Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Free Speech... But Only For Me.

This is getting slightly ridiculous, I think after this there's gonna be a blog moratorium on this for a while. But for now...

I can only speak for myself, of course... although I have been critical of Valerie D'Orazio's stance on the Simpsons porn case and related issues, I haven't seriously called for her silencing on any issue, though I have floated the idea that perhaps she should be subject to the same forces that some bring to bear on media they find distasteful. That isn't me becoming what I hate in others, it's trying to point out, "see? annoying when it happens to things you care about, ain't it?"

Honestly, I haven't delved too far into the comments section of many of the Occasional Superheroine posts I've read, because who has the time for that? So it may be that she is receiving unreasonable arguments from people on the Free Speech side of things.

But if others are misinterpreting what she says, I think it's only fair to point out that she seems to be reinterpreting the arguments of others herself. And, some folks may very well understand what she's saying, or failing to say, and taking her to task for exactly that.

To wit:

"So I shed no tears for the absence of porn based on underage cartoon characters on the Internet. Nor will I miss feeling like a party to an illegal act every time I do an image search for cartoon and comic book characters.

However, there must be a rather sizable number of people actually visiting these XXX cartoon parody sites -- not just those who get off on such images, but just regular people looking for some gross-out humor. Will the latter category find themselves roped in with these crackdowns, even arrested? Would having an illustration of a "Peanuts Orgy" on your hard drive be enough to convict you as a sex offender?

It would be helpful, I think, for these boundaries and determinations of what is or is not legal to view and download to be clearly delineated and widely broadcast, as to prevent misunderstandings."

This is what I wrote in my first post on the Simpsons child-porn case. Please note the last two paragraphs.

Of course, this post has been misquoted and misrepresented ad nauseum. Why?

I believe it's because within that post I dare to merely suggest that there might limits to moral conduct. That, I think, is the real problem.

That might be a problem, but it's not exactly my problem.

The issue I have with Valerie is the same one I've had with many on the feminist side of the spectrum since I began blogging. The idea that media ought to be censured for some supposedly greater good.

What does Valerie believe about this idea? Not that drawn child porn is bad, I'm pretty sure she thinks it is, but, well, let's let Valerie say it herself:

The biggest question I received in this debate has NOT been, "do you think people who possess Simpsons child porn should be arrested."

It's been:

"Why do you think illustrated child pornography is harmful when it's just drawings?"

The latter question, you will note, she doesn't bother to answer (at least not in this post), she just calls it "naive" and moves on. That in itself is kind of troubling, in the way discussing Jesus is with a fundamentalist; you know that faith is involved and certain things are just accepted as fact on belief alone and no discussion will really get anywhere.

But she also, at least nowhere I've read, doesn't answer the other question, the one about being arrested. And that's a bit more worrying.

Kind of ironic too, since what I did read of one comments section called for people to say something along the lines of "I support the right of people to make and possess drawn child porn" (and for the record: I support the right of people to make and possess drawn child porn). So let's pose the question to Valerie (in a purely rhetorical fashion, I doubt she reads what's over here) and everyone else: Do you believe those who make and possess drawn child porn should be arrested, jailed and/or fined?

No, I'm not just talking about those who might accidentally get it smeared on their computers while walking through the Internet late at night, I mean everyone, all of them, the righteous and the perverts alike. (In a practical sense, after all, what laws get applied will be far less discriminating than even Valerie herself.)

Also high on the iron-o-meter is Valerie's complaint that all this is abridging her own freedom of speech, and you can read that and see practically word-for-word things I've written talking about people trying to squash what they consider sexist or otherwise wrong.

Oh, but I like this part:

A Danish cartoonist who makes fun of Mohammed is allowed to have free speech -- but the offended Muslim who marches through the streets to protest it is held up as a symbol of a repressive mindset.

I've been seeing offensive and stereotypical portrayals of Christians in comics for at least the past fifteen years straight -- but I see no complaints from the same pundits who decry other stereotypes in comics. Why is that? Why is it ok to use the symbol of the evil preacher over and over and over again, but if that brand of stereotyping was done regarding any other religion it would be thrown off the stands?

Why is the person who possesses illustrated child porn supported and befriended by comics celebrities, fandom, and pundits -- but the same respect for "free speech" is not extended to me? Why?

1) The offended Muslim who merely marches has the right to do so, but we can still call that person repressive, if what they want is to forbid another human from drawing whatever the hell they want: because it IS repressive, and so is trying to get stuff taken out of comics, and so is opposing drawn child porn. When imposing your moral code upon others passes from persuasion to coercion, that's repressive.

