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Pornography: Formula for Despair
CERC ^ | Donald DeMarco

Posted on 06/17/2002 8:25:38 PM PDT by JMJ333

There is a body of water in Eastern Canada that has the improbable name of "Lake Despair". This sinister appellation is an accident of language. The French originally called it Lac d'espoir (Lake of Hope). English-speaking settlers in the region, accustomed to hearing only their own language, misperceived its name. And so it became known, culturally and cartographically, as Lake Despair. This type of metamorphosis occurs just as easily on a moral plane.

Pornography takes human sexuality, with its hope of love, fidelity, family, and fulfillment, and turns it into an empty and lifeless husk. It does this as a predator destroys its prey, by eviscerating sexuality of all its inherent grace. This transmogrification, which some mistake as emancipation, takes place through processes that are neither liberating or enriching, but Depersonalizing, Enslaving, Self-destructive, Preposterous, Alienating, Isolating, Reductionistic. The process can be subtle enough that, for some, it goes unnoticed. But ultimately, the difference between the reality of human sexuality and its residue in pornography is all the difference in the world. It is the difference between what "gift" means in English and what "Gift" (poison) means in German. Indeed, it is the difference between hope and despair, heaven and hell.


Pornography displaces love with lust. The fundamental reason that lust is listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins is precisely that it gives pleasure primacy over the person. Lust prefers the experience of pleasure to the good of the person. Rather than loving the other, lust prefers to appropriate the other for the self. Such an inversion of proper values is at once unjust to the other who is regarded primarily as an instrument of pleasure, and destructive of the self inasmuch as it undermines his own nature as a loving being.

In his "Theology of the Body," John Paul II states that lust "'depersonalizes' man making him an object 'for the other'. Instead of being 'together with the other' - a subject in unity, in fact, in the sacramental unity 'of the body' - man becomes an object for man: the female for the male and vice versa." With lust, the subjectivity of the person gives way to the objectivity of the body.

In his book, The Case Against Pornography, David Holbrook argues that pornography is connected with the same processes of objectivization that is essential to the Galilean-Newtonian-Cartesian tradition that lowers nature and man "to the status of dead objects". Psychiatrist Leslie Farber and others have described the depersonalizing effects of pornography most vividly by stating that it transfers the fig leaf to the face. Pornography is not interested in the face, through which personality shines, but the objectivized and devitalized body. Pornography represses personality and exalts the depersonalized, despiritualized body.


The process by which one objectivizes the other, results in an objectivization of the self. This is the basis of slavery. "The enslaving of the other," writes Christian existentialist Nikolai Berdyaev, "is also the enslaving of the self." Viewing the other as a depersonalized, despiritualized object is incompatible with communion.

But only through inter-personal communion is one liberated form the world that is enclosed in the material. "By objectivization," Berdyaev goes on to say, "the subject enslaves itself and creates the realm of determinism."

Pornography enslaves by imprisoning people in the material. It also enslaves because it erodes personal freedom. "There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us," wrote C. S. Lewis. "Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance."

A third way in which pornography enslaves is through chemical addiction. When the pornography addict indulges in his habit, the adrenal gland secretes the chemical epinephrine into the blood stream. According to David Caton, author of Pornogrpahy: The Addiction, epinephrine goes to the brain and assists in locking in the pornographic images. These locked-in images can result in severely changed behavior, including an obsession with pornography that has much in common with chemical addiction.


The depersonalizing and enslaving effects of pornography are inevitably self-destructive. The high rate of suicides among pornography actresses is a graphic indication of this.

The notion of "stripping," especially when applied to the pornographic film, goes far beyond the act of disrobing. It represents the stripping away of inner qualities as well: character, moral values, shame, fundamental decency, restraint. The logical end-point of such pornographic stripping is the complete dissolution of the self. In this regard, pornography leads to sado-masochism and death, as illustrated in the infamous "snuff" films.

Canadian Business magazine reports that "Hard-core Capitalists" stand to make so much money in peddling illegal porn that they are undeterred by the criminal sanctions against it. One producer, that fittingly calls itself Dead Parrot Productions, caters to the appetite for sado-masochism and self-destruction.


Preposterous, as its etymology indicates (prae + posterius) means putting before, that which should come after. Trying to remove your socks before you have taken your shoes off, rather than after, is clearly preposterous. Pornography is preposterous because it puts sex before personhood, lust before love, pleasure before conscience.

When Adam awakened from a deep sleep and looked upon a woman for the first time, he joyously exclaimed: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gn. 2:23). "He rightly understood that his partner was first and foremost a human being, like himself, and secondarily sexual. He did not exclaim: "This at last is the opposite sex, a convenient instrument for my sexual gratification." The human relationship comes first; the sexual relationship must be grounded in personal love.

