Lecturer discusses benefits of filtering pornography on Wi-Fi
Aaron Park | Thursday, October 10, 2019
Donna Rice Hughes, founder of non-profit organization Enough is Enough, identified pornography as a public health crisis during a lecture to members of the Notre Dame community Wednesday night as part of White Ribbon Against Pornography Week. Hughes’ presentation, hosted by Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), also covered child pornography and her organization’s efforts to convince Starbucks and McDonald’s to implement pornography filters on company Wi-Fi networks.
Hughes focused on both the individual and societal implications of porn use. She said, individually, porn is an addictive product that could create symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and an unhealthy perception of sex. Societally, Hughes said pornography promoted violence toward and the objectification of women. She also said an increase in demand for fetish pornography was driving an increase in human trafficking to meet that demand.
Part of the presentation included a video depicting testimonials from teens negatively affected by porn.
Hughes described how Enough is Enough worked both publicly and behind-the-scenes with McDonald’s and Starbucks to help the companies implement filters against pornography on franchise Wi-Fi networks. She also said installing these filters helped the companies to filter out other kinds of web traffic such as hate speech and terrorism.
SCOP co-president, junior Ellie Gardey said filtering pornography makes sense for businesses.
“‘The Business Case for Filtering Pornography’ highlights the broad coalition of business and social institutions mobilizing to address the harms of pornography,” Gardey said in an email. “Filtering pornography is not only an ethical move, it is a smart move for major organizations. We, as the future leaders of businesses and organizations, should be dialed into these developments.”
Hughes also said the proliferation of child pornography was a pandemic, referencing statistics that indicated law enforcement was overwhelmed with the volume of child pornography on the internet. She outlined a plan for businesses to participate in addressing the crisis by eliminating sites where predators could access the internet and view or distribute child pornography.
Hughes also emphasized the importance of working with business leaders to affect these policies. She characterized the problem as a matter of aligning businesses’ policies and practices with pre-existing business ethos.
Before her involvement with Enough is Enough, Hughes was known for her involvement in presidential candidate Senator Gary Hart’s (D-CO) “Monkey Business” scandal in which the senator and then-presidential candidate was caught in an alleged extramarital affair. She said that experience, as well as her sexual assault as a young woman, had shaped her advocacy and she felt the issue was personal to her.
“I know what it’s like to be sexually exploited,” Hughes said. “I know what it’s like to be sold down the river. A lot of the things we’re dealing with, I know firsthand what it’s like.”
Hughes expressed support for Notre Dame students who are pushing for Notre Dame to install a pornography filter on school Wi-Fi.
“Young people are struggling, even young people whose faith is important to them,” Hughes said. “Why make it harder for them to live out their beliefs and maintain sexual integrity? Why not do what you can to help them and not allow stuff that you know is going to put them at potential risk.”