We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“In the past few decades, digital pornography has been blamed for—well, pick a noun and add the word sex. It’s been named as a culprit for both sex addiction and sex abstinence. It’s been blamed for poor sex education, rampant sexual violence, and rising sexual dysfunction. Pornography is practically the Swiss Army knife of social calamity.”

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic.

Reminds me of the old gag: Why was the Swiss military so optimistic about the outcome of a war?
Answer: Because they had a wine corkscrew in their knives.

42 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Since Derek Thompson is willing to defend pornography, he’s clearly an anti-feminist chauvinist alt-right troll.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Does it cause extreme climate change as well?
    Or is it extreme climate change that causes pornography?

  • bobby b

    Likely the true cause of the Urban Heat Islands.

  • Julie near Chicago

    No, the Urban Heat Island Effect is indisputably caused by the utter collapse of the Polar Bear population.

    Which itself is the result of the several-thousand-degree thermal effects of Mr. Bill McKibben’s perorations, combined with additional warmth, as well as the bad breath, of various warmongers. And the Extinction Rebellion.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Rudolph Hucker: said, May 17, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Does it cause extreme climate change as well?
    Or is it extreme climate change that causes pornography?

    The extreme climate change is what is forcing an unavoidable increase in digital pornography across society.

    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it – sweatily.

  • Deep Lurker

    The Left has abandoned its defense of pornography as pornography has become less and less useful as a cudgel against the Right. Besides, 1984 has the Junior Anti-Sex League, and since 1984 has now been taken up as a how-to manual…

  • Fraser Orr

    I am curious about this idea of porn putting pressure on women (and perhaps men) to do things they are uncomfortable with. It seems to me that if you can’t say “no thank you” to your lover then the fact he wants to tie you up and smack your ass is the least of the problems in your relationship.

    FWIW as a person who has both seen porn and experience actual sex, I can say that the two things are barely related in any significant way in terms of the connection between two people (bodily bits acting in the same way, notwithstanding.) Actually, that’s not fair, I am sure there is some porn that is far closer. As the point made in the article there is a big different between a movie of two people connecting in a sensual manner and a movie of a violent gang rape. To put them in the same category is plainly ridiculous.

    (And FWIW, to express an extremely unpopular view, I think at the root cause of many people’s sexual dissatisfaction is the ingrained idea of monogamy — the unrealistic fantasy that one person can maximally satisfy all your appetites, sexual, love, friendship, companionship and so forth. Perhaps if we opened ourselves up to a broader range of experience it would greatly enhance our principal relationship. Perhaps especially so if we can get past our ingrained religious and jealous views. Not only would it reduce the pressure of failure, or the stigmatization of sex that leads to many of the problems associated with porn, but would make for a happier society. Of course the truth is that the majority of couples are polygamous, the only difference is they call it “cheating’ and cause endless grief with lying, jealousy and all other ugly emotions. Perhaps better to acknowledge that we are, women and men both, in our nature somewhat polygamous.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    There is one thing for which i tentatively blame pornography: the increasing number of men with a cuckold fetish. My theory is that there is a generation of men (much younger than me) who started watching pornography on a regular basis long before having sex; and when they finally get a girlfriend, they don’t know what to do with her, other than watch her frolicking with another man.

    If i may, i also have 2 suggestions (other than giving up on porn completely) to prevent this problem:
    1. don’t watch pornography which includes men (if you are a hetero man);
    2. while watching pornography, keep your hands away from your groin (this might be good advice independently of gender and orientation).

  • Gavin Longmuir

    From the Atlantic article: “The academic literature on pornography is not like that of climate change or gravity, where practically all researchers agree on the big picture.”

    Question 1: Were any of us as taxpayers & voters ever asked if we wanted the taxes wrested from our dirty paws used to pay for academics writing about pornography?

    Question 2: If there were a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Pornography ensuring that large amounts of funds were directed to researchers who supported a particular interpretation, is it possible that more of the academic literature on pornography might agree on the big picture?

