Workplace Porn: The “Virulent Cancer”!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The Washington Times unleashes a 750-word editorial on the scourge of Fleshbot culture.

Pornography is a major workplace problem in contemporary American society – and yet few private employers or government managers are willing to talk about it for fear of seeming prudish, or blindly trusting their employees, or being accused of infringing on individual liberties. With these attitudes, porn-at-work has grown like a virulent cancer, robbing employers of work time and wasted wages, causing litigation, and – most important – truly corrupting the minds of offenders while helping a squalid and perverted industry.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, to his credit, has the courage to tackle the issue of pornography at work head on. His action is an opportunity to begin a national conversation on the widespread social effects of Internet porn at the office. Is this the kind of America we want to live in?

Given that we now have pretty concslusive data that Internet porn actually reduces sex crimes, I’d say yes! The concluding graphs are especially Bork-a-licious:

Some of these employees know full well that they are being monitored – and get an additional thrill for being so brazen and taking such a risk. This bespeaks the magnitude of the porn-at-work phenomenon.

With so many employees now having their own work computers, the workplace has become a center of pornographic voyeurism among some segment of American society. How to respond, beyond more porn-detecting software and greater vigilance, remains to be seen. We claim no answer. But until we discuss the challenges, America will look less and less like a shining “city upon a hill” and more like Sodom and Gomorrah – a land in which workers betray the taxpayers, cheat their employers, embarrass their colleagues, diminish their lovers, and nobody cares.

I find the “additional thrill” line implausible, or at least assumptive of facts not in evidence—unless the editorial writer is testifying.

To be fair, part of the editorial focuses on reports of government workers surfing for porn on the taxpayer dime, which is a legitimate gripe. But then, so is government employees shopping on eBay. And yes, private employers should be able to fire porn addicts without fear of an ADA suit. I’ve read about one highly-publicized such lawsuit, but is this really a widespread problem?

Beyond that, I fail to see the issue, here. There’s plenty of filtering software employers can use to block access to porn if they wish. If an employee’s porn habits are making him unproductive, fire him. I hardly think we need a “national conversation” about Felicity Fey (Did I reveal too much?).

Moreover, other than the assertions of breathless editorial writers, there’s just not much support for the idea that the widespread availability of porn is “corrupting minds” or morally “cancerous.” Just about every social indicator that one might anticipate being affected by the mainstreaming of porn (divorce and abortion rates, sex crimes, sex crimes against children, teen pregnancy, etc.) has for about 15 years generally been moving in a positive direction. That of course would be the very period during which pornography became widely available on the Internet.

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32 Responses to “Workplace Porn: The “Virulent Cancer”!”

  1. #1 |  Jozef | 

    Felicity Fey is still around? I haven’t seen any new pictorials of her for over a year… Uh, I mean, I who’s Felicity Fey?

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    Huh?

    Nost workplaces that have internet access have filters to block it and strong prohibitions against it (due to “discrimination” and “creating a hostile work environment”.)

    The filters where I work are so sensitive that even a wrong word on a web page can bring up the “Red Screen of Death”. (Not the same as the “Blue Screen of Death”.)

  3. #3 |  Mark F. | 

    “To be fair, part of the editorial focuses on reports of government workers surfing for porn on the taxpayer dime, which is a legitimate gripe. ”

    Why? I’m all for government employees watching porn on the job. Beats taxing, regulating and spying on us!

  4. #4 |  Ben | 

    I have but two memes to say about this:

    “Won’t somebody please think of the children”

    and

    “Still no cure for cancer.”

  5. #5 |  thomasblair | 

    a land in which workers betray the taxpayers

    What? The bloviating editorializer thinks these are not the same thing?

  6. #6 |  Josh | 

    How did Senator Grassley find the time to squeeze in Internet porn to his already ambitious “fleece the taxpayers with ethanol” agenda?

  7. #7 |  freedomfan | 

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, to his credit, has the courage to tackle the issue of pornography at work head on.

    Is this a joke? “Courage”? Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break! How is it courageous for a politician to declare that he disapproves of pornography? As though pornography is such a sacred cow that Grassley is really putting himself at risk by taking it on. I know this is The Washington Times, but that sort of naive credulity would be laughable at a high school paper. On a supposedly serious editorial page, it is just pathetic.

    This is like the comments about how “brave” the congressmorons were in passing the debt stimulus package. [sarcasm] Oh, really? When a group of chumps who solve every problem by throwing money at it and absolutely love to spend massive amounts of other people’s money are faced with a serious economic issue, what do they decide to do? Well, surprise, surprise, surprise! They decided that the best approach is to spend monstrous amounts of other people’s money. What an incredible shock! I wonder how they will address health care? Education? Hmmm. There’s no way to guess what they will come up with. [/sarcasm]

  8. #8 |  Marty | 

    this thread is worthless without pictures.

  9. #9 |  Gonzo | 

    What if you work at a porn store?

  10. #10 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Let’s see: My employer (40,000+ people worldwide..oops, now its 35,000+) blocks:
    Adult Content Sites that display full or partial nudity in a sexual context, but not sexual activity; erotica; sexual paraphernalia; sex-oriented businesses as clubs, nightclubs, escort services; and sites supporting online purchase of such goods and services.
    Advertisements Sites that provide advertising graphics or other ad content files.

