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Brandon's Big Gay Blog

None Dare Call It "Pornohol"

by Brandon Burt
- Posted // 2011-02-22 -

These days, everything is addictive.

Saturday's event "A Night of Recovery" featured Pastor Bernie Anderson and some LDS musicians dealing with the issue of pornography. According to the Trib story, they all "teamed up ... to share a message of hope with 75 people whose lives have been wrenched by pornography and other addictions."

Now then, whenever a bunch of religious types gather to discuss porn, you can guess what position they're taking: They're against it. And, in the past, it meant that the book-burnings could not be far behind.

Today, however, such bonfires make for bad publicity, stirring up memories of biblioclastic traumas from history. Also, now that porn mostly exists online in a vague, ethereal cloud of digital packets and 1s and 0s that don't easily burn, it has become increasingly difficult (not to mention pointless) to dredge up enough dirty books (or even DVDs) to make a decent blaze.

So the anti-porn brigade is taking a different tack: sympathy for the devil.

In this case, the "devil" is the so-called porn addict, and the "sympathy" offered is that oleaginous, New Age idea that the addiction model can be applied to practically every human predicament. It's an idea that has led to the existence of Alcoholics Anonymous-style programs for people who are overweight, in debt, or just plain slutty.

Now, I don't mean to knock recovery. Alcohol and drug addictions are real diseases, with real physiological effects. The 12 Step system helps many people control their substance-abuse behavior. (It also seems to replace their vocabularies with a collection of trite phrases and irritating slogans -- but it is far better to be alive and capable of annoying your loved ones than it is to be dead and able only to make everybody feel sad.)

But "pornography addiction" is not a recognized disorder. It appears nowhere in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So when we talk about things like "porn addiction," the media should make ample use of scare-quotes and weasel phrases such as "so-called."  

In these days of avowed chocoholics, workaholics and sexaholics, it's important to remember that nobody ever died from watching too much porn. What's the worst that can happen? Some skin inflammation, or possibly a case of carpal-tunnel syndrome. Anything more than a wrist injury, and you're doing it wrong. If your marriage falls apart, and you lose your job, and even your friends stop talking to you, well, maybe you've got a bigger problem than porn.

Blaming XTube for everything is convenient, sure -- especially if you get caught picking up a hooker or tapping your foot in an airport restroom. But isn't that a lot like blaming America's weight problem on federal farm subsidies? (Not only that, but hookers and airport restrooms have been around a lot longer than XTube.)

Porn gets the rap for even the most terrible social problems. A year or two ago, when reports of some horrible predator attacking women made the news, I asked the question people always ask when confronted with that kind of unimaginable evil: "How could anybody do something like that?"

My LDS friend knew exactly what was to blame: "It's all the Internet pornography that's around these days."

I didn't like to contradict her religious beliefs, but the thought of a rapist getting off on a porn-addiction plea didn't sound like justice to me.

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