    With apologies in advance to Niall Kilmartin, it is impossible to miss this quote from the Atlantic article:
    “This summer, the U.K. government will institute a novel “proof of age” technology across porn sites to prevent underage consumption.”
    And there are still people who fervently hope that Brexit will lead to the sunlit uplands of freedom?

  • Mr Ecks

    Longm–Sick of saying that Brexit was only round ONE. Plus their proof-shite is only on paid porno. And there are tons of free stuff going about.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Mr. X — On Brexit, glad to hear you recognize that. Some day, please tell us about the plans for Rounds Two, Three, and Four. It seems to be a very well kept secret.

    On UK politicians “proof of age” (i.e., unequivocally identify yourself, regardless of age) — does anyone seriously believe that once it has been implemented for paid porno sites, it will not then be extended to free sites (using the same justification)? And then to VPN software, which freedom-seeking UK citizens will undoubtedly try to use to get round the UK government’s restrictions? Does anyone doubt that the Chinese will eventually find a willing customer in a future UKGov for tested & proven population surveillance technology? This is why Rounds Two, Three, and Four are so important.

  • bobby b

    “The academic literature on pornography is not like that of climate change or gravity . . . “

    One of these things is not like the other.

    Leave it to the Atlantic to imply a similarity.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Does anyone doubt that the Chinese will eventually find a willing customer in a future UKGov for tested & proven population surveillance technology?

    Eventually?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Runcie,

    Caustic. Very caustic.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “On UK politicians “proof of age” (i.e., unequivocally identify yourself, regardless of age) — does anyone seriously believe that once it has been implemented for paid porno sites, it will not then be extended to free sites (using the same justification)? And then to VPN software, which freedom-seeking UK citizens will undoubtedly try to use to get round the UK government’s restrictions?”

    And does anyone seriously think the result won’t be like prohibition, or the drugs war? If you criminalise something hundreds of millions of people want, you create a mass market for criminality. There are technical ways round most forms of monitoring and censorship, but there’s currently insufficient motivation for using it, and bringing it to market. But a ban like this would make it worthwhile for people to develop alternatives. It’ll be like the battle the record companies fought over online music sharing all over again.

    It’s the best way I can think of to ensure that the next generation of teenaged boys grow up to become hackers, with a cynical attitude to government. Look on the bright side.

    “Does anyone doubt that the Chinese will eventually find a willing customer in a future UKGov for tested & proven population surveillance technology?”

    As I recall, it was the other way round. The monitoring technology developed for Western governments was eventually sold to China. China are just a bit more open about using it, that’s all.

    “One of these things is not like the other.”

    Well yes, in the sense that researchers can and do write papers proposing alternative theories about gravity without getting themselves into trouble! Gravity is actually one of the most mysterious, difficult, and controversial areas in current physics. But they wouldn’t know that.

  • Mr Ecks

    Longm–UKIP have already started –prematurely because of Treason May’s treason–on round two. Trying to stop the left’s import of a new voting class. It will be an uphill fight.

    Which is why I’m voting for the Brexit Party in the Eurotrash capers–to finish the first battle first.

    Centralised planning is overated anyway.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    “… their proof-shite is only on paid porno.”

    Sorry, my mind is working slowly today. I have not done enough field study on this issue to be certain, but paid porno requires — payment. On-line, that would usually be via a credit card or something similar; and banks don’t normally hand those out to children. So I would guess that paid porno is already mostly limited to people who are old enough to fight & die for their country. But that has never stopped politicians and bureaucrats in the Nanny State who want to control other people’s lives.

  • Ferox

    and banks don’t normally hand those out to children.

    In the US we have pre-paid credit cards. They work exactly like regular credit cards, except that you buy them from a store and put cash on them at the store. Since they are paid for with cash, I am pretty sure that anyone can buy them, regardless of their age (I might be wrong about that, however). I know that you don’t need to show ID to purchase them.