And then the Muslim who issues fatwas, death threats, guns or bombs, that's something else entirely.

2) Here's a thought: conservative Christianity has attacked and ridiculed those who disagree with their viewpoint for decades if not centuries in America. They like to crow about how they are the dominant religion in the US (meaning they should always get their way, majority rules), but when they happen to get caught in less-than-favorable criticism, they're quick to whine about how across the globe they are a minority and then paint a picture with coliseums and hungry lions and persecution, wah.

Maybe nobody outside of Christianity actually feels sympathy for Christianity and the negative stereotypes. Maybe the stereotypes used by prominent Christian figures themselves have something to do with that.

3) Maybe because their brand of free speech doesn't endorse arresting or fining you for practicing yours.

It's free speech -- but only for some. Those who do not fit in with the "program" do not get the benefit of free speech or respect. Those people must be thrown out of their jobs, ostracized, and attacked.

Isn't this exactly what people are saying about Valerie? Isn't the case being made that free speech isn't about standing up only for what you do approve of, what you do believe in, but standing up for it all, for the right of people to say stuff you actively hate?

And drawn child porn is part of that "all", right? Especially if we're talking legal actions, right??

Why pretend you are tolerant? Stop the charade, already, and embrace your fascism. J. Caleb Mozzocco, embrace your fascism, embrace your intolerance. Stop pretending you are some beacon for free speech when you are just a Karl Rove hangover and a mediocre blogger to boot.

I didn't catch what this "J. Caleb Mozzocco" said, but this just begs a question, no, several questions:

Does Valerie consider herself "tolerant"?

Does Valerie believe that she is in favor of truly free speech?

If "Yes", why does drawn child porn seem to not fall under that umbrella?

If "No", why does Valerie feel entitled to the considerations of Free Speech when she herself isn't willing to extend those considerations to others?

Does hypocrisy in others excuse hypocrisy in one's own self...?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mary, How You've Grown.

And one more thing:

When Mary Marvel debuted her black costume in Countdown, after receiving Black Adam's mystic powers, that was what Black Adam said. Certainly she didn't look particularly demure. And chunks of the blogosphere began to froth.

Okay fine, raping your childhood, despoiling pure innocent classic characters yadda yadda yadda.

But with the flap about this latest picture, now we're adding the fact that she's either a minor, or "barely legal".

But is she?

Oh, sure, in the original classic stories, and even when DC started making "Shazam" stories in the 70s, Mary Marvel looked pretty much the same normal or superpowered.

But as her brother shows, that doesn't have to be the case. He gets aged (well, he did before he got transmogrified and took old wizard Shazam's place), swapping between being a young lad and a strapping mature he-man. In fact, depending on who wrote the story, Billy Batson and Captain Marvel often seemed like two discrete individuals.

What was he? A little kid that inhabits a grown man's body? Or a separate individual who swaps places?

This raises the question: just what is Dark Mary Marvel? Adam said, "how you've grown," which would seem to imply that her form matured. Is she a teenager in both forms? A teenager who becomes grown? Two separate entities? How would you differentiate between minor Mary Marvel and adult Mary Marvel, anyway? Do you have to give her a huge bust just to show she's grown-up? She doesn't look particularly immature in the pic Alex Ross has painted. How do you tell, besides just assuming she's of some certain age? (As if pictures have ages, anyway.)

Here's a more interesting question: if drawn child porn is as reprehensible and evil as real child porn, does that not mean that the image is more important than the substance? That what appears in front of your eyes is what counts? Therefore, just to make it easy, take Billy Batson as an example. If Captain Marvel were to have a sexual experience, would it be statutory rape? Captain Marvel sure looks like an adult, but he may have the mind of a minor, so, what is that, exactly? And by extension, what is that with Mary Marvel?

It's a simple choice.

If adult Captain Marvel and/or adult Mary Marvel are taboo, sexually, then it is the inside, the heart and soul if you will, the mind, that counts. That, regardless if they have adult bodies, they are off-limits because of their minds.

If it is the exterior shell that counts, then it's the image, the exterior form, that matters. Captain Marvel is not off-limits, because he has a fully-grown adult body, and it is natural to view him in a sexual way if you like big buff guys like that. Same with Mary Marvel, if her body is that of an adult.

But here's the thing: If you think drawn child porn is bad and harmful, you are proposing that it's the image that matters there, too. If it looks like an underage person, that's what it is.

