Comments about ‘Robert P. George: Pornography, public morality and constitutional rights’

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Published: Sunday, Oct. 23 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Virginia Beach, VA

Blah Blah blah, if you don't like porn don't buy it, and the tax payer are supporting porn, they are supporting art. I am sorry that you can't appreciate it as art,but then again there are many things I don't' recognize as art that are called art. Thankfully we live in a society, that doesn't allow a small minority to decide what is best for the common good. I may not get Pollock,but I don't' try to run him out of town just because I don't either. We should seek after all that is good, not become judgmental, and run in fear from that which confuses us. Putting fig leaves on the statues, or repainting the classic, or decrying it isn't art because it is nude, diminishes art, and doesn't make us better as a society

Saint George, UT

Recognition and belief in God would to wonders for understanding these concepts. It is always a mystery to me that people can't, won't, or don't make the connection between the problems outlined here and how the lack of belief in God is the primary reason we have these problems. It is as if they are so determined to propose the faulty supposition that we can have a civil society without Him that they will do anything to eliminate His power or influence at any cost. Well, we are pretty much seeing that cost! To admit the reasons is too simplistic for these 'logical' intellectuals! I'm not saying that this professor is Anti-God and I agree with the professor's point, but wonder if he understands what can be done to solve it. If he doesn't, he doesn't offer anything worthwhile. Understanding the problem is not the same thing as knowing what needs to be done to solve it.

Salt Lake City, UT

What, specifically, does Dr. George propose to do about pornography, and how would any such proposal fare in the context of genuinely legitimate First Amendment issues?

Do clothing manufacturers market bathing suits to 12 year-old girls that incorporate underwire and push-up features because of pornography - or because they know that appealing to adolescent anxieties is an effective sales tool?

The objectification of women is less an effect of pornography than it is and underlying cause of it.

If you want to eliminate porn then begin with a strong movement to recognize that women are valued, fully equal members of our society and that the toxic sexualization of women knows many forms, from the extreme fear of a woman's sexuality (think burqas), to the extreme commercialization of sexuality.

When a woman's physical attractiveness is no more significant to her personal and professional life than it is to a man's, and six year-old girls are no longer put in make-up for beauty pageants, then you'll see a decline in the popularity of porn.

South Jordan, UT

Is the Deseret News really advocating for nanny state legislation? I thought this was the conservative paper in town. Don't conservatives claim to be lovers of freedom?


Another side effect to the "lost innocence" pornography imparts on our youth/society, it also helps to lead to a more promiscuous lifestyle in our marriages. Our society accepts affairs as no big deal. Marriage as an institution is in danger. Divorce rates are rising and people are more willing to "give up" than work together to get through struggles. Society's acceptance of divorce has undermined our next generations in everything from their emotional development to education. Divorced parents become less involved in their children's education, putting it off on the school's and teachers to educate their children when they are supposed to be an active part in it as well. Teachers are condemned for the results when they are trying to do their job without parent involvement. The outlook is bleak. You decry the minority in society who sees pornography as an evil, but right is still right. Curbing pornography is what society must do, whether the majority wants to or not. The side effects are harrowing is we do not act. The decision is ours as a society. We can either work through this or divorce ourselves from the issue.


Morality does not come from god, let's get that straight right now, THEN we can talk about the effect pornography has on society, and the far worse evil of censorship in the name of 'public morality'
I am an atheist, and i do not lie, cheat or steal, I do not commit acts of violence, rape or murder. And I do these things WITHOUT god or a fear of hell or divine retribution. Do you? Now, imagine for a moment there is no god, would you then? If you answer 'yes' then you must admit you are not moral. If you answer 'no' then you must admit that morals do not, in fact, come from god.
Now, pornography. In every major city where an XXX movie has been released, incidents of rape DECREASED noticeably.
Humans are intensely sexual creatures, and to pretend otherwise is sheer folly. No creature on earth spends as much time pondering, trying to have, and enjoying sex as we humans do. Porn is no more than a natural outgrowth of that sexuality.
Trying to repress it is dangerous, ignorant, and evil.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I wouldn't discard constitutional rights so quickly.

Society has been down this road before. What if some important "experts" make a case that religion is bad for society and atheism more beneficial? We wisely decided long ago to allow individuals to make those choices for themselves and their families not the state. If you decide to put the state in charge of social engineering is to "sow the wind" and soon you will "reap the whirlwind."

Cedar City, UT

bandersen, Religion is a lot like alcohol, the more you imbibe the less coherent you sound.

The Vanka
Provo, UT

George's arguments are a typical totalitarian justifications for the priority of society's "rights" over individual rights. Oddly, although George states that  "An epidemic of drug abuse, however, though constituted by discrete, private acts of drug taking, damages the common good in myriad ways", he then fails to enumerate those ways.

How, exactly, do private acts of drug taking "damage the common good"? And is such damage empirically demonstrable, or is this another argument "in principle"?

