Legal Moralism - We can defeat it, but how?

Since before the recent influx of QAnon conspiracy theorists, I’ve taken notice to a surprisingly prevalent and convincing line of reasoning that’s been permeating throughout secular western democracy. Observing their rhetoric and the way they clung to their weak, emotional, and downright unreasonable talking points was textbook.

Legal moralism.

Without getting too deep into things, the argument that child sex dolls, fictional/virtual pornography “normalize” the acts of child sex abuse isn’t new. Rather, it’s derivative of the “moral reasoning” used by conservatives and prudes to justify censorship of undesired or disliked ideas or desires and oppression of social minority groups, such as the LGBT community in the face of liberal notions and presumptions of free speech, privacy, and due process.

In my view, the prospect of legal moralism is unreasonable, unconstitutional, and downright cruel. It assumes the rights and freedoms of the populace should end where the feelings and mores of the common man start, with or without justification or reason, at the very expense of those very freedoms we all allegedly enjoy.

It makes up for and justifies the obscenity doctrine, wherein it was written solely to enable combatants in a culture war to skirt the First Amendment and cause direct harm and jeopardy to a burgeoning laissez-faire approach to matters pertaining to sex, sexuality, and sexual freedom.
Those who took strong emotional stances against pornography weren’t willing to reason with those who disagreed with them on such matters, with religion being a strong driving force in how such matters ought to be treated.
Arguments of logic and reason were dispelled by reassertions that the availability and dissemination of such material would induce a “moral decay” that, over time, would destroy the very foundation of American democracy: its virtue.
It assumes that society and culture are and should be manipulated by heavy-handed attempts at manipulation to maintain this status quo, regardless of who, or how, individuals and their rights are damaged in the process, a point of view that has been the driving force behind just about ALL “great mis-steps” throughout American history, such as slavery, prohibition, and Jim Crow.

"The distribution of obscenity creates a substantial risk of inducing immoral sexual conduct over a period of time by breaking down the
concept of morality as well as moral standards."

The common circulation of such material could hardly help but induce
many to believe that their moral code was out of date and that they
should do what, they suppose, others are doing. The conduct with which we are concerned need not be that which
would immediately follow the reading of one book, the seeing of one
pornographic moving picture, or the study of a set of photographs. Just as in the Dennis case, the feared conduct may be the result of
repeated indoctrination. . . . Once moral standards have been cor-
rupted, one's conduct is no longer guided by them. It requires little udicial notice to know that one whose morals have been corrupted
is likely to engage in sex conduct which society has a right to pro-
hibit. In this slower, but no less serious way, obscenity brings about
immoral conduct.
The collective public conscience pushes the individual in the direction
of being honest, fair, law-abiding, and decent. While separate ele-
ments may sometimes be singled out, public morality is really indi-
visible, in the sense that one aspect of it cannot be corrupted and
leave the rest unaffected.
The man who finds that the Government will or can do nothing to
stop the distribution of pornography to his family will be less willing
to abide by society's demands on him, whether it be as to gambling,
distribution of narcotics, or the candor with which he fills out his in-
come tax. Similarly, the corruption of moral standards in the realm
of sexual conduct cannot help but corrupt other aspects of moral
life. Morality, like morale, cannot be undercut at one point with-
out affecting all conduct."

By design, the above quote, taken from the US brief to the Court during Roth v. US, is very troubling. It takes on a very pessimistic, biased tone that could be reworked to convincingly undermine, or even abolish, the First Amendment as we know it by reducing what was a minority, niche interest to something that is unworthy by design. As stated before, the lack of subscription to notions of proper freedom and reason make it immune to claims against it. They are not philosophical, they are not theoretical. They’re not even hypothetical.

I’ve found the following pasta floating around on a few imageboards, which… sort of addresses the claims made

There is no objective, consequential difference between playing a violent video game, watching horror movies, or laughing at offensive, racist comedic material and masturbating to loli/shota pornography.

No victim, no crime. Period.

The assumption that it may incite someone to commit sexual abuse is not an argument.
This is because it attempts to split responsibility and culpability of any crime away from the individual who committed it, whereas no such culpability could possibly exist for the fictional pornography.
The fictional pornography does not attempt to incite abuse, either indirectly or deliberately.
And, for the sake of argument, if it could by some spurious argument be indirectly be read to do so, the individual could just as easily not act on those commands in a manner that harms a child.