    You don’t have prepaid cards in the UK? Or if you do, then isn’t all of this just a completely farcical bit of virtue-signalling theater?

  • Roué le Jour

    You can download porn on your phone, store it on a memory card and share it with your friends. No computer or internet required.

    There’s an old Mae West gag, when asked about pornography, she replies “I don’t even own a pornogram.” Well thanks to technology pretty much everyone owns one now.

  • bobby b

    I just use my mom’s credit card.

  • NickM

    Yes, Frankie Vaughn gets blamed for every conceivable social ill.

    The issue that worries me over having to become a government registered porn fiend is if this exercise in futile repression is deemed a success then where will it end? Will we need to be registered to access “far right” websites such as Samizdata or Stephen Fry’s website? Well, why not? OK?

    I think this is especially problematic because of the notorious difficulty of defining what pornography actually is. This allows a lot of scope for mission creep.

    I suspect Muslim taxi drivers from shit-holes like Oldham pose a greater sexual threat to the women of Britain than pornhub.com et.al. but you’re not going to get a Home Sec. or Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (why do we have one of those anyway?)saying anything like that are we?

    My penultimate (and parenthetical) question there was of course rhetorical.

  • Penseivat

    It’s probably a coincidence that people from those countries which, allegedly, abhor pornography or even sexual scenes in films, seem to be the main protagonists of sexual offences, either in their own country or when living in another country.
    Gang rapes in India and Pakistan, sexual grooming of vulnerable females in the UK, rapes and sexual assaults in Sweden and Denmark, the buggering of young boys by adults, and the list goes on.
    In the ’80s, I lived in West Germany where pornography, but not the extreme kind, was legal and shown in air conditioned cinemas. At that time, in the area in which I lived, sexual offences by German nationals was very low. Perhaps their was (is?) a link between sexual permissiveness in the media, together with a level of sexual freedom in society, and the difference in the level of sex crimes committed by those from that country and immigrants.

  • neonsnake

    You don’t have prepaid cards in the UK? Or if you do, then isn’t all of this just a completely farcical bit of virtue-signalling theater?

    Whether we do or not, the answer to your second question is “Maybe so. But I suspect it’s to get us more used to ‘Mommy knows best’ so that the next restriction feels less of an intrusion into our private lives. And the one after that, and the one after….etc”.

    Because realistically who’s going to want to be seen loudly fight for their right to some private time, unmonitored, with pornhub and a box of mansize tissues?

  • Gavin Longmuir

    “This summer, the U.K. government will institute a novel “proof of age” technology across porn sites to prevent underage consumption.”

    Since summer is almost upon us, some of the UK correspondents might know some more about what this “proof of age” technology is? If it is simply “Enter your date of birth”, then it would be “just a completely farcical bit of virtue-signalling theater” — unless UKGov is satisfied that its education system leaves young Brits unable to perform simple arithmetic. But if it is something more than that, then it really could be the camel’s nose under the tent for Chinese-level monitoring & control over each individual’s access to the internet.

    Although UKGov presents this as being ‘to protect the children’, it would be necessary to validate the age of every single individual — which requires validating the specific identity of every single user every time he signs on. Should Brits be thinking about buying their VPN software before the summer? And preferably buying it for cash, on a DVD, while outside the country? Looks increasingly like George Orwell was an optimist!

  • NickM

    Perhaps their was (is?) a link between sexual permissiveness in the media, together with a level of sexual freedom in society, and the difference in the level of sex crimes committed by those from that country and immigrants.

    I think that is very, er, hard to deny on purely empirical grounds. But having said that I must take into account the issue raised so briliantly by Arthur Eddington…

    It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory.

    So, is there a theory? Probably not a single one. I think the Northern English grooming gangs were just a bunch of dirty buggers who thought of non-Muslim girls as untermenschen. OK, I’ll advance a theory. Sexual unpleasantness probably correlates very strongly with societies in which arranged marriages are the norm. Which kinda reminds me of an old Turkish saying…

    A woman for duty.
    A boy for pleasure.
    But a melon for ecstasy.

