Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review - Defending Pornography

Nadine Strossen's book, Defending Pornography tackles the highly loaded issue of pornography and its relationship with free speech. She explains in detail why it is crucial that governments not be given the power of censorship, nor the legal powers to determine what is or is not obscene.

As a professor of Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)'s president from 1991 until 2008, Strossen has many examples and case studies of how attempts by governments to censor sexual material not only fail to achieve their stated goal - the decrease of violence and sexist attitudes towards women - but also consistently resulted in censorship of a far wider range of free expression than expected or desired, even by those backing the censorship laws.

This book was another that was lying on my shelf for a long time. Worried that the book might prove to be dry reading (being written by a lawyer), I was in fact surprised at how engrossing I found it to be.

The fact that the Australian Government is attempting to put in place a mandatory internet filter only goes to show that the issue of freedom of speech is as relevant today as it was in 1995 when this book was written and how relevant it is likely to remain in the future.*


* And worth keeping as reference for those times when Conroy shouts "Think about the children!"

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