The assumption that allowing such material to exist and maintain an active audience will “normalize” the acts and attitudes depicted or presented is not an argument.
Such assumptions, like the previous one, rely on the exploitation of fear and emotion. While it is true that certain subject matter or topics may become popularized, the likelihood that they be “normalized” is contingent on a variety of chaotic variables that controversial or offensive subject matter simply cannot. It also assumes that niche interests are destined to dissolve into a “communal consciousness” and be enjoined into the zeitgeist, which is also not true.
And then, even if pedophilic material could become “normalized”, there is no evidence that this will lead to otherwise sensitive individuals or communities to adopt the attitudes and ideas espoused in the fictionalized materials, nor is there any evidence that actual instances of sexual exploitation or abuse of minors will be tolerated, ignored, or go unnoticed.
The apparent distinction between reality and fiction makes this so.

The argument addresses and refutes most of the claims, but not in as succinct a way as I’d like in order to be convincing to those who agree with them.
We can’t treat these moralists like religious nutjobs or conspiracy theorists who simply refuse to see reason and just “ignore it” while people like Thomas Arthur, the administrator of an erotic fiction website, are having their rights stripped from them over “obscenity crimes”. Being offended by something isn’t a justification for censorship or suppression, regardless of whether or not it’s designed to gratify sexual feelings or impulses and lacks “serious value”.

Now the question is, where do we go from here?
The approach of Legal Moralism is obviously a broken and ineffective system at quashing “moral offenses” in this golden age of free and unbridled and secure communication, in addition to the assumptions just being wrong.

I want to see the obscenity doctrine discarded from United States jurisprudence. We can’t do that if the foundational ideology behind it continues to go unscathed.


This part I genuinely take offense to. There is absolutely no evidence of this, in fact, there is so little that it’s a bloody miracle that ANYONE, let alone a judge, would take it seriously.
Also, morality is meant to be organic, not supplanted by some… artificial interpretation of right and wrong as decided by the government, or through the government. There is no difference between the two.

In my view, such things are unnecessary as the idea that matters pertaining to sex, including “immoral” or “offensive” sexual interests, are not bound by moral standards, and no moral adjudication is even necessary, so long as there’s no risk of real harm to participants or non-adult involvement in the production or dissemination of such material.

Can someone PLEASE help me with this?? I find these points especially grotesque because we need more than just “it’s free speech” to counter the claims. We need to totally obliterate the illusion that this point is valid or compatible with a free society that values individual rights.

Also, individual rights ARE communal rights. Whatever is bad for the individual is innately bad for the community because communities are just collectives of individuals with their own ideas of morality. What allows this homogenous culture to peacefully exist is the restriction on imposing these mores on others at the expense of their own. it’s disgusting that the notion of free speech is lost, and we may need to “stoop to their level” in a sense to effectively and convincingly counter these claims. Not enough liberal-minded persons are in politics, I fear.

I love discussing morality, I would have a lot to say about it … But, To use morality to justify a change in the law? Thats kinda hard ^^", like, a group using their opinion of what is good or bad to create rules that oppress those who disagree with them is basically what moral is all about ^^"
Also I don’t think it is possible to untie any concept from moral :confused: Moral is a spontaneous phenomenon. The control we have of it is extremely limited.
So, I guess the only way to get what we want is to prove scientifically that this is not bad, so to try to make our group’s moral change, which consequently will cause the law to change. Anyway, exactly what happened with the homosexual movement some years ago.


The lessons we learned from Prohibition could be applied to pornography and dolls. So long as no actual minors aren’t used, it is and should remain legal for consenting adults.

Morality is not a legitimate government interest. We ought to take the lessons of Lawrence v. Texas.

