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Old 08-14-2012, 10:25 AM   #61
QuantumIguana
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Let's do a thought experiment. If reading books of erotica made people into sex offenders, then we would expect to see that illiterates would be less likely to be sex offenders than readers are.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:41 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by LuvReadin View Post
Don't think that's true. I'm pretty sure there are some states in the US (Massachusetts and Michigan, I think) that don't allow it. It's only allowed in the UK if both are over 21 and they didn't live in the same household before the child was 18.
Very interesting. The Massachusetts law forbids marrying one's spouse's child, but from the other direction, only forbids marrying one's "father" or "mother"--and in CA, a stepparent is not legally either of those.

Also, the page I found is gender-specific and was written before same-sex marriages; it doesn't say a woman is forbidden to marry her husband's daughter. A man could marry his brother, but not his sister. (The actual law may have been amended. Or not, because despite the existence of erotica focused on incestuous and incest-like pairings, there aren't many people who actually want to marry or have sex with close family members.)
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:11 PM   #63
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That's certainly possible. However, the basic topic of a book doesn't tell you whether it "glorifies" people as sex objects, or the abuse of children, or murder, or any other crime or depravity. And sex carries such a negative stigma that books that feature a lot of it wind up getting tagged "erotica" regardless of what themes or story tropes they also have.

"Books that encourage poisonous mindsets and inspire messed-up people to commit atrocities" aren't limited to any one or two genres, and they can't be identified by their marketing tags.

"Erotica" isn't the problem. "Hardcore explicit erotica" isn't the problem. Nor is "explicit erotica focused on kinky practices that most people find disgusting." "Books that treat people as sex objects" might be the problem... but doesn't that include books for teenage girls that tell them they'll never get a boyfriend if they don't learn how to apply eyeshadow correctly?

Objectifying people has nothing to do with explicit descriptions of body parts. Condoning abuse has nothing to do with descriptions of sex. There is no way to separate out "books that are bad for society" based on objective content descriptions. The books that are toxic are so because of context, because of their meaning in today's cultures, and there's no computer program that can identify those problems.
I agree with so much of what you write here. Very well stated! I do think that books that teach girls to value themselves only for their ability to make themselves attractive to a potential partner qualify as objectifying those girls. I totally agree that the way in which a book treats its subject (be it violence, sex, etc) is what determines whether or not that book is dehumanizing or not.

So, yes, tagging and categorizing in order to avoid dehumanizing books would be difficult if not impossible in the current market. Perhaps that was one value of the traditional publisher-driven model? Not sure, and also don't want to return to the traditional model. At this stage, perhaps simply tagging the content and offering clear descriptions is the best we can do.

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Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
Let's do a thought experiment. If reading books of erotica made people into sex offenders, then we would expect to see that illiterates would be less likely to be sex offenders than readers are.
So, for this thought experiment, can the illiterate people view movies, surf pornography on the internet, listen to audio books, purchase adult magazines, etc?
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:41 PM   #64
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...I think reading engages your mind far more then watching TV and has a greater long term impact then TV. But that is my personal opinion and I am not claiming and scientific soundness behind it.
I'd say "not necessarily." TV and movies can be more impactful in how they engage your visual and auditory senses with your mind; some of the most memorable and influential moments of people's lives have come from movies. Some personal examples:
  • Lawrence riding out of the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia"
  • "Soylent Green is people!"
  • The trip to the Moon in "2001"
  • The last scene of the original "Planet of the Apes"
  • The last scene of "Silent Running"
  • The opening scene of "Contact"
  • The uncomfortable shock of the in-home attack/rape scene from "Clockwork Orange"
  • The vista of "Blade Runner"
  • "Dr. Grant... my dear Dr. Sattler... welcome to Jurassic Park."

I think the only book that's ever influenced me more than these examples would be The Martian Chronicles.
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:04 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan View Post
I'd say "not necessarily." TV and movies can be more impactful in how they engage your visual and auditory senses with your mind; some of the most memorable and influential moments of people's lives have come from movies. Some personal examples:
  • Lawrence riding out of the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia"
  • "Soylent Green is people!"
  • The trip to the Moon in "2001"
  • The last scene of the original "Planet of the Apes"
  • The last scene of "Silent Running"
  • The opening scene of "Contact"
  • The uncomfortable shock of the in-home attack/rape scene from "Clockwork Orange"
  • The vista of "Blade Runner"
  • "Dr. Grant... my dear Dr. Sattler... welcome to Jurassic Park."

