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Adult Industry Calls BS on Ben Shapiro and The Daily Wire’s ‘War’ on Porn

Claiming to be concerned for “the welfare of our people,” four Republican members of Congress recently called on the Department of Justice to “declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority,” attempting to justify their request by stating “the harms of illegal pornography have continued unabated, affecting children and adults so acutely to the point that 15 state legislatures have declared that pornography is causing a public health crisis.”

Seizing the moment, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who touts himself as “one of the religious right’s most influential young voices,” took to social media to advocate for a ban on porn that extends to jailing pornographers, kicking off what his colleague and Daily Wire editor-at-large Josh Hammer dubbed the “Great Conservative Porn War of 2019.” Meanwhile their boss, Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro, found the Republican congressmen’s call to crack down on porn “unobjectionable,” further arguing that “there is no fundamental First Amendment right to pornography” before conflating the issue with “sex trafficking.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Walsh’s understanding of pornography doesn’t seem to differentiate between what is legal and illegal, consenting or coerced (he claims it’s impossible to ever really know).  Ela Darling, adult film performer and marketing director of ViRo Club, points to the current state of adult entertainment and the surge in entrepreneurial performers.

“We’re in this new wave of porn where it’s going back to being, in a lot of ways, centered on performers as individual content creators, like with ManyVids and OnlyFans,” says Darling. “So if you’re worried that they aren’t of legal age or you’re worried they’re somehow forced into this, then why don’t you watch the content from people who created it themselves? We’re not coercing or trafficking ourselves.”

Walsh also argued, “Every child exposed to internet porn is an abuse victim. I support laws to protect children from that abuse. That’s essentially my position, in the simplest terms.” Yet, in addition to not holding parents accountable for the safety settings on their own computers, he fails to make the distinction between the easily accessible streaming tube sites and traditional adult-content companies that still require payment and age verification before viewing explicit content.

Oppression isn’t a solution though the issue is admittedly complicated, says adult icon Brittany Andrews, who’s been working in the adult industry for the last 28 years. Andrews has seen the adult industry evolve from niche adult stores touting VHS tapes to today’s oversaturated online market. It’s not the methods of distribution but the type of content that she believes to be an issue.

“[Tube sites] are the ones that have perfected the recipe for this fast-food porn and distributed it everywhere. I think they should have some sort of social responsibility for what they have done… but fuck no, they don’t give a fuck,” she says. “They don’t care. They’re a corporation and they don’t care about people, they care about money.”

I don’t think kids should be watching porn or have access to it but banning porn is not a successful way to protect a populace.

This is one of the rare points Republicans and porn stars can unequivocally agree upon: porn is not meant for children. “The problem isn’t just banning everything that might fall into the hands of children who are too young to engage with it. If that were the case, [Walsh] would also be advocating against alcohol and nicotine and any number of things,” adds Darling, addressing Walsh’s specific targeting of adult content. “I don’t think kids should be watching porn or have access to it but banning porn is not a successful way to protect a populace. Childproofing the world at the expense of liberty and free speech and net neutrality is not a safe way forward.”

Of course, who doesn’t want to save the children? Unfortunately, anti-porn propaganda is low-hanging fruit. It’s inflammatory, and all too often used by political groups as a means to distract attention away from other issues.