Soon you’ll have to opt IN to get porn online in the UK

Says David Cameron, the Prime Minister:

Children can’t go into the shops or the cinema and buy things meant for adults or have adult experiences – we rightly regulate to protect them.

But when it comes to the internet in the balance between freedom and responsibility, we have neglected our responsibility to our children.

My argument is that the internet is not a side-line to ‘real life’ or an escape from ‘real life’; it is real life.

It has an impact: on the children who view things that harm them on the vile images of abuse that pollute minds and cause crime on the very values that underpin our society.

He is introducing a number of measures to make it harder for people to look at child porn and depictions of rape.  And pornographic images will automatically be filtered out by default, unless you deliberately opt out of the filter.

But what about free speech?  I’ve been around and around that mulberry bush more times than I can count, so I’m no longer surprised when people imagine that a free society entitles them to shit all over the whole world — and that it’s parents’ job to shovel a little path through the shit for their kids, if they’re going to be super uptight about it.

This law doesn’t outlaw pooping.  It just acknowledges that shit is shit, and it should be treated accordingly.

It should be hard to find porn.  It should be embarrassing.  Using it should make you feel nervous and guilty, because it is bad for you, bad for your family, and bad for society.  And if you are enslaved to it, you should be grateful that the public and private sectors are working together to make it less accessible and normalized.

How I wish we could see laws like this in the United States.  It’s still a parents’ job to protect children, and it’s still up to the individual to fight back against the flood of porn.  But making it a little less normal, a little less accessible, is a wonderful thing.

For help in breaking an addiction to porn, or for dealing with it if your spouse is addicted, see these resources:

Integrity Restored

Matt Fradd’s The Porn Effect

Fight the New Drug

Porn No More

Marcel Lejeune’s list of strategies.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment box.  Porn is powerful and corrosive, but the fight against it is by no means hopeless!

  • Kristin Bird

    http://www.reclaimsexualhealth.com is a phenomenal resource about both the brain science behind pornography and masturbation with resources on how to break free. It’s 100% Catholic, which makes it even better in my opinion :) Plus, they include resources for spouses and parents who have loved ones with a problem as well as for clergy who want to help deal with it in their parishes.

  • Nicholas Haggin

    In re free speech I cannot do better than to quote the spoken intro to Tom Lehrer’s song “Smut,” which is refreshingly honest:

    “Unfortunately, the civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it, owing to the nature of the laws, as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression, and so on, but we know what’s *really* involved: dirty books are fun. That’s all there is to it. But you can’t get up in the court and say that, I suppose. It’s simply a matter of freedom of pleasure, a right which is not guaranteed by the Constitution, unfortunately.”

  • DonnyPauling

    I was linked to this article by John Jalsevac. Here’s another resource for you to add to your list, should you ever wish to use it:

    http://donnypauling.net/category/porn-stories/

    I reveal porn for what it actually is, having produced it for 9 years.

  • richard

    Thanks for the links. For the sake of our souls we must fight porn.

  • BadMF

    Flee to Mary and cling to her! Best strategy I know when I am tempted. Her prayers work like nothing else when it comes to this stuff.

    • Kristin Bird

      Very true! Prayer is a key tool in overcoming temptation and healing from addiction, but for some, prayer & sacraments alone are not enough. Porn creates a chemical dependency in the brain similar to street drugs – we know prayer & sacraments are essential to helping coke or heroine addicts to heal, but we can also acknowledge that alone, they’re often not enough and serious recovery programs must also be used.

  • Monica

    The problem is that porn filters don’t work as well as people think they do. A lot of porn is going to get through, and a lot of non-porn is going to get blocked.
    As Cory Doctorow pointed out in 2012,

    “In order to filter out adult content on the internet, a company has to either look at all the pages on the internet and find the bad ones, or write a piece of software that can examine a page on the wire and decide, algorithmically, whether it is inappropriate for children. Neither of these strategies are even remotely feasible. To filter content automatically and accurately would require software capable of making human judgments – working artificial intelligence, the province of science fiction.”
    and
    “Think, for a moment, of what it means to have a 99% accuracy rate when it comes to judging a medium that carries billions of publications. Consider a hypothetical internet of a mere 20bn documents that is comprised one half “adult” content, and one half “child-safe” content. A 1% misclassification rate applied to 20bn documents means 200m documents will be misclassified. That’s 100m legitimate documents that would be blocked by the government because of human error, and 100m adult documents that the filter does not touch and that any schoolkid can find.”

