Conservatives are fighting over whether porn is OK

Last week, several GOP congresspeople accidentally started a culture conflagration on Twitter when they sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, asking him to fight porn online.

The letter, which was signed by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and three others, called on using existing obscenity laws to go after pornographers, noting that in 2016 President Donald Trump signed an anti-pornography pledge.

The four want Barr “to declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority,” saying porn has just gotten too dang hot.

“The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral,” they wrote.

Last weekend, it opened up a fracture among conservatives. On one hand, you have cultural conservatives, who do believe the proliferation of porn is a moral crisis and that the government has an obligation to prevent it. It’s not too far away from their beliefs on the government outlawing abortion.

On the other hand, limited government conservatives are worried about censorship and infringement on speech.

On Twitter, the fight played out between the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and … just about everyone else who was alright with porn.

“This is a great move and conservatives who act perplexed at the suggestion that government might have a role in restricting hardcore porn obviously do not understand their own ideology. This is, at the very least, an idea worth discussing,” he wrote—which led to a number of detractors, who regardless of whether they approved of porn, didn’t approve of the government stepping in and saying what could and couldn’t be produced.

But the good folks at the Daily Wire were not to be disagreed with.

Porn, they said, was (and here’s where things went off the rails a bit), essentially the equivalent of legalized prostitution?

Others in the conservative movement wondered what the Founding Fathers would think of streamin’ a little sex on a smartphone?

Were they talking about doing it at the constitutional convention? We will never know.

And if porn is speech, does that mean masturbating in public is speech?

(It’s not.)

But is banning porn nanny-state overreach? Many on the culturally conservative side would argue that most conservatives now are libertarians and not conservatives. Conservatives want the government to intervene for the moral good, they say.

Some even considered ditching the entire libertarian ethos over the sins of porn.

But for a great number of internet users, the biggest issue was not pornography, but a bunch of conservatives arguing about it and clogging up the timeline with porn talk.

If only the government could step up and ban that instead.

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David Covucci

David Covucci

David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]