Can we have a serious talk about sexual morality?

Apparently not.

All of you who think society has progressed since the 1950s, consider this: Back then any mention of certain topics in a public setting would be met with uncomfortable giggles. We were, the more enlightened people told us, repressed, and this was not good. But today, repression runs in a different direction. Anyone who wants to talk about the serious issues related to a permissive culture is met with something worse than giggles — jokes, scorn, haughtiness and dismissive laughter.

The repressive left is keeping the nation from having the mature discussion everyone needs.

Two years ago, when the story of a Zumba instructor in Maine who was accused of prostitution went viral, I wrote in favor of making the names of her clients public. “Buying a prostitute,” I wrote, “is a disgusting crime.” I backed this up with a link to an interesting piece on the effects of prostitution on society, including evidence of its association with violence, disease and divorce.

I soon found myself beneath an avalanche of scorn. “Reading this conjured up images of a puritanical mob with torches and pitchforks. Jay certainly has a very self-righteous gift of spin,” one commenter wrote. Another noted that, “Of course this article is written by a male.” It goes without saying that neither criticism constituted an argument. They were diversions that substituted for critical thinking about an extremely important topic.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen this repression reveal itself again. A video produced at BYU-Idaho and published on YouTube used a dramatic war scene to illustrate a talk six years ago by school President Kim Clark on the dangers of pornography. The production focused on addiction, which clergy in a variety of faiths today are identifying as a growing impediment to spiritual development.

A comedian named Ed Brayton found the video and immediately associated it with the idea the school was trying to get students to rat on each other for masturbating, something not even mentioned in the 3-minute, 54-second video.

Nudged by this spin, the video went viral. It was lampooned by, among others, the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post and finally, Jay Leno. Only had the integrity to actually call Clark for comment about the video, which led to some of the sites correcting information they ought to have verified in the first place.

The irony, apparently missed by those happily flinging jokes from the tips of their tongues, is that the video begins by Clark describing the battle between good and evil as one in which “the enemy is cruel, ruthless and relentless.” It would be hard to find three better words to describe those who attacked it.

He could have added one more — repressive.

Amid all the laughter, any serious discussion about pornography was repressed. No one was discussing the growing evidence that more and more teenagers are becoming addicted to viewing pornography, robbing them of the ability to do almost anything else in life. No one talked about how, as a Deseret News story reported last month, experts are seeing the average age of first exposure to pornography falling steadily. Currently it is about 11 or 12.

No one was talking about pornography’s effect on women, or what the American Psychological Association referred to in a report as the “sexualization of girls” and its effects on everything from academic achievement and self-esteem to a growing tide of sexism at the hands of boys whose image of women has been distorted.

I’ve cited two examples. There are many more. Britain’s government recently tried to tackle pornography by requiring Internet providers to block pornographic content unless adult users specifically request to be exempted.

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Attacks against this sensible policy have been relentless. The latest involves complaints that the filters prevented people from updating League of Legends, an online strategy game.

No doubt this is easily fixed. More to the point, access to a game cannot be compared in any logical or sensible way to what pornography is doing to the world.

But of course, the repressive people who giggle at all that won’t let the world have that conversation.

Jay Evensen is the senior editorial columnist at the Deseret News. E-mail him at For more content, visit his web site,