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So much for "straight from the horse's..."

This week, there's supposed to be a debate at Simmons College on the subject of pornography. Taking up the side that says porn is harmful and degrading and bad is feminist author Susan Cole. Opposing her will be the old Hedgehog himself, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Ron Jeremy.

Or perhaps not.

According to some voices in the bastion of modern academia, the debate is an important one -- but the notion that the person who champions the "wrong" side might actually have some valid points, considerable life experience, and personal knowledge of the subject matter is too much for these hothouse flowers. Their idea of debate is not two people arguing whether something is right or wrong, but just how wrong something is.

Good for Jeremy. In a business where the average career lasts maybe six months, and the explosion (if you'll pardon the expression) of amateurs diving in to a field previously reserved for the professionals, he's found a way to keep his career going after almost 30 years and being in his 50's.

And if those poor, sensitive, benighted college students should suffer an attack of the vapors from being exposed to someone who actually believes in porn... all the better.


Comments (29)

Is Professor Susan Cole any... (Below threshold)
langtry:

Is Professor Susan Cole any relation to Juan Cole?

hey, is JT a Ron Jer... (Below threshold)
macofromoc:


hey, is JT a Ron Jeremy Sock Puppet??

No probelem, I've seen like one movie with RJ in it.... uh, it accidently found it's way in my VCR.

"Their idea of debate is no... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

"Their idea of debate is not two people arguing whether something is right or wrong, but just how wrong something is."

So what? The presence of Ron Jeremy notwithstanding (I couldn't care less), it is a shame that society seems increasingly incapable of reaching a moral consensus on anything at all. Some things should be axiomatic. Why not have Jeffrey Dahmer (too late I know, but it's just an example) debate the benefits of serial murder and cannibalism? The only thing such an exercise accomplishes is to open a window into a perverse, sick mind. This is no small benefit, mind you, so I say let the debate continue!

Porn is usually boring, but... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

Porn is usually boring, but as long as people have hormones there will be a lot of interest in the subject. And yes, porn usually objectifies women -- since the vast majority of its audience is male -- but if you're going to discuss the subject, its only appropriate to bring in someone who is both knowledgeable and a strong proponent of the industry to represent their point of view. Jeremy is a very clever fellow, and maybe that's why the politically-correct fear him so much.

Jeff, you have 100% control... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

Jeff, you have 100% control over your own television set and DVD. You can choose what movies you attend.

And so do I.

That is a morality that I will subscribe to far more than one which dictates what I am or am not allowed to view. We don't need any mullahs here.

Porn is terrible, and degra... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Porn is terrible, and degrading, and, er, expensive.

Um.

Never mind.

The debate shouldn't be whe... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The debate shouldn't be whether it is right or wrong, but whether people are harmed by it. ww

blackcat77;"That i... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

blackcat77;

"That is a morality that I will subscribe to far more than one which dictates what I am or am not allowed to view."

Now you're jumping to conclusions. Nobody said anything about "what you are allowed to view." View it if you want. It's immoral all the same.

After reading the article, ... (Below threshold)
Matt:

After reading the article, I understand that Mr. Jeremy can't participate in the debate because he has intimate knowledge of the porn industry, was succesful in it for many years and is a proponent of it currently.

I took away the fact that the academics only want to debate academics not somebody with useful knowledge of the topic. Then, again, considering the types of courses offered at liberal arts colleges, the hedonistic lifestyles, sexual predation of co-eds, etc, maybe Mr. Jeremy is seen as to conservative?

If success and experience disqualify you from debating a topic, why do we keep inviting politicians to the Presidential debates?

Jeff Blogworthy,Ar... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Jeff Blogworthy,

Are horror movies immoral too? How about movies with alot of bad words?

Excellent comment WildWilli... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Excellent comment WildWillie (@3:25pm), and I agree for the most part. However, you must remember in the leftist world "harm" is a very relative thing.

For instance, in leftist-land saying something that offends someone* could get you expelled/fired/sued, but killing someone before their head has left their mother's womb is fine.

(*Unless the person is offended because they are either male, white, Christian, and/or heterosexual-- then it's fine.)

Heralder,No, rathe... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Heralder,

No, rather I think driving SUV's, supporting our troops, eating meat, wearing fur coats, and earning more than $100k a year are the real moral horrors of our age.