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that this law is a bad idea, but the actual effectiveness is often not properly considered. Yes, porn is bad, and it should be hard to get. The question is whether this is the right way to achieve that.

  • Martha O’Keeffe

    I wonder if this will work as well as it is being bruited about. I worked in a school office where (of course) we had filters on the internet, which often blocked things in unexpected ways – so for instance, if you wanted to print off a resource sheet from the Department of Health about drugs, sorry, the filter blocked that website because of “drugs”.
    Same with sex, religion, politics and what have you.

  • 12anon

    In response to Kristin Bird – thank you! My S.O. has a porn addiction. He tried pretty much everything Catholic – constant prayer, spiritual direction, confession, and a Catholic counselor. Unfortunately I have to say that while those helped they weren’t enough. If you’re struggling with a true addiction (meaning, you can’t stop even though you want to) I strongly suggest that in addition to the prayerful steps you take, you join a 12-step program; Sexaholics Anonymous defines sexual sobriety for the most part in the same way we would define chastity. Myself, I am in S-Anon, the group for those who are friends and relatives of sex addicts.

    I believe that my S.O. has found the program “Covenant Eyes” to be helpful, though – he has an accountability partner who receives an email anytime he views something suspect.

    • Kristin Bird

      I’m so glad your SO found help! I’ve also heard good things about Covenant Eyes. I’d also recommend the free spouse training at http://www.reclaimsexualhealth.com for you. Some great materials that help you understand the brain science behind the addiction. I think it helps you be able to separate the loved one from their addiction. Praying for full healing for both you, your SO, and your relationship!

    • LukeGilkerson

      Yes, we’ve heard all sorts of testimonies from people who use our software about how helpful an accountability partner can be.

  • SpeSalvi

    Why a porn addict shouldn’t go to confession.

    Porn is self-medication against the pain and stress of a life too overwhelming.
    Life is too overwhelming for the addict because they are too immature to handle the realities of life.
    They are too immature because for a variety of reasons related to a lack of personal growth.
    The lack of growth is deep seated (often beginning in infancy), complicated, varied, partly the fault of choices, partly the fault of circumstance.

    Confession for mortal sin is for those capable of committing mortal sin.
    An addict, by definition has lost the freedom to fully and willfully commit the act. We know this as habitual sin in the confessional and it removes culpability.
    Without culpability, there is no mortal sin, only venial.
    Without mortal sin, we are not ‘required’ to confess.
    That is what our church teaches us.
    That is what we say we believe.
    That is not what we do.

    The porn addict ‘runs’ to confession each time they fall.
    This is because they don’t really believe what the church teaches.
    They think they ‘might’ have committed a mortal sin and that their soul is in danger.
    This is contrary to God’s mercy.
    Yet they do it because they are superstitious.
    They do it just in case.
    THis behavior shows the twisted way in which they are viewing God.
    This shows a person in a relationship with the idea of God, not a person with a real relationship with the person of God.

    This person needs to kill their superstition, learn to trust in God’s mercy, and in the true teachings of His church (that they are not culpable).
    That God will not STRIKE THEM DOWN if they don’t run to confession AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
    It is more important for such a person to begin to learn that God is a loving Father.
    To learn that they can trust God.
    To begin to have an honest relationship with God and with themselves based on something other than fear and condemnation.

    Maybe then, when that has begun, and the person can see and know how much God actually loves them and they can begin the process of maturation within the arms of a truly loving father.
    Only through maturing can a person learn to begin to handle life in a way that doesn’t require constant self medication.
    Only then can they begin to overcome porn.

