Big Porn Exploiting Coronavirus Loneliness to Peddle Poison

Big Porn Exploiting Coronavirus Loneliness to Peddle Poison

By |2020-05-05T10:45:23-04:00May 4th, 2020|Categories: News and Commentary, Spirit & Life Newsletter|Tags: , |

Porn During the Pandemic: A Devil’s Bargain

If a shifty-looking man in a hoodie and dark sunglasses stopped you on the street and offered you a “free sample” of his “product,” you’d know exactly what to say. Experience shows that, sometimes, the cost of “free” is our freedom, and that’s just too high a price to pay. Unfortunately, however, our society has not yet woken up to the fact that Big Porn, with all its superficial glitz and glamour, is the new neighbourhood drug dealer. The only difference is that he now has bottomless pockets, a marketing department, and the capacity to peddle his merchandise to us in the privacy of our homes and bedrooms.

Drug dealers prey on human weakness, vulnerability, suffering, tragedy, insecurity, loneliness, and despair. They look for human beings at their lowest and then offer them the balm that will distract them from their suffering—for a little while.

Right now, countless millions of people are locked in their houses. Many of them have lost their jobs. Even those who are not isolated from their friends and families are grappling with the unknowns of this pandemic and are adjusting to major disruptions in their daily routine, as well as the loss of church, nature, exercise, sports, concerts, and other healthy outlets. Unsurprisingly, many people are finding themselves battling acute boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and worse. Many are turning toward unhealthy coping mechanisms, including binge-watching TV, unhealthy eating, and drug and alcohol use.

With all this human misery, Big Porn saw its opportunity. A few weeks ago, Pornhub—the largest (and arguably the most unscrupulous) porn site in the world—offered users in Italy, France, and Spain (the countries hardest hit by coronavirus) “free” access to its Premium site for one month—a “free” sample to help people forget their loneliness and boredom . . . for a little while.

All sin has this common denominator: it offers a short-term apparent benefit or pleasure in exchange for long-term loss and pain. What Pornhub doesn’t tell its users is that in the long run its product only leads to further loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem, and more. All of this, inevitably, will lead people to turn back to porn as an escape from their misery, and so it continues in a vicious cycle.

Like the drug dealer’s free sample, Pornhub’s so-called “giveaway” is a blatant ploy to pad its bottom line. As National Review reports: “On the days that free premium memberships were launched in Italy, France, and Spain, traffic [to Pornhub] in each country increased by 57 percent, 38 percent, and 61 percent, respectively.” Pornhub, like many porn sites, earns a huge percentage of its profits from advertising. With traffic increases like this, you can be sure that it is raking in millions of dollars. And inevitably a certain percentage of the “beneficiaries” of this temporary free access will get hooked enough to pull out their credit cards when the offer expires.

But if you thought the porn industry couldn’t stoop any lower, you were wrong. One porn company, IsMyGirl, explicitly attempted to recruit McDonald’s employees who were laid off during the pandemic to become porn performers. The statement from this company is so brazen that I could scarcely believe it when I read it: “In an effort to help McDonald’s employees, and to make sure they can continue to provide for themselves and their families, we want to help provide them with a legitimate option,” IsMyGirl said (emphasis added). The “legitimate option” that this organization is offering is for people who are struggling to put the food on the table to prostitute themselves for the porn company’s profit. This is exploitation, pure and simple. And it’s downright evil. This public ploy should have been met with widespread outrage. And it’s just one more reason why the porn industry needs to be shut down.

An Explosion of Child Porn

Somehow, at some point over the past couple decades, our society convinced itself that hardcore, high-definition, streaming porn—often depicting unspeakably degrading and violent acts—is not only “harmless,” but might even be beneficial and a great way to blow off steam.

It is hard to know how to respond to this viewpoint, except by pointing to the rapidly growing body of hard data showing the social and personal harms caused by pornography or to the untold number of personal testimonies of people who say porn enslaved them in a cycle of addiction, injuring their health, happiness, and relationships. There’s a reason that 16 different states have so far introduced resolutions calling porn a public health crisis.

However, if that’s not enough, perhaps we can at least take seriously the warnings of those who say that, thanks to online porn, child pornography is proliferating at unprecedented rates. One police chief in the UK recently sounded the alarm that young men, so saturated in porn that they have become bored by the legal stuff, are increasingly turning to child porn for “kicks.”

“What we are seeing is a new group of young men aged between 18 and 26 who have been brought up on a staple diet of going to visit Pornhub and sites like that,” said Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey. “They get to the point where there’s no pornographic material that is stimulating them so then they start to explore what child abuse imagery might look like. They start getting their kicks from that.”

According to law enforcement, the pandemic is making things worse. Brian Herrick, assistant chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Section, says that law enforcement agencies have seen a spike in cases of child porn being shared since the pandemic began. In addition, peddlers of child pornography have become increasingly brazen. “Activity is peaking on the platforms where it takes place, very similar to how it peaks around holiday time when people are off work,” he said. Experts are also reporting an increase of predators using mainstream platforms like Instagram, where they are posting explicit material and trying to contact minors.