That is in direct opposition to a stance against the Mary Marvel picture, if your complaint is that she's underage: because she doesn't look underage, not in that picture.

So to anyone protesting this new Mary Marvel picture on the basis that Mary Marvel is underage: Just what is it you're objecting to? Because once you get down to the facts of the matter, it's kind of hard to tell...

Do you really even know, yourself?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Behold, the Highest of Horses. I Call Her Stilty.

And yet, comic book bloggers are going to still complain about this image and that. It's inevitable. And implicit in those complaints is the idea that though these images and stories are "imaginary" -- they have a potential to negatively impact others. And if those images have a potential to negatively impact others -- that means they are not essentially "harmless."

There you have it. The core idea that fuels the fight. The idea that pictures have the potential to negatively impact others.

Break it down. Pay attention to what she says.

The idea that the images can impact someone. Not the certainty, not the fact written down, proved by science, no: the idea.

A potential to cause harm. Again, not a certainty, no, it might, if the stars align properly, cause harm. Maybe.

If those images can harm. Not that they necessarily will.

Valerie wants, so many people want, not just feminists, so many want to deprive you of something they feel is repellent. After all, you don't need it, do you, really? It's just your freedom. And they want to do it for what they feel are the noblest of reasons.

But they are the most ethereal of reasons, as well.

Let's be clear: we're not talking about the right to protest something. Valerie doesn't have to worry about going to jail because she spoke out against things she objects to. All she has to deal with are cranky bloggers. You want to talk hypothetical situations, harm and risks? I feel a need to remain anonymous because I am well aware that many people hate what I preach: drawn images should not be censored or banned by governments or moral busybodies. My risk of being pursued by some self-same busybody is far greater, since for some suspicion equals guilt, and association equals complicity. Because someone thinks drawn child porn is the same as real child porn, and because defending drawn child porn in some eyes means that I must like it, then I risk real persecution, should someone decide to make a call and point out where "the guy who likes kiddy porn" is.

No, I'm being silly? Tell that to Christopher Handly, or the guy who's going to jail for Simpsons porn.

Let's put it another way: Do you seriously think that the reductions in freedoms that resulted from the Patriot Act (or the equivalent in countries besides the USA) have made us safer, or, as propagandasts claim, it has preserved our freedoms?

Do you think, seriously, that jailing a guy who posesses Simpsons porn is going to make even one person safer? By what measure?

That guy is really in jail. And you cannot find one single person who you can point to and say "that person was saved from rape or child molestation because we banned such-and-such a work, or made this-and-this illegal".

Lastly, if we are saying that any drawn image is "okay" because it's only imaginary and not hurting anyone, should there be any complaints about racist imagery? For example, those who are against Memin Pinguin. Or how about Jack Chick? To rail about Jack Chick's portrayal of a number of groups of people -- homosexuals, Catholics, Pagans, etc. -- would be really railing against free expression, right? Even to be critical of the images undermines one's stated belief of "images are harmless." If the images are truly harmless -- why criticize them? Why not just live-and-let-live, like one big happy family of creative ideas in a free society?

Again, "criticize" isn't the issue. It's the seeming endorsement of jail time for cartoons. Should Jack Chick or whoever makes Memin Pinguin go to jail for hate crimes? Do the cartoonists who drew unflattering representations of Mohammed deserve the death threats?

I don't think so. Does Valerie?

[For the record, I am of the "even Nazis have a right to speak" brand of free-speech supporters. So I believe Jack Chick and others, though their ideas are terrible, still have the right to express those ideas, and always should have that right.]

Let me float an idea out there. If Valerie does not believe in "live and let live" when it comes to images, then should she be exempt? After all, if she doesn't believe in truly free speech, then that's a moral stance I disagree with. Do I think her writings won't let some of this stance bleed into them?

So do I think I or anyone else should read the forthcoming Cloak and Dagger miniseries? Do I really want to see Cloak and Dagger beating up evil cartoonists, busting up rings of Eros Comix readers? Should I propose and/or support a boycott of this series or any other she writes? Rack her up there with Frank Miller or Greg Land or the late Michael Turner or whoever else is on the hit list this week?

After all, that's how it works, right? Speak out against porn and panty shots. Pressure publishers to get your way. Drive out what you dislike, what you feel might cause harm, so that nobody else can have it. Because Cloak and Dagger might harm free speech. And all this is, in fact, within the bounds of Free Speech. And nobody would feel outrage that something might be taken away from them, because protesting and boycotting isn't really censorship.

