What's the best argument against the censorship of "icky" pornography

Please include sources, I’m just doing this because I’m bored.

Is this a serious discussion or are you here to attempt to cause mischief?

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I’m curious, not here to troll or anything. That’s all.

I just want it for future discussions to get a idea on how to defend it.

Okay, well…

First of all, the idea that something, be it pornography or not, should be banned, censored, or regulated because it may be seen as “icky”, offensive, or immoral is simply irrational and unjustified. Offensiveness is a matter of subjective opinion and morality is not something that can be squared evenly or consistently with the right to free speech and expression.

The purpose of having free speech is to allow for intellectual autonomy and the freedom of thought and conscience, which are two necessary components needed to live in not just a proper or exceptional society, but to have a great one. It is a necessary consequence after millennia of human civilization where societies have risen and fallen, after centuries of the stifling of the human mind, and the forced limitation of potential. The fact that society has been propelled so exponentially far technologically, scientifically, academically, and philosophically after the advent of the freedom of speech is no mere coincidence, but rather a fact that both necessitates and justifies the freedom of speech.
To undermine this great invention for the sake of appeasing contemporary moral feelings or emotions of disgust, repugnance, or obscenity is to patently undermine both the invention and human nature itself, and possibly the morals or standards themselves. This heavyhanded imposition of moral or cultural preference in a pluralistic society built on self actualization and liberalization is patently and demonstrably antithetical to it, and only enables further social disintegration, rather than discourage or prevent it.
The fact that unsavory, unconventional, or outright disgusting sexual preferences, materials, and acts exist and will continue to exist and be made apparent by those who have or practice them is a side effect of that necessary invention, and one that must go unfettered on the basis of their offensive, repugnant, or obscene nature if the invention of free speech is to function how it should.

Without an intrinsic, and definitive harmful element that coincides with its production, depiction, or utterance, there cannot be any censorship.
This “harm” has to be an objective one, not a subjective or situational one, wherein, the harm is a product of the speech or material or has some sort of causal relationship with said harm.

Examples include:

  • True threats
  • Incitement to imminent lawless action
  • Libel/defamation
  • Child pornography/child sexual abuse material (CP/CSAM)

All of these have an objective harmful element behind them which justifies their prohibition and punishment. The harm caused by stating an intent to cause, or follow up with physical harm, can be understood by the panic, fear, and instability caused by the utterance of such a declaration. And the punishment of said utterances can be easily justified by the desire to prevent both the harm of the utterance itself, and whatever promised harm is to follow.
The harm caused by incitement follows a similar rationale, whereas libel/defamation follow a different kind, wherein the observation that individual persons are entitled to being represented by the truth, rather than falsehoods that would cause unforeseen, unnecessary, or unjustifiable damage to one’s character or reputation.

Child pornography, on the other hand, follows a different rationale to justify its prohibition, one that is limited to an interest in protecting the welfare of the children who are exploited or abused to make it. The material itself is targeted not for its message or appeal, but for the simple fact that it was made with real child victims. An interest in protecting minors from sexual exploitation overrides whatever speech value the material may have, and allowing such content to exist will inevitably create a demand, and a market built on the sexual abuse and suffering of actual children is not tolerable.
Keep in mind, this rationale is limited to material made with the use of ACTUAL children, not clearly fictional characters in the forms of literature, cartoons/anime or CGI. This is why fictional/virtual child pornography (such as lolicon hentai) is LEGAL in the United States, as the rationale for actual child pornography cannot be applied to material made without involving real minors. There needs to be harm, and a victim.

Now, does “icky” pornography have an element of harm, or a degree of it that would justify censorship or even regulation?


This question is one as old as time, and has been the subject of immense intrigue and interests, from government, religious, and academia alike, and to this day, there has yet to be a broad empirically-sound consensus on whether there exists a causal relationship between pornography consumption and harm which follows thereafter.
Scientists and University professors have been looking into the effects of pornography for almost 70 years by now, and to this day, there is yet to be a universal or majority consensus regarding any harmful effects that are the result of pornography consumption, be it with encouragement to subsequent criminal action or long-term negative effects such as addiction or behavioral dependence.
There have been plenty of bad actors in this field, namely those who are sponsored or backed by religious or political interest groups, to discredit or undermine the work of those who’ve found no causal link between pornography consumption and harm, but such studies always fail to withstand scrutiny.

