During Mitt Romney's campaign for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, he made an interesting comment about pornography. The comment came in Ottumwa, Iowa at the Hotel Ottumwa, where Romney said "I want to make sure every new computer sold in this country after I'm President has installed on it a filter to block all pornography." This comment is fascinating for a number of reasons, and requires a multi-level analysis to really explore its full absurdity.
First and foremost, Mitt's comment confirms he really doesn't know much about computers, but doesn't let that get in the way of making comments that -- at least at that exact moment -- seemed politically advantageous. Internet browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer, as well as internet portals like America Online, have had so called porn filters, also known as parental controls, for years, easily predating 2008. Fundamentally, Mitt had no idea what he was talking about"if he did, he'd know his incredible idea for an invention to save the fabric of this country by controlling nude images was already standard on most computers sold at the time.
Layer two of the analysis brings us back to so-called fiscal conservatism and pro-business politics. Mitt Romney has long touted his business experience as an important reason why he'd make a good President. Of course, it's not true, and unfortunately there's no examples of successful American Presidents whose background was "good business guys," but lack of evidence aside, let's assume it was true. Mitt Romney, along with much of the modern Republican Party, has made opposing government regulation of private industry a top concern. Republicans try to contrast this with Democratic politicians, who would allegedly put so many restrictions and regulations on businesses that they would singlehandedly destroy their profits.
Of course, what Romney is suggesting is that government should mandate private companies who manufacture computers to develop (remember, Mitt didn't know it already existed) and install an additional piece of software in order to meet so-called family values instituted by the Republican Party. Did Mitt just not realize this is one of those regulations of how private business should be run that he and his party claim to oppose, or does he think the porn filter is a worthy exception. After all, millions of children's' lives were ruined when Janet Jackson's breast -- minus the covered nipple -- was exposed during the 2005 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
This brings us to layer three of our analysis of Mitt's brilliant idea. Many self-described conservatives are displeased that President Obama has not focused more on indecency and swearing on television and in the media, and FCC regulation. This is, of course, predicated on the idea that nudity and foul language is bad for not only children who might overhear or see something, but for society as a whole. Broadcast indecency policy around the world confirms that there should be no such concern, and no such real risk exists, so I'm thrilled President Obama is more or less ignoring the issue of which words are okay to say on television, and instead working on everything from healthcare reform to capturing Osama Bin Laden and starting to create actual jobs -- even jobs outside of the "porn filter" industry, believe it or not!
In the end, Mitt's porn filter idea tells us quite a bit about Republican priorities and double standards. These double standards should disgust you:
- Forcing private oil drilling companies to install the valve that would have prevented the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, another oil spill before it, and potentially many others, was too much government intervention and regulation into private business, but forcing computer companies to create and package a porn filter with the computers they sell is a perfectly appropriate example of government intrusion into business and people's lives.
- Children's lives will be ruined if they see Janet Jackson's breast (not even the nipple, remember), people having sex, or hear a dirty word, but growing up in a time when war is a constant for which we always have more money and corporations can and do use toxic chemicals in everything from children's food to their toys won't have any long term effect on their lives -- that, Republicans are okay with.
You also might be interested to know that, while the majority of anti-porn, anti-swearing, anti-gay, and other so-called "family values" initiatives stem from Republicans, the interest in much of the material resides in predominantly Republican states. A Men's Health piece revealed that the top states for "gay sex" internet searches are Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Nevada, Texas, and Florida, all heavily conservative states. Even more interestingly, according to an onlinemba.com study a couple of years ago, Utah has the highest online porn subscription rate per thousand broadband users at 5.47.
Certainly it must be only the liberals in those red states who are doing the searches"
David Pakman, host of the internationally syndicated political talk radio and television program, "The David Pakman Show," writes a monthly column. He can be reached at http://www.davidpakman.com.