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May 21, 2004
Practical Memetics - The Science of Pornography Addiction and the First Amendment
Posted in accordance with US Food, Drug and Memetics Administration Labeling Requirements
Warning: This blog posting may be dangerously persuasive to pregnant women, those with weak backs and/or heart conditions.
Ok, so the science here isn't particularly compelling, but the Deseret News reports that an anti-pornography group is seeking scientific proof of pornography addiction through magnetic resonance imaging (Group trying to snuff out porn). The group, the Lighted Candle Society, has a poorly titled press release: Major Anti-Pornography Program Scheduled for 12 May in Salt Lake City.
It isn't entirely clear what the MRI brain scans will prove, exactly, but the purpose is clear. Should the researchers prove that pornography is addictive, the Lighted Candle Society will then take that proof into court to sue the pornography industry into submission much as smokers (or their beneficiaries) brought a litigation campaign against Big Tobacco.
Frankly, I don't think that MRI scans can prove what the LCS intends to prove. But what if similar scans could? Is it entirely outside the realm of possibility that science might someday allow us to gauge, at least to a limited extent, the physical response engendered by particular memes? What impact would this have on First Amendment law? Would it be permissible, despite the First Amendment, to censor particular memes that were shown to have scientifically proven adverse effects, much as we outlaw particular drugs? What levels of proof of harm would be needed? I suspect we may eventually have to answer these questions.
Of course, the LCS should be careful what it asks for ... religion itself seems to be a particularly pernicious meme.
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