First Sirius pays Howard Stern $500 million to take his vulgar, obscene, profane, and pornographic version of entertainment to satellite radio and now cell phone companies are getting into the pornography act. Cingular Wireless, the nation’s largest cell phone provider, is taking steps to match its access devices to Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association content ratings standards, opening the door for mobile porn.
Communications companies are eyeing the $10 billion per year pornography business in the United States, and they want a part of the action. With a move to cell phone video sex the country is taking another step toward a virtual culture of pornography. More than 800 million pornographic videos and DVDs are rented by American consumers each year. Pay-per-view movies in hotel rooms now account for the largest portion of in-room entertainment revenue at major American hotel chains. Pornographic videos on automobile DVD players are becoming more common. Of course Internet pornography is the second largest business in cyberspace, running behind only gambling.
Pornography is one of those things that is difficult to describe, but everyone knows it when we see it. Pornography flourishes under the umbrella of free speech protection. It’s been difficult for some time and becoming increasingly so to make a case for legally restricting another adult’s entertainment choices or “freedom of expression.”
But a society does have a compelling interest in the impact of pornography upon the individuals caught in its web and upon the moral climate of any given community. Insofar as pornographic activities destroy lives and degrade communities, legal restriction seems warranted. The question is, where do we draw the line?
In the end, it’s a matter more of the individual heart than government regulation. Howard Stern may hold forth on satellite radio, but I don’t have to subscribe. Internet pornography exists, but I don’t have to access it. Pornographic DVDs may be available, but I don’t have to rent them. Cell phone pornography may soon be marketed, but I don’t have to buy or view it.
When I was a kid, pornography was only available in a magazine or book you had to purchase in a store in full view of the public. Then, you had to get rid of the evidence before a sister, mother, or some other village adult gave you a comeuppance. Now, pornography is virtually universally available, accessible, affordable (much of it is free) at anytime anywhere in as much privacy as you choose. Now, you’re only two clicks away at any given time.
So pornography is increasingly pervasive, but it’s still personal.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
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