    I don’t really mean that a porn addict shouldn’t go to confession.
    What I mean is that they shouldn’t go in response to their addiction, because when they do…porn is still really in total control and calls the shots, not God’s mercy.

    A porn addict, like everyone else should go to regular confession, but just as part of their regular life (once a month seems more than reasonable, anything more seems scrupulous).
    If thy have porn to confess, fine, confess it like other venial sins. If not, even better.

    I think this can lead to more of a sense of freedom (freedom from fear and condemnation), and only the truly free person can give a true yes to God.
    There is more to be done of course, but I think this is the true beginning and it’s what all the counseling and 12 steps ultimately strive towards even when they don’t know it, or say it that way.

    Anyway, that’s what I think.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I see a lot of judgment and condemnation of millions of (let’s face it) men you’ve never met. Your assumption that all of them are immature and superstitious is so offensive it boggles the mind.

      Furthermore, confession, like all sacraments, bestows grace that can strengthen the addict and non-addict alike against the weaknesses in their moral lives. To suggest that a porn addict shouldn’t go to confession isn’t just a bad suggestion; it’s dangerous.

      • SpeSalvi

        I am sorry it’s offensive, but it’s undoubtedly true that the addict has some immaturity going on. I am not saying that an addict is across the board an immature person, but the fact that addiction has taken hold by definition means that there are at least parts of that person that are not properly formed and matured. But I think that is true of every human, and should not be either surprising or offensive to say.

        And of course I didn’t mean to imply that they are superstitious across the board, but I think most self-aware people would admit that we often times approach God with mixed motivations, and that sometimes even our use of the sacraments (especially for the addict) can be dangerously close to a superstitious attitude if we are not very careful.

        I know the theology of confession very well, and you are not entirely correct. You can actually abuse the sacrament of confession by overuse/misuse (which is a sin), not just by under-use. So we (especially the addict) have to be very careful not to treat the sacrament as a vending machine.

        And if you read my entire comment (I apologize, I do realize I am a bit of a windbag), I didn’t REALLY say that they shouldn’t go to confession. I said they shouldn’t let the addiction dictate and control the terms of when they participate. If they are ‘truly’ addicted to porn, I think a strong case can be made that they are not in mortal sin, and don’t need to ‘run’ to confession.

        I am simply trying to get folks to think about this in a different way that may, for some, be helpful in getting them to see God not as a tyrant ready to strike them down, but as a merciful father.

        • James

          I know that you are really trying to convey something helpful and true.. and your message is one of mercy, but you are overstepping your bounds here. A few things:

          1. You keep saying you didn’t “really” say they shouldn’t go to confession, but since a person normally remembers best the beginning and/or the end of something he reads, then your opening line of “Why a porn addict shouldn’t go to confession” is going to be the thing that sticks!

          2. Your thing about maturity, by your own admission, is true of every human person, and is therefore superfluous and does nothing to help your message at all.

          3. Your thing about superstition is not helpful at all either. It’s going to offend more people than it helps. Leave it out.

          4. “If they are ‘truly’ addicted to porn, I think a strong case can be made
          that they are not in mortal sin, and don’t need to ‘run’ to confession.”

          Again, that is for a priest to decide. This should be left out. Here you are overstepping.

          5. (From below) “Since we don’t know each other in any meaningful way, we can’t make actual recommendations about whether a particular sin is mortal or not
          (and I don’t think I did that).”

          But see you did. You are saying that, for porn addicts, their sin is probably not mortal, and so they probably don’t need to run to confession every time they fall. Let each person discuss that with his/her confessor. Please.

          • SpeSalvi

            I appreciate your feedback, and I actually went back and edited my comment to try to moderate it and soften it. But I still have to disagree with at least some of what you offer.

            1. I have to think about the title I opened with. It was intentionally provocative because I really want to challenge those struggling with this to think differently about this. Maybe it’s too much though, and if it’s more hurtful than helpful, I can remove it.

            2. But personal growth and maturation is the only real way out of an addiction, and I don’t think most addicts realize that at least not until very far along the journey. They typically approach it as if they have to white knuckle their way to victory. The answer is always going to be in the maturation process. I can’t see how that is superfluous.

