None of us should take any comfort from the sad story of Dr. Ross Brown and his conviction on child pornography charges. Brown became addicted to pornography and was unable to break its hold on his life. From media reports it appears that Brown did not produce or distribute child pornography -- he simply became addicted to seeing it.
Women will find it difficult to understand how an otherwise decent person could become controlled by something so disgusting to most of us. But every man knows the pernicious appeal of pornography and its constant availability through media and the Internet. If women doubt its power to attract, they should ask the men in their lives.
As a society we have decided that pornography featuring children is so potentially harmful that we regard watching it as criminal. That is not the case for pornography involving rape, incest or bondage, all of which may be watched within the bounds of the law.
Despite the fact that some images of children in sexual situations may have been produced in Europe decades ago, by watching these images one is regarded as promoting or participating in them.
Something here is wrong. In our rightful anger against child exploitation and abuse we are treating the addicted as though they were the dealers in this sordid material. At the same time we turn a blind eye to those who may spend hours watching graphic images of sexual violence against women.
Pornography is pornography. It is evidence of evil as a power in this world and we should vigorously oppose those who create or distribute it. But to single out for punishment only that sad sliver of humanity that succumbs to the addiction of watching it ignores the greater problem. It also punishes those who deserve mercy, help and therapy to escape from addiction to this dark compulsion.