TYSONS CORNER, VA—Chances are, if you walk through the Tysons Corner Marriott this weekend, you won't be able to spit without hitting an anti-porn wacko.
Yes, the loonies—you know: the ones whose parents made sure they all slept with their hands above the covers—are out in force, shepherded by pretty much all the Usual Suspects: Gail Dines, Mary Anne Layden, Dawn Hawkins, Shelley Lubben and Donny Pauling (aka 'Donovan Phillips'), as well as "researchers, academics, legal experts, addiction professionals, nonprofit leaders, technology mavens and ministry leaders," all in town for the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation 2014 Summit. The conference sponsors, perhaps mindful of what can result when riff-raff like actual journalists attend such events, required that all attendees first be vetted by Morality in Media's staff which, besides Hawkins, includes MiM president Patrick Trueman, a former federal obscenity prosecutor under Reagan/Bush I.
Summit sponsors are claiming that this is "the first national conference in 27 years on the harms of pornography," but apparently their memories have been dulled by too much anti-porn watching. Besides forgetting about that 2005 "Victims of Pornography Summit" which was actually held in the U.S. House of Representatives' Rayburn House Office Building, not to mention 2010's "Porn Harms: A Briefing" held in the D.C. Capitol Visitors Center, there were also the "Impact America Conference" of 2003 in Cleveland and the "National Pro-Family Conference on Pornography, Sexually-Oriented Businesses and Material Harmful to Children" held in Lexington, KY in April of 2000, an abbreviated report of which can be found here. And of course, that doesn't even count the annual Values Voter Summits which usually have anti-porn seminars and exhibitors, nor the annual Wheelock (MA) College "Stop Porn Culture" conferences run by Dines and her cronies.
But really, what would you expect? Lying comes as naturally to these people as turning off the lights before they fuck.
The Summit, which began at 7 a.m. today with a breakfast sponsored by EPIK (Empower Porn-Immune Kids.org), will last until 6 p.m. tomorrow, probably so as not to sully the Sabbath (as is so often the case, few if any of the attendees are likely to be Jewish) with sex talk. However, several of the speakers held forth at a presser at the National Press Club in D.C. yesterday, claiming that, according to Hawkins, "There's an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography" out there, and from Layden, "The earlier males are exposed to pornography, the more likely they are to engage in non-consensual sex, and for females, the more pornography they use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex." (So, what? Guys are going to peep in through your window, see you're watching porn, and come in and rape you? Or does she think women who watch porn typically walk down the street naked wearing signs reading "Rape Me Now!"?)
But the horseshit was 'Piled high & Deep' yesterday when Ph.D. holder Gail Dines told the crowd, "Porn is without doubt the most powerful form of sex education today, with studies showing that the average age of first viewing porn is between 11 and 14—and let me tell you, this is not your father’s Playboy... These degrading misogynist images have become the wallpaper of our lives and they are robbing young people of an authentic healthy sexuality that is a basic right of every human being."
Indeed, it is sad that porn watching is what's passing for sex education in many quarters these days, but that's largely because the religious nuts that want to stamp out porn are the same religious nuts who oppose comprehensive sex education in the schools, and in many ways, porn is just the modern equivalent of learning about sex from your friends on the playground.
Anyway, one who might have known what "your father's Playboy" was like was former skin mag photographer Pauling, who claims to have "found Jesus" and left the industry in 2005 to become yet another anti-porn zealot—and is sure that no matter what Duke University porn star Belle Knox says, there's no chance she feels as "empowered" as she claims.
"I don’t buy her story," he said. "I recruited more than 500 first-timers into the business and there’s never been one that came back and thanked me."
(Two possibilities suggest themselves: Maybe Donny wasn't such a nice guy, or maybe the gals were making too much money to bother to stay in contact.)
But it seems that the real theme of both the press conference and the summit itself is to "work together to make pornography a widely understood public health concern," as the online membership solicitation reads—at the press conference, this quack nostrum became "public health crisis"—and that because the law has failed to stomp sufficiently on the First Amendment rights of adult content producers, it's time to turn to another government agency to get around the Constitution: the CDC.
"Ms. Layden suggested that if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got 'interested in this as a public health issue, we can have success in the way that we had success with the issue of cigarette smoking'," News Corp's Herald Sun reported. ('Cause really, what's the difference between lighting up a cancer stick and slipping a DVD into the player?)
"There is going to have to be programs out there that get kids to understand how porn is manipulating them," Dines doubled down—but for her, there's just one problem: "This is a business with considerable political clout." (Cue the guffaws...)
In apparent support of Dines' new strategy, besides deeming the availability of sexually explicit material to be a "pandemic," Dawn Hawkins told the press, "There’s a lot of science now proving that pornography is harmful. We know now that almost every family in America has been touched by the harm of pornography."
Of course, Hawkins is talking out of her ass once again, since the "science" she claims supports her views about the "harm" that has "touched... almost every family in America" is almost entirely anecdotal—or as Lenny Bruce would have put it, "what kid told kid told kid"—and as one of the primary truisms of scientific research goes, "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.'"
But along the way, summit attendees will apparently "learn" from Layden that "the porn industry deliberately sets out to addict users."
"It makes people anonymous," she said. "It has role models. It's sexually arousing. It's presented in pictures. And much of it is free."
And of course, Dines was there to back her up on that topic.
"Boys and men today are catapulted into a never-ending universe of images that celebrate, legitimize, and normalize sexual terrorism against women," Dines warned.
It helps to understand that pretty much any time a man seduces a woman in an adult movie, Dines thinks of that as "sexual terrorism."
Anyway, check out some of the seminars and "break-out sessions" summit attendees will be subjected to:
• Panel - "Pornography and the Colonization of Childhood"
• Panel - "Links between Pornography & Sex Trafficking"
• "Pornography Addiction: A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity" (Whaaa? Maybe the anti-porn neurosurgeon Donald Hilton who's giving this talk knows what it means, but it's sure opaque to everyone else!)
• "Faith-Based Prevention & Recovery Approaches"
• Panel - "Inside Porn: What is the Real Truth?" (Yeah, as if moderator Shelley Lubben knows something about that!)
• "The Church's Role in this War"
• Panel - "Latest Technological Delivery Systems of Pornography & Our Defenses" (Um... shut off the TV or computer?)
• "Exposing and Halting the International Sexual Rights Agenda: There is Something Everyone Can Do" (Yeah, because what's worse than people having sexual rights?)
And our favorite:
• "Making Anti-Porn Cool for Youth: How to Change the Way Youth Think about Porn" (Bet "youth" are just champing at the bit to get into that lecture!)
There's also a session scheduled for tonight, "Mock Interviews — Practice and improve skills for interviews with the press. Participants will recieve [sic] copy of their footage after the conference."
Sounds like Layden, Hawkins, Dines and Pauling could all probably have used a little of that before their National Press Club appearance—but then, what can you say in support of an issue like censorship that tens of millions of Americans think is just stupid... and unAmerican.