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Sexual assaults in the military: porn is part of the problem

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June 21, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse) - It is bad enough when high-ranking military officers are arrested for sexual assault, including instructors who have assaulted trainees. It is almost unthinkable that two military members recently arrested happened to be in charge of or were associated with sexual assault prevention programs for their respective services. It is not hyperbole to say that the US military is in a sexual assault crisis not seen since the Navy’s Tailhook scandal.

To extract itself from this sexual assault wash cycle, the Air Force, in which we serve, along with other branches of the military, must take swift action to recognize many of the underlying behaviors that lead to sexual assault and warn its Airmen accordingly. Specifically, it is imperative that the Air Force recognize the direct link between sexual assaults and the elevated amount of pornography consumption in its ranks. Pornography has become the new drug of many Airmen, and the service must help its members deal with this addictive new health hazard.

Members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGs) can help solve this problem and provide insight from their unique perspective on military duty. Military legal offices work closely with the military commanders to help maintain good order and discipline, and as a result, get to see the “ugly side” of the military services. Daily, they conduct investigations of and prosecute crimes committed by military members. JAGs also provide free legal advice to service members on a whole range of issues such as divorce, which offers JAGs another window into the causes of common personal problems. Many JAGs also gain rare insight into the root causes of crimes like sexual assault committed by Airmen.

The military’s sexual assault problem is grim, but unfortunately, the current Air Force sexual assault prevention training, although well-intended, is not cutting the mustard. A brief anecdote might help illuminate the issue.

The thermonuclear missile base, Francis. E. Warren Air Force Base, is located on the windswept grassy plains of eastern Wyoming. A few years back, the base was struck by a rash of child pornography cases among its ranks. Numerous Airmen were prosecuted for possession of child pornography after local authorities discovered that they had downloaded images and videos from file sharing websites. The legal office spent years prosecuting these tragic cases.

To stop the bleeding, JAGs fanned out across the base to warn Airmen about how to avoid child pornography. For the most part, the JAGs simply advised them to  be cautious in which websites they visit.

Tragically, they often failed to advise them to stay away from the highly addictive, legal, adult online pornography, which in nearly every case preceded the descent into the seedy world of child pornography. Unsurprisingly, child pornography crime still occurs at F. E. Warren and many other bases. Regrettably, the Air Force is still not warning its Airmen of the dangers to their lives and careers associated with frequent consumption of legal adult pornography.

Better training is needed now more than ever because the military’s sexual assault problem is grim. According to a recent Department of Defense study, 26,000 military members reported being a victim of some type of sexual assault last year. This number is up from 19,300 reports in 2010. The sexual assault statistics in the Air Force alone are no better. The preliminary figures for 2012 reveal almost 800 reported cases, which is a 30 percent increase. The Pentagon recently admitted that sexual assault within the military is a “persistent problem,” and that the services need to do more to prevent them.

Current sexual assault prevention training can best be described as changing conditions without changing people. This is a recipe for failure. A 2012 Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Direction letter on sexual assault prevention and response confirmed that the current training falls short of being effective and stressed that reducing high-risk behaviors and personal vulnerabilities associated with sexual assault must become part of the training. Current Air Force training does not address these types of behaviors and root causes, such as pornography consumption, that lead to sex crimes.

One out of ten in the general civilian population is addicted to internet pornography. Pornographic consumption and addiction are believed to be much higher in the military, though, because of the largely young male population and frequent deployments.

In fact, in an interview with the Army Times, Navy Lt. Michael Howard, a licensed therapist and military chaplain, believes that at least 20 percent of the military is addicted to online pornography. The common theme among many military chaplains is that addiction to internet pornography is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, personal problem facing our military members today.

It is not uncommon for military members to come home from a deployment addicted to pornography. Military spouses often complain about these devastating addictions post-deployment.

The military’s pornography problem continually grabs news headlines. An Army Colonel stationed at the Army War College in Pennsylvania was recently arrested for possessing more than 10,000 images of suspected child pornography on his personal laptop. In 2006, seven paratroopers from the famed 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were caught appearing on a gay pornographic website.

In August 2012, the chief of the Defense Missile Agency was forced to issue a warning to its employees to stop accessing pornographic images from their government computers and to stop sending pornography through their network e-mails.

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Mark Welsh, recognized this pornography problem and recently ordered all Air Force bases to remove all sexually explicit images from work areas. Countless pornographic images were found and removed. In addition, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, recently ordered a similar inspection to be conducted at all military bases.

