The arrest of a North Port, Florida, teacher has made headlines around the nation. William Tyler Black, 28, has been charged with one count of indecent exposure and one count of battery. According to police, while at the North Port Wal-Mart, Black picked up a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, took it to the toy aisle, and proceeded to commit a lewd act. He then left the magazine on the toy shelf and wiped his hands on another toy. A Wal-Mart employee saw him in the act and called police, who caught up with him while he was still shopping. Police say Black claimed the reason for his action was because he saw some “hot girls” in the store. (In case you are wondering about the battery charge, it stems from his leaving bodily fluids in a place where children could come into harmful contact with it.)
I’ll give you a moment here to regain your focus.
I share this incident because it drives home several points pro-family activists have been making for years.
1) As a minor point, the counselor at church camp was right; men are aroused by the sight of an attractive woman, and the more provocatively she is dressed, the more intense a man’s reaction will be – certainly this is an extreme example, but an example nonetheless.
2) The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (SI), carried by Wal-Mart and other retailers – despite years of complains from parents – is, indeed, pornography. Granted, it is just “soft pornography”, but it serves the same purpose – Black was not shopping for swimsuits.
3) The availability of pornography in public areas leads to lewd acts committed in those areas. This is something that librarians across the nation, in facilities that refuse to install Internet filters, have been complaining about for some time.
4) Lastly, and most importantly, adult pornography harms children – children that innocently run to the toy aisle, children enjoying time at the public library, children being slowly seduced by pedophiles, even children randomly snatched from the playground or abused by other children that have viewed pornography.
There are different levels of attacks on our children – indecency, “soft” pornography, adult pornography, obscenity, child pornography – but it is simply a matter of degree and circumstance.
As for matter of degree, pornography is addictive and that addiction escalates with the tame fare such as the SI Swimsuit Edition leading to an appetite for harder material and acting out of the fantasies generated by pornography. By circumstance, I mean the simple equation: the wrong material (porn) + the wrong hands (person about to act out) + the wrong place (the toy aisle?!).
It is time for our society to take the pornography issue seriously and act to protect children from all forms of pornography, even the relatively tame variety.
I see the solution as analogous to our war on methamphetamine. One tool we have enacted to stem the flood of illegal meth is to regulate the distribution of a key ingredient needed for its manufacture, a common nasal decongestant, by placing it behind the pharmacy counter. Yes, cold and allergy sufferers are inconvenienced a little by this move, but that minor inconvenience is worth it because it holds back the devastation of methamphetamine addiction on individuals and communities. The same can be said for the sale of alcohol. So why not porn?
Just as the sale of a cold remedy seems to have nothing to do with the blight of meth – yet does once you look at the issue critically – so does the marketing of indecency and “soft porn” seem to have no connection to pornography addiction, sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse until you look at the stacks of research on those issues. It’s time we do the math and add up the contributing factors that equal the onslaught of obscenity and the sex-obsessed culture we face today.
The case in North Point, Florida, should remind us that even simple steps to protect children from indecency will pay off in the larger war against obscenity, sex trafficking, and child pornography. Remember that the next time you round the corner to the toy aisle.
If you would like more information about urging Wal-Mart and other retailers to treat “soft porn” and indecency like the pornography it is, visit American Decency.org. For more information on the harms of pornography visit www.pornharms.org.