Porn Generation by Ben Shapiro

BY ELLIOTT DAVIS

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Review by Elliott Marc Davis(Elliott is a 2L. If he is slouching towards Gomorrah, it’s only because the chairs in Gropius suck.)

It’s not every day that your classmate embarks on a quest to explore one of society’s most controversial issues, treats the matter in an even-handed, reasonable fashion, and concludes with a logical, practicable solution.

Maybe it’ll happen next week. Instead, Ben Shapiro (’07) has killed many trees for his book, Porn Generation, in order to relate to us what everyone already knows (there is a lot of sex in our culture; sex sells) and offer solutions that range from the blatantly obvious (e.g., parents should try parenting) to the Orwellian (e.g., that the government should invoke the force of law against the vaguely-defined “obscenity” and “indecency.”) As is the case with other writers of his ilk, it is unclear to whom Ben is preaching. Anyone who actually buys the book of his own volition (I got my reviewer’s copy for free — thank you Regnery Publishing!) will likely already agree with the premises and conclusions. For most everyone else, Porn Generation is simply a rehash of the arguments of the most extreme social conservatives and, as such, will rightly be ignored.

In typical navel-gazing fashion, the book begins: “I am a member of a lost generation. We have lost our values. We have lost our faith. And we have lost ourselves.” But fear not! Ben Shapiro, at the wise old age of 21 and having spent an entire academic year in a co-ed dormitory (he lived at home while attending UCLA), spends upwards of one hundred pages explaining that sex is everywhere and that this is leading to the decay of civilization as we know it.

Ben never defines what morality is, although he certainly spends much time providing examples of what it is not. In a particularly bizarre passage, Ben explains that oral sex among unmarried youngsters is really sex and continues to note that “[o]ral sex outside of marriage is still extramarital [sic; premarital] sex …. When [people who have had oral sex] get married as ‘virgins,’ they breach a sacred trust between husband and wife.” This passage exemplifies Ben’s na*vetŽ on two different levels. First, he assumes that the prospective bride and groom have never discussed their past sexual histories. Then, the still-unmarried Ben passes judgment on this completely hypothetical marriage as if he were in any way qualified to determine what constitute the responsibilities between husband and wife. If you’ve had “promiscuous [oral] extramarital [sic] sex,” don’t bother asking Ben to officiate at your wedding. You’re beyond hope. Sorry.

An admirer of Ronald Reagan, Ben agrees with Hillary Clinton’s premise that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Except in Ben’s case, the saying should more properly read, “it takes every single citizen and massive government regulation to ensure that Ben Shapiro’s yet-to-be-conceived child will not inevitably turn into a nymphomaniacal, bisexual whore.” Obscenity in the public sector — apparently unlike many other social issues, such as poverty or gender inequality — is deserving of governmental intervention because “[it] has ramifications for society … and societal approval of immoral personal behavior has vast externalities.” Of course, Mr. Shapiro could move to Salt Lake City or Singapore instead of studying law in decadent Cambridge. He could throw out his television and be a good parent if and when he actually breeds. But hey, it’s easier to make the rest of the world conform to your narrow, parochial worldview, where women shouldn’t wear revealing clothing, popular music should be censored by the government, and pornography should be banned as a matter of course. Pornography is particularly bad, by the way — it turned Ted Bundy into a serial killer and rapist. I’m not kidding you. It’s in there.

Shapiro admits that children who take abstinence pledges usually end up breaking them. Still, he rails against sex education because society doesn’t teach kids about cigarette use by instructing them to use filters should they decide to smoke. Society doesn’t teach them gun control because “kids won’t use guns ‘sooner or later’ if we tell them no.” These silly comparisons fail for the simple reason that there is no biological drive to smoke or shoot guns. Apparently, STD outbreaks are preferable to effective sexual education. This outcome is not even addressed by the author. I suppose such “externalities” aren’t “vast” enough to concern him.

On the whole, Porn Generation is pretty banal. Sex is pervasive in our society. And while I am impressed with Ben’s ability to cut articles out of newspapers, none of the facts presented should be particularly surprising to anyone who reads the paper on a semi-regular basis. I realize that it’s easier to collect facts and follow up with short, conclusory statements than to construct and support an actual, substantive thesis. I went to college too (then again, I never tried to publish any of my college essays). However, if you were going to stump for governmental censorship, I would hope that — especially as a law student — you’d back up your assertion with more authority than a single sentence from Robert Bork.

Porn Generation is the work of an inexperienced and naive author who believes that he has determined how to solve all of society’s ills after performing a few Nexis searches and consulting the Bible. On a recent radio program, Ben introduced himself as being “a conservative army of one.” His book serves as a reminder as to why few others will band with him.

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