    Suffice to say, when I visited Istanbul, I avoided greengrocers.

    Seriously though if marriage is entirely seen about making a suitable match and having a family and all that “dull” stuff then folk will seek out sex for fun in, frequently, inappropriate and horrid ways. At heart I suspect the Islamic sex gangs et al both envy and despise our “licentiousness” and that combination of feelings is toxic to the soul.

  • NickM

    neonsnake,
    Well, I’m prepared to fight on that hill for the reasons I’ve outlined and Gavin went into more detail about.

  • neonsnake

    Well, I’m prepared to fight on that hill for the reasons I’ve outlined and Gavin went into more detail about.

    As am I, NickM, as am I.

    And yet, I find the government curiously ignoring me, on this and a number of other matters. Maybe my influence is not so great as I think?

    I wonder if, say, Jacob Rees-Mogg might be quite so willing to be seen fighting on that hill?

  • neonsnake

    So, is there a theory? Probably not a single one.

    Theories like those that you propose feel intuitively correct; it’s the kind of thing that I would like someone who isn’t me to do all the research on and present back with a very sanitised summary and set of conclusions; I suspect that the researcher would end up in some very dark and horrid corners of the world/internet, and once their research is concluded, they should be given whatever they want for the rest of their life to make up for it.

    I certainly wouldn’t want the job.

  • NickM

    …I suspect that the researcher would end up in some very dark and horrid corners of the world/internet…

    … and I suspect the final horrid destination would be in the chokey. Either for some cockamamie “racism” offense or because possession of anything that can be deemed “violent or extreme pornography” is a strict liability.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg would stand with us if his nanny allowed.

  • neonsnake

    Jacob Rees-Mogg would stand with us if his nanny allowed.

    I already thought you’d won the thread with ” “far right” websites such as…Stephen Fry’s website” earlier, but that comment has me giggling uncontrollably. You’ve outdone yourself.

    I’m unclear whether it’s the word “stand” and the images it conjures, or the newly minted (in my mind) acronym “NILF” that’s got me.

    Well played, sir, well played. I toast you *raises glass*.

  • bobby b

    As to exactly how age-verification might work:

    Check out this Wired article.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So, is there a theory? Probably not a single one. I think the Northern English grooming gangs were just a bunch of dirty buggers who thought of non-Muslim girls as untermenschen.”

    They abused Muslim girls, too. Much less is known about that, though, because the cultural norms make it riskier for the girls to complain.

    There may be some relation to being from a culture that represses normal sexual relationships, but it’s entirely possible that it has nothing to do with it. Gangs are associated with poverty, and it so happens that in Northern towns most of the poor come from Muslim backgrounds. In other places where the poor come from different ethnic backgrounds you get the same sort of criminal gang-related problems.

    It’s widespread enough to have become a common Hollywood/TV trope. You get girls in poor areas hooking up with gang-members, getting involved with drugs and prostitution and crime generally, have violent boyfriends, and rape and violent assault being common – both within gangs (it’s a common ‘initiation’ for girls) and between gangs (revenge attacks in inter-gang turf wars often take the form of rapes). Gangsters’ “molls” were around in the 50s. And the term “gang rape” itself comes from this culture, and originated long before the Muslims came along.

    The girls are picked up because they’re naive, emotionally vulnerable, and easy to manipulate or intimidate – not because the men have any particular sexual interest in children specifically. The only unusual feature is that the Northern gangs seem to do it in larger groups. While gang-related child rape and assault is more commonly done by men of asian background (about 85% IIRC), child rape and assault in general does not show any particular racial bias. Most child rapists prosecuted in the UK by far are white and non-Muslim, and not gang-related.

