19 March 2012

Conservatism: Still Jumping the Shark

The socially conservative Santorum launched his proposal this week on his website, calling pornography "toxic to marriage and conservatives."
He demanded a crackdown on the distribution of smut on the Internet, in addition to tighter controls of sexually-explicit material on television, hotel pay-per-view systems, adults-only stores, and even porn delivered by mail.
Pornography in America is an obscene "pandemic," Santorum's website says. "It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking."
There are three points worth observing.

First, as the incomparable Professor Hale pointed out in such a manner as only he can, this is not exactly the biggest issue facing America right now.  It’s not even in the top twenty.  Furthermore, the negative effects of pornography appear to be overstated, particularly in regards to violence.*

Second, conservatives are playing right into the leftist/feminist frame.  Pornography isn’t immoral because it contributes to misogyny; it’s immoral because it is adultery in its fundamental form.*  Trying to argue against pornography because of its negative impact on women is a leftist tactic, and yet here it is used by a nominal conservative, and a GOP frontrunner at that.  Again, conservatives have bought into the liberal frame, which is why they are no different from liberals when all is said and done, except on a few inconsequential policy points.

Third, this is nothing more than using the legal system to impose a system of morality (instead of, say, property rights enforcement) on the citizenry.  Which, incidentally, is what conservatives denounce liberals for doing.  Again, conservatives do exactly what liberals do, in this case adopting the same tactics.  Now, some conservatives might try to argue that they are simply being politically savvy, which is certainly true, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being liberal.

Anyhow, this goes to show that conservatives are, for the most part, just like liberals.  As noted in a prior post, if conservatives really want to win, they need to subvert the system, not try to rise to the top.  Ultimately, statism is statism, and those who are at the top cannot be distinguished by their actions; they can only be distinguished by their rhetoric.

* Pornography would generally be immoral (per the Christian ethic) because of what Christ says on the Sermon on the Mount.  What makes it immoral is that it leads to fornication, not assault.  This would certainly fit in with the Judeo ethics contained in the Ten Commandments.  Note that the 7th commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”) is also prohibited by the 10th Commandment (“…you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…”), and so Christ’s assertion in Matthew 5 is simply an explanation of a preexisting Old Testament theology. (Cf. also Matthew 22:34-37.)


  1. Thanks for the link.

    Stupid, Stupid Republicans just can't stay on message, even when the message is simple and overwhelmingly supported by a supermajority of American voters. The problem is that our government is out of control in spending our money and regulating our lives. It's almost as if they don't really want to win.

  2. I tried to send a note to the Santorum campaign aslking them for comment, but their website is set up only to accept donations of money and labor, not questions or contacting campaign officials.

  3. Yes, good post and analysis, Simon.

    I note that this is the second social issue in which Conservatives have surrendered the frame to liberals.

    The first was the whole Fluke fiasco, in which Conservatives were duped into talking about contraception and how many times Fluke would have to be "doing it" to burn through $3,000 worth of rubbers yet still not qualify as a slut or promiscuous versus property rights and individual liberty.

    The second was this one. Like you said, it is debatable/dubious whether pr0n causes sexual violence. But the better framing would be--especially for someone who claims the Christian mantle--to attack porn for the proto-adultery that it is.

    Instead, Santorum rightly stubbed his toe for being a big-government conservative...in other words, just like the prog-libs, only with a different moral system.

    Why vote for someone indistinguishable from the incumbent?

  4. The only reason to vote for them is to get rid of Eric holder, Sebelius, Clinton, and the Wookie.

  5. @SP- Thanks. As always, it's good to see you in these parts of teh interwebs.

    @Prof. Hale- You're welcome. I'm also beginning to think that the Republicans don't really want to win, but I can't figure out how they could profit from losing. Re: the Santorum campaign, it's probably helpful to remember that Santorum, like all the other presidential candidates, is a god who simply utters his proclamations to be accepted without questioning. The only appropriate response to his holy writ is humble obeisance.

    @EW- I used to laugh at how comically inept conservatives were about losing frame to liberals. Now I just sit in disappointed silence. I'm no longer able to tell if conservatives are incompetent at politics or if they are deliberately trying to lose. I'm not sure if I want to know. Either way, though, the fact that they bow to the leftist frame means that they are statists. Whether it is inadvertent or indicative of their true nature is hard to tell--and irrelevant, since the outcome is the same either way.