Of particular concern, however, are the effects of simulated/virtual child pornography and child sex dolls on pedophilic individuals and whether or not they encourage them to commit hands-on contact offenses. The general consensus is that, though there exists a correlation between rapists and pornography usage, at the time of writing this post, that correlation is not a causal one, but rather a coincidental one where those inclined to commit or are at risk of committing criminal acts or hands-on CSA offenses simply consume pornography which corresponds to their sexual preferences.


You mentioned you wanted sources, does esteemed author Neil Gaiman count?

Of note, one line in particular that Neil Gaiman said that stands out to me is:

You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art.

Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.

I strongly recommend reading Neil Gaiman’s page that I linked, it’s amazing. While I doubt I can put it into as many eloquent words as he can… I’ll use some examples of how censoring the stuff you find icky is very disturbing.

There are people in this world that disagree with homosexuality solely because it’s disgusting to them. They feel it’s wrong and that people shouldn’t be allowed to express their attraction to the same gender. When I asked why, they simply couldn’t explain it beyond they just hated it. Imagine someone with this mindset deciding it was ok to censor homosexual porn simply because it personally offended them… It’s icky porn to them, but just porn to people who enjoy such content. Is it ok for someone to determine that their subjective values have the right to rule another person’s taste in porn, as long as nobody in real life is being harmed? Carrying on with this, the Bowers v. Hardwick case had similar rationale for why homosexual sodomy should be criminalized:

Blackstone described "the infamous crime against nature " as an offense of “deeper malignity” than rape, a heinous act “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature,” and “a crime not fit to be named.”

There’s also China arresting a woman for writing a Boys Love (homosexual erotica), solely because they found it disgusting. This is what “icky” is to some people:

Advocates said the court’s punishment of Tianyi was another sign of the prevalence of discrimination against sexual minorities by the government, even as social attitudes were gradually shifting.

There’s also rape porn. People find it disgusting, and when they find it disgusting, they try to rationalize that disgust as an objective truth as to why the thing they dislike is bad. Such as “normalizing sexual abuse” being the main thing, or how anyone who watched such content probably wants to experience it in real life. They rationalize it as only weirdos would enjoy such content. The issue with this is that it’s a popular fantasy among women, so the people saying this are arguably implying that women secretly want to be raped… This isn’t even getting into the issues with the women who consent to this type of porn being made, along with the hentai artists and voice actors who help produce this content. Men are the same way, just because they enjoy an icky fantasy doesn’t mean they deserve to have it censored because it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. Of note the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 criminalized the possession of rape pornography because it was considered “extreme porngraphy”:

The law criminalising the possession of extreme pornography, first enacted in 2008 and amended to include rape pornography in 2015, continues to generate considerable controversy and calls for reform.

Sticking with the UK example, we have the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 which essentially banned porn depicting:

  • Spanking


Aggressive whipping

Penetration by any object “associated with violence”

Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)

Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)

Role-playing as non-adults

Physical restraint


Female ejaculation




If we want to take a look at a country that is an example of where censoring “icky” porn leads, let’s take a look at Australia. In Austalia, the government fully embraces the notion of criminalizing porn (thoughts) they dislike. They’re afraid of anything encouraging CSAM to the point where they’ve banned porn involving small breasted, youthful women on the grounds of the (adult) actresses looking young. Essentially, the thought of someone with youthful features being in porn (even if they’re legally an adult) was icky enough for the government to ban it:

The only excuse you could cook up for banning this material, is to spite people we find distasteful. No one is protected. No positive outcome is achieved. No wrong is righted but by-jolly, it feels good!

Then there’s Russia, which is ok with banning both PornHub and YouPorn because that’s what they find icky:

Russia blocked the Russian page of Pornhub site last year, when a a court in the southern city of Krasnodar ruled that the website violated child protection laws. The court also ruled the site illegally produced and distributed pornography, a crime punishable by two to six years in prison.

That’s not getting into the fact that all porn is banned in North Korea.

There’s a pattern emerging here of moralistic busybodies sticking their noses where it doesn’t belong. The issue of censoring something based on what certain people find icky is that those certain people are allowed to impose their subjective wills onto others because they feel like it. It would be no different from someone banning interracial porn on the grounds that the person banning it is a racist and hates the idea of people of different races being intimate… Because that’s their definition of icky.

