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.)