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Should pornography be banned for people under 18?
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Banning pornography makes it seem like forbidden fruit

Banning porn makes something that seemed commonplace much more appealing and cool. Teenagers are exceptionally susceptible to this type of thought because they are attracted to high-excitement activities.

The Argument

Whenever activities that society considers harmful, such as drinking, smoking, or watching porn, are banned, it only ever backfires. Normally, when these activities are simply treated as mundane and occasional forms of pleasure, just like a night in watching Netflix, their vices become a lot less appealing and addictive. Teenagers are still likely to watch pornography because of how impractical it is to ban porn. After all, it is almost always going to be impossible to track whether or not an IP address accessing PornHub is over or under 18.[1] However, the biggest difference a ban will make is that it will make pornography seem much “cooler” for adolescents. The typical adolescent’s decision-making capabilities have not yet fully matured, which makes experimentation with activities that are high-excitement, low-effort especially appealing.[2] Countries with tighter bans on alcohol, for example, tend to have the most teenage drinking problems without a culture that normalizes it, because teenagers will then see those activities not as normal things that people do, but as a tantalizing forbidden fruit.

Counter arguments

Just because banning something makes it seem like forbidden fruit does not mean that a ban isn’t needed. Banning hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine does, by the same logic, create a forbidden fruit out of those drugs, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore all of the harms that they bring just so that teenagers find them marginally less appealing. For the large majority of people, banning something does provide effective deterrence. It is quite intuitive that if doing something will get you a jail sentence or even just a slap on the wrist, an individual will be much less incentivized to do something, or at least think twice before doing something. It also means that if individuals do watch porn they will be more likely to watch porn privately and treat it as a generally taboo subject, which means there is less exposure to the existence and appeal of porn overall and less entry into a habit of watching it. Even in the very worst case, in which an individual still watches porn excessively, they can simply receive their punishment for watching it, which will mean in the long term they are still less likely to continue watching it.



[P1] Banning something makes its sinful side more appealing. [P2] Teens are uniquely attracted to forbidden fruit.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] If something is sinful to begin with, it should be banned anyways. [Rejecting P2] Teenagers are still able to think rationally and make good choices.


This page was last edited on Sunday, 15 Nov 2020 at 21:49 UTC

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