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Ok, I’ll try to better explain my point of view. I think it works like that -> Think about the example of sex dolls in the shape of a child. People find it disgusting for “instinctual reasons”. Like, human beings are “programmed” to protect children, because that was evolutionarily advantageous for the survival of our species. So people today end up being overly protective and irrationally in that regard (that is the base of all the problems related to pedofilia). Anyway, for this reason people tend to think that dolls are “bad”, so our social group has this opinion. Morality is nothing more than the opinion of a group. So our group thinks this is immoral, so they outlaw it (All laws are base on moral concepts, in one way or another). <- Anyway, in short, this is the mechanism of our reality. In short,as I said before, this is a spontaneous phenomenon, it is part of how the human mind works, there is not much we can do about it. And I really don’t see how we can use the concept of morality to fight this. Because it’s morality that defines in peoples head what it is “right” and “wrong” to do. So telling them that it is wrong for them to think this is immoral, is basically the same as telling them that it is wrong to do the right thing XD. Anyway, this will seem absurd to them. Try to explain that way also won’t work, because people don’t know how moral works, and/or want to think that it work in another way ^^"
So… What I think we can do is convince people with scientific arguments that this is not wrong. I imagine that this can work, because although people are not logical in real life, they like to think they are XD. So they will tend to value scientific arguments. Like, it makes them think they are more smart :3, and everyone likes to think that XD. So, convince people that there is nothing wrong with sex dolls by scientific arguments will -> Change people individual opinion -> Consequently the opinion of the group changes, or in other words the moral changes-> that will changes the law -> profit :3. As I said, it is the same path that the homosexual group did, and we know that it worked for them ^^.
PS: I say “I think it works like this” but actually I’m 100% sure it works like this, but I’m trying to take it easy with my arrogance ^^" which I guess is something that I just failed thanks to this last paragraph :thinking:

‘‘This part I genuinely take offense to. There is absolutely no evidence of this, in fact, there is so little that it’s a bloody miracle that ANYONE, let alone a judge, would take it seriously’’.

Regardless of intent, this statement of yours perpetuates the asinine belief that judges are some kind of hyper-intellectual population of arbiters of truth and justice who society is dependent upon.

Judges have and always will be routinely bought and sold by powerful and wealthy entities quite easily, this is not to mention that Judges often function on the basis of their own personal morals rather than within the explicit confines of the law. Judges are no better than your average cop as far as I am concerned.

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How to eliminate them? I’m not so sure, but I have some ideas. We will need a more pro-free speech supreme court, maybe in the future, relitigate Miller and do away with moral legalism in Obscenity law. Laws regulating sexual images should be based on the Harm Principle. Perhaps instead of the current obscenity statues, they could replace it with a revenge pornography statue. Or a statue related to actual abuse of actors. Revenge porn laws are based on Harm Principle as oppose to legal moralism.

There was a time when this issue was even worse. I recall reading about scenarios in 80s when obscenity prosecutions were much more frequent. There was a time when even modestly lewd material was censored in the United States. Now, any kind of adult porn you can think of, you can download. Some probably could be declared to violate obscenity if brought before a jury, but the law is largely unenforced. You probably have a better chance of getting struck by lighting twice in the next minute than of being prosecuted for receiving obscenity.

Throughout history, we have been moving towards expanding freedom of speech: Freedom to burn the American flag, freedoms related to pornography. Overturning State laws which prohibit simple possession of obscenity as long as no minors were involved.

Regardless, the miller test, which is not based on harm to the actors, ie the Harm Principle, but based on legal moralism is still a problem. It’s a bad law that should eventually be done away with. Obscenity is largely dormant, prosecutions numbering maybe 1-3 people every year and are on their way out, there may come a time when they become fully dormant. But there is no guarantee it will stay this way. What’s stopping a War on Obscenity and seeing potentially 1000-3000 prosecutions a year? What’s stopping aggressive censorship of consensual obscenity? It could still flare up again. Which is why I still think it’s worth putting effort to eliminate these laws.


Legal moralism seems to be a phenomenon currently more married to leftist movements than the picture you’re painting about “conservatives”, but yes, fundamentally agreed.

It’s a major part of how bloated, yet vague, the US legal system is, affording far too much purchase for a moral panic to seize the name of justice for itself. Liberal principles have been getting undermined by authoritarians of various stripes for a long time, intentionally and incidentally, as not enough people seem to have cared to defend them.

Anyway, yeah. Obscenity law is farcical.


