THE BLOG

Porn, Violence, Free Speech, the KGB, Google, and the Democrats

11/15/2007 05:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My introduction to naked women, and many pleasant moments of masturbation were a few tattered and treasured centerfolds of the old mid-60s variety. Since the nude woman in question was coyly covering her pubic hair, or maddeningly turned sideways, usually the sexiest part of the pinup was the inviting look in her eyes. In those days of what we might call "good-old-porn" the all-consuming "She" of the moment was a person, not just a vagina stapled open.

Today even that vagina isn't enough. Today's voyeur isn't sneaking the proverbial cigarette with friends behind the garage while passing a sticky magazine back and forth. He is alone and downloading movies of teens paid to loose their virginity on camera, replete with medical dictionary type close-ups of actual rupturing hymens, blood and a voyeur-rapist's inside fiber-optic-lens look at what used to be not only private but was, not long ago, seen only by pathologists and/or hillside stranglers as they dismembered bodies.

This is the introduction to "sexuality" for today's curious fourteen-year-old. It's like trying to stuff down every bite of food you'll ever eat in one horrific meal. There is no room to grow, learn, experiment, even to have fun. What will he be "getting off on" by the time he's sixteen, twenty, forty? And, by the way, I wonder what that fifty-year-old guy following your twelve-year-old home was watching before he graduated to actual stalking?

With a helpful assist from Google I was directed to a clip on Youtube. It was rated as "hilarious" by numerous viewers. One person with a camera followed a boy who looked like he was about sixteen. Their "joke" was that the boy would dash up behind strangers; women wearing skirts or dresses, some were young girls of about fifteen, some were women of about forty, rip their underwear down and then run, leaving the assaulted woman to try and pull up her underwear in the middle of the street.

In another video and in a similar set-up "boys" the same age as those assaulting the women set upon strangers, men this time, sucker-punching them then kicking them before running off. More "hilarity!"

It isn't about erotica any more. It isn't about violence in art. It isn't about free speech. Today "free speech" is about the dissection of genitalia, the ripping open of orifices, the sucker-punching of strangers.

Between the daily diet of violence today's young person is weaned on via TV, and now the smorgasbord of dissected vaginas and gaping torn anus' on the internet, our children are undergoing a crash course of the sort the KGB used to use in the Soviet Union. Young agents were made to dissect bodies, beat dead bodies and mock-torture them. It was a calculated desensitizing part of their training. It seemed to work well and harden them to do what was needed to terrorize a whole population into subservience.

What the KGB did for a reason -- to "toughen" future agents -- we are doing just for fun and profit. Free speech and free trade is destroying childhood. And this destruction defies simplistic right/left demarcations.

Congratulations to our judges, and to other free speech fundamentalists, and also to the fundamentalist free-marketers, who, in an unholy and unintentional alliance of greed and extreme "free speech" ideology have made all this possible.

Today's sex-trafficked internet porn "stars" (of the kind being "deflowered" in some back room in Romania and on camera for our amusement) and the world of internet "entertainment" is a long way from those wonderful pinups I used to paw. Sure I was a crass, horny teenage dolt. But I had room to grow up and could still learn to love women at the end of the day. I hadn't been vicariously abusing and dismembering them.

We are systematically brutalizing ourselves. In a future where, in the name of free speech, no American court will even try to try and put the lid back on the greed/sexploitation/violence leaking into all our lives we face a dehumanizing and bleak outcome.

It would be a shame if protesting this outcome was abandoned to the self-serving, money-worshipping moralist prigs on the Religious Right. It would also be a shame if the pro-torture Bush Republicans can grandstand about moral decline because of the silence of those on the left.

That silence comes from a knee-jerk, free-speech genuflecting to the deservedly sacred assumptions of liberalism. And in the post-'60s culture wars climate progressive people have bought into fulfilling all personal wants being synonymous with freedom. But is "I want!" really the ultimate expression of progress let alone community?

Does the left really have nothing to say to Google, Youtube and the other multinationals making billions by directing our children (and the rest of us) to those clips of teens assaulting women? Does the left have nothing to say to supposedly progressive judges that can't figure out a way to stop the people who are bombarding our culture with real time video of some wretched young women being tied up, raped, defecated on and then having her bleeding vagina displayed through the latest fiber optic camera work? Have we gone mad?

The answer to this wave of brutality and exploitation -- the marriage of convenience between the world's molesters, post-good-old-porn anus/vagina-dissectors, human traffickers, and other sadists-for-profit, see-no-evil judges, free speech fundamentalists and companies like Google, Youtube, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft -- has to be about more than platitudes about free speech and/or free trade.

It's time for the Democrats and others on the freedom-loving (and even good-old-porn-enjoying) left to present a real alternative to our heedless plunge into the pit of exploitation and violence for fun and profit. Societies, not to mention parents, abhor chaos. If the left leaves taking action against sexploitation/violence/desensitizing oblivion to others there are plenty of slimy right wing opportunists, religious fundamentalists and others who will step up.

Question: How do we hold Google, Yahoo and the other billion-dollar facilitators pimping for the global brutalizes to account? (We know what some of these corporate "defenders of free speech" really believe given their past multinational helpfulness to the Chinese government in oppressing political free speech.)

Question: How do we protect art, sexual pleasure -- including good-old-erotica -- and free speech without turning our children into the sorts of people who would have done fine in the old KGB but may not be what we want tomorrow as neighbors? I don't have the answers. Suggestions?


Frank Schaeffer's most recent book is, "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (OR Almost All) Of It Back."