Children and pornography

Some of you might appreciate my latest essay for Good Letters. Others of you may not like it at all. Maybe it’s proof that I’m no less angry today than I was ten years ago, when some of you first started reading my little missives. I’d like to think I’m angry about more important things now, at least. In any event, here’s an excerpt (warning: I deal with graphic material in this essay, so some of you may just prefer to skip it):

No, our brave new world depends on the hardwired hard-on. Boys want what boys want, and mostly they want to see women’s breasts, though sometimes they want boys and sometimes they want to dress up like a cat and be degraded by older men. Whatever they want, we should take care not to shame them for it, or deceive ourselves that they can be deterred, and in fact should ourselves be ashamed if our impulse is to deter them.

And if what they see is not what they want, we should learn to have a good laugh with them when they stumble across those images, because, well, they’re bound to see it sooner or later, so why traumatize them by making a fuss?

This is very convenient for the modern pornographer, be he the aggregator of shot-in-a-basement amateur porn, or the violence-besotted Quentin Tarantino, or an overseer of last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, who found unobjectionable a dance number featuring transvestites in hooker boots. Why should anyone feel responsibility for what he spews out into the world, if children are bound to see it anyway?

You can read the rest here.