Not really.

[Edited/Afterthought: You know, it just occurred to me that Dagger, depending on who's written and drawn her, has sometimes been depicted as a minor, wearing that costume with the dagger cut-out in areas precariously close to the danger zones. And does Cloak ever wear anything besides his cloak?

So you have a possibly naked guy hanging around with a barely-legal (or possibly not legal) teen in a daring, skin-exposing outfit.

So, hmmm.]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Riding My Snowboard Right Down the Slippery Slope

The issue of gay marriage really isn't my "thing", as far as this blog goes. I believe gays should have the right to get married, but I don't preach about it here. After all, this blog has been a mechanism for insulating me from retaliatory bullcrap from the kinds of people who can't tolerate dissent or uncomfortable ideas. I don't think I'm sexist; I'd rather not have someone going around saying how sexist I am behind my back (on the internet, where you never know whether something is going to fall into the lap of, say, your employer). However, if someone were to spread the word that I supported gay marriage, well, I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where that would have little impact should it come out. So I normally don't have to exercise caution over that issue, and don't shunt it to this blog when I wish to speak about it.

But as will become obvious as I write this, I've had a thought where discretion is probably a good idea, so ta-dah, here it is.

Mad Thinker Scott's been discussing the antics of Mike Huckabee lately, and for the most part, he's been doing a good enough job picking the guy apart that I couldn't add anything meaningful. But watching the clip of Huckabee on the Daily Show reminded me of the continual refrain from many conservative opponents to gay marriage: "Well, if we legalize gay marriage then we'd have to allow all the other wierdos who want to get married! What about polygamists or incest or what if a guy wants to marry a dog???"

This is designed to appeal to the "ick factor" built into most humans, the line that, when crossed, makes one go "eew". It's evident that for those who oppose gay marriage, the idea of a gay relationship itself crosses that line; recognizing that others don't share that view, the tactic is to equate gay marriage with other things that make people go "eew".

This places someone trying to argue for gay marriage in an awkward position of having to scramble to distance gay marriage from all these other nasty things or simply call it a "slippery slope" argument and dismiss it without actually discussing it. That or avoid taking the bait entirely and changing subjects, because who would dare defend all that other nasty stuff?

Well, me. (Albeit anonymously.)

Here's my thesis: who actually gives a fuck into what relationships consenting adults arrange themselves? Polygamy? Well, there's good reasons not to do it, just for the legal and emotional headaches, but as long as everyone in the arrangement is truly willing, why not, and why would anyone care?

Incest? Well, inbreeding isn't smart, but as long as everyone's an adult and there's genuine affection, why should it matter, otherwise?

Okay, I'm not going to defend bestiality. Issues of consent and all that. But any other thing that involves humans of legal age (in other words, things that are not already inherently illegal), I would think there'd really be no reason to forbid marriages among just about any combination you can think of.

Except that "ick factor".

And that's what a lot of things come down to, isn't it? Someone gets a squirmy feeling in their belly just thinkin' about all them queers havin' queer fornications, and praise jaysus we has ta stop this gay marryn' thing raiht naow! It all comes down to people being so repulsed by things that shouldn't actually be any of their damn business that they want to deny those who practice said icky stuff the right to practice that icky stuff, regardless of whether it actually affects anyone else at all. I've said it before: I do not believe that one's personal distaste should become legally binding policy.

Meanwhile, someone sees a superheroine get mistreated in a comic and is disturbed by the position of the character's body on the floor.

Meanwhile, someone reads a comic and sees a picture of a fully-clothed girl sitting on her bed and says, "ew, gross."

Meanwhile, someone else in Iowa opens a box of manga imported from Japan, and gets the same feeling looking at all the cartoon pictures of gay sex and young girls.

Meanwhile, Valerie D'Orazio reads the story of the guy convicted of having Simpsons-based cartoon porn and thinks, "Good, serves him right."

And meanwhile.

And meanwhile.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why It Fails

Pornography and Rape: Is There a Connection?