As a result of the Fall, Adam and Eve began to get things backwards. They experienced shame because they suddenly regarded each other first as sex objects and secondarily as persons. They then made aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves. Pornography and pornovision, by placing the part before the whole, sexuality before personality, is preposterous and therefore, in a sense, ludicrous.


The porn world is not without rules. One cardinal rule is that its performers remain safely alienated from their clients. Because pornography is primarily centered on the despiritualized, depersonalized body, alienation is essential to it.

In the telephone sex industry, operators are instructed to advise customers who want to arrange a tryst that "company policy" forbids it. Also, because pornography in its various forms, relies heavily on illusion, it cannot abide the light of realism. The voyeur is obliged to remain an alienated spectator. The tenuous relationship between the voyeur and the exhibitionist evaporates once personality enters the picture. As C. S. Lewis pointed out in his Allegory of Love, lust seeks "for some purely sexual, hence purely imaginary conjunction of an impossible maleness with an impossible femaleness."


Alienation between people leads to the isolation of the self. This isolation of the self from a significant other and from community must not be confused with the right to privacy. Privacy means two things. In the first sense, it is contrasted with what is public. Sexual intimacy between husband and wife is private in this sense. John Paul II has rightly criticized pornography and pornovision for violating this legitimate right to privacy of the body.

On the other hand, privacy can refer to self-isolation, of withdrawing from social encounters. Pornography violates legitimateprivacy and encourages the illegitimate privacy of isolation. It exposes a personal privacy that should be protected, while it promotes an isolated privacy that should be avoided. Consequently, it is highly injurious to marriage and the family, often leaving spouses, particularly husbands, isolated from the rest of their kin.


Pornography reduces the person to a thing. Perhaps a more revealing way of putting it is to say that pornography exchanges a name for a number. Hence its preoccupation with numbers: the size of the organs, the duration of intercourse, the number of partners, the frequency and intensity of orgasm. The so-called "vital statistics" do not denote life as such as much as a person reduced to a thing.

Mechanization, which invariably stamps things with sameness, has a strong affinity with pornography. They are both highly impersonal processes whose language is not of names, but of numbers. Pornography forces the impression upon the imagination that a human being is not an individualized person, but an amalgam of parts. One of the more pernicious consequences of the Freudean reduction of the person to conflicting parts is the willingness to ascribe rights to its most basic part, namely, the id. O. Hobart Mowrer has inveighed against Freudeanism for "championing the rights of the body in opposition to a society and moral order which were presumed to be unduly harsh and arbitrary."

Nonetheless, a human being is not a conflict of parts but a dynamic whole that has a communal nature and a personal destiny.


The porn industry, with its words, images, voices, and videos, is, indeed, a formula for despair. From its very essence springs the need to create the illusion that the body is in fundamental conflict with the unified person. Its unremitting aim is to bring about a condition of utter shamelessness through the gradual annihilation of authentic personality.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: moralabsolutes; pornography; theologyofthebody
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To: JMJ333
Actually, I think this says it very well:

 To attempt to censor [pornography], regulate it, or otherwise altar a freedom to choose what one reads or watches for entertainment, gives a few individuals the power to regulate the arts for the rest of society. What's destroyed in this process may be worse than what's there in the beginning.

61 posted on 06/17/2002 9:18:26 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: JMJ333
None one else seems up for it beyond immature locker room sex talk.

Because, that is where they're at emotionally and intellectually.

62 posted on 06/17/2002 9:19:03 PM PDT by It's me
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To: PistolPaknMama
I have never witnessed a family torn apart by pornography.

Pornography is an extremely low form of... what? entertainment? not art, or course. what. I've learned some interesting things watching pornography. Not that I've watched much of it; it tends to gets boring fast.

63 posted on 06/17/2002 9:19:43 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: HassanBenSobar
Ok: suppose the article is 100% correct. What is the implication? The implication (when you post to a political forum where people debate things like policy) is that porn should not be voluntarily consumed much less sanctioned.

Actually, I have never been one to force anything on anyone. I attempt to persuade people to my point of view on logic and truth. Thanks for your reply.

64 posted on 06/17/2002 9:20:58 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: Chunga
 First Amendment was adopted for good
reasons, and those reasons did not include
the furtherance of radical personal autonomy."

And guess who gets to define radical?

Social conservatives are what made
me a libertarian.

65 posted on 06/17/2002 9:22:21 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: Harrison Bergeron
I'm sorry, but you'll have to further explain the connection between the devestating effects of porn...and that of bingo. Is that really your argument?
66 posted on 06/17/2002 9:22:21 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: It's me
So then, you fault all the boys who complained about the priest's molestations?

