HOUSTON—Those who've been following the news from Texas about teen pregnancy rates, the scuttling of science and progressivism in public schools, the legislation to force women seeking abortions to listen to their fetus's heartbeat, the group that launched a scholarship program for white males only, the bill to allow students to carry guns on college campuses, or Gov. Rick Perry's occasional nods toward secession probably won't be surprised to learn that one of the Baptist churches down there recently sponsored a conservative get-together billed as "Free The Captives: 2011 Houston Human Trafficking Conference" ... or that one of the main speakers was Morality in Media (MIM) president Robert Peters.
Peters' topic? A familiar one for both him and religious wingers: The links between pornography and sex trafficking.
The concept has been much in the news after several groups claimed that due to the Super Bowl being held in Dallas this year, hundreds if not thousands of women and children would be kidnapped from their (unspecified) native countries and dragooned into renting their bodies for attendees' sexual pleasures, and Peters was only too happy to feed that paranoia. However, it wasn't the promise of easy money for "back work" that caused the problem; it was all that porn making men hungry for "the real thing."
"What I did come to say is that there is a very substantial evidence to support the assertion that the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography is contributing to the demand for prostitution and thus for women and children trafficked into prostitution," Peters charged.
The evidence? Well, of course, there isn't any, but that's never stopped Peters before.
For instance, he began by referencing the cover story of the April 2002 issue of AVN titled "Porn Star Prostitutes," about how some porn stars supplement their acting income at Nevada brothels; segued quickly into the public scandals linking media personalities like Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen with adult performers; then finished up by claiming, "Men addicted to hardcore adult pornography 'act out' with prostitutes."
How does he know this? Well, he's read a monograph by psychologist Dr. Victor Cline, long a staple with anti-porn zealots. Cline, who's done no peer-reviewed research on the subject whatsoever, claims to have treated 350 "sex addicts," and has broken down their porn use into four "phases": Addiction, Escalation, Desensitization, and Acting Out Sexually.
"It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict," Peters quotes Cline as writing. "When the 'wave' hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want, whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman." [Emphasis in original]
Of course, if there were any scientific validity to the claim that porn caused sex addiction which in turn caused sufferers to molest children or rape women, it would be big news all over the civilized world, not to mention within the therapeutic and legal communities. Funny how it isn't...
And of course, the fourth phase of porn use is the worst: "The fourth phase was an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape ... This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse." [Emphasis in original... but why?]
Now, pretty much every normal porn-using person likes to get laid, though not "compulsively," possibly even at a massage parlor (or even with a prostitute!) and to look at people undressing and/or having sex ("voyeurism"), but it's well-established in the scientific literature that adult porn doesn't cause anyone to molest children, and in fact porn prevents rape, as AVN detailed here and as set forth in this study.
"This is not to say that everyone who gets 'hooked' on pornography acts out in an illegal manner and, in particular, with prostitutes," Peters finally admits. "But many do act out with prostitutes, and that contributes to the demand for prostitution. I should also add that not everyone who pays for sex with prostitutes is addicted to pornography. But the two often go hand-in-hand."
Right; every normal person likes to get laid; we covered that already. And some aren't averse to paying for it, as humans have been doing pretty much since the dawn of recorded history.
And who's Peters' go-to witness on the effects of porn? Charlie Sheen's ex-wife Denise Richards! (You don't get any more unbiased than that!)
Peters then launches into a long segment which quotes from several anti-prostitution "researchers" including Mimi Silbert, founder of the Delancey Street Foundation, an addiction treatment facility; Melissa Farley, of whom it's been said, "It is important to stress, again and again, that Farley’s research cannot be considered reliable and certainly doesn’t approach even basic scientific standards"; the anti-prostitution group WHISPER; and Victor Malarek, author of "The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It," who claims that "90 percent of sex workers worldwide did not choose to do it."
"Rather than deal with the drugs, the mental-health issues, the physical-health issues, what led these women away from their reserves and put them on the streets," Malarek told the Straight, "the only thing these bozos [proponents of legalization] can come up with is to keep them in something they never wanted in their lives in the first place."
Translation: No woman could possibly choose prostitution as a profession, and their attempts to legalize/decriminalize it actually only reflect their dislike of that type of work.
Finally, more than halfway through his speech, Peters finally gets around to talking about "Women trafficked into adult hardcore pornography," and sure enough, he's found two (2) criminal cases where a man kept a woman as his "sex slave" and offered her to others—one over the internet, one at a BDSM club—for prostitution and porn production. Oops; and one more: A 2005 case from the Netherlands where "four people [were] found guilty of kidnapping asylum seekers and forcing them to take part in pornography. ... The three men were arrested ... after the asylum seekers were kidnapped and forced to have sex with men and animals in a farm shed. The sex acts were filmed."
With evidence like that, who could ask for more? (Certainly no one at the Houston Human Trafficking Conference!)
And of course, what discussion of porn and sex trafficking would be complete without mentioning serial killer Ted Bundy, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the subject?
"Ted Bundy was an exception," Peters told the attendees. "He sexually assaulted and murdered 'nice girls.' Unlike Bundy, most serial killers sexually assault and murder prostituted women, many of whom sell their bodies to feed a drug addiction. Not all of these women are trafficked into prostitution, but drug induced behavior isn’t voluntary." [Emphasis in original]
But then Peters gets down to the real evidence: Statements made by Vernon Geberth, a retired lieutenant commander from NYPD's Bronx homicide squad, in a book he authored titled, "Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation." And what did this "expert" find? Well, if you can believe it, when the cops searched the home of a serial killer of prostitutes, they found <gasp> "one pornographic videotape"! (Quick! Call the media!)
And finally, there's the old reliable Victor Cline who wrote in 2001 that, "a study by FBI researchers of 36 serial killers revealed that 29 were attracted to pornography and incorporated it into their sexual activity, which included serial rape-murder."
Gee; apparently, not only are normal people attracted to pornography, but so are (some) serial killers! (Quick! Call the media!)
Peters' "concluding thoughts" aptly sum up his complete lack of foundation for his subject.
"I did not come here today to tell you that addiction to hardcore adult pornography 'causes' prostitution," he said, apparently belatedly understanding the scientific principle that "correlation is not causation." "I did come to tell you that the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is contributing to the demand for prostitution and thus for women and children trafficked into prostitution."
He then trotted out MIM's boilerplate philosophy, accusing the Justice Department of turning a "blind eye" to the "proliferation" of legal sexually explicit material, and "refus[ing] to enforce our nation's constitutional federal and state obscenity laws."
"Enforcement of obscenity laws alone will not solve the pornography or prostitution problems, but vigorous enforcement of these laws will definitely help," Peters stated, well aware of the chilling effect on protect speech that obscenity busts have. "I would add that unlike child pornography, much if not most hardcore adult pornography is created and distributed by a relatively small number of U.S.-based pornographers. Put these racketeers out of business, and there will be real progress towards maintaining a safe and decent society for all Americans and for family life."
And of course, what right-wing religious get-together would be complete without a dig at Obama and the Democrats in Washington?
"To my knowledge, there have been no new obscenity indictments against commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography since the November 2008 elections," Peters said at the conclusion of his talk.
Great stuff, Bob; always classy. Keep up the "good" work.