Moral relativists will be the first one's to whine about things "not being fair" when Big Brother comes knocking yet they are to stupid to realize that they have already sabotaged their own defense. After all, on what grounds will they object?

I'm rather curious as to ho... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

I'm rather curious as to how it could harm someone...more so than say, watching Hostel or Saw or The Hills Have Eyes.

At least people in porn movies are enjoying themselves...as opposed to a depiction of a guy sawing off his own leg.

It seems to me, there's some strange allowance for violence, but not for profanity or sex.

Jeff Blogworthy,My... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Jeff Blogworthy,

My previous post was to P. Bunyan.

The reason I posed the question that I did is explained a bit further in that post. Otherwise, I'm not terribly sure I understand the argument vis-a-vis moral relativism.

I'll need to follow up on a... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

I'll need to follow up on any responses tomorrow as I'm out of time.

I must read weird college n... (Below threshold)

I must read weird college news because I'm really shocked this isn't the other way around. Is Simmons a Christian college? Even then, what I usually hear is stuff about feminists bringing sex-workers to events to speak (presumably not to perform) about how liberating it is and how empowering it is to work in the sex trade.

As for the larger question Heralder brought up. America does tend to be more tolerant of violence in entertainment than we are of sex in entertainment (though one can hardly claim there isn't a lot of sex in our entertainment). I think there are reasons for that that go beyond some charge of us being prudes.

I don't believe that it's prudish of me, for example, to be concerned about how sex in entertainment relates to my teenagers' self images. How my son views women and how my daughter views herself. Anything that relates to relationships or self-image has the potential to be quite harmful. It starts way before the scale reaches "porn".

Violence doesn't do the same things. Something like the saw pushes it, but boy does it have to try. (And there are certainly violent shows that are off limits in this house.)

I think it's because violence is primarily external. I don't worry about what a shoot 'em up movie is going to do to my children's developing self-images.

Slasher movies, hip hop tha... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Slasher movies, hip hop that exploits violence and demeans woman, anything that can harm the persons psychological make up or exploits one human over another as in porn. Harm is harm. ww

Heralder,Since you... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Heralder,

Since you seem like a thinking person, I am going to give you a serious reply.

I don't know why you don't understand the argument vis-à-vis moral relativism. You were clearly making a relativistic argument. My point is that you can argue the merits of one thing relative to another until you get so hopelessly confused that you collapse into a catatonic state. Once you head down that road, ANYHING is justifiable.

Eventually, you must conclude that some things are wrong because they are wrong inherently. Likewise, moral absolutism is the foundation of our liberty. One thing leads to another. The Founding Fathers were certain of this, as I am:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." - George Washington


It is wrong to take what belongs to one man and give it to another, or simply confiscate it altogether without very good reason. The fruit of a man's labor belongs to him. This is right because it is an absolute right.

However, the moral relativist will take your property and tell you he is doing you a favor by not taking more, like the rulers of [insert name of despotic nation here]. Whoever has the biggest stick wins. Once the "indispensable supports" are removed, the basis for argument on moral grounds is lost.

This exact same philosophy of moral relativism is used to subvert the Constitution as well. The Constitution has no absolutes in it, we are told, because it "lives and breaths." "It must change to adopt to the times". Thus, among other things, we are given Kelo v. New London in contravention of the plain language in the document to the contrary.

Do you seriously propose (as you said in your statement) that whether one "enjoys" something is a reliable indicator of the rightness or wrongness of the act? Different people may enjoy different things - many things at the expense of another - many things at the expense of their own lives.

Consider the possibility that your daughter is 18 years and looking for a rewarding career. She thinks that the porn industry would be a good choice because it looks both very easy and a lot of fun. She thinks she can make a name for herself by breaking Houston's record. Even better, why not your wife? Would you be ok with that? Why or why not?

What effect do you think the porn industry does has on people who are in it? Do you know that there is a long list of suicide, drug addiction, depression, and broken homes related to the porn industry? HIV casts a constant pall over the lives of those in the industry. There are many people who claim their lives have been ruined because they are "sex addicts" i.e. addicted to porn. What hope for a family and a long-lasting relationship does a woman in the porn industry have? What about the stigma attached to her immediate family members in the community? What about her children? What kind of men do women have as prospects for relationships - men who want a long-lasting, loving, fulfilling relationship? In short, do they have hope of landing a man of any real character?

