Help Me Debate Porn at Cambridge


The Cambridge Union Society in the UK has invited me to participate in a debate on pornography on February 17th. This is a huge deal for me and my biggest wish for the holidays is to raise enough funds to buy a plane ticket. (The Society is non-profit and run by students, they don’t have access to the vast coffers of their University so they can’t purchase transatlantic flights.) They will provide me with two nights lodging and train fare to and from London as well as dinner and drinks at the society for myself and a guest.

Plane tickets RT are about $700-$800 from SFO to London. I have a little money I can put towards it but not nearly enough. Can you donate to my cause? Even a little bit helps.

GOAL REACHED. THANK YOU!

I have ONE WEEK to get the money together so I can give them a firm answer. Please forward this on to anyone you think would support this.

Yes, I am serious. I will be debating anti-porn crusaders on the merits of pornography at the illustrious Cambridge Union Society’s Debate Chamber.

Here is the Cambridge Union Society’s website: http://www.cus.org/

Let’s make this a reality! (If I can’t get enough funds together, your donation will be promptly returned.)

UPDATE (2:30pm): Halfway to buying a ticket to London in only a couple of hours! Thanks so much to those who have donated so far! I still have a week to do this, so please forward on to your friends. Thank you!

UPDATE (3:30pm): 3/4ths of the funds have been raised so far! So close!

UPDATE (5:22pm): Thank you to everyone for your donations! I’m booking my ticket for the trip and will be debating at Cambridge on Feb. 17th!

7 thoughts on “Help Me Debate Porn at Cambridge”

  1. I studied at (and graduated from) Cambridge University, back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s.

    Best of luck, go kick some anti-porn ass!

    Enjoy the town too — contact me offline if you’d like some recommendations of places to see/stuff to do.

    Happy holidays!

  2. I have come to realise that debating pornography like some other issues, abortion for instance, may be a questionable if not unproductive activity. Some people think abortion is murder; others don’t. Some people think the world was created 6,000 years ago; others don’t. Some people believe in God; some don’t. We debate but do we listen? Can you arrive at a conclusion, can you “change your mind” if your core beliefs, your faith is based on something which may be unprovable? It is “a priori”.

    In the past 6 months, I have heard some statements about pornography that struck me as not factual. I decided to do a personal investigation into the “truth” about pornography and what I basically found is a near hysteria which seems to come from the ring wing religious fundamentalist conservatives about anything relating to sex. Period.

    Porn causes evil? Legitimate studies have found that as the availability of porn in society goes up, the rate of sex related crimes comes down.

    Who buys the most porn? Conservatives.

    People tell personal stories “I know a guy…”, “I heard of a family…” and pass it off as scientific evidence. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    What’s the real problem? We are all so hung up about sex, we can’t talk about it. Because we can’t talk about, we don’t deal with it and hide it. A sad state of affairs. The real problem isn’t pornography, it is our own sexuality.

    I wrote everything down but not as “my opinion”; after all, who the heck am I and what credible credentials do I bring to the table to back up anything I say? I endeavoured to quote from experts. I ran across the name Gail Dines and like anyone who has a “belief” (pro creationism, anti-abortion), she espouses her mantra with a singular unwavering resolution. I quote from Wikipedia:
    ——————-
    Dines’ recent work, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality has met with mixed reviews, with many critics citing the use of inflammatory language in the place of genuine academic research. Publishers Weekly writes

    * Dines’s argument rests on a compelling, close reading of the imagery and narrative content of magazines, videos, and marketing materials; what is missing, however, is a similarly compelling body of research on how these images are used by viewers, aside from Dines’s own anecdotal evidence.

    * The author’s appropriation of addiction terminology — viewers are called users, habitual viewing is an addiction, and pornography featuring teenagers is called Pseudo-Child Pornography or PCP — is distracting and suggests that rhetorical tricks are needed because solid argumentation is lacking.

    * Likewise, Dines’s opponents are unlikely to be swayed by her speculation tying porn viewing to rape and child molestation, nor by the selective sources she draws on to support her point (convicted sex offenders).
    —————-
    If any of my research could be of any value to you, please feel free to partake. If I can offer you any support including financial, I would be glad to do so.

    http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/11/pornography-investigation.html

    William Belle

    1. Thanks so much for that link, I have it in my research queue. What I’ve found so far agrees with much of the information contained in your comment (though pornography availability as a determining causal factor in sexual crime reduction is debatable; I think what is more accurate is saying pornography absolutely does *not* encourage sexual crimes among the general population) although I want to challenge you on one point you made:

      “[D]ebating pornography like some other issues, abortion for instance, may be a questionable if not unproductive activity.”

      The benefit I see in debating is a) exposing an audience to differing viewpoints and b) testing the validity of your own conclusions by exposing them to opposing arguments. I have no illusions thinking I will change Dines’ mind on this issue but I may be able to show others why her reading of the research is misleading and her conclusions flimsy.

      Thanks so much for the offer of financial support, but I’ve got my plane ticket squared away. Reading through your take will totally be of help though!

      1. You are absolutely right. The point of this debate will not be to change Gail Dines’ mind but to change the minds of others. I guess I was thinking more of those one on one conversations. If someone offered me the opportunity to speak with Ms. Dines, I’d probably refuse the same way I walk away from the water cooler at work if somebody starts telling me the Earth is only 6,000 years old. I’m merely showing my fatigue at debating with people whose basis of belief seems to be more faith than fact. It’s pretty hard to shake faith.

        I wish you all the best. I will look forward to hearing about your adventures.

        wb🙂

  3. Re: “testing the validity of your own conclusions by exposing them to opposing arguments.” Given this explanation, have you considered the possibility that rather than you changing Dines’ mind – she just may change yours (even if just a tad)?

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