Not everyone who uses porn will use child pornography. But our society’s sanguine attitude toward porn has created a situation in which child porn users are being created by the desensitization and boredom caused by the endless access to hardcore materials that we now take as normal.

Choose Freedom, Not Slavery

The Catholic Church strongly condemns pornography. It does so, not because it hates sex or pleasure, but because porn—like all sin—harms the sinner and the victims of his sin. Porn, says the Catholic Catechism, does “grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others.”

Unfortunately, the pressures of the pandemic are pushing some people toward unhealthy coping mechanisms. We humans are social creatures. We achieve fulfillment in community with other human beings. Without the daily influence of the mutual self-giving relationships of family and friendship, we can quickly lose our sense of balance. The absence of communal worship has also created a spiritual void for many people, leaving them vulnerable to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Throw fear into the picture, and it’s a potent mix.

For this reason, we must be especially on our guard at this time against our own weaknesses and those who would exploit them. If you are in a position where you are finding yourself indulging in, or being tempted toward, unhealthy coping mechanisms, it is crucial that you take practical steps to avoid going down a path you will regret. In the first place, you must have a schedule of daily prayer. This is nonnegotiable. Many people now find themselves with an unusual amount of time on their hands. This is an excellent opportunity to draw closer to God. Find a place in your home or your apartment where you can kneel before a crucifix every day and pray the Rosary, read scripture, and engage in meditative prayer.

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” goes the old saying. It is important not only to pray, but to find ways to stay busy. Schedule your day in advance. Regularly call friends and family to check in. Others are struggling too; you have a duty to reach and build them up. Try to learn a new instrument or study a language. Read good books.

And finally, if you do find yourself battling the temptation to look at porn, know that you are not alone and that there are resources out there to help you. The first step is to install filtering and accountability software like CovenantEyes on your Internet-connected devices and to ask a trusted friend to be your accountability partner. Another program recently launched by Catholic author and speaker Matt Fradd to help people quit porn for good is called Strive. You can find details about it here.

You don’t have to accept slavery. Christ died to free us from our sins, not so that unscrupulous pornographers should own our souls. With Christ’s help, we can use this time of the coronavirus pandemic to draw closer to our Lord, to learn to trust in His loving providence, and to attain freedom, rather than slavery.

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About the Author:

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet
Fr. Shenan J. Boquet has served as president of Human Life International since 2011. He was ordained in 1993 as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. As HLI’s president, Fr. Boquet collaborates with fellow laborers in the pro-life and family movement in over 80 countries, offering the Sacraments, giving seminars and trainings, appearing on numerous media outlets, and encouraging people of all walks of life to live as faithful advocates for a Culture of Life and Love. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing hli@hli.org.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Alain May 5, 2020 at 4:32 PM - Reply

    Fr Shanon, I find your articles to be so uplifting, especially as one looks around and sees so many human beings who appear to more and more believe that man is capable of creating his own Utopia and that God, Father Son and Holy Spirit does not exist. At the age of 71, I look back in my life and recognise that although I am a cradle Catholic, I did not understand the faith that I was taught. I sinned so many times in so many ways. Today, as I have matured in my faith, through the Grace of God, I begin to understand how much I have pierced the Sacred Heart of Jesus during my life time. I have confessed and been given absolution. For some years, my wife and I have been praying the rosary daily. But still, I sin in many ways. Lack of charity, lack of humility are some of the areas of my downfall these days. Even though for a few years I have carried out works of mercy like cooking for terminally ill patients at a hospice, working in a soup kitchen at my parish, and now looking after my 80 year old wife who is seriously incapacitated, teaching children catechism for two years, I still get caught in sin when I least expect it. A few days ago, the bell of our appartment rang. I went to our street gate and found a young man begging. He was asking for food. In our country, there are current lockdown regulations in place that forbids people from leaving their homes unless it is to buy food at a shop, medication at a chemist shop etc. No one is allowed to walk around in the street. Penalties are arrest, charged, and penalties can be a stiff fine or/and jail time. My initial reaction when I realised that the man was begging and breaking the law (he should not have been out in the street according to the country’s emergency law) and instead of giving him a tin of beans of fish, I confronted him as a law breaker. While I was speaking with him, a security van stopped and the security officer apprehended the beggar. When I got back inside my flat (appartment) I thought about it and immediately regretted the way that I had reacted towards this beggar. I thought to myself “What would Jesus have done?” and I knew immediately that Jesus would have fed the man. I sin again. What is concerning, is that with the lockdown in our country, I cannot even go to confession. Yes, Fr Shanon, you are so right. We are slaves to sin even though we know that we have to do God’s will and not our will. Please pray for me. You are always in our daily prayers when we say our rosary Fr.

  2. Avatar
    Dann Aungst May 6, 2020 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    Fr Shenon; I am happy to see a clergy that is “in touch” with what is happening in the world with regards to the progression of pornography. I was an addict for over 30 years and have been recovery for over 10. God has put it on my heart to talk to others in such a huge way that I founded an organization called Road to Purity where our mission is education, awareness and healing of sex addiction. I am also now a certified addiction counselor in effort to strengthen my mission.

  3. […] Artículo original en inglés: https://www.hli.org/2020/05/big-porn-exploiting-coronavirus-loneliness-to-peddle-poison/ […]

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