Neurobiology and Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association: Shades of Grey in the Restriction of Children’s Access to Internet Pornography
March 26, 2011
An increase in the occurrence of juveniles, participating in and recording violent gang rapes has been documented not only in the United States, but in at least eight other developed nations. At the same time, a large proportion of youths “sexting” risk their social reputation and in the most unfortunate cases, liberty. This article offers an alternative to the “few bad apples” interpretation and recasts the problem as one of society shifting externalities of highly-accessible internet pornography onto children. It should be no surprise that young people comprise the largest group of internet pornography consumers: aside from Congress’ failed attempts to protect children online and the toothless disclaimers that stand between adolescence and the visual world of internet pornography, the United States has been remarkably passive in its treatment of online pornography.
In the past, laws regulating pornography have primarily addressed the impact, on adults, of pornographic portrayals of children. How pornographic portrayals of adults affect children has been largely overlooked. Recent findings in neurobiology support the claim that young people imitate and re-enact pornography. None of these findings alone provide a justification for regulating children’s access to pornography; rather, they supplant the state interests that already existed. Last term, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, reasserting certain First Amendment rights of children, but also reaffirming the regulability of pornographic speech. If the externalities of a pervasive and well-funded pornography industry are to be redirected onto the producer, a sensible regulatory framework is needed that understands exactly how pornography operates on its consumers, including children. This article argues for the necessity, and plausibility, of internet pornography regulation mindful of modern technology and an evolving understanding of how children learn from and interact with visual media.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43working papers series
Date posted: April 18, 2011 ; Last revised: August 2, 2012
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