The literature in this area is substantial and growing. A few examples follow:

  • In a comparative study of rape rates in the USA, Scandinavia, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Court (1984) found a connection between the availability of pornography and the level of rape. He specifically refutes earlier studies that purported to show otherwise, particularly in relation to Australia, where the uniform crime data:
  • actually support the case for an increase [in rape rates after the liberalisation of pornography] quite convincingly (Court 1984, p. 158).
  • In the USA, the eight major men's magazines (Chic, Club, Gallery, Genesis, Hustler, Oui, Playboy and Penthouse) have sales that are five times higher per capita in Alaska and Nevada than in other states such as North Dakota--and rape rates that are six times higher per capita in Alaska and Nevada than North Dakota. Overall a fairly strong correlation was found between rape and circulation rates in the fifty states, even with controls for potential confounding variables, such as region, climate, propensity to report rape and police practices (Milne-Home 1991; Baron & Straus 1985 cited in United States Attorney-General's Commission on Pornography 1986, p. 944-5).

The above was linked to by Valerie D'Orazio in an attempt to buttress her stance that bad things in the media (specifically porn) cause bad things in real life. It appears in the comments section of that post I linked to last time, and since by that time in the debate people were throwing around (and/or rejecting) references to Wertham and Orwell, I kinda wonder how many actually bothered to read this and other links.

But the problem with the theory behind this document is the same problem with Wertham's reasoning regarding crime comics: Correlation is not cause.

Wertham was convinced that kids were reading crime comics and getting "worked up" by the sex and violence therein to the point where they'd start committing crimes of their own. But anyone even vaguely familiar with genuine scientific methods for establishing facts knows that you do not start out with a conclusion and then work backwards to find the proof. Such an approach taints the process with bias, colors the result. It's easy to "prove" damn near anything that way, but there's no real truth inherent in that process.

Wertham assumed that crime comics were the cause of youthful crime; from that he gathered anecdotal evidence showing that juvenile delinquents of various stripes read crime comics and were corrupted by them. His research (at least what is revealed in his writings), however, ignores or glosses over many other potential causes for the delinquency, such as poor parenting or societal pressures. What's more, it nearly ignores the possibility that he got it backwards: that kids were attracted to crime comics because they were already in a reprobate frame of mind.

To her credit, Goldsmith does give a nod to the "correlation is not cause" idea, and she ends with what she calls theories, without declaring them facts. Still, what she writes appears to be working from a foregone conclusion: porn causes rape.

I've quoted two things above to demonstrate the, frankly, bullshit nature of this reasoning, as well as compare it with Wertham's own writing. For example, here's Wertham's own words, as I've quoted before, from an article he wrote:

Dorothy Thompson recently wrote about comic books: "The harm done is incalculable, even if it results in no overt acts, and even if at last it is overcome by other influences."

What's so wrong with that? Compare it to the quoting of Court by Ms. Goldsmith, above.

This is not evidence of cause and effect.

This is the quoting of someone else who believes in the same thing as those who quote them, but neither quote offers any proof of the actual cause and effect, just a declaration that there is such a link. That's not real truth. That's an attempt at truth by aggregate; "See how many of us believe the same thing? It must be true!" I shouldn't have to tell anyone that a majority opinion is never a failsafe guide to what's right and true.

Not only that, but there's the issue of whether your sources are trustworthy. I don't know who this woman Wertham quoted is, so how do I know her opinion means anything regarding this issue? I never heard of Ms. Goldsmith before now, let alone this "Court" person, so have I any reason to trust their judgment?

You know who can get away with this kind of stuff? The Bible, and Dick Cheney. (That's right: The Bible, whose main evidence for its own truth is itself, and Cheney, who has a history of releasing "facts" about stuff to sympathetic ears, letting them spread the word, and then quoting those self-same ears when someone asks him where he got his data...)

As for the rest: Look, I can see how people make these connections. Kids see crime comics, and they commit crimes! People see porn, and want to commit sex crimes! You see things with similar themes, and think there must be a connection, you assume there is one and work from there. But that's called jumping to conclusions, no matter how supposedly obvious you think the connection is.

So according to Goldsmith, there's increased porn circulation in Alaska and Nevada, and higher incidence of rape as well in those states. She also claims this trend holds even with "controls for potential confounding variables, such as region, climate, propensity to report rape and police practices". Region and climate are variables? What about population density? The percentage of the population who've been convicted of crimes? The fact that both states have Republican Governors? If you framed your quest right, you could make a strong case that Sarah Palin was as responsible for an increased rape rate as the availability of porn.

The truth is, there's so many variables at large that trying to find a "cause" for rape in porn is difficult at best, unless you're willing to give up honest, unbiased fact-finding and just go with your gut. Well, my gut tells me that it's far more likely that a high porn-to-rape rate is a symptom, not the cause: those likely to commit rape are more likely to consume porn, not the other way around.

