the state


-of porn; staunton by jgrimsrud
Monday, 9 March 2009, 20:42
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of politik, -of reads

i was reading the cover story (march 2009, a profile of staunton’s prosecutor ray robertson) in eightyone today & was confused.

first of all, i didn’t understand the details of staunton’s evident brush w/ pornography (that social cancer). secondly, i wasn’t sure: why ray? or at least, why the picture of him painted in this profile? a prosecutor whose two main achievements seem to be closing out a cold murder case & doing something (what exactly?) to stick it to a staunton porn vendor seems a questionable pick–as does equating murder-solving and porn-stopping.

i do admire the service of a career servant.

but speaking of porn, i thought of an article i saw in a slog post by dan savage (“who likes porn?”).  turns out the red states hold the edge in online porn consumption.   new scientist reported on the study, authored by benjamin edelman of the harvard business school, which found that religious conservatives are especially fond of the stuff.

Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t explicitly restrict gay marriage.

To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion.

States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behaviour.”

sounds familiar–from eightyone:

Robertson cites a string of other issues related to pornography: the exploitation of women, the connection to sex offenders and pedophiles and the overall message of the movies, which is unprotected sex.  There is never any depiction of venereal disease or pregnancy.  “It undermines traditional values of monogamy and family relations.” Robertson sums it up by quoting President Obama: “The young people should have a reverence for human sexuality.”

“And I believe that,” he adds.

in his closing arguments in the porn trial, robertson said: (this from a thorough piece on the hook): “There was a guy having sex with a girl in her vagina and another guy having sex in her anus,” he said. “There were two guys with their penises in the same vagina. If we’re influenced by what we see, what do you think that does to a town?”

what indeed?  benjamin edelman again:

“One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you’re told you can’t have this, then you want it more,” Edelman says.

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3 Comments so far
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We profiled Ray Robertson because of all the interest in — and media coverage of — the porn trial and High’s murders received. He was a player in both and cartooned for his part in one. But there was a lot that many people didn’t know about him. He’s a Democrat? In office since 1973? With scant opposition? We think back stories are interesting. What we didn’t include — because we didn’t know and should have — is that he’s been nominated for a judgeship in the 25th circuit court. None of this means he is worthy of praise, which is not criteria for getting on our cover. It simply means he’s worthy of interest. We just talked with him, reported what he said and published some photographs of him.

Obviously porn-stopping does not equate with murder-solving. Those are simply the cases that got so much coverage. I’d be surprised if he said either case was among his greatest achievements. But he might.

Thanks for reading! Hope we have cleared up confusion. We didn’t delve too deeply into the details of either case, as they have been covered extensively. Our story here was Ray Robertson.

Comment by Deona Landes Houff

And sorry for the extra word (“received”) in my first sentence.

Comment by Deona Landes Houff

thanks, deona, for the comment & clarification. & it was definitely a successful story (for me at least) in that it got me reading, thinking, & writing.

so may i suggest a follow up?: a feature on the history & current reality of virginia’s laws on sexual morality.
i think an in-depth discussion of virginia’s history of sodomy, obscenity, etc. legislation would help people recognize how these questions are more than just sensational & titillating, they connect to deeper questions of whose rights are respected in our society & how the state’s moral policing can affect moral minorities & the moral/social identity of the community at large.

Comment by vastate




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