            3. While I did originally word this way too harshly (I’ve modified it), it’s not irrelevant either, and on this one I honestly don’t mind if it rankles folks a little bit. I don’t think most of us are honest enough about how much of a superstitious mindset (not intentional superstition) plagues the way we approach God.

            5. That all goes without saying. I am some random guy, speaking generally. I haven’t spoken in particular about any person or concrete situation, or made any specific recommendations to a specific person. I don’t expect that (nor would I want) anyone to substitute my generalizations for their own prayer, judgement and the guidance of a confessor.

            I just can’t see how anything I’ve offered is in any way ‘overstepping’. Honestly, that concept doesn’t even make sense to me in the context of a comment box discussion.

    • Mariana Baca

      Confessing venial sins helps weed out habits (this is whether or not a porn addict has full consent of will/knowledge). I’m of the opinion of confessing anything grave, and let the confessor help sort out whether it is necessary or not.

  • James

    SpeSalvi,

    Though many of your points are true, it is not your place at all to be making generalizations about the whether a particular sin is mortal or not. It is different for each person depending on their circumstances. That discussion should be left between each person and his or her confessor.

    • SpeSalvi

      All that anyone in a comment box CAN do is make generalizations. Since we don’t know each other in any meaningful way, we can’t make actual recommendations about whether a particular sin is mortal or not (and I don’t think I did that).

      So, I respectfully disagree that it’s not my place to do so. I assume and fervently hope that no one reading a basically anonymous post on a discussion such as this, would give it such weight as to allow it to determine whether they should ACTUALLY go to confession or not.

      I offered this as a reflection based on lots of discussion with lots of men struggling with this, and I’ve found that most can easily get trapped in a vicious cycle of guilt and shame that ‘automatic’ use of confession often times re-enforces rather than breaks, if one is not approaching the sacrament with the right disposition (i.e. in an ‘superstitious’ sort of way).

  • LisaTwaronite

    What’s next? The government blocking information on contraception to make it “a little less normal, a little less accessible?”
    I’m not fan of porn, but I would prefer to “shovel a little path through the sh*t” for my own kids, instead of having the government do it for me.

    • James

      The difference between the government blocking INFORMATION about contraception (which is not evil or harmful in any way), and government blocking pornography (which is gravely immoral and extremely harmful) is one that seems to be ignored by your question. It’s apples and oranges.

      And saying “I’m not a fan” of porn is like saying “I’m not a fan of heroine.” Both can DESTROY lives and families. They’re both highly addictive. And both are so destructive to a society as to warrant government assistance in protecting those who may be exposed to the temptation of using them.

      • LisaTwaronite

        There are plenty of people who think that information about contraception is evil and harmful and bad for society — some who might even call it “shit,” and say, “Using it should make you feel nervous and guilty, because it is bad for you, bad for your family, and bad for society.”

        And I think porn is more like alcohol than heroin — it can indeed destroy lives and families, and for that reason, there is a consensus that it should be regulated. But not everyone who indulges in it gets addicted. Most people just have the equivalent of a few beers now and then. (I know there are people who favor total temperance when it comes to alcohol, too.)

        • James

          People who call INFORMATION about contraception “evil and harmful to society” and anyone who would say you should feel guilty for reading INFORMATION.. well they’re batshit crazy and should not be allowed to give advice to anyone! Also, in case this matters to you (I don’t know if it does), it is completely contradictory to Church teaching to suggest that there is anything evil about INFORMATION.

          Porn is more like heroine because it works in the brain much more like heroine than alcohol, the addiction is more like heroine than alcohol, etc. And I don’t know what your point about indulgence here is, as this article was written by someone who agrees with Church teaching that the viewing of pornography is intrinsically evil. Whether one gets addicted or not, it is still immensely destructive, and it puts a person’s very SOUL in danger.

          Are you a Catholic? You should read the Catechism and other Catholic writings on this topic.

