Extreme reaction to porn won’t work

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Extreme reaction to porn won’t work

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The Korea Publication Ethics Commission recently categorized “Fifty Shades of Grey” as harmful for youth. It was a reasonable decision. But at the same time, it is doubtful how effective the commission’s decision will be with the Internet overflowing with free pornographic material. A few years ago, I participated in the deliberation process with the commission, reviewing foreign periodicals, comics and novels pending for import. More than 80 percent of them were Japanese comics and novels, many about same-sex relationships. So I learned that the erotic publication market is driven by certain trends.

Naturally, if detailed erotic descriptions run through a book, it would be categorized as harmful. However, I was in a dilemma as I reviewed Jean Cocteau’s book of drawings. Cocteau was openly gay and the collection included explicit sketches of sexual encounters, but they could not be considered absolutely pornographic. After deliberation and discussion with fellow committee members, the book was to be marketed with plastic packaging for adults.

As Korean society is shocked and stirred by heinous sexual violence against children, people are calling for hardline measures. The furious public demands execution and castration. And the authorities come up with plans and measures we have heard before. Personally, I think the time is not yet right for abolition of capital punishment, but it would be imprudent to execute or castrate offenders. When the atmosphere cools down, we can have a full discussion.

Cracking down on pornographic materials would not be accomplished by blocking all the outlets. Remember the ban on prostitution? We need to first deliberate how sex has been deeply rooted in the human body and mentality. Fortunately, or unfortunately, when I was young the most extreme pornographic material people had access to would be the adult magazines that flew out of U.S. military bases. My heart pounded as I read Raymond Radiguet’s “The Devil in the Flesh.” The intensity may vary with time, but explicit photos and videos cannot be eradicated.

So I do not agree with the extreme methods proposed by some. Maybe we have become so enraged that we are falling into what American economist Harold Demsetz defined as the nirvana fallacy. We may be confusing reality with an unattainable, idealized world. Humans are neither angels nor demons. Pornography that results in physical, mental and material damage or deals with the vulnerable, such as the children or the disabled, should be screened and eliminated. But do you believe that people would turn gay after seeing the drawings by Cocteau or that readers of “Fifty Shades of Grey” would pay a visit to a handsome man with cuffs and whip?

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun

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