What if the HHS Mandate Was For Unfettered Access to Pornography?

Frank, stop. No way is the HHS Mandate’s proposal anything remotely comparable to the government providing no cost access to pornography. Because the Administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services, would never foist something as degrading to human dignity (as pornography is) on the citizenry as a “good.” Not in our Republic.

Why not, dear reader? Having read the entire HHS Mandate proposal, I was struck how over, and over, and over (ad nauseum, really) I kept reading the phrase, “coverage without cost sharing.” Pretty much whenever you see the word “coverage” it’s followed up with “without cost sharing” every.single.time. Why, in the midst of financial crises, debt ceiling debacles, and run away spending by the government, is it so necessary to provide “preventive health services” for women “without cost sharing” in order to prevent more “unplanned” babies from being born? Reading the proposed rules, it becomes crystal clear that the Administration is pushing the zero population growth agenda, and hard.

Which would put the Administration, and all of the benefit programs in the social safety net, at risk of  being on the wrong side of history. You know, the side that dies out, as Japan (scroll to the bottom of this chart) and China are realizing. And surely you haven’t forgotten Singapore’s experience. After moving heaven and earth to persuade folks to stop having babies, turns out that Singapore can’t even pay folks enough to want to have babies.

So what if the HHS was doing the same thing for pornography instead of birth control? Would the current proposal feel any more creepy to you?

I mentioned in the Interesting Stuff I Found While Reading the New HHS Mandate Rules post, that one of the major problems I see with the new accomodation is the automatic sign ups for employee beneficiaries. Couple that with the “without cost sharing” stipulation and think about if this was for pornography, and the proposal would possibly read something like what follows (Disclaimer! What is block texted below is 100% fictional. Any resemblance to actual government policy is entirely coincidental).

As you may (or may not) be aware, proposed rules regarding access to pornographic services have been in the making for some time now. This letter to you is a notice that marks the next step in this process. As some religious organizations, and individual members of said religious institutions, had problems with accepting our prior rules on pornographic services, modifications have been adopted as noted in the following paragraphs.

The proposed rules would make two principal changes to the health services coverage rules to provide all citizens with pornographic services coverage without cost sharing, while taking into account religious objections to said pornographic services to members of eligible organizations, including eligible organizations that are religious institutions of higher education, that establish or maintain or arrange health coverage. First, the proposed rules would amend the criteria for the religious employer exemption to ensure that an otherwise exempt employer plan is not disqualified because the employer’s purposes extend beyond the inculcation of religious values or because the employer serves or hires people of different religious faiths.

Second, the proposed rules would establish accommodations for health services coverage established or maintained by eligible organizations, or arranged by eligible organizations that are religious institutions of higher education, with religious objections to pornographic services coverage. The proposed rules also propose related amendments to other rules, consistent with the proposed accommodations. The Departments intend to finalize all such proposed amendments before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor on August 1, 2013.

Pornographic services will be provided at no cost to you, automatically. You will not even have to search for it, except by consulting TV guides, and by using remote controls. If you currently have access to cable television, all adult pornographic pay-per-view channels will be unblocked and made available to you without cost sharing. Also, by simply having television reception (via cable, or via the airwaves), or internet access via iOS devices, our government, understanding how important this service is to our citizens health and well-being, is making sure that the benefits of pornographic services (understood as dignified, uplifting, and morally good for society)  will be provided by your local broadcasters/ purveyors of media  without cost sharing by no later than the implementation date of August 1, 2013.

You, as a consumer, personally do not have to do anything regarding this service, as it will automatically become available to you through every broadcast medium, with no cost sharing. Currently, free pornographic services require you to at least initiate a Google search, or even pay a fee for viewing pornographic content via your cable television provider, or a certified pornographic services provider. But no more. You do not have to decide if you would like pornographic services, as that decision has been made for you. Therefore, you do not have to “opt in” to gain access to these services available to you with no cost sharing.

Depending on the narrowness of the broadcast/cable/ISP markets in your area, however, the numbers of channels with pornographic services content will vary. We are requesting your comments during the next six months while we seek ways to partner effectively with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV, Yahoo!, Google, et.al.,  to expand access to pornographic services so the benefits of streaming this important, healthy, content, in accordance with this mandate,  without cost sharing, can begin by the deadline stated above without delay.

Here comes the kicker.

Did we mention you won’t have to pay for this service? As we feel that pornographic material is vital to the health and well-being of our citizens, parental controls on this programming will be disabled. Your children will not need to ask your permission to utilize pornographic services, as the benefits of utilizing pornography are self-evident to all. Of course, as your conscience dictates, you may decide to forgo the pornographic services provided by the proposed rules on your own.

The benevolent Uncle Sam wouldn’t want to violate your First Amendment rights, you see.