I once heard a porn star testifying that "normal sex" no longer does it for him. Once you've had three women, etc, etc. you want that kind of sex all the time, he said. In other words, he claims he is now incapable of having a normal relationship with a woman.

The devil is in the details, my friend. But don't take my word for it. Listen to Ron Jeremy: "If [Christians] feel that a girl does not belong in porn, [and] they can lead her to the path of righteousness and Jesus Christ, well, so be it. Maybe she didn't belong in porn in the first place. Maybe if porn stars like Savannah or Meghan Leigh or Colleen Applegate had known XXX Church [an outreach ministry to porn stars], they wouldn't have committed suicide--although their problems went way deeper and way beyond porn."

Actually, if you read from ... (Below threshold)

Actually, if you read from former porn stars what actually goes on in the making of these films, and the background of most of the women who appear in them, it's quite harmful. There is a strong case to be made that viewing porn is battering women by proxy. For example, Shelley Lubben says this about her experiences making porn:

It's safe to say most women who turn to porn acting as a money-making enterprise, probably didn't grow up in healthy childhoods either. Indeed, many actresses admit they've experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse and neglect by parents. Some were raped by relatives and molested by neighbors. When we were little girls we wanted to play with dollies and be mommies, not have big scary men get on top of us. The same horrible violations we experienced then, we relive through as we perform our tricks for you in front of the camera. And we hate every minute of it. We're traumatized little girls living on anti-depressants, drugs and alcohol acting out our pain in front of YOU who continue to abuse us.

Jeff, very thoughtful respo... (Below threshold)

Jeff, very thoughtful response - wish I had refreshed the page before I left to dig up that quote, it would have saved me some time! But while I'm at it, here's another quote from Lubben:

To add to the mind-numbing process, women are never able to experience sexual pleasure because of the continuous cutting during sex scenes. In the background the director constantly yells, "cut" and the flow of action is interrupted in order to get a better shot, adjust lighting or to wipe up bodily fluids. Repeatedly pornographers stop the scenes and ask actors to "freeze" in position during very hardcore sex acts, which causes great physical and emotional pain for porn actresses.

I speak from personal experience when I say to be in the middle of a hardcore sex act with several actors at the same time and told to "freeze" in position for several minutes while lighting or cameras are adjusted is extremely painful and degrading. It's also very humiliating when scenes are stopped in order to wipe up bodily fluids such as semen, feces and blood.

Despite the fact that women do not enjoy making porn movies, they continue to lie to their fans and proudly insist they enjoy making porn movies. Of course they do. They get paid hundreds and thousands of dollars to lie because this is their occupation. Porn stars are paid professional liars who know how to "act" and they do it well. In fact, because porn stars spend a great deal time in front of the camera and never step out of character, they usually have greater acting abilities than mainstream Hollywood actors.

Laura,Thanks for pos... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Laura,
Thanks for posting that. I have never heard of Shelley Lubben, but I Googled her and found her webpage amd myspace profile. Very interesting. I am happy for her. It is inspiring to see what she is doing with her life now.

Ron's intelligible and arti... (Below threshold)
epador:

Ron's intelligible and articulate, as well as knowledgeable on the topic. I met him briefly in Reykjavik when he was promoting his film about himself several years ago - a group I was with recognized him in a restaurant, and he not only signed autographs for them, but had us sit down and talk with him while he finished dinner. His retinue was sadly demonstrative of the ravages of drugs, alcoholism and mental health problems that plague the industry. He however, seemed fairly fit and certainly well in control of his sensibilities.

Sad he wasn't in the debate. Sad the thread went from whether he should have been in the debate to the nature of pornography itself. Sad it seems we only mention the video pornography, and not written and static visual images that have been used (plus spoken, sung and live performance pornography) for centuries.

Personally I agree most if not all video porn is degrading and harmful to both the "artists" and the consumer, as well as society. [But so are leftist rants and fascist ideology.]

Unless its done tastefully and no animals or humans are harmed in the process. Porn, that is. Leftist rants and fascist ideology have no apologia.

Good point, epador - we did... (Below threshold)

Good point, epador - we did digress. For whatever it's worth, I think he should have been permitted to debate it. But rather than Susan Cole on the opposing side, I'd love to see someone like Lubben - equally well versed in the porn industry.

