If one were to believe the "Lose the Lad's Mags", "No More Page 3" and generally anti-porn types, you'd think that the banning of "objectifying" or "sexualising" images would have no negative effects. In their perfect world everyone benefits from the removal of such images and everyone is happy.
Of course what they tend to forget is what happens to those who still try to view their "banned" materials. As we head towards web filters in this country and an outright ban on internet pornography in Iceland, it really is time to remember what happens when a country bans porn. We get police raids, trials, public shaming and a suppression of various "erotic" forms of free speech (be it feminist books, LGBT materials etc.). How can I claim this? Because it has happened before.
We can get a glimpse of the future thanks to the recent, so-called, "Twink Trial" in our own country. Here, of course, internet porn is not illegal. But images of child abuse are, thankfully (as someone who believes in individual freedom I believe that a child cannot give consent and thus any such sexual abuse is rape). However even this justifiable and necessary ban leads to unintended consequences. At the Twink Trial a gay man was arrested and charged because he had viewed "Twink porn". Twink is a word used to describe a man of youthful appearance, usually 18 - 21. Despite the fact he was viewing a "legitimate" porn site with all the correct US standard forms of age checking, his life was turned upside down and he was accused of being a paedophile. In this case no offense had actually been committed and, eventually, the case has been dropped. But it does provide an example of just the sort of thing that will happen if we continue down the path we are going on.
People will have their lives ruined. We will force those porn companies who keep records and abide by current legislation out of business and leave porn to an underground criminal element who won't have such scruples. The police will become ever more adjudicators of morality. Who will decide what constitutes porn in the brave new world some seem to want to bring about?
Many debates I've engaged in on this argument have been with people who see it as a purely "intellectual" exercise. They are feminists or Christians (or both) who see the world through their ideological eyes, but when I confront them with the results of previous prohibitions, of the effects on women's groups and LGBT people, and on individual liberty they have laughed it off as "interesting" information. They seem to be unable to accept that they are heading towards supporting a state enforced moral standard which will be backed with real force and have real consequences. Accepting that seems harder for them than accepting porn can sometimes be harmful is for those of us who support liberty (but who know liberty is imperfect and messy).