Furthermore, nothing in these proposed rules would preclude employers or others from expressing their opposition, if any, to the use of pornography; require anyone to use pornography; or require video entertainment providers to supply pornography if doing so is against their religious beliefs.

Ok, back to reality. Does the proposal above sound reasonable to you? Would the Church fight against it? If so, why? Perhaps Blessed John Henry Newman can give us an answer.

…the initial doctrine of the infallible teacher must be an emphatic protest against the existing state of mankind. Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and to proclaim it must be the first act of the divinely-accredited messenger. The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if she would be true to her Master, she must ban and anathematize it. This is the meaning of a statement of mine, which has furnished matter for one of those special accusations to which I am at present replying: I have, however,  no fault at all to confess in regard to it; I have nothing to withdraw, and in consequence I here deliberately repeat it. I said, “The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” I think the principle here enunciated to be the mere preamble in the formal credentials of the Catholic Church, as an Act of Parliament might begin with a “Whereas.” It is because of the intensity of the evil which has possession of mankind, that a suitable antagonist has been provided against it; and the initial act of that divinely-commissioned power is of course to deliver her challenge and to defy the enemy. Such a preamble then gives a meaning to her position in the world, and an interpretation to her whole course of teaching and action.

Caesar proposes, but the Church disposes. Or as my friend Thomas à Kempis put it,

For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand. For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.”

  • Bill S

    “The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

    That is nonsense. How is this government supposed to deal with stupidity like this? Catholics are becoming a nuisance.

    And I didn’t get the rant on pornography. This whole article is ludicrous.

    • Frank Weathers

      Hey, Bill? You don’t have to like, or even “get,” anything I write or share in this space. But square away your demeanor, or I’ll show you the door.

      Now if you intend to be civil, and stick around, allow me to point you right back to Newman’s essay you disdain as “nonsense” above. You might actually find a kindred spirit in him, as in that same piece he writes,

      Starting then with the being of a God, (which, as I have said, is as certain to me as the certainty of my own existence, though when I try to put the grounds of that certainty into logical shape I find a difficulty in doing so in mood and figure to my satisfaction,) I look out of myself into the world of men, and there I see a sight which fills me with unspeakable distress. The world seems simply to give the lie to that great truth, of which my whole being is so full; and the effect upon me is, in consequence, as a matter of necessity, as confusing as if it denied that I am in existence myself. If I looked into a mirror, and did not see my face, I should have the sort of feeling which actually comes upon me, when I look into this living busy world, and see no reflexion of its Creator. This is, to me, one of those great difficulties of this absolute primary truth, to which I referred just now. Were it not for this voice, speaking so clearly in my conscience and my heart, I should be an atheist, or a pantheist, or a polytheist when I looked into the world. I am speaking for myself only; and I am far from denying the real force of the arguments in proof of a God, drawn from the general facts of human society and the course of history, but these do not warm me or enlighten me; they do not take away the winter of my desolation, or make the buds unfold and the leaves grow within me, and my moral being rejoice. The sight of the world is nothing else than the prophet’s scroll, full of “lamentations, and mourning, and woe.”

      To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts; and then their ways, habits, governments, forms of worship; their enterprises, their aimless courses, their random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things, as if from unreasoning elements, not towards final causes, the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle’s words, “having no hope and without God in the world,”—all this is a vision to dizzy and appal; and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution.

      What shall be said to this heart-piercing, reason-bewildering fact? I can only answer, that either there is no Creator, or this living society of men is in a true sense discarded from His presence. Did I see a boy of good make and mind, with the tokens on him of a refined nature, cast upon the world without provision, unable to say whence he came, his birthplace or his family connexions, I should conclude that there was some mystery connected with his history, and that he was one, of whom, from one cause or other, his parents were ashamed. Thus only should I be able to account for the contrast between the promise and the condition of his being. And so I argue about the world;—if there be a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity. It is out of joint with the purposes of its Creator. This is a fact, a fact as true as the fact of its existence; and thus the doctrine of what is theologically called original sin becomes to me almost as certain as that the world exists, and as the existence of God.

      Take it easy.

  • Bill S

    “And so I argue about the world;—if there be a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity.”

    No, there was no aboriginal calamity or Original Sin. We never were better or better off than we are now. Study evolution to understand the world.

    The HHS mandate is part of the progress that will make all our lives better. People who oppose it because of the contraceptive requirements are annoying. It’s been amended in a way that should make everyone happy.

    I’m sorry that I dissed your article. But I didn’t appreciate the HHS mandate being compared to forcing pornography on people. Such a comparison is way over-the-top.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      First: evolution does a great job of answering some questions about how the world came to be as it is. It is not so good at answering other questions – evolution explains very little about physics or economics, for example. And when it approaches the question, Why is the world as it is?, evolution falls silent because it is an empirical science, not a philosophy. Evolution is not a sufficient foundation for understanding the world.