Although it is an issue that some still try to debate, mounting research shows that legal adult pornography is dangerous, especially the highly addictive internet pornography available at all times and on nearly every communication device. Research also shows a direct link between pornography consumption and the commission of sex crimes. In fact, in a recent interview, General Welsh alluded to the link between pornographic images adorning walls and a culture of sexual assault.

Like many JAGs, civilian prosecutors have also learned from their cases that pornography consumption can create and feed deviant and dangerous behaviors. The infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, who raped and killed thirty-six to fifty young women and girls, placed much of the blame for his actions on pornography just before he was executed in 1989, saying:

In the beginning, it [pornography] fuels this kind of thought process . . . Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement—until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far, you reach that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading or looking at it.

Another infamous serial killer, Arthur Gary Bishop, who was executed in 1983 for sodomizing and killing five young boys, stated that “pornography was not the only negative influence in my life, but its effect on me was devastating . . . pornography was a determining factor in my downfall.”

Further, many years before the creation of the Internet, J. Edgar Hoover, former director of the FBI, described pornography’s influence on sex crimes: “What we do know is that an overwhelmingly large number of cases of sex crimes is associated with pornography. We know that sex criminals read it and are clearly influenced by it . . . I believe pornography is a major source of sex violence. . . .”

Pornography is effective at shaping both beliefs and behaviors about sex. Pornography poses such a danger not only because it assaults a human being’s emotional psyche, but also because it causes physical addictions similar to hard drugs. Consequently, research shows that most people who commit a sex crime regularly view pornography.

According to Robert Weiss, director of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, “Online porn is to sex addiction what crack cocaine is to drug addiction.” As detailed in the Army Times, a brain scan of a sex addict looks the same as the scan of someone who has just used cocaine. As the brain receives the pornographic images it releases adrenaline into the bloodstream, increasing the heart rate and causing sweaty palms and dilation of the eyes. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus secrete endorphins to produce dopamine, which opens up the pleasure centers of the brain; and too much dopamine is what actually causes the addiction.

Several studies  have shown that all persons, normal and unbalanced, who view pornography develop a craving for more deviant materials. Many persons even begin to employ more violent methods in their sexual relations. As with drug users, those who use pornography seek more and more deviant materials to maintain their previous level of sexual arousal.

In 1988, the FBI reported that 81 percent of violent sexual offenders regularly read or viewed violent pornography.  A twenty-year FBI study indicates that 81 percent of sex murderers name pornography as their most significant sexual interest, and police investigators routinely find porn in the homes of sex-crime suspects.

The research detailed above is just the tip of the iceberg documenting the connection between pornography consumption and sex crimes (websites www.pornharms.com and www.fightthenewdrug.com contain a plethora of additional research). Academic research and the documented evidence of law enforcement officials leave little doubt that pornography consumption is a significant motivator of sex crimes. It only makes sense then, that to reduce sexual assaults, the Air Force must work to limit or prevent the consumption of pornography.

Many may scoff at such an approach. They may believe pornography is victimless and in fact can be healthy for their sex lives, or even serve as a cure for loneliness while being away from one’s family. Others may not be convinced of the connection between pornography and deviant behavior because they themselves consume pornography and have no desire to commit a sex crime.

But it would be foolish to ignore the well-documented risks associated with pornography consumption. As with any other highly addictive substance, the prudent course would be to warn our military members about these risks. The military, serving the paternal role it does, already deals with alcohol and narcotic consumption in similar and ordered fashion. Leadership should also take action to help those already addicted to pornography before their lives or careers (or the lives of others) are ruined by this addiction. The Air Force specifically already has many resources in place at the base clinic, base chaplaincy, and base legal offices, among other places, to help Airmen escape pornography addiction. Additional training for commanders would be in order to educate them on this problem so they can engage with their units.

The time is now to begin this anti-pornography training campaign before more of our heroes are lost to this dangerous drug.

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Ken Artz is an active duty Major in the United States Air Force and member of the United States Air Force JAG Corps, and is currently serving as a 2012-2013 Air Force Strategic Policy Fellow in Washington, DC. Peter J. Smyczek is a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserves and is attached as an IMA to the 42nd ABW Legal Office, Maxwell AFB, AL. As a civilian, he serves as a Prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Alabama.

Disclaimer: The Authors have no intention of promulgating Department of Defense or Department of the Air Force policy. The opinions and conclusions expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Judge Advocate General, The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, the State of Alabama, or any other department or agency of the U.S. Government.

Reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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