But that's just my gut, my instinct. I don't know that for a fact, and there is, to my knowledge, no clear unbiased proof that porn causes rape, either. How will we ever know the truth?

I don't know. I don't know of anyone willing to look at the issue from an objective, unbiased position. I don't know who would be willing to abide by such a study if one did occur. Without those things, all we have is theory and emotion, and really, more should be required.

This is why the refrain "if we could save even one person from rape" fails. You can't say for certain that any censorship would save anyone from anything. Certainly nobody claims that eliminating porn would make all rapes cease. Where then is the guarantee that if I just let people take porn out of my reach, X number of women would definitely never be raped? There can be no such guarantee as things stand now, and the guaranteed loss of freedom if porn and other objectionable material is banned is not as yet outweighed by the nebulous "maybe" of rapes that might be prevented.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gee, Thanks a Lot, MOM.

The last thing is, I think child porn of any type and brutal sexualized violent material is unhealthy, and kills your soul a little bit every time you see it and get off on it. If you want to indulge in it, and you are not harming anyone, fine -- but I feel it is unhealthy, cancerous. It's not something kind to do for yourself, even if it gives you immediate gratification.

And if we, as a society, can support the right for this type of porn to flourish and be distributed -- we are not separate, without responsibility, off-the-hook. How quaint to say, "I support the right to view drawn child porn, but I hold no responsibility for my fellow man or woman or child who may be psychologically crippled or physically harmed as a result of it."

The question, for me, is even if we only save ONE child from rape or attempted rape, or even just lots of uncomfortable hugs from Creepy Uncle Dave, is that not worth leaving a couple naked bodies out of a comic?

--"Jess", from Neil Gaiman's blog

I once would have thought that, steeped in feminism, which usually rejects the overbearing, patriarchal notion that Daddy Knows Best, some folks would be wary of falling into an overbearing, matriarchal position where Mommy Knows Best.

I find it somewhat amusing to read the Occasional Superheroine blog and see a hesitance to voice certain opinions for fear of the reaction; welcome to my blog, structured so as to remain anonymous while I challenge a few feminist orthodoxies (such as porn causes rape). Or, hell, Scott the Mad Thinker's blog. (His even better, since my readership seems to be minimal at the moment, while he still gets all kinds of criticism for doing the "There's so much rape in comics! No there's not!" back-and-forth again.) Negative reactions? Oh yeah. That goes multiple ways.

So Valerie is all in favor of banning drawn representations of children having sex. And, you know, she's wrong to think that way, but it's her right to have a wrong opinion. And hell, if Neil Gaiman couldn't convince her (like he ultimately convinced "Jess"), if a dogpile of opposing opinions on her own blog doesn't sway her, hey, fine, I won't try to change her mind. Write her off as one of the lost, get on with life.

I do, however, think this viewpoint ought to be opposed. And I could reiterate and regurgitate many of the points raised by so many others in that comments section. I've said most of them in one form or another before, and may again, but this time around, I want to come at the issue from a somewhat different angle.

So to Valerie and those who think like her: Cut it out. You're not my goddamn Mom.

I don't care what your views on drawn child porn are. I don't care what my views on drawn child porn are. What I do care about is that you in effect want to tell me I can't do something over some nebulous worry that it will cause something bad down the road. You'd have a better chance of convincing me of the evils of cigarettes and alcohol, and look how well Prohibition and the War On Drugs worked.

As a responsible adult, I take measured risks every day, as do we all, and just as I wouldn't expect to have my own right to drive a car, drink, smoke, own a gun removed because other people are idiots who are too irresponsible to keep from doing themselves or others an injury, so too do I resent the idea that just because other people are jackasses who can't or won't control their urges, I should have the right to view material that other people dislike taken away from me.

No, I neither need nor enjoy Simpsons porn (blech). That's not the point. Whether or not I choose to indulge in any of this stuff should always be my decision, not yours. And no matter how much you dress it up by referencing the bad acts of others, the end result is that you're looking to take away some of my rights.

Really, what a patronizing matronizing attitude! "Don't run with scissors! You'll put an eye out! And that porn is going to give you soul cancer!"

You don't like it? Fine. Want to protest it? Lovely, be my guest. But if you want to play Mommy, tell me I can't do something (for "your own good", it's always for your own good), and then run to Papa Government to spank me when I go ahead and do it anyway, that's when I tell you to cram it.

If issues of Free Speech fail to convince you, then let's settle on the more basic premise of you not telling me what I can or cannot do.

Especially if you have similar issues about others telling you what you can and can't do.