I know this will sound to some younger readers as if I lived in an era when everyone still had to kill their own food in hand-to-hand combat with wild animals, but there was a time when, if you wanted to look at porn, you had to get into your car, drive to a seedy out-of-the-way strip mall, slink your way from car to store, rummage through harshly lit racks of items you weren’t looking for until nobody was looking in the vicinity of the more outré stuff you did actually want, and then pay obscene amounts for your obscenity and skulk home.
(Not that I know first hand, mind you. I’ve heard stories.)
Thus in the Porn Dark Ages when porn was much more mysterious than it is now to, say, your average eighth grader, I could understand why we all might buy into the then-agreed upon societal fantasy that watching two (or more) people who were not married actually enjoying sex would damage one’s psyche and morals beyond repair.
Never mind that most little boys growing up at the time knew exactly where a father, older brother or uncle kept a secret porn stash he hid from his wife, girlfriend or mother, and we all managed to look at those very magazines with our friends while still maturing into non-molesting adults who still manage to end up never having sex with our spouses.
Countless numbers of us grew up on farms on which farm animals of all types were constantly having carnal knowledge of one another -- we encouraged it, in fact -- and I remember thinking how odd it was that mammals of all sorts can be taking advantage of one another’s orifices sexually on a farm and nobody went into histrionics over it. Yet two humans do it on-camera, and you’d think someone was distributing snuff porn.
I decided that the only real difference I could ascertain was that human beings communicated with words while they had sex, and this must surely be what made seeing human sex so irredeemably evil. (For the longest time I thought I was on moral high ground if I stuck with still pictures and any film with the sound turned down.)
Fast forward now to the present, and the Porn Dark Ages are long gone in our online era where porn is ubiquitous and even your web surfing grandmother may know that a rusty trombone is not just something you might have found stashed in Benny Goodman’s damp basement.
And that is as it should be since there is scant evidence, if any, that exposure to porn causes otherwise emotionally stable, mentally healthy people to become any more likely to commit sex crimes, or devalue sex with only one person more quickly than does the average married person, gay or straight.
Thanks to the ease with which anyone can now gain access to porn we are, in a sense, in the midst of a grand porn experiment that may help answer finally whether pornography is, for most people, primarily a way to kill four or five minutes out of any given day, or the road down which perversion and sexual gluttony laugh and dance as they ensnare our young people into lives of sexual addiction. All indications are it will be the former and not the latter.
If the reaction of some local young people to a recent Fox News-inspired sex panic in suburban Boston is any indication, kids might already be more advanced intellectually on the subject than their parents and teachers.
On Dec. 1, WFTX-Channel 25 oily investigative reporter Mike Beaudet ran an exposé on Kevin Hogan, the recently hired head of the English department (and crew coach) at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden. Hogan did some second-tier gay skank porn in 2010, prior to beginning his teaching career anywhere, much less at Mystic Valley. Nonetheless, an anonymous tipster fed Channel 25 the story and they ran with it for a story so over-the-top stupid I was half expecting Hogan to sprout horns and breath fire.
By all accounts Hogan has been an excellent teacher and coach, but that did not stop some parents and school administrators from overreacting and placing him on paid leave while the school "investigates." (I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the meeting where they watch his films.)
My first thought is that Hogan should have known better. But the more I though about it, the more I realized that none of this matters. What matters is whether he is a good teacher, a good coach, and a good person -- qualities one cannot possibly ascertain based on whether he was in a porn film. If we are going to start ferreting out relevant examples of whether teachers exhibit bad judgment in their personal lives, I’d rather know whether they hunt small animals, abuse their wives or children, or think Rush Limbaugh makes sense.
It is a good sign then that the students at his school are rallying overwhelmingly behind Hogan, proving once again that sometimes the children really do lead adults who cannot seem to unlearn the untruths instilled in their heads about sex.
Jeff Epperly is the former editor of Bay Windows. He can be reached at email@example.com.