REYKJAVIK—Iceland, a country that for several years has prohibited the production and distribution of all adult material, and which effectively banned all strip clubs in 2010 on the basis that they "violated the civil rights of the women who worked there and were harmful to society," is considering nailing the porn door completely shut by, according to an article in The Daily Mail (UK), becoming "the first Western democracy to block all internet porn under radical new proposals"—an idea The Daily Mail has editorialized in favor of for several years.
The reason? "[P]orn violates the rights of both women who appear in it and children who are exposed to it."
"Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson has set up working parties to find the best ways to stem the tide of online images and videos being accessed by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones," The Daily Mail reported. "Methods under consideration include blocking porn IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites."
And how did Iceland reach this conclusion? Through a "wide-ranging consultation process on how rape cases are handled in the justice system," which was followed by "a further consultation on porn, which included teachers, law enforcers and organisations working with abused children," The Daily Mail's Tanith Carey wrote.
In other words, no science but plenty of propaganda from the Usual Suspects, including Icelandic favorite (and ours!) Gail Dines, who recently spoke about porn at a conference at Reykjavik University.
"It is looking a pornography from a new position: from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights," Dines said, calling the move "progressive." "It also approaches porn from the point of view of children who are having their sexuality hijacked at a young age by brutal sexual imagery."
The various gut-checks conducted by the Icelanders concluded that, "the extremely violent nature of the material now freely available on the web was increasing the intensity of sex attacks" and that "children exposed to violent pornography at an early age were showing the similar signs of trauma as youngsters who had been actually abused," which "included becoming increasingly isolated and playing out what they had seen on the internet on younger family members or other children."
Of course, very little porn available over the internet contains violent images, and a country that was generally interested in free speech yet wanted to ban such images could set up an agency or contract with an internet company to evaluate various URLs for their violent sexual content—or contact organizations like ASACP that could provide some insight into how to ban such sites selectively—but that would likely cost some money, and besides, that would allow Icelandic citizens access to the non-violent adult sites, which Dines and others (like UK Labour Party MP Diane Abbott) would consider a poor outcome.
(To be fair, Abbott supports comprehensive sex education and more open conversations between parents and children as the main methods to combat porn use.)
"This move is not anti-sex," claimed Jónasson's political advisor Halla Gunnarsdóttir. "It is anti-violence because young children are seeing porn and acting it out. That is where we draw the line. This material is blurring the boundaries for young people about what is right and wrong."
In 2009, the last year for which figures are available, Iceland had 79 rapes, or 24.7 per 100,000 citizens, and it is unknown how many of those were committed by "young people...seeing porn and acting it out," or whether in fact some or any of the rapes had any porn connection. What is known is that the figure is 2.8 percent lower than in 2007 and .9 percent higher than in 2003, which suggests that internet porn or not, every year, some Icelanders will commit rape. And of course, numerous studies conducted by researchers such as Northwestern University Law Professor Anthony D'Amato and others have shown that as access to porn increases, the number of rapes decreases.
But hey, why let a few statistics get in the way of gut feelings?
"There is a strong consensus building in Iceland" in favor of censoring porn, Gunnarsdóttir said. "We have so many experts from educationalists to the police and those who work with children behind this, that this has become much broader than party politics."
Translation: "All the anti-porn people we consulted are, sure enough, anti-porn."
So according to The Daily Mail, Jónasson's people are looking into "blocking porn IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites"—perhaps not realizing that many IP addresses where porn can be found seem quite non-sexual, and that Europe is a small enough community that an Icelander wishing to access porn could easily get a credit card from a bank in a country that doesn't ban that form of entertainment.
It's just sad that a country that managed to put some of its bankers in prison for screwing up the economy by investing in bad mortgage loans is so far off the rails when it comes to free sexual speech.
Pictured: Iceland Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson