Term Paper: Liberty, by John Stuart Mill

Pages: 4 (1472 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] If the images are of minors, they very well could have been taken under coercion, and should not be sold, viewed, or trafficked. This is as much common sense as anything else, and in fact, the creation of these types of photos should be controlled.

Many of Mill's arguments center on freedom of religious thought, which of course should never be controlled. However, they still apply to censorship in any form, and his language grows stronger and more convincing as the essay continues:

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error (On Liberty, Chapter 2, ¶ 1).

Pornography may not be popular, but it exists, and those who view it are expressing their own opinion that it is enjoyable to them. Definition is also an issue to freedom, and definition can create control. What defines Pornography to one person may not define anything close to pornography for another. For example, rap music is pornographic to some listeners. It often condones violence against women, and violence simply for the enjoyment of it. When defining pornography, who decides what is pornographic, what is not, and what is banned and what is not? I personally may not enjoy listening to rap music, or the fact that often it is played so loud I have no choice if I am nearby, but I have the ability to remove myself from the situation. While I do not agree with rap, and wish our society had turned in a different direction, that is not reason to ban it or control it, except when it comes to underage listeners, who might be less objectionable and more impressionable. This is a parental issue however, and even if rap is considered pornography, parents should control what their children listen to, not the state. Mill also believes this, stating virtue is taught, and those who know right from wrong do not need to be controlled by outside forces. "I am the last person to undervalue the self-regarding virtues; they are only second in importance, if even second, to the social. It is equally the business of education to cultivate both" (On Liberty, Chapter 4, ¶ 4).

Mill believes free speech must be limited, so someone does not make a "nuisance" of himself at the expense of another (On Liberty, Chapter 3, ¶ 1), and this is excellent advice. If a man views pornography, and then assaults a woman, he has taken his viewing to another level, and harmed another human being. This is not acceptable, and should not be acceptable. However, if a man views pornography, and harms no one but himself, the message is clear, it is his right. Freedom of expression and opinion is what keeps our country from regressing into a dictatorship, and must be upheld at all costs.

Ultimately, through his essay Mill appears to be a rational and reasonable man, who would not have agreed with pornography, and probably would have agreed that it debases women. He probably would not have viewed such objectionable material. And yet, his discussion seems to reinforce the thought whether he agreed with it or not, he believed those who wanted to had the right to view it, and the following statement backs up that argument. "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme;' not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case" (On Liberty, Chapter 2, ¶ 9). Pornography is indeed an extreme case, but it is still a valid use of free expression. If we do not object to people to worship any way they choose, no matter what, then we cannot object to people who choose to accept things we might not agree with. Validating their freedom does not validate the thing they believe in, it simply assures them the right to believe whatever they choose, as long as it does not endanger… [END OF PREVIEW]

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