          • LisaTwaronite

            Technically, I’m Catholic, but I’m so out of line with Church teachings at this point in time that it seems like false advertising to describe myself that way. And I don’t believe the government should be in the business of keeping people’s souls out of danger.

            If porn is so additive, how do you explain those of us who’ve watched it and didn’t get addicted to it? It doesn’t have an addictive effect on most of us — it certainly does on some people, though.

            I don’t think there’s anything particularly evil about contraception, but I would guess that some people who do might think it’s harmful to seek out information about how to keep unwanted babies from implanting in one’s body, you know? Or information on ending unwanted pregnancies? That’s all there on the Internet, for anyone who wants to find it.

          • James

            You should come back in line with the teachings of the Church. There’s a good reason they’ve been around for this long. And again, I’m speaking from a Catholic perspective, of course, and I can say with 100% certainty that there is no Catholic teaching that information on contraception is evil.

            There are a few people who look at porn and don’t get addicted, but most of those who look at it DO get addicted. Please do your research.

          • LisaTwaronite

            I have done my research — and my “field work,” too. There are more than “a few” of us who have watched porn without getting addicted to it.

            I agree that much of it is quite distasteful and that it doesn’t belong anywhere near children. But I think consenting adults should be able to produce, distribute and consume it as they see fit.

          • James

            I meant that it’s only “a few” in relation to the number who watch it.

            It was nice chatting with you, but your last post made me realize that you and I are worlds apart in our views on things. I won’t bother trying to convert you anymore. Ha! ;) Have a fantastic day!

            EDIT: A lot of people would say the same things about hard drugs/narcotics as you do about porn. And like porn, there are some (many??) who try heroine and never get addicted. So why don’t we make heroine legal?

          • LisaTwaronite

            I think we’d have to legalize “soft” drugs before we legalized hard drugs, and I’m not going to go off on a tangent about the debate of the pros/cons of that. Some narcotics are already legal and regulated — and some people get addicted to them.

          • SpeSalvi

            Porn is insanely addictive. Even the secular media is beginning to grapple with the reality of how damaging it can be. Even governments (i.e. the subject of this post) are trying to figure out how to cope with it.

            Estimates have between 50 and 75% of men as compulsive porn users and around 1/3 of women (and growing) as compulsive porn users.

            If this didn’t happen in your case you are extremely fortunate. But to say it ‘doesn’t have an addictive effect on most of us’ is simply wrong and shows a lack of familiarity with what the research (again, even secular research) says is going on with porn.

          • LisaTwaronite

            I really have to ask where you’re getting those statistics.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            No substance on earth is 100% addictive to everyone who ever touches it. There are plenty of people who try hard drugs and never touch it again. That doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous or addictive substances.

          • simchafisher

            Yes, the question of whether or not it’s addictive is a red herring. It’s obviously harmful, to the people who make it, the people who consume it, their families, and society as a whole. And good grief, we’re not even talking about banning it. We’re talking about making people get it if they want it, rather than just dealing with it as it streams into their lives.

            I don’t even know if a law like this is workable. If there’s money to be made by finding a way around the law, people will do it. I just find it encouraging that someone is at least saying in public that something should be done.

          • Nancy

            In addition, there’s no way to know whether the people depicted in porn are there of their own free will. People who have been trafficked are forced to be in porn videos, so there’s another layer of violence and exploitation.
            I have two recommendations:
            We installed Covenant Eyes, so that every site anyone visits on our (family) computer is tracked and sent to two friends of my husband’s — we do this so we can see where our older kids go, and their friends. The computer is in the kitchen, which is its deterrent. :)
            The books and workbooks of Patrick Cairnes are also the “gold standard” of internet/porn/sex addiction. He’s not a Christian, but his work is the best resource for addicts and their spouses. It looks beyond the surface behaviors and examines the reason addicts are fleeing from reality/woundedness/pain, while holding them accountable for the choices that led to addiction. If you’re struggling, or your spouse is struggling, I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

          • LukeGilkerson

            Glad you’ve enjoyed having Covenant Eyes on your computers at home!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X