Dworkin V Mackinnon

Topics: Freedom of speech, Censorship, First Amendment to the United States Constitution Pages: 9 (3454 words) Published: February 27, 2006
Living in a first-world country, our freedoms and rights are protected above all else by the law. We are allowed freedom of speech, race, religion, thoughts and ideas, etc. These freedoms allow us to express ourselves to the best of our abilities. Yet some ideas that these freedoms allow us to transmit are censored in order to prevent harm to others; hate speech, propaganda, etc. is frowned upon as it may bring harm to others. The case of pornography in all this and its legal regulation is the belief of Catharine MacKinnon's that it promotes the inequality in the sexes by discriminating women showing them as subordinates of men. MacKinnon wants to see pornography banned in order to help women's position in the social spheres of society. Her opponent is Ronald Dworkin who stands for negative liberty in all its forms, believes that the banning of pornography is not the answer to help women's status. Censorship to him is an infringement on one's freedom and he does not advocate any sort of chains on freedom in anyway. MacKinnon argues that pornography should be banned in order to help women become socially equal to men. Her logic is that since men see the visual subordination of women, in the form of rape, sexual harassment, and abuse, they will go on to commit these acts against women in reality. Abuse against women is common because of the numerous media by which pornography is transmitted. This commonness that pornography is now being attributed to is seen as its destructiveness in that it means that courts no longer have the ability to distinguish artwork and pornography. Not to so say that MacKinnon gives no evidence of its prevalence, she does so in her analogy between adult pornography and child pornography. Child pornography is regulated by law and is banned because it portrays sexual acts with children, which may cause them mental harm, and many of the children in these acts are harassed and abused. MacKinnon says that child pornography is banned because it is not as widespread and shows children in disgusting, inferior, and mentally and socially harmful positions. Therefore it is banned. MacKinnon sarcastically calls the legal censorship of child pornography a "miracle" because by contrast, adult pornography not only shows women in disgusting, inferior, and mentally and socially harmful positions, but also portrays rape, violence, and sexual murder, and yet it is not banned. It is not banned because adult pornography is rampant in society and is therefore is accepted by society. All in all, MacKinnon argues that pornography is the reason that women are abused and subordinated in society. So banning pornography is the answer to women's plight for equality. With this rather simple thought MacKinnon drafts the Indianapolis Ordinance. The Ordinance defines pornography as a medium for discriminating against women. Under the Ordinance, pornography means the sexual, graphic, and explicit subordination of women, via pictures, in words, videos, etc., that shows women presented as "sexual objects" that find pleasure in pain and humiliation, enjoyment in rape and mutilation, in being severely hurt, in being shown as inferior or weak, and being shown as "sexual objects for domination, conquest, violation, exploitation, possession, or use, or through postures or positions of servility or submission or display" (p. 847 "Law and Morality"). Under the Ordinance it is irrelevant whether or not the work has any literary, artistic, political, scientific, or any sort of merit or value that may make it important. "If a woman is subjected, why should it matter that the work has other value" (p. 847 "Law and Morality"), this was a comment from one of the drafters of the Ordinance. Feminist groups have argued that the law will make sure that men drop their views of women as subordinates and adapt to the idea that they are equals. However groups opposing the Ordinance say that as it does not distinguish between art and obscenity many...

References: 1. Dyzenhaus, David, and Arthur Ripstein. Law and Morality. 2nd ed. Toronto:
University of Toronto P, 2003.
2. FindLaw: For Legal Professionals. "U.S. Constitution: First Amendment". (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/)
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