    It’s also possible that there are a lot more gang rapes of youngsters going on, but that the police generally ignore it in most places because they’re very difficult to prosecute. The girls themselves are often very unwilling to get involved with the police. It’s possible that we only see this spike in prosecutions because the EDL ran a campaign in those Northern towns to push the police and authorities into doing something about it. The stuff going on in London (‘sket lists‘, and so on), for example, they’re not so interested in. I don’t know – the statistics are scanty and unclear.

    But it’s for sure that a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about what’s really going on here.

  • neonsnake

    As to exactly how age-verification might work:

    I don’t know which comes first – liberty or autonomy? My first principle is autonomy, and this leads to liberty, but cannot be achieved without privacy.

    Any intrusion on privacy violates my principles, and should be thrown out forthwith. Alas, I’m on my own here.

  • Ferox

    Alas, I’m on my own here.

    It depends on how far out you are. Are you against the concept of a “legal” name, since it identifies you as a particular person, and is therefore a violation of your privacy? I am not out that far on the limb with you … probably not too many other people either.

    But if your idea of privacy means, “An it harm none, do what thou wilt” and adds “and don’t keep lists of who is doing what”, then just lift your head up … lots of us are there too.

  • Marius

    Still shilling for the Pakistani Muslim rape gangs NiV?

  • bobby b

    Are you against the concept of a “legal” name, since it identifies you as a particular person, and is therefore a violation of your privacy? I am not out that far on the limb with you … probably not too many other people either.

    Thus spake “Ferox.”

    😉

    /s/ “bobby b”

    (We both seem to be at least partway out on that limb.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    Marius, No. Have you got any evidence that what I said was wrong?

  • neonsnake

    Heh. Point well made, bobby b.

    But, yes – we are currently able to choose our level of privacy in many places; this is slowly being eroded. And yes, I’m of the “Do what thou wilt” persuasion (Wicca or Crawley, Ferox?) and adding the “don’t keep lists”.

    Outside of here, I suspect the protection of privacy has been undermined in philosophy and practice to such an extent that it’s a losing battle, though.

    We must intrude on your privacy, otherwise paedos/terrorists/marxists/skinheads/*insert currently fashionable enemy* will come for your children! And no-one wants that, do they?

  • Ferox

    bobby b, neonsnake:

    1) I want my claim of ownership for my house to rest on some basis beyond “I have a shotgun and am willing to use it”. To my understanding, that seems to require a “legal” id of some kind – in other words, a name 🙂

    2) I don’t care to have my neighbors dictate to me what I can do by myself or with others inside that house, and I also don’t care to have them keeping a log of said activities.

    Does that put me into some ultra-small region of the Venn diagram? I wouldn’t have thought so …

  • neonsnake

    Does that put me into some ultra-small region of the Venn diagram? I wouldn’t have thought so …

    No, we’re messing around, although it was an interesting point to note that here on Samizdata, we are able to choose our level of privacy.

    I wouldn’t have thought so either – I feel exactly the same, with the added insertion of “…my neighbours, and particularly the government, dictate to me…”.

  • Ferox

    I always thought it would be interesting to have a state where your legal “id” was a number of some kind. That sounds dystopian (“I am NOT a number!”) but it would allow you, in theory, to have identification cards with any name that you chose. You could even have multiple ids with multiple names – say, one for buying absinthe or heroin from the corner store, another for casting your ballot, and a third for establishing your membership to that sex club in a nearby city.

    Would you thereby have more or less “privacy”?

    PS – For clarity, the id for heroin to establish your legal adulthood, the ballot because I think that’s a good idea, and the sex club because they would need to charge in order to stay in business and would want to make sure multiple people were not using a single membership.

  • neonsnake

    It seems like an interesting idea to explore. Let’s see, we’re a tiny little way towards it in the UK, but only because we don’t have one unified system of ID (NIN is the only one I’m aware of that has unique identifers, everybody has, and is static throughout your life). However, all our ID systems have the same name, of course.

    My initial, unexamined thought, is to wonder whether Philip K Dick has written a book about personality fragmentation driven by different names on IDs. Similar to A Scanner Darkly, maybe.

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