George then invokes what amounts to an appeal to majority rule, stating that a society should be able to create "the cultural structure they think best" in the name of "the force of the public interest". Who is "they"? Well, obviously, it is "they" who are the majority, or "they" who "know best" ("Christians?).

George's arguments that private acts influence "the common good" is a trivial statement of the obvious. That is not the legal or political question. The question is whether or not the influence of private acts so harms the public good as to be the justified subject of legislation in a democratic society. The answer to that is obviously No, and George fails to provide convincing arguments otherwise.


I do not even understand why this is an issue, every one is left to their choices and thoughts. Unless your choices have a direct effect on those around you in a genuine fashion, it shouldn't be regulated or controlled by anyone.

Cedar Hills, UT

Ha. You won't see a decline in porn just because women are made to feel more valuable. There will always be sexually hungry men in this world who will view porn and there will always be women who will want the easy money by participating in pornographic films. Eliminating young beauty pageants may help girls with personal self-esteem issues and eating disorders, but it's not going to affect or eliminate the porn industry.

Let's face it, porn is here to stay whether you like it or not. It's a huge money making industry. And I have come to learn that there are actually many women who also enjoy viewing it! If you don't like it, don't watch it. There are plenty of resources for making sure it doesn't get into your home computers.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

While I hate pornography, I don't know if the answer to it is more government regulation.

Dr. Andrew
Los Angeles, CA

unbelievable and surprising comments. I can now empathize with he who looked out over his beautiful city and the society that he loved and lamented, "O ye fair ones". Thankfully my trust is not in this world.

Medical Lake, Washington

To Arioch,

There is a difference between porn and art. There are plenty of "nudes" both is painting and sculptural forms that are tasteful - with or without the fig leaves - art. And there are plenty of examples of depictions, not even fully nude, that should be considered porn. In my opinion, that which is created with the express purpose of eliciting arousal, erotic thoughts or actions has stepped away from art and has become porn. To compel the public to pay for such depictions against their conscious through taxation is not right.

The human body is beautiful and can be portrayed as such either clothed or unclothed in artistic ways. But please, don't lump the terms 'art' and 'porn' together under one banner.

The Vanka
Provo, UT

Morality wrote:

"pornography ...helps to lead to a more promiscuous lifestyle in our marriages."

Please provide support for this assertion. You claim divorce rates are rising, but the data shows otherwise. You assert that "Our society accepts affairs as no big deal." That is not true. Most every married person whose spouse cheats on them considers it "a big deal". Just because movies and TV shows may portray affairs does not mean "our society accepts affairs as no big deal." There is no basis for your claim.

You assert: "Marriage as an institution is in danger." How so? Couples can get married now just as they could in the past. What is the threat to marriage as an institution? If legislation continues as it has in recent years, marriage will be expanded and made available to an even wider range of couples than ever before. How is that a danger?


You assert that belief in god is the solution to society's problems, including "pornography". So are you suggesting that belief in god be legislated? By law we must all believe in god? If so, you must believe the theocracies in Iran, Iraq, etc. have NO social problems?

Salt Lake City, UT

The article stated, It is the attitudes, habits, dispositions, imagination, ideology, values and choices shaped by a culture in which pornography flourishes that will, in the end, deprive many children of what can without logical or moral strain be characterized as their right to a healthy sexuality.

There is no more a right to healthy sexuality than there is a right to healthcare, jobs, housing or food. Ones civil rights arent violated by one not having any of them. Perhaps the author should move his family to a remote LDS town and away TV, the internet and newspaper ads showing women in bras.
Should we outlaw stores from selling short shorts, bikinis and dresses that are above the knee? Selling them harms childrens right to a healthy sexuality.

When a woman's physical attractiveness is no more significant to her personal and professional life than it is to a man's.. then you'll see a decline in the popularity of porn.
Hardly. Men are visual creatures and prefer physically attractive women, often over other substantive criteria, when choosing a date (physical or an image). Women do the same with short men. We're all wired that way.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

You can have your cake [Freedom] and eat it [restrict it] too.

Freedom is a two-edged sword.

I will always choose freedom,
with all the good and bad that goes right along with it.

ulvegaard | 10:16 a.m. Oct. 23, 2011
Medical Lake, Washington

You nailed it!

Saint George, UT

Athiest: It is impossible to divorce morality from God. If there is no God, then how is rape wrong? It is not good enough just to say 'because'. Because if you do, then all you are saying is that your 'morality' is better than your neighbors. Without God there is no morality. Let's start with the truth. With the truth, discussion can begin.

Phoenix, AZ

%bandersen; What does god have to do with it. Take responsibiliy for your own choices and actions, you should know right from wrong with out playing the god card; if not, then god can't do much for you.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Robert P. George,

Well written article. It's nice to see intelligent discourse on this subject.

However, the last 3 paragraphs were my favorite and I wanted an entire article regarding them. I wanted more than 'it degrades society' as I already know this. While important, I feel that the 'individual freedoms' side of this carries equal importance and received less attention.

If you or other D.N. staff are inclined to comment, I would appreciate further commentary or a reference to where more can be read touching this point.

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