I think the only book that's ever influenced me more than these examples would be The Martian Chronicles.
I find that surprising. How come you are not writing movies, then? Maybe you would enjoy it more.
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:45 PM   #66
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I find that surprising. How come you are not writing movies, then? Maybe you would enjoy it more.
My guess is he is the exception, not the rule.. but I am not basing that on anything scientific.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:19 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan View Post
I'd say "not necessarily." TV and movies can be more impactful in how they engage your visual and auditory senses with your mind; some of the most memorable and influential moments of people's lives have come from movies. Some personal examples:
  • Lawrence riding out of the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia"
  • "Soylent Green is people!"
  • The trip to the Moon in "2001"
  • The last scene of the original "Planet of the Apes"
  • The last scene of "Silent Running"
  • The opening scene of "Contact"
  • The uncomfortable shock of the in-home attack/rape scene from "Clockwork Orange"
  • The vista of "Blade Runner"
  • "Dr. Grant... my dear Dr. Sattler... welcome to Jurassic Park."

I think the only book that's ever influenced me more than these examples would be The Martian Chronicles.
"A picture is worth a thousand words." It can be worth many more.
(This is not to devalue the worthy insightful phrase.)

I agree strongly with 2 of the above examples.
Blade Runner - the initial vista (which became a de-facto futuristic standard of sorts) and then the scene where the big mutant was taking the examination with the first blade runner. (incredibly well done)
Jurassic Park particularly with the music. (visual and auditory)

I would add visuals just off the top of my head-
2001 - the Obelisk plus the music

I would like to add that you spoke of the Martian Chronicles as a book. I dare say that the movie was better.
Likewise the movie E.T. was better than the book.

I have thought from time to time to get into screen or play writing but you generally have to be in one of two places all the time, CA or NY, and I just can't do that.
I have participated with several writers that I know on a TV series project where they needed my expertise but the verdict is still out on that effort.

Last edited by frahse; 08-15-2012 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:51 AM   #68
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So, for this thought experiment, can the illiterate people view movies, surf pornography on the internet, listen to audio books, purchase adult magazines, etc?
Don't forget that readers have access to all to these things as well. If written erotica has the negative effects that some say, there should be some evidence of this. The addition of this allegedly harmful written erotica should make the problem worse, as illiterates would not be reading it, whole readers would be reading it addition to all these other forms or erotica.

Also, we don't have to go back very far at all before these other forms of erotica were not available, thus the natural experiment is still valid. The internet is young, widespread access to internet porn has only been around for about 15 years. Easy access to porn movies only came about with the VCR, so that puts us back a little over 30 years.

As we go back in time, and keep removing technology, all we are left with is the written word. If written erotica turned people into sex offenders, we would see that readers were more likely to be sex offenders than readers. But we don't see this, not now, and not in the past.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:10 PM   #69
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Don't forget that readers have access to all to these things as well. If written erotica has the negative effects that some say, there should be some evidence of this. The addition of this allegedly harmful written erotica should make the problem worse, as illiterates would not be reading it, whole readers would be reading it addition to all these other forms or erotica.

Also, we don't have to go back very far at all before these other forms of erotica were not available, thus the natural experiment is still valid. The internet is young, widespread access to internet porn has only been around for about 15 years. Easy access to porn movies only came about with the VCR, so that puts us back a little over 30 years.

As we go back in time, and keep removing technology, all we are left with is the written word. If written erotica turned people into sex offenders, we would see that readers were more likely to be sex offenders than readers. But we don't see this, not now, and not in the past.
I want to make sure I understand your claim--you're claiming that some not-defined length of history, illiterate people have perpetuated the majority of sex crimes without being able to read books that, for instance, glorify incest. Because of this, we can conclude that books that glorify incest are not actually detrimental to the social/emotional development of the people who read them. Is that the gist of your argument?

I don't know if there is any statistical support for the claim that illiterate people perpetuate the majority of sex crimes. And even if there were, that still doesn't disprove the idea that pornographic content has the ability to negatively affect those who consume it.

As a side point, I reject the claim that "as we go back in time, and keep removing technology, all we are left with is the written word." This disregards widespread evidence of art forms that predate any known written works--for instance, statues, totems, cave paintings, dance, oral storytelling, song, etc.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:00 PM   #70
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I want to make sure I understand your claim--you're claiming that some not-defined length of history, illiterate people have perpetuated the majority of sex crimes without being able to read books that, for instance, glorify incest. Because of this, we can conclude that books that glorify incest are not actually detrimental to the social/emotional development of the people who read them. Is that the gist of your argument?
I claimed nothing of the sort. I neither said nor implied that illiterates committed the majority of sex crimes. I am saying that if reading erotica leads to sex crimes, then we should expect to see that those who read erotica commit more sex crimes than those who do not. Illiterates obviously do not read erotica, therefore, we should expect to see that readers commit more sex crimes than non-readers.

If we claim that cigarette smoking causes cancer, we would expect to see a higher incidence of cancer among smokers than of non-smokers. We do see such a higher incidence, smokers are at higher risks of cancer than non-smokers. If instead we saw no higher cancer rates among smokers, this would have been counter-evidence against the claim that smoking causes cancer. It would then be of no use to claim that the non-smokers breathed smoggy air, and that this explained why we saw no difference, because smokers breathed the same smoggy air. If both smoking and smog cause cancer, we would expect to see more cancer among those who both smoked and breathed smoggy air than with those who only breathed smoggy air.

Similarly, if both watching and reading erotica leads to sex crimes, we should see higher rates of sex crimes among those who watch both watch and read erotica than those who only watch erotica.

I never said that illiterates committed the majority of sex crimes. I said that there is no evidence that readers were more inclined to commit sex crimes. To say that readers are no more likely to commit sex crimes than are illiterates in no way, shape or form implies that illiterates are more likely to commit sex crimes than readers. If I said that left-handers are more likely to be criminals than are right-handers, this doesn't mean that I have said that right-handers are more likely to commit crimes than are left-handers. Left-handers and right-handers have the same crime rates.

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I don't know if there is any statistical support for the claim that illiterate people perpetuate the majority of sex crimes. And even if there were, that still doesn't disprove the idea that pornographic content has the ability to negatively affect those who consume it.
I don't need to disprove a thing. You're the one making the claims, you provide the evidence. If readers are really more likely to commit sex crimes than non-readers - which ought to be the case if reading erotica lead to sex crimes - then by all means, present the evidence.

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As a side point, I reject the claim that "as we go back in time, and keep removing technology, all we are left with is the written word." This disregards widespread evidence of art forms that predate any known written works--for instance, statues, totems, cave paintings, dance, oral storytelling, song, etc.
I didn't say that the only method of communication was the written word. But it isn't reasonable to include cave paintings in a discussion of erotica. The point, which was clear enough was that video and magazines are quite recent inventions, and that erotica goes back much farther. It would be a mistake to limit ourselves to the current era which is merely a blip. My time period is not undefined, it's all of history. Except for the current blip in time, the only people who had access to erotica have been readers. But even without access to erotica, people have committed sex crimes. No evidence has been presented that readers are any more likely to commit sex crimes than are illiterates. Again, I'm not saying that illiterates are MORE likely to commit sex crimes than are readers.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:39 PM   #71
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I claimed nothing of the sort. I neither said nor implied that illiterates committed the majority of sex crimes. I am saying that if reading erotica leads to sex crimes, then we should expect to see that those who read erotica commit more sex crimes than those who do not. Illiterates obviously do not read erotica, therefore, we should expect to see that readers commit more sex crimes than non-readers.
...
I never said that illiterates committed the majority of sex crimes. I said that there is no evidence that readers were more inclined to commit sex crimes.
Fair enough. I misread your question. That's why I was trying to make sure I understood your claims. My mistake.

You're not claiming that folks who are illiterate commit more crimes. You're only claiming that "if reading erotic literature causes a person to commit sex crimes, then more sex crimes would be committed by people who read erotic literature than by illiterates." Sure. That's practically a tautology. No argument needed. If eating apples caused a person to float, then we could expect that more people who eat apples would float than people who don't eat apples. And actually, jumping back a bit, this argument doesn't hold. Perhaps there are other types of fruit that cause a person to float. In this discussion, you have specifically discounted other non-literary pornographic content that could be accessed by non-readers. I'll go back to this below.

Ultimately, that doesn't bear on what I was even claiming. I wasn't claiming that reading erotic literature made a person commit a sex crime. I claimed that consuming pornography affects a person and I believe that effect to be negative.

Do you think that reading a book like "To Kill a Mockingbird" could affect a person's views on racism? If you do, then do you not also think that reading "Letters to Penthouse" could affect a person's views on sexual activity? I'm not saying it would make a person go out and start raping their neighbors, I'm saying that it would affect them, and I believe it would affect them negatively. Specifically, I believe it would cause them to begin viewing others as means to their own sexual ends. It would cause them to begin dehumanizing other people in the way that they thought about those people. Naturally, if you stop thinking of other people as human beings and start thinking of them as objects meant for your sexual gratification, it will affect the way you interact with them sexually.

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I didn't say that the only method of communication was the written word. But it isn't reasonable to include cave paintings in a discussion of erotica.
Why not?

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The point, which was clear enough was that video and magazines are quite recent inventions, and that erotica goes back much farther. It would be a mistake to limit ourselves to the current era which is merely a blip. My time period is not undefined, it's all of history. Except for the current blip in time, the only people who had access to erotica have been readers. But even without access to erotica, people have committed sex crimes. No evidence has been presented that readers are any more likely to commit sex crimes than are illiterates. Again, I'm not saying that illiterates are MORE likely to commit sex crimes than are readers.
I might be misreading you again, but it seems like you're having it both ways in this paragraph. You seek to include "all of history" but seek to exclude historical, non-literary forms of erotica (like cave paintings, paintings, sculptures, dances, performances, oral storytelling, etc). This is not a fair way to evaluate the impact of pornography through history, as it eliminates the majority of pornographic content from the discussion.

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:43 PM   #72
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And also, I want to make clear I bear you no ill will! If I am communicating in an unfair manner, let me know.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:30 PM   #73
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Ultimately, that doesn't bear on what I was even claiming. I wasn't claiming that reading erotic literature made a person commit a sex crime. I claimed that consuming pornography affects a person and I believe that effect to be negative.
Where's the evidence for this negative effect? If there's no evidence for this effect, is there really an effect?

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Do you think that reading a book like "To Kill a Mockingbird" could affect a person's views on racism?
Only if people were inclined to have their opinions changed. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" didn't make people change their minds regarding slavery, it presented a perspective to people, and hardcore racists and believers in slavery weren't swayed. Those who were basically decent people but misinformed about the reality of slavery were influenced. Words only have the power that the reader gives them.

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If you do, then do you not also think that reading "Letters to Penthouse" could affect a person's views on sexual activity? I'm not saying it would make a person go out and start raping their neighbors, I'm saying that it would affect them, and I believe it would affect them negatively. Specifically, I believe it would cause them to begin viewing others as means to their own sexual ends. It would cause them to begin dehumanizing other people in the way that they thought about those people. Naturally, if you stop thinking of other people as human beings and start thinking of them as objects meant for your sexual gratification, it will affect the way you interact with them sexually.
People had sexual fantasies long before Penthouse letters came along. How were their minds changed by reading written fantasies? The idea that you could have sex with someone is an idea that no one has to implant in you. Does anyone pick up Penthouse letters and think "What? I could have sex with someone? That never occurred to me?" A book like "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Uncle Tom's Cabin" present people with perspectives they didn't have before. Written erotica just presents them with fantasies they already had. People already want to have sex, erotica doesn't create the desire to have sex.

But what is dehumanizing about sex? I "use" my baker as a means to get my bread, is that dehumanizing? If someone reads some written erotica and says "That looks like fun! Maybe I can find someone who would like to do that too," what is dehumanizing about that? Throughout history, people have been persecuted, imprisoned or killed because their sex life didn't meet someone else's standards. That judgment seems pretty dehumanizing.


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I might be misreading you again, but it seems like you're having it both ways in this paragraph. You seek to include "all of history" but seek to exclude historical, non-literary forms of erotica (like cave paintings, paintings, sculptures, dances, performances, oral storytelling, etc). This is not a fair way to evaluate the impact of pornography through history, as it eliminates the majority of pornographic content from the discussion.
Cave paintings aren't normally normally considered relevant to such discussions, but I will concede it. The point is that there was time when written erotica was virtually all the erotica there was. I you couldn't read, your access to erotica was limited. If a group has limited access to erotica, then the alleged negative affects would be limited. Thus, we would see these effects in the group that had greater access to erotica, that is, those who can read. If we don't see evidence of negative effects, we have no reason to believe that the negative effect exists.

Last edited by QuantumIguana; 08-15-2012 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:31 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by djulian View Post
And also, I want to make clear I bear you no ill will! If I am communicating in an unfair manner, let me know.
Likewise, no ill will, even if there are strong feelings on the subject.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:45 PM   #75
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Lightbulb Unwelcome search results

I understand that Amazon has to cater to all tastes, within reason, but there should be some separation of the 'adult' material from the rest of the catalog.

My beef is that I write bedtime stories. A search of 'bedtime stories' at Amazon will throw up children's bedtime stories and a awful lot of erotica, including s/m (by which time I feel like throwing up). n:

In a nutshell, I think that customers should have to explicitly enable adult material in their search preferences.
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