    Bot Networks Sites that host the command-and-control centers for networks of bots that have been infiltrated into users’ computers. Excludes Web crawlers.

    Company-Blocked Sites deemed by the company to be dangerous, counter-productive, or consuming unnecessary bandwidth.

    Downloading MP3 Files Sites that support downloading of MP3 or other sound files or that serve as directories of such sites.

    Freeware and Software Download Sites whose primary function is to provide freeware and software downloads.

    Gambling Sites that provide information about or promote gambling or support online gambling, involving a risk of losing money.

    Games Sites that provide information about or promote electronic games, video games, computer games, role-playing games, or online games. Includes sweepstakes and giveaways.

    Hacking Sites that provide information about or promote illegal or questionable access to or use of computer or communication equipment, software, or databases.

    Internet Radio and TV Sites whose primary purpose is to provide radio or TV programming on the Internet.

    Internet Telephony Sites that enable users to make telephone calls via the Internet or to obtain information or software for that purpose.

    Keyloggers Sites or pages that download programs that run in the background recording all keystrokes, and which may also send those keystrokes (potentially including passwords or confidential information) to an external party.

    Lingerie and Swim Sites that offer images of models in suggestive but not lewd costume, with semi-nudity permitted. Includes classic ‘cheese-cake,’ calendar, and pinup art and photography. Includes also sites offering lingerie or swimwear for sale.

    Malicious Web Sites Sites that contain code that may intentionally modify end-user systems without their consent and cause harm.
    Military and Extremist Sites that offer information about or promote or are sponsored by groups advocating antigovernment beliefs or action.

    Miscellaneous Network Errors — URLs with hosts that do not resolve to IP addresses.

    Nudity Sites that offer depictions of nude or semi-nude human forms, singly or in groups, not overtly sexual in intent or effect.
    Pay-to-Surf Sites that pay users to view Web sites, advertisements, or email.

    Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Sites that provide client software to enable peer-to-peer file sharing and transfer.

    Personal Network Storage and Backup Sites that store personal files on Internet servers for backup or exchange.

    Personals and Dating Sites that assist users in establishing interpersonal relationships, excluding those intended to arrange for sexual encounters and excluding those of exclusively gay or lesbian or bisexual interest.

    Phishing and Other Frauds Sites that counterfeit legitimate business sites for the purpose of eliciting financial or other private information from users.

    Potentially Unwanted Software Sites that use technologies that alter the operation of the user’s hardware, software, or network in ways that diminish control over the user experience, privacy, or the collection and distribution of personal information.

    Proxy Avoidance Sites that provide information about how to bypass proxy server features or to gain access to URLs in any way that bypasses the proxy server.

    Racism and Hate Sites that promote the identification of racial groups, the denigration or subjection of groups, or the superiority of any group.

    Sex Sites that depict or graphically describe sexual acts or activity, including exhibitionism; also sites offering direct links to such sites.

    Spyware Sites or pages that download software that, without the user’s knowledge, generates HTTP traffic (other than simple user identification and validation).

    Tasteless Sites with content that is gratuitously offensive or shocking, but not violent or frightening. Includes sites devoted in part or whole to scatology and similar topics or to improper language, humor, or behavior.

    URL Translation Sites Sites that offer online translation of URLs. These sites access the URL to be translated in a way that bypasses the proxy server, potentially allowing unauthorized access.

    Violence Sites that feature or promote violence or bodily harm, including self-inflicted harm; or that gratuitously display images of death, gore, or injury; or that feature images or descriptions that are grotesque or frightening and of no redeeming value.

    Weapons Sites that provide information about, promote, or support the sale of weapons and related items.

    Web Chat Sites that host Web chat services or that support or provide information about chat via HTTP or IRC.

    I am sure my company isn’t the only one, so what are these folks talking about? I actually had to Wiki Fleshbot (sad, I know)

  11. #11 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Sorry for the long post Radley

  12. #12 |  av | 

    Wow Mike-

    Your company blocks the whole Internet…

  13. #13 |  Danny | 

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, to his credit, has the courage to tackle the issue of pornography at work head on.

    Snicker.

  14. #14 |  Chris in AL | 

    “That of course would be the very period during which pornography became widely available on the Internet.”

    It is also the same period during which I developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Weird huh?

  15. #15 |  Chance | 

    “To be fair, part of the editorial focuses on reports of government workers surfing for porn on the taxpayer dime, which is a legitimate gripe. But then, so is government employees shopping on eBay.”

    I don’t see how that is possible for most government workers. Most agencies block porn, entertainment, and social networking sites, some more stringently than others. If some sites are unblocked or a person can otherwise get to them, our web surfing is also monitored. I personally know of several government workers having been fired for going to inappropriate websites. One worked right up the hall from me. Even when we aren’t being monitored, I find it hard to believe that the guy next to me in the cube farm is going to just poke around on a porn site and no one reports him.

  16. #16 |  Mattocracy | 

    Is reading Radley’s blog at work as much of a cancer as porn? If so, it’s been eating away at soul for months now.

  17. #17 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Workplace porn? What kind of crock of s**t is that? I have been a manager. And yes, I have found employees using company resources (or stealing them) on the clock. But I never met any manager who would