Some Male College Students Want Campuses to Censor Porn

A movement to ban porn is gaining steam on some college campuses—and it's mostly led by male students.
Jim Martinson, a senior at Notre Dame, penned a letter to the campus newspaper in October asking the administration to install a porn filter so that students wouldn't be able to access websites like Pornhub and Redtube on the university's wifi. Martinson's argument against porn is threefold: He claims it is immoral, it warps men's brains, and it dehumanizes women. As he wrote in his letter:
Pornography is the new sex education, providing a disturbing script about what men find sexually appealing and what women should do to please them. Notre Dame's sincere efforts to educate students about consent and other aspects of healthy sexuality are pitifully weak in light of the fact that by the time students arrive on campus, many have been addictively watching pornography for years.
Porn is not acting. The overwhelming majority of contemporary pornography is literally filmed violence against women -- violence somehow rendered invisible by the context.
More than 1,000 students signed his petition to ban porn, according to Inside Higher Ed. What's more, he is now in contact with students at other campuses working on the same issue. As The Daily Beast reported:
Georgetown senior Amelia Irvine, a conservative firebrand, told The Daily Beast that Martinson's letter inspired her to push for something similar at her Catholic university. She plans to recruit support over the winter break and start an open letter or petition in the spring.
Students at secular schools like Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania also said they were excited by the idea, but were still figuring out how it could work on their campuses. At Princeton and Penn, students said they were already tabling and handing out fliers about the dangers of pornography on campus.
"I'm excited and I think we can really get this done," Martinson said. "And I'm also confident that if we do get it done at Notre Dame, that other universities will follow suit."
The Daily Beast correctly noted that some of Martinson's claims are dubious. There's scant evidence, for instance, that porn makes men behave more violently toward women, or rewires their brains in some fundamental way. If anti-porn students don't want to consume it, that's fine—but they shouldn't force this choice on everyone else.
Notre Dame is a private institution, and administrators would be within their rights to restrict students' access to pornography. They could block access to other websites that may conflict with religious doctrine as well: They could stop students from accessing websites that were pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage. Most people would probably recognize such restrictions as fairly obvious abridgements of free expression, legal though they may be. Banning porn websites is no different. Thankfully, few colleges have indicated that they will acquiesce to the demand.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education told The Beast that Notre Dame would earn a "red light" rating—mean that the campus is highly restrictive of speech—if it banned porn.
"Most pornographic, sexually explicit, and offensive material is protected under the First Amendment," wrote a FIRE spokesperson. "As such, any institution that claims to protect free speech should not treat pornography substantially different than other protected speech."
The best argument against banning porn on campus, though, was articulated by Notre Dame student Jeffrey Murphy, whose editorial in the student paper, "Give Me Pornhub or Give Me Death," is worth reading in full.
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