May 20th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Morrison's budget jive lacks inherent harmony

CANBERRA OBSERVED Does budget do heavy lifting or is it "Labor lite"?

NEW ZEALAND Porn poll shows strong majority supports default opt-out policy to protect kids online

FRANCE Emmanuel Macron: a president without a political base

YOUNG POLITICAL ACTIVIST TRAINING (YPAT) Seven-day intensive course without equal in Australia

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Taiwan to go full steam ahead with submarines

RURAL AFFAIRS Murray Goulburn closures an omen of an industry in crisis

CLIMATE SCIENCE Temperature hasn't risen in 20 years: latest data

QUEENSLAND ENERGY 50 per cent renewables target: Is it credible?

LITERATURE Inexplicable: the ongoing appeal of H.P. Lovecraft

LITERATURE The gentle giant: Samuel Johnson

MUSIC Promissory notes: the public funding siphon

CINEMA Going in Style: Old dogs turned rookie robbers


BOOK REVIEW An abstemious revolutionary

BOOK REVIEW Soviet-era thriller revels in details

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Porn poll shows strong majority supports default opt-out policy to protect kids online

News Weekly, May 20, 2017

News Weekly Report

New Zealand lobby and research group Family First (not a political party) recently released polling results about attitudes to pornography.

The poll, dated April 17, 2017, shows strong support for opt-out internet filtering and a general consensus that viewing pornography is harmful.

In 2013, internet service providers (ISPs) in Britain began default opt-out filtering of sexually graphic material and other harmful content under new legal requirements.

Successive federal governments here have considered similar proposals, most notable were the efforts of the Rudd government under then communications minister Stephen Conroy.

The New Zealand poll was conducted by Curia Market Research, using a random selection of 15,000 phone numbers, and sampling 750 respondents. The results were then weighted by gender, age and location to reflect the national population of voters.

The executive summary published by Family First (NZ) shows that:

71 per cent of respondents think pornography overall is bad for society and only 4 per cent think it is good.

68 per cent said online depictions of sexual violence were very harmful to society and 90 per cent said they were moderately or very harmful.

In terms of any connection between online pornography and public issues such as rape culture and sexting, 42 per cent said there was a lot of connection and 72 per cent a fair bit or a lot.

Critically, when asked about ease of access and need for filters, 91 per cent said that it was too easy for under 18s to access online pornography and 81 per cent said that ISPs should be required by the government to offer filters to block pornographic materials.

Taking it one step further, and reflecting the model in Britain, the poll asked respondents if ISPs should automatically block pornography unless the customer (that is, the adult account holder) opts out by turning the filter off. The New Zealand respondents answered with a very comfortable majority of 70 per cent in favour of such an opt-out filtering system.

Those who profit from pornography will not be happy about these results or the growing momentum to curtail the industry.

However, the results were not entirely promising. When examined against age and gender, we see some trends that will worry parents, counsellors and professionals.

For example, when asked if pornography is bad for society “overall”, 61 per cent of men and 81 per cent of women answered in the affirmative; by age, 90 per cent of over 60s agreed it was bad, though only 51 per cent of under 40s agreed.

This may indicate either that men underestimate the threat and harm pornography poses or that women overestimate the threat. Nonetheless, it appears that Gen Y, Z and Millennials have a far more casual attitude to its prevalence and harm.

The poll should be understood against a backdrop of new information about the harms of pornography. First, there is the undeniable groundswell of grassroots voices from Gen Y and Gen Z that are crying out in online blogs and social media declaring that porn is the “new drug”, likening the health impacts to tobacco or hard drugs.

Second, there are growing numbers of claims by psychologists, social workers, porn addicts and counsellors who link porn use to sex addiction, relationship breakdown, depression, suicidality and sexual violence.

Going back a step, for those that missed it, readers can still find online the famous video testimonial by infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, who admits to the harms of pornography in his life. Try searching for “Serial killer Ted Bundy admits the harms of pornography”.

There have been important books published in Australia and abroad about the porn industry. These include former pornography actors’ testimonials and books on the neurology of sex addiction and porn use.

Dr Norman Doidge, a researcher from Columbia University, explains that porn use changes the way the brain functions. That it carves out new neural pathways. Porn use creates the “perfect conditions” and triggers the release of the right chemicals to make lasting changes to the brain. (Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself.)

In 2011 Australia’s Melinda Tankard Reist and over 30 other contributors published Big Porn Inc, which offered a shocking and sobering analysis of the degraded world of mainstream pornography and its harms.

Brisbane summit

Over the weekend of May 6–7, Brisbane hosted a Summit Against Sexual Exploitation, which included presenters Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio, Tim Mander MP (LNP), Fiona Simpson MP (LNP), Liz Walker (Porn Harms Kids), Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins MLC (Democratic Labour Party), Dr Ron Frey (QUT), Nikki Capp (Brothel Outreach) and Paul Green MLC (chairman of the inquiry into human trafficking, NSW).

The Brisbane summit’s purpose was to “expose the seamless connection” between sexual exploitation in pornography, objectification in advertising, human sex-trafficking, prostitution and child sexual exploitation.

Most interesting for voters and politicians alike was that the findings of the New Zealand poll were all generally consistent across party preferences. For example, the opinions on whether it was too easy for under-18 year olds to access pornography revealed 90 per cent of National voters agreed, 92 per cent of Labour voters and 91 per cent of “other” party voters agreed.

Surely this indicates that the time has arrived for a cross-party, national and state effort by lawmakers to deal with what is now known internationally as a public-health crisis.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm