TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

What do Rick Santorum and Jane Fonda Have in Common?

For one thing, both advocate censorship.

Fonda wants to use the power of the federal government to shut down Rush Limbaugh’s radio broadcasts (as I’ve discussed); Santorum wants to use the same power to shut down internet pornography. Both Fonda and Santorum are enemies of freedom of speech.

As Steven Nelson writes in The Daily Caller, Santorum “has promised to crack down on the distribution of pornography if elected.” This is not mere posturing on Santorum’s part: “If the government wanted to aggressively move against Internet pornography, it could do so,” attorney Eugene Volokh told Nelson.

But pornography involving consenting adults violates no one’s rights; thus the government has no moral right to “crack down on” it. Moreover, the line between legal pornography and illegal pornography (i.e., “obscenity”) is entirely arbitrary, resulting in arbitrary and politically-motivated prosecutions. As a practical matter, as Nelson points out, while U.S. prosecutors could go after U.S. pornographers, they could do nothing about pornography coming from out of the country—unless Santorum is prepared to impose Chinese-style, internet-wide censorship.

Parents worried about what their children view on the internet are free to control their children’s internet activities, just as they are free to monitor what books, magazines, television programs, and video games their children access. If parents choose not to monitor their children’s activities, that’s their right as well—so long as they don’t cross the line into criminal neglect or abuse. If they do cross that line, the government should take action against the parents. But in no case should the federal government violate the rights of consenting adults in a vain attempt to compensate for irresponsible parenting.

The last thing America needs is a Censor in Chief.

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Image: Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore

Posted in: Free Speech, Politicians and Candidates

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/ffXz3Fcmq.XFH_Yl__T2G9rL1aU3#8a634 Mike Kevitt

    I guess they both advocate censorship, Fonda, perhaps, as much as Santorum.  But, if you want to knock them both into the backwater, you have to eliminate, not just censorship, but, the notion of public ownership of property as well.  Santorum would censor directly, without reference to who owns what.  Fonda would take back, or deny, permission to use “public” property for whatever reason, in this case, to prevent “pornography”, but the particular reason, or even having any reason, is, strictly, irrelevant.  If private ownership of radio waves was recognized in law, then maybe she would, like Santorum, censor directly.  You have to go after both notions.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/ffXz3Fcmq.XFH_Yl__T2G9rL1aU3#8a634 Mike Kevitt

    I guess they both advocate censorship, Fonda, perhaps, as much as Santorum.  But, if you want to knock them both into the backwater, you have to eliminate, not just censorship, but, the notion of public ownership of property as well.  Santorum would censor directly, without reference to who owns what.  Fonda would take back, or deny, permission to use “public” property for whatever reason, in this case, to prevent “pornography”, but the particular reason, or even having any reason, is, strictly, irrelevant.  If private ownership of radio waves was recognized in law, then maybe she would, like Santorum, censor directly.  You have to go after both notions.

  • Anonymous

    “But pornography involving consenting adults violates no one’s rights.”
    In your dreams. Everyone has the right to be treated like a human person, chastely, with respect for their dignity and their relationships, and what is more, deep down everyone knows this, that there is something very wrong with pornography.  Hugh Hefner would not have become rich if he had titled his publication, “Other Men’s Daughters”  you can well believe.

    Widespread pornography has created the situation where, as Raquel Welch put it recently, “We are all sex addicts now.” Is she wrong?  Don’t our children have the right to grow up in a world in which their teachers, coaches, priests and ministers have not been turned into sex-addicts?  Do a google search on any teaching position you can think of, say, “third grade teacher’ or “chess coach” or “tennis coach” and add the words “pedophile” or “abuse” or “molestation.”  You won’t come up empty handed.

    Don’t young women and men have the right to enter into marriage without the many distortions that a pornography afflicted society imposes on it? 

    “Pornography involving consenting adults” will inevitably impact children and the whole of society, because, in fact, sexual intercourse is the most social thing we do.  

    The idea that adults- consenting or not- can immerse themselves in pornography without affecting their own right to a decent life, without affecting the rights of their present or future spouses, the rights of their children  (and all children) and the rights of society as a whole, is deeply, deeply delusional and woefully misinformed.  Open your eyes. Look around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=name&id=100000501085308 Martin Lundqvist

    You are missing the point.

    “Rights” is only a valid concept when it pertains to protecting individuals from intiation of force. Since pornography entails depiction of adults in *voluntary* intercourse, it is not a violation of anyone’s rights, neither of the participants or the viewers.

    And yes, I say VOLUNTARY intercourse is a prerequisite for pornography – if it wasn’t then what you had would then be “evidence of sexual assault/rape”. Is that something you wish to censor? I hope not.