The Business of Pornography
Most of the outsize profits being generated by pornography today are being earned by businesses not traditionally associated with the sex industry
Bruce A. Taylor is president and chief counsel of the National Law Center for Children and Families, one of the leading supporters of the Communications Decency Act and of its provision banning information on abortion from the Internet. Taylor thinks that Flynt's prediction is absurd, that eliminating the nation's obscenity laws would be an unmitigated disaster. Taylor opposes hard-core porn because, he says, it degrades women, promotes rape, and thrives on prostitution--hiring people to have sex. He thinks most soft-core porn should be outlawed as well. Taylor warns Americans not to be fooled by Flynt: "Of course people in the business want to see it legalized!"
But Flynt's theory--that legalizing porn will eventually reduce the demand--may not be as outlandish as it seems. That is exactly what happened in Denmark a generation ago. In 1969, Denmark became the first nation in the world to rescind its obscenity laws, an act taken after much deliberation and study. According to Vagn Greve, director of the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Law at the University of Copenhagen, when the Danish obscenity law was overturned, there was a steep rise in the consumption of porn, followed by a long, steady decline. "Ever since then," he says, "the market for pornography has been shrinking." Porn sales remain high in Copenhagen mainly because of purchases by foreigners. Greve's colleague at the institute, the late Berl Kutchinsky, studied the effects of legalized pornography in Denmark for more than 25 years. In a survey of Copenhagen residents a few years after the "porno wave" had peaked, Kutchinsky found that most Danes regarded porn as being "uninteresting" and "repulsive." Less than a quarter of the population said they liked watching hard-core films. Subsequent research confirmed these findings. "The most common immediate reaction to a one-hour pornography stimulation," Kutchinsky concluded, "was boredom."