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Porn and Obscenity… In 500 words or less… again…

February 24, 2012

R. Dworkin   “Liberalism”

Dworkin’s introduction said he was going to try to define Liberalism. Taking the challenge, I tried to compile a “short” definition of Dworkin’s “Liberalism.” According to Dworkin, “Liberalism” is the political concept holding that government must treat all citizens as equal. This equal treatment requires neutrality on questions of the good life to allow, as much as possible, for free decision and action for each of its citizens with equal concern and respect given to each. In practice, the liberal understands that legislation and social opinions will be biased in favor of the majority and works to establish additional protections and rights for those whose equality may be disrupted by that majority. (all that work and it seems Dan found a summary definition on page 203…)

My interpretation (barring misinterpretation) of Dworkin’s definition would hold that, in the least, each of us is free to choose what we do with respect to morality. If the government is not able to make choices regarding the good life for us, then they should not be able to regulate the porn industry on a whole. It must treat each of us equally in whatever our endeavors so long as they be legal. The regulation of the pornography industry would, I think, reasonably called a tyranny of the majority in assuming the public making the decision is infallible in its knowledge of what is best for others and thereby entitled to make the decisions for those morally lacking individuals.

Many would say that the porn industry is neither a citizen nor an individual with unalienable rights. That is true (unless the rights of corporations law has been passed, which I don’t know). But the porn industry is less the concern here as those working in it. While MacKinnon assumes that all individuals working on the porn industry are coerced by men into working in the industry I am sure there are a large amount who with no education sign up because like many men would love to get paid to have sex. There is also the case of a Mensa members working in the porn industry. Asia Carrera, receiving a full-ride to Rutgers, got into stripping for extra cash during school and soon entered into porn. Certainly she could have done anything she liked but porn was the path she chose.

The difficulty with MacKinnon’s argument against porn is that it is radical. Because her views are so extreme and she assigns so much weight to the degrading nature of pornography she will have a response to any of the more reasonable views I have just given. No matter what one says, take the Asia Carrera example, MacKinnon will contribute that action in some way to the how pornography has lowered value of our culture. There is no reply to MacKinnon’s argument it seems that doesn’t involve the strict regulation of pornography.

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