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What’s On Your Mind: Pornography Aboard an Airplane

“Do you consider porn to be the same as entertainment containing sex? I’m fine with just about anything except porn on a flight.”

A clarification was requested of me from Graydon, who is a reader of The Gate; and I thought I would answer here rather than in the Comments section of this article I wrote pertaining to whether or not children should be protected from sex, violence, alcohol and profanity while traveling.

What’s On Your Mind: Pornography Aboard an Airplane

The paragraph I wrote which prompted the clarification is as follows:

“…if an adult wants to watch entertainment containing sex, violence or profanity — or imbibe in an alcoholic beverage — while in a hotel room or seated as a passenger aboard an airplane during a flight, that should be the choice of that person.”

For the record, I do not consider pornography to be the same as entertainment containing sex. Although I cannot think of a good specific example at the moment, entertainment containing sex can actually be tasteful and integral to a storyline in a movie, a photograph in an article, or the lyrics of a song — especially when the human body is portrayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner as artistic and beautiful — and can stimulate emotions and romanticism; whereas the purposely intentional focus of pornography is the arousal of hormones and sexual organs by presenting or describing explicit sexual activity in a blunt and unapologetically tasteless manner of eroticism.

My “Experience”

Years ago in Southern California, I visited a client which was a company that created and designed artwork for boxes used for packaging pornographic videos. The staff of this company was primarily male; and on each of their computer monitors was at least one woman in a blatantly provocative pose — often with no clothing on with the exception of high-heeled shoes. Photographs of naked women were everywhere. Those images had no effect on me, as I personally can do without pornography; but I also noticed that it had no effect of stimulation or arousal on any of the guys who worked there either. They were just going about their business — more obsessed with doing their jobs professionally rather than the explicit material with which they had to work — as they were jaded with regard to pornographic content. It was simply just a job to them for which they were paid in what was otherwise a typical office environment.

“…so what do you sneak in onto your computers to hide from your bosses during work hours — historic or classical content from the library; G-rated material; or definitions from a dictionary?” I asked them. They laughed at the sheer irony of my rhetorical question. It was a welcome break from the constant barrage of pornography with which they worked for at least eight hours per day — every day.

I spent two days at this site; and with every hour that passed, the photographs seemed to get increasingly explicit — too much so to describe here. I do not consider myself a prude in any way, shape or form; but I guess I just do not get pornography. Sometimes the most intense sexual excitement comes from what is not seen, in my opinion; what is left to the imagination as interpreted by each individual person, in other words…

…so if pornography is meant solely to arouse hormones and sexual organs, I am not sure I comprehend why anyone would want to view it while as a passenger aboard an airplane — unless that person happens to be addicted to it, which I understand can actually be a problem which can potentially cause dire consequences in the personal life of the addict…

…but who am I to judge?

That is why I say that if a person wants to watch pornography on an airplane, that should be his or her choice to do so — as much as I disagree with it — unless other passengers can involuntarily see and hear it as well; and that especially includes children. For example, a girl nine years of age should not even be able to accidentally view pornography — not even for two seconds, as reportedly happened greater than six years ago. At that point, pornography is similar to cigarette smoke where it adversely affects other people. If someone wants to smoke a cigarette, fine — that is the choice of that person; but only if it does not cause people nearby to suffer from the effects of invasive second-hand smoke, in my opinion.

In fact, I believe that a person should be permitted to engage in virtually any activity he or she wants — I personally believe in freedom of choice — as long as it is not a crime to do so; and as long as it does not directly or indirectly adversely affect other people. If someone wants to watch pornography aboard an airplane where no one else knows that he or she is doing it, I see no big deal — but it is something which I personally would not do myself; nor would I encourage others to do it…

…especially if the person doing it happens to be a pilot in the cockpit of the airplane itself, about which I reported in this article on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

Perhaps the analogy between pornography and smoking aboard an airplane is flawed — if only because smoking is not allowed at all aboard an airplane; while someone could sneak pornographic material and discreetly view it aboard an airplane. One cannot discreetly smoke aboard an airplane, to my knowledge…

…and I am not suggesting that an airline provide pornographic entertainment to its passengers; but if a passenger has smuggled a copy of a pornographic magazine to view during a flight and no one else ever knows about it, is that wrong? Is any harm being done to anyone else as a result?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most enlightened person on this topic; and there is a fine line between freedom of choice and censorship — so I invite you to please join in on the discussion by posting your point of view in the Comments section below…

…and thank you, Graydon, for that thought-provoking question. I hope that I answered it to your satisfaction.

The original image of Penny Flame by Alan of Chicago and uploaded by Sodakan was used under the Creative Commons 3.0 license and is found here. Illustration and alteration of the image is by Brian Cohen.

    1. That is actually a different topic for a different time, Vicente — but it is an excellent point nevertheless.

    1. Thank you for the question, Graydon.

      When I read your question, a lot of thoughts swirled around in my head to the point where a simple response in the Comments section was not enough…

  1. Luckily, porn is easy to classify.

    What of non-porn titles such as Nymphomaniac, Deadgirl, or Blue is the Warmest Color?
    Or what about Saw, Wrong Turn, or Hostel, horror movies and so-called “torture porn?”
    As and adult and a parent, there are many things I enjoy watching that should never be seen by a child.

    Most people have the common decency to keep their vernacular in check in public. I would expect that most of them would exhibit the same restraint with respect to their viewing material. Unfortunately, some do not.

    Which is where I disagree with your basic premise. A hotel room is a private area. A plane, unless you have a separate suite, is not. Proper decorum dictates that what should be acceptable in each will differ accordingly.

    As in the smoking analogy, while the viewer may have personal liberties to watch the material one chooses, fellow individuals should have the personal liberties to not be subjected to it. It’s why we have public decency laws. “Don’t look” doesn’t apply to a child.

    1. Those are good points, Marvin; and I appreciate you sharing them.

      As I said, I do not believe that pornography belongs anywhere on an airplane in the first place for the reasons you cite — but that is only my own personal belief; so I attempted to discuss this from a different point of view as well.

  2. Don’t do anything that may be or become offensive. If privacy can’t be assured don’t do it.

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