That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. So far, the only people who’ve been arrested for crimes relating to obscenity are convicted sex offenders violating their terms of release or people also caught with CP.
Not that I necessarily agree with charging people for that, but the fact that there hasn’t been a case against anyone for obscene material alone is indicative of something, perhaps law enforcement taking a utilitarian approach and going after those who are likely a genuine threat to children, or perhaps a more legal reason, wherein they don’t bother simply because the federal statutes would be unenforceable? I’m hoping it’s the latter, but not against both options, as a simple FOIA request with regard to the former may answer our questions and could be used as ammo in a court case looking to destroy the obscenity doctrine in an “appeal to reason” approach.

Isn’t there currently the case against Thomas Arthur, as you mentioned, solely for “transferring obscene matters”? I suppose by “arrested” you mean “convicted”, probably?

Aside from him, I suppose. My heart weeps for him. He would be the first in years outlined in my criteria.

You hare obsessing over small matters. Just don’t break the laws.

It’s not a matter of “breaking the laws” because the laws themselves are too vague, nondescript, and too meaningless to have any value as a matter of jurisprudence. You’re literally never told you’ve broken the law until a judge says so. There is no “fair notice”.

Imagine if Congress passed a law banning the sale and distribution of “abhorrent” content. They very clearly wanted to target graphic violence in media, such as video games and movies and even give some basic depictions on what could pass as “abhorrent”, but relies on “community standards” to delineate “graphic violence” from “abhorrent violence”.
Even worse, they declare that violence in and of itself is “low value” and not worthy of protection on its own. It has to be justified by some arbitrary standard of “serious value”.
You as an individual are free to create, purchase, possess, and consume graphically violent media, so long as it isn’t “abhorrent”. But you’re never told what counts as “abhorrent” so you just use your best judgement. But your best judgement isn’t material because it’s up to a judge and jury for what counts as “abhorrent”.

People who create, sell, and possess violent movies, video games, comic books, novels, etc that go past this line are arrested for going over the line of “abhorrence” and are given lengthy, draconian prison sentences for this material.

That’s literally the obscenity doctrine. It needs to be overturned. There is no justifying it. It was wrong, it’s unconstitutional, and serves no purpose other than to cause harm to cultural minorities for not respecting the whims and mores of others.


Federal law prohibits obscene pornography. You cannot distribute or create it. Yes if it’s legally obscene it is A CRIME. And no it’s literally constitutional the supreme court RULED ON THIS.

Just don’t create anything that is needlessly offensive. Is it that hard?

Sex and Violence are not comparable. Prostasia needs to stop this false equivalence. They are clearly very different things. There is a reason why videotape distribution of torture (as long as it’s not sexual) is legal, but when sex is involved, it can become illegal very fast. This is the norm throughout the world.

Good citizens of the United States such as myself will not let the degenerates of the world pollute our world and disparage the image of a child and a woman.

The SCOTUS was clearly wrong when they ruled on this issue. Justice William Brennan, author of the majority opinion in Roth v. US even admitted this much and reversed his position, joining the dissenting minority Justices who’ve never once conceded to the conservative majorities each time the issue reappeared. That’s not normal. That’s usually a telling sign that something is horrifically wrong. One only needs to read the cases and the spurious, fallacious logic invoked by the majority when deciding each case.

Rights are not and should not be contingent on the arbitrary assumptions of the community. My rights come before your feelings. The High Court erred when discounting that very fact.

Just don’t be offended by something you don’t need to be looking at. Is it that hard?? Honestly.

But they are. If it’s the depiction of REAL torture being exploited, then it’s usually investigated and the perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted just like rape or sexual assault.

There is no justifiable reason why the two ought to be seen or treated differently in the realm of fiction, kinkplay, or any medium that does not involve the exploitation of a victim. Obscenity laws are faulty because they are not limited to the harm principle. They attempt to enforce an opinion, are premised on opinion, and are fundamentally not based on fact.

Also, sex and violence are treated equally throughout many parts of the world, including the United States.
All of the same arguments used by cultural pundits and prudes to justify censorship and suppression of violent content invoke the exact same “normalization” arguments as with sex. You’re right. They are different, but at the same time, they’re not. A horror movie in which teenagers are butchered by a man in a hockey mask with a machete is visually distinct from a pornographic film depicting adults with a summer camp theme. They both cater to natural human interests and titillate a specific set of senses. But you know how that difference is irrelevant? They’re fiction. They’re not real. No real crimes were committed, and no actual minors were involved in the creation of the erotic film. Your decision to be offended by either of them should have no basis on whether or not they’re afforded Constitutional protection. This is why the obscenity doctrine MUST GO! It is why it has been largely dormant and why it must not be revived.


