “protect” us from things we don’t need protecting from. And, awful situations like the one with this teenage boy and his victim will continue to arise and be used as justification for that justification. Censorship won’t stop a single rape, but arguments against censorship will be portrayed by our malignant rulers as justifying rape, as they continue to promote this absurd, but widespread, belief system of false cause and effect.
Ultimately, the real victims will be liberty and, indeed, truth itself. We will not be free until we, the people, refuse to be ruled in this manner. The internet has been the greatest vehicle for personal liberty mankind has ever invented. Let’s just hope we can keep it that way.