No, I think Ron would have,... (Below threshold)
epador:

No, I think Ron would have, wittingly or unwittingly, offered up what Ludden would have had to offer. Susan Cole would have provided an interesting counterpoint to the porn industry self-appointed spokesman, and he to her position.

The key to a good debate is the enough distance between the debater's positions, style and experience as long as they're armed with relatively equal intelligence. Jeremy and Ludden are both victims of the porn industry, only the way they acknowledge their status is diametrical. Cole is a victim of virulent feminism. I'd find the two of them on stage fascinating, if not intellectually pornographic.

oops, Dyslexia strikes agai... (Below threshold)
epador:

oops, Dyslexia strikes again... Lubben.

epador-Jay Tea ope... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

epador-

Jay Tea opened the door - I just walked through it. As to the question of whether Jeremy should have been allowed to debate, the lack of debate on that issue in this thread is a statement in itself. I am venturing a guess that virtually all of the commenters have no problem with it. As usual, it is the Left that seeks to silence dissenters "or else."

I have not done enough research on Jeremy's position to know whether he actually attempts to defend pornography as something beneficial - a moral good - or whether he merely asserts that he has a right to engage in pornography on libertarian principles, regardless of the moral implications. At least the latter position would have some merit.

Excellent replies.... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Excellent replies.

epador:

Sad the thread went from whether he should have been in the debate to the nature of pornography itself.

As in many conversations and debates, the base subject comes under scrutiny as well.

Jeff Blogworthy:

>I don't know why you don't understand the argument vis-à-vis moral relativism. You were clearly making a relativistic argument. My point is that you can argue the merits of one thing relative to another until you get so hopelessly confused that you collapse into a catatonic state. Once you head down that road, ANYHING is justifiable.

Perhaps I didn't understand the argument in those terms because it wasn't my intention to argue it in those terms. Though regardless of intention, my point wasn't presented very well.

My reason for bringing up violence and profanity in films in relation to this was simply to ask why those two common elements in "entertainment" appear to be acceptable, even in copious amounts, while sex is treated as taboo.

I don't think for one to be acceptable the others need to be as well, but I do believe in terms of whether it is harmful to the viewers, both violence and sex make the grade (profanity, not so much.)

Do you seriously propose (as you said in your statement) that whether one "enjoys" something is a reliable indicator of the rightness or wrongness of the act? Different people may enjoy different things - many things at the expense of another - many things at the expense of their own lives.

Whether one enjoys something is absolutely irrelevant to whether it's right or wrong, we're in agreement.

Consider the possibility that your daughter is 18 years and looking for a rewarding career. She thinks that the porn industry would be a good choice because it looks both very easy and a lot of fun. She thinks she can make a name for herself by breaking Houston's record. Even better, why not your wife? Would you be ok with that? Why or why not?

Certainly not. While I don't have a wife or children (yet) its not difficult to imagine how I would feel about it. This makes me realize that I have a double standard here...which is likely due to me not fully considering what goes into making porn, who the actors and actresses are as people, and the implications (what you and Laura stated for example) of being a part of the industry.

Synova:

I don't believe that it's prudish of me, for example, to be concerned about how sex in entertainment relates to my teenagers' self images. How my son views women and how my daughter views herself. Anything that relates to relationships or self-image has the potential to be quite harmful. It starts way before the scale reaches "porn".

Violence doesn't do the same things. Something like the saw pushes it, but boy does it have to try. (And there are certainly violent shows that are off limits in this house.)

That makes sense, though I feel becoming numbed to violence is harmful to people as well, in the respect of no longer being concerned of the consequences. I'm not one of those who blames the Columbine shootings, and other like incidents, on video games or movies. I blame it mostly on bad parenting, but neither of the above helped, certainly.

-

Thank you all for your great thoughts. I learned a lot from them.

Am I the only reader who fo... (Below threshold)
Mr. Ed:

Am I the only reader who found Dr. Dines' choice of words, quoted near the end of the article, particularly ...uh, unfortunate?


"It's a dreadful mistake for any principled person to debate Ron Jeremy because he's basically riding on their credentials."

[emphasis added]

I hadn't thought of it, Mr.... (Below threshold)

I hadn't thought of it, Mr. Ed, but now that you mention it... yeah.




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