Don't minimize harm of pornography

November 18, 2009

In Monday's editorial "Smoke Free U" (Nov. 16), The Sun tries to make a distinction between its support of a smoking ban at Towson University and its opposition to regulating the screening of pornographic obscenity on University of Maryland campuses by claiming that "smoking is different" for two reasons. You go on to state smoking is different because smoking is addictive and because others suffer the consequences of second-hand smoke - clearly implying that both are not true with pornography.

Nothing could be further from the objective truth. First, many therapists who treat patients suffering from compulsive behavior with pornography feel that it can be just as addictive as any chemical or drug addiction. Second, there is ample evidence that pornography affects many others besides the viewer. For instance, there is an increasing association between the use of online pornography and divorce. There is also a known relationship between pornography and violent behavior, including sexual crimes, with the best-known example being Ted Bundy's admissions regarding pornography and the role it played in his murder of up to 50 women and girls. Finally, there is ample evidence that pornography alters the perception of women by many of its male viewers - in an unhealthy way.

While I agree that "there's good reason for schools to take strong measures to discourage smoking," schools should be sending the same message about the dangers of pornography. The medical consequences of pornogaphy should never be taken as lightly as the editorial page did Monday.Dr. Andy Harris, Cockeysville

The writer, a Republican, is a state senator representing Baltimore County.

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