There’s another pattern emerging, but I feel the need to point this out. Censorship doesn’t begin and end in just one category, if someone is fine with censoring one thing they’re usually fine with censoring other things too.

Australia: Was fine with essentially controlling porn involving consenting adults who looked young on the fear that they might be young (along with the heavily implication only predators would enjoy such content). Video games are also heavily censored in Australia for violence, to the point where merely having “rape” as part of a plot (even if it’s implied) is enough to get the product removed in the case of Hotline Miama, along with references to drugs (this affected Fallout too). In the case of anime, they decided all hentai needs to be banned because of anime having fictional characters of suspect age… It’s a blunt instrument in this case. The censorship didn’t begin and end with what people found acceptable by you or me, it’s just gone.

The UK: Was fine with banning “extreme pornography” (AKA porn that the people in charge disliked). They were also ok with trying to arrest a man, Mark Meechan, for teaching a dog to do a Nazi salute as a joke… Censoring one thing they dislike tends to mean they’re ok with censoring other types of things they dislike too.

China: Dictatorship, enough said.

Russia: See above.

North Korea: See above.

It should be telling that all the examples I listed had the government infringing on the rights of its people. Censorship in one area typically means it’s open to spreading into other areas.

I hope this answered your question, but to summarize it:

  1. What is icky to one person is fine to another. Censoring based on subjective feelings opens the door to abusing that power, as something you or I like is now open to being censored because some third party considers it worthy of being censored/banned. What about the people whose definition of “ick” pornography extends to “all pornography”? It’s entirely subjective. If one thing is open to censorship, theoretically everything is open to censorship as seen with Australia, China, the UK, etc.

  2. It should be noted that all the places I mentioned have interesting views on the government being allowed to essentially control and arrest people as they see fit because they feel like it. This type of thing tends to go hand in hand with censorship, as people will try to take more if they see the opportunity.

  3. BONUS: This video sums up my beliefs on why everyone should stand up against censorship.


Does this apply to children consuming pornography as well? Just curious, not advocating.

“Sticking with the UK example, we have the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 which essentially banned porn depicting:”

  • Anything good

I hate this country.


This is a situation I have a vested interest in, from the novelist’s perspective rather than the pornographer’s. I had a plotline for a science fiction book in mind for a long time; it relied on the late-teenaged narrator feeling motivated to kill himself partly because he was a closeted gay person. As time, went by, I thought that just being gay alone was losing realism as a trigger for self-rejection and suicidality, so as I wrote the novel (This Moonless Sky by Mark Rogerson | The FriesenPress Bookstore) in the late 2000s, I gave him a variation on ‘urolagnia’ as an extra sexual self-rejection point. I realized that I was getting into censorship territory there, though not for any legitimate reason of public interest, which is one of the reasons I support Prostasia as a project favouring artistic freedom. So even though the book contains no pornographic writing per se, there’s enough colourful allusion that the reader has no doubt where the narrator’s interests lie. I won’t give out any spoilers about how this panned out except to say that many plot twists grew out of the situation.

Showing support for people with ‘icky’ but non-harmful sexual interests is a difficult but worthwhile frontier to be on. Laws that presuppose such indwelling interests are debaucheries that can be warded off by banning content are identical in philosophy to the old laws against representations of gay sex and relationships.


Nice, anything else to add? A bit more info, personal thoughts, anything.

I feel like it can’t be restated enough. The reason why people seem ok with censorship is that they’re usually the ones benefitting from it. Those same people tend to be against it when it directly harms them/their interests.

Essentially, it becomes a matter of, “I only care about myself” mentality in that regard, as they showed no empathy for people who aren’t themselves.

The people censoring things… Well, here’s a quote:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

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This Ayn Rand quote comes to mind a lot.

“The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”


I have a hard time accepting Ayn Rand as a guru about anything, and In this case, I point out that many of the laws made by these ostensibly malevolent governments are actually intensely lobbied for by various interests in business and the public. A search for sources of the proliferation of legislation should definitely include a tour bus trip to meet the many so-called ‘Karens’ of the world, female, male and other, whose fears and associated moral prescriptions lead to so many noxious restrictions.

Not sure about Ayn Rand, but I sure as hell agree with Cao Cao that it’s better for one to offend others than to let others offend oneself. Better to be an archfiend than a martyr for society.