      Second, the comparison to pornography is actually appropriate, once you recognize that one of the objections against both contraception and pornography is that they disrupt and distort the natural course of human sexuality.

      Note: you do not need to agree that this objection (or the understanding of human sexuality that it is based on) is true. Simply recognize that reasonable people actually do put forth this objection, and that the same objection is applied to both contraception and pornography. Therefore, there is a genuine point of comparison here.

  • http://www.logosandmuse.com Scott Alt

    It’s the slippery slope–the same way that arguments for gay marriage eventually will pave the way to “normalizing” pedophilia or bestiality. Start today with free contraception, and wake up in tomorrow’s Brave New World with free pornography. One might think there’s a stretch there, but it should give one pause when the same arguments for the one (presumably lesser) offense can be used to justify the other (presumably greater) one.

    • Alan

      Great example of why a slippery slope is a fallacy.

      No the same arguments for mandating contraception coverage cannot be used to justify mandating pornography coverage – the lack of individual or social health benefits to the latter versus the existence of individual and social health benefits to the former should make that clear. And no, the same arguments for mandating gay marriage cannot be used to argue for pedophilia – the consensual nature of the former versus the inability of consent by adolescence in the latter should make that clear. Sad and ridiculous to these fallacies parroted as if they are for any purpose other than making you feel better about your pre-existing prejudices.

      • http://www.logosandmuse.com Scott Alt

        I’ve heard some people — mind you, these are Protestant pastors I’m talking about — argue in favor of masturbation by saying that it relieves stress. And stress, as anyone will tell you, can lead to heart attacks. I agree that the argument sounds ridiculous, but that’s the age we’re living in. And who’s to say that adolescents can’t consent? If adolescents can sue their parents for violating their rights, on what basis are they unable to consent to sex? I agree that the argument sounds ridiculous, but that’s the age we’re living in.

        • Alan

          There is evidence that frequent orgasms, even if by masturbation, can lead to a healthier life as you age but that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that children, for whom the benefits of masturbation don’t exist anyway, should have access to pornography.

          And I shouldn’t have said adolescent, I should have said pre-pubescent. And no, it isn’t the age we are living, it is ridiculous to suggest that a pre-pubescent kid could consent to sex.

    • Bill S

      “It’s the slippery slope–the same way that arguments for gay marriage eventually will pave the way to “normalizing” pedophilia or bestiality. Start today with free contraception, and wake up in tomorrow’s Brave New World with free pornography.”

      You are not serious about this, are you. Do you really make those connections?

  • Frank Weathers

    I might have used bacon instead of pornography, but bacon isn’t sinful for Christians, so I chose as I did. I think in the case of our government, limiting its power, especially in light of Leviathan’s propensity (under the leadership of the Republicrats or the Demoplicans, in the US) to protect itself at all costs, would be in order.

    • Alan

      If you wanted a comparison that was actually apt you would have chosen vaccination.

      • Frank Weathers

        The Church doesn’t see vaccination as sinful. But pornography? You know the answer there. Plus, unblocking parental controls is perhaps the real reason for “with no cost sharing.”

        • Alan

          But there are Churches who do and it actually increases health outcomes in a way similar to birth control whereas pornography has no meaningful connection. So yeah, it would be the more apt comparison if you actually wanted to explore the limits of the concept as opposed to make outrageous statements that you think support your religious case.

          • Frank Weathers

            For purposes of comparison, in order to understand the view of the Church on this matter, the service compared must be sinful, saavy? To explore the limits of the concept using vaccinations is meaningless as vaccinations are not a sin according to the teaching of the Church. Using pornography as an example may seem over-the-top to you, because the government doesn’t currently argue that it is healthy, etc., But despite the government arguing that contraception is healthy, and necessary, etc., the Church sees it as sinful and therefore unhealthy for the souls of not only her flock, but harmful to all. Just like she views pornography.

          • Alan

            The Catholic church isn’t the only example of a religion with moral stances that might be challenged by government mandate – why do you think you need to limit yourself things Catholics find sinful to make a comparison, why can’t things Christian Scientists find sinful be used?

            Using pornography as an example isn’t just over the top, it isn’t comparable because there is no medical study out there that would suggest it increases societies health to make it more accessible. The Government doesn’t look to the Church to determine was is healthy and unhealthy (as it shouldn’t) – the only question is when there is conflict between what is healthy for society and what a religion (any religion, they are all equally entitle to protection of conscience) views as sinful what is a reasonable accommodation. That is why vaccination makes a useful comparison (whereas pornography isn’t a useful comparison just, well a pornographic one used solely to raise ire rather than inform).

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar

    I REALLY like this simile/argument, far better than the “bacon in a kosher deli mandate” argument. I’ve stolen it wholesale for my own blog.