Leathersich: Conservative hypocrisy arises in wish to regulate pornography industry

On March 16, former Sen. Rick Santorum said that, if elected, he will “vigorously enforce” the pornography industry in America. I don’t need to go into how detrimental this would be to college males across the nation, for Santorum’s vendetta against pornography is not only misguided but also a contradiction of traditional fiscal conservative values.

Santorum claims that adult films are leading to an increase in crime against women – this is not true at all. Since pornography became readily available on the Internet in the ’90s, reports of rape have fallen by 86 percent. That’s an enormous drop compared to a general decrease in crime of 65 percent.

He then felt it necessary to take jabs at President Barack Obama and the Department of Justice, saying that they seem to “favor pornographers over children and families.” What a sad attempt at gaining approval. He is exploiting the closed-mindedness of many Americans by including the words “family and children,” as if they face a personal risk at the hands of the porn industry.

It’s important to mention that the porn industry is just that – an industry. It is a privately operated business that should be immune to government intervention.

As someone who favors a rather laissez-faire approach to the economy, Santorum’s wish to heavily regulate the porn industry is nothing but hypocrisy. It should also be noted that the porn industry is not a small market, either.

According to Alexa.com, a website that compiles statistics about websites and their usage, four pornographic domains fall within the top 65 most visited websites in the United States. This is comparable to sites such as reddit.com, pandora.com, groupon.com and cnet.com.

Let me throw a few more numbers at you: 12 percent of all websites are pornographic, 40 million Americans regularly visit pornographic sites and 25 percent of all searches online are pornographic – the American adult entertainment industry rakes in a whopping $2.8 billion per year, which is more than half the worldwide total of $4.9 billion.

Given these numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that Santorum’s plans for the porn industry would result in a large number of employees losing their jobs, and while it’s perhaps not the most respectable profession, any job is valuable in today’s economic climate. Not only would it hurt the economy, but also the “crime rate” Santorum is so worried about would skyrocket. High unemployment and a high crime rate often go hand in hand.

Simply put, banning pornography would do much more harm than good. The numbers show that the porn industry is booming in America and Santorum would be doing a disservice by meddling with such a large industry. A president’s job is to look out for the best interest of the nation, and I don’t think cutting out an almost $3 billion per year industry is a good place to start.

This is just another case of social conservatism and fiscal conservatism at odds with each other. While attacking the porn industry may play well with his constituency, Santorum’s claims stray far from the reality of the issue. Santorum should take a page out of the book of his conservative brethren and keep the government’s hand out of pornography.