The Corner

Politics & Policy

Joe Biden, Want to Save Some Lives? Think about a Porn Commission in the Justice Department.

Outside the New York Times building in New York City, August 3, 2020 (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

“I have to thank Ed Meese for saving my life,” that’s what former porn star Traci Lords said about the Reagan administration’s efforts to regulate the porn industry. Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times this morning is an agonizing read. First of all: Pornhub

attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon. Pornhub rakes in money from almost three billion ad impressions a day. One ranking lists Pornhub as the 10th-most-visited website in the world.

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad. I thought everyone used Amazon at this point. It’s just that we talk about that more freely. Though I have to say, my very first trip after months in lockdown, I was standing in Penn Station, with such dark scenes surrounding me, and even darker in some ways than the men screaming expletives at me (and others waiting for a train, though there were not many) – but the most chilling to me was, perhaps, the man wearing a Pornhub t-shirt with no sense of shame. Is this really what we are? Shout your abortions and porn use?

At least when it’s out in the open, we know what we’re dealing with.

The Kristof piece concerns itself with the exploitation and rape of children that’s available on that evil website. He’s not necessarily against porn itself. I think I’d be delighted if we banned it entirely. As we see in the piece, it clearly contributes to suicides – and I don’t think just the children and young women whose lives are ruined by appearing in videos, often not having any idea what they were getting into. In 2020, middle school means the boy you have a crush on asking for a naked video. These poor children. Do they even have a chance in this culture?

One of the many things that jumped out at me in the Kristof piece was this:

“Pornhub became my trafficker,” a woman named Cali told me. She says she was adopted in the United States from China and then trafficked by her adoptive family and forced to appear in pornographic videos beginning when she was 9. Some videos of her being abused ended up on Pornhub and regularly reappear there, she said.

What evil, to further traumatize an already suffering child.

Something must be done. There are so many layers of our sick culture that we need to work on. Rigorous virtue has more power than we realize. But could this Nicholas Kristof piece be an opportunity for some bipartisan work against at least the most clearly criminal pornography? People making money off of child rape and exploitation. And a country of people who watch that? Lord have mercy. If Joe Biden wants to heal, this is a gaping wound with infected pus that is killing people. Killing.

And send a thank you to Nicholas Kristof for his important work today (kristof-newsletter@nytimes.com). I don’t always agree with him, but he clearly has a heart for human suffering. We can work together on that common ground! We must.