Rather it raises problems of reproof, causation and the calculation of costs and benefits. ” (96) Balancing judgment between two extreme points of view may appear to be the democratic and constitutional thing to do; but what this actually does is open up a can of worms and poses even more complicated issues. As Easton quotes Schauer: “In balancing the free speech principle against other interests, he says, we should ask the following four questions: what is the relative priority between free speech and competing interests?
Should the priority be determined by a fixed rule or a case-by-case approach? Who should decide where the balance should be struck? In what types of rules should that balance be formulated? ” (96-97) In the case of pornography, these four questions bring up several difficulties in the effect that pornography may be given too much weight in the balancing process. Yes, each case should be judged on a case-to-case basis, and absolutism will simply make matters worse. Generalizing a judgment and thinking that it will apply to all other cases does not protect each person’s rights either.
Censorship of pornography should be judged on a case-to-case basis, and should not be indiscriminate, ignorant of the several idiosyncrasies that are involved. So what then should be done about pornography? Should it be controlled and censored? Should modern-day puritans just turn their heads away and say nothing about it? Should the First Amendment be revisited again and again, every time a dispute arises? A New York Times reader reacts to another reader’s suggestion: “In ‘Is That Really Legal? ’ (Op-Ed, May 2), Jonathan A. Knee argues that we ought to criminalize pornography using a tactic that sidesteps the First Amendment.
Rather than make pornography itself illegal, he says, we should make the actions of pornographers—paying people to have sex—illegal. This is exactly the type of legislation that the First Amendment is meant to protect us against. When free speech is involved, lawmakers face a stricter burden in proving that the behavior in question is harmful. We should not try to be creative in our lawmaking with the goal of getting around our Bill of Rights. I recommend that those who enjoy pornography (this writer, of course, not belonging to that group) be allowed to continue enjoying it.
” (Herman 2004) This situation is typical of the complex task of trying to strike the balance between celebrating the First Amendment and performing civic and social responsibilities. Tthe burden of proving the validity and rationale behind an instance of censorship is now a major challenge when trying to juggle the First Amendment in one hand and censorship in another. Not to mention the uproar you would cause when you drop either one. My conclusion? Pornography is normative, and is therefore relative; therefore censorship should also be normative and not all-encompassing. Works Cited
Easton, Susan M. The Problem of Pornography: Regulation and the Right to Free Speech. Routledge, 1994. Herman, Andy. “Pornography, Illegality and the First Amendment. ” Letter. New York Times 3 May 2004. Hollywell, Claire. Personal Interview. 25 April 2008. Kong, Weng Soon. Personal Interview. 27 April 2008. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary. 30 April 2008. <http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/pornography> West, Caroline. “Pornography and Censorship. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2004. 30 April 2008. <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/pornography-censorship/>