Um...There is a HUGE difference between a Priest (male) molesting a boy and a hot teacher (female) getting it on with a willing high school kid. There is a BIG difference between these two situations.

67 posted on 06/17/2002 9:23:35 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: gcruse
I'm glad the social conservatives drove you to be a libertine. I, however, am still waiting for some form of meaningful debate from you on any issue covered in the article.
68 posted on 06/17/2002 9:24:22 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: PJ-Comix; It's me's all RELATIVE don't ya know.
69 posted on 06/17/2002 9:25:14 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: Savage Beast
This all reminds me of the time some preacher claimed that Ted Bundy committed mass murder because of pornography.
70 posted on 06/17/2002 9:25:40 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: ozzymandus
I saw that! What is Ron Jeremy doing on basic cable is beyond me..
71 posted on 06/17/2002 9:25:59 PM PDT by codebreaker
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To: PJ-Comix
In other words, you have no argument except to reach at straws claiming some faceless preacher is looking down their nose at you. I'm glad you and your buddies cleared that for us.
72 posted on 06/17/2002 9:27:37 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333
Hey, if you want to get all worked up over Porno, fine. I prefer to get upset about more significant stuff like government coverups (such as the suppression of the John Doe #2 videotape), etc..
73 posted on 06/17/2002 9:28:16 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: gcruse
In the 1965 Gephard study it was confirmed from police reports that sex offenders often have pornography in their possession. But this same study also concluded that there was no difference between male sex offenders and nonoffenders in their exposure rates to pornography. (Olen & Barry, 1996).

Unfortunately, this study is not online to look into more thoroughly. Obviously one causative indication is that offenders, at some point, are induced by porn to offend, since offenders 'often have porn', and by implication very few offenders are induced by some other non-porn factor (e.g. anger).

Further, It would be interesting to see how long they tracked offenders and non-offenders. The assumption is the non-offenders won't ever offend, whereas in fact the only conclusion that can be drawn, is they have porn, but haven't offended yet.

And then there is the obvious unknown, they're only measuring the offenders who have been caught.

Pornography can ...[snip...] boost a waning sexual relationship.

But like any stimulant, it wears off and requires either a greater dosage, or the user crashes, usually with worse effects. How often does porn save a marriage, indefinitely?

Another technique, called fading, used also as a reconditioning exercise for treating pedophiles

I thought the reports out of the Catholic clergy pedophiles indicated a high rate of recidivism?

74 posted on 06/17/2002 9:33:15 PM PDT by Starwind
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To: JMJ333
I'm glad the social conservatives drove you to be a libertine.
I, however, am still waiting for some form of meaningful debate
from you on any issue covered in the article.

The article, my dear, is full of metaphysical malarkey.
I would as soon debate a Shinto priest on the likelihood
of reincarnating as a chocolate rabbit.

I refuse to endorse  letting you or anyone
else choose what an adult reads or watches for

75 posted on 06/17/2002 9:33:35 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: HassanBenSobar
Not at all. If we follow your "we know what you're thinking" logic there would be no place for social criticism of any kind whatsoever because it might lead to legislation.

Apparently lost on yours is the irony that this is the same type of projection of motive you are accusing the author of having.

76 posted on 06/17/2002 9:33:52 PM PDT by Lorianne
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To: gcruse
I see. You're basic argument is "It's malarkey." LOL
77 posted on 06/17/2002 9:39:07 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333
What's the effective difference between somebody ruining their marriage because they can't stop looking at naked pictures and somebody ruining their marriage because they can't stop blowing the grocery budget on bingo cards?

And besides, how are we going to solve the problem of young sexy attractive women from going around naked under their clothes?

78 posted on 06/17/2002 9:40:25 PM PDT by Harrison Bergeron
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To: Lorianne
You may have misconstrued my point. I conceded: suppose the article is 100% correct. Then what? I don't mind the social criticism. Lots of things in society deserve criticism. So, fine. Maybe it IS correct. Is it not reasonable to ask, 'so what'? The ARTICLE (not necessarily the poster), from the tone itself, screams out that something should be done. Ok. Obviously I disagree. If I had to insist on one point, it's that porn is utterly trivial compared to other social ills. Just my point of view.
79 posted on 06/17/2002 9:40:27 PM PDT by HassanBenSobar
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To: PJ-Comix
This all reminds me of the time some preacher claimed that Ted Bundy committed mass murder because of pornography.

Actually, Bundy himself was the one who detailed his own experience with pornography and its role in turning him into a serial killer. He provided an interview to James Dobson while on death row, hours from his execution. It is a very interesting and revealing dialog. You often get the straightest, most unvarnished talk from someone facing their own eminent demise. No more spinning, justifying, or self-deception. Just straight talk.

80 posted on 06/17/2002 9:41:53 PM PDT by Prince Caspian
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