Society

SEC Porn Issue a Small Part of America's Huge Porn Problem

| by Baptist Press

By Kelly Boggs

ALEXANDRIA, LA --"A Mission Statement," observed Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry, "is a dense slab of words that a large organization produces when it needs to establish that its workers are not just sitting around downloading Internet porn."

Given that insight, perhaps the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission needs to reacquaint its employees with its mission statement. It was recently revealed, according to a variety of reports, that 28 employees of the federal agency and five contractors have in the past few years been downloading or viewing pornography during work hours.

The names of the porno peepers have not been disclosed, though reports indicate their salaries range between $90,000 and $222,000 a year -- paid for with taxpayer money. At least one employee admitted to spending eight hours a day viewing pornography.

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The SEC was established as an independent agency after the Great Depression. The purpose of the agency is to protect investors from dangerous or illegal financial practices or fraud, by requiring full and accurate financial disclosure by companies offering stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities to the public.

If the pornography angle of this story were not bad enough, it is compounded by the fact that while the financial watchdogs were viewing porn, the greatest financial crisis in decades was unfolding.

Did pornography keep SEC watchdogs from catching the financial shenanigans of Bernie Madoff and other scam artists that resulted in billions of losses for investors? Did computers cluttered with sleaze blind the agency to the coming collapse of Lehman Brothers? We may never know, but it is certain that the presence of pornography did not enhance the efficiency of the agency.

Adding fuel to the pornography fire at the SEC is the fact that none of the porn peepers has been fired, according to The Washington Post. "Eight resigned and six were suspended for periods lasting one to 14 days.... Five were issued formal reprimands, six were issued informal counseling or warning letters, and three are facing disciplinary action," The Post reported.

Some believe that addiction to pornography is very real and should be treated like any other. These will argue that firing someone because they are addicted does not really help the individual. Instead, the addict needs to be helped through counseling.

While I will agree that porn addicts need help, reports do not indicate that formal counseling or therapy were the course of action taken by the SEC in reference to the porn peepers. Sometimes an addict must hit rock bottom before he or she will begin to seek help. Being fired from a job could be just the wake-up call an addict needs.

Forget the pornography for just a moment. If a person spent hours, even days, doing anything other than their job on company time, they deserve to be fired. Instead of viewing porn, let's say the SEC employees were sneaking off to play golf. They would have still been doing something other than the job they were hired to do. They should be fired.

The porno scandal at the SEC also indicates a serious lack of accountability at the government agency. A person's job performance is going to suffer, and noticeably so, if he or she is accessing pornography for hours a day. Someone should have noticed there was a problem. Where were the supervisors of the porn peepers while the pornography parade was passing by?

The action, or lack thereof, taken by the SEC toward the porn peepers is indicative of the way many in society view pornography. American culture now tolerates most forms of porn as a harmless past time. As a result, it is pervasive and all too easy to access.

Pornography has but one purpose and that is to cause sexual excitement. "The only thing a pornography movie leaves to the imagination," someone has said, "is the plot."

The insidious byproduct of all forms of pornography is that it reduces women to the sum of their body parts. They are objects rather than persons. It also creates an imaginary standard in the male mind that no female can match.

The only relationship that occurs in a porn flick is physical. Men and women are depicted as lust crazed animals. In pornography a relationship, if there is one, is evaluated based on performance rather than on commitment and intimacy.

The sordid reality is that pornography mocks, demeans and cheapens God's gift of sex intended to be enjoyed by a couple committed to one another in the monogamous relationship of marriage.

"A widespread taste for pornography," wrote controversial English novelist J.G. Ballard, "means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction." The porn scandal at the SEC should wake up America to the sobering reality that we have a real and pervasive problem when it comes to pornography. And it is anything but harmless.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. In early April Baptist Press posted a four-part series of stories about Internet porn addiction. To read the stories, visit www.bpnews.net and search for "Internet porn addiction" (with the phrase in quotes).