?? You no understanding why this banned? Bad influence in society is bad you know yes? Yes, it’s up to you to prove they do not cause harm before it’s legalized. I am making it very clear for you here.

America has all the porn in the world. You guys live in it. How much more porn do you want? At what point is enough? Porn that is bad influence should be banned. Victim? Victim does not need to be always direct. You understand that right?

When they see your obscenity, they find influence of that? And they become more willing to commit offense. You understand?

Pornhub is in Canada. Most porn sites are outside of US. Japan, who has a lot of pornography, including very extreme materials that you would find as terrifying, disgusting and immoral, has one of the lowest rates of sexual abuse of both adults and minors on the entire planet. Simply because they don’t waste time on fighting against pornography, that doesn’t in any way rescue sexually exploited children like me many years ago, and instead focus on finding better ways of preventing the abuse.

Yes, but in case of consentual pornographic movies and artistic works with fictional characters, there isn’t even an indirect victim.

I assume in lack of any evidence of that claim, you are talking from a personal experience? How many people you sexually exploited after seeing something pornographic?

Because the truth is, that opposite of your claim is real.

Good luck debunking empirical evidence with unverified quotes of 10 people.


Let’s deconstruct the logic behind this. Are you implying that, without these materials, people wouldn’t be influenced to commit sex crimes against others? That human beings are pure of heart, mind, body and soul unless something else influences them to act?

That’s so idealistic it’s unreal. That’s also not how people act or think. Yes, information can influence people’s actions, thoughts, or opinions, but not in the manner you’re describing, no.

You can’t trust people to be good or bad, but rather, behave according to their own self interests. Whether or not those behaviors create positive or negative outcomes is contingent on the variables specific to the situation.
People are going to behave however they choose with or without supportive or condemning influence. How they choose to be influenced, as well as acting on said influence, is their cross to bear.
A rational person viewing a graphic Japanese erotic comic book with themes of sexual assault is will see it as nothing more than a comic book and leave any and all thoughts, ideas, desires, etc relegated to the medium by which those feelings arose, in much the same way that a person playing Grand Theft Auto will do the same while behind the wheel of a car.
Attempting to split the responsibility from the perpetrator of a crime with the material he entertains himself with is both counterproductive and stupid if you truly value a system of accountability and justice. Not to say that those who deliberately enable a crime to occur shouldn’t be held accountable for their involvement, but to the extent that a man choosing to sexually assault someone because you saw it in a movie or series of movies holds the film accountable when they had no direct involvement with the act itself is going beyond the boundaries of rationality in much the same way that the rapist did when he raped someone!

We already know that the availability of “obscene” pornography does not signal an increase in sex crime. What more could you ask for?


Attempting to split the responsibility from the perpetrator of a crime with the material he entertains himself with is both counterproductive and stupid if you truly value a system of accountability and justice.

Rapists should be Executed! adult rapist, child rapist, execute them all! They have forfeited their right of life! This is the proper method. They should be the only one held responsible. But if materials influence law breaking, than the issue also includes the materials themselves. Is it hard yes? I don’t think so.

Let’s deconstruct the logic behind this. Are you implying that, without these materials, people wouldn’t be influenced to commit sex crimes against others?

You are confused by what I’m saying. It may contribute to offending. Understand? This really shouldn’t be so difficult.

People are going to behave however they choose with or without supportive or condemning influence. How they choose to be influenced, as well as acting on said influence, is their cross to bear.
A rational person viewing a graphic Japanese erotic comic book with themes of sexual assault is will see it as nothing more than a comic book and leave any and all thoughts, ideas, desires, etc relegated to the medium by which those feelings arose, in much the same way that a person playing Grand Theft Auto will do the same while behind the wheel of a car.

A rational person. Not everyone is rational. Pedophile may watch those things and think it’s ok when it’s harmful. This is why Canadians have banned such materials until there is proper proof that they reduce harm.

You want to convince us to permit these disgusting materials? Proof that they reduce harm will convince. We want proof before we start changing our laws. Until then, we want to see no more posts from Prostasia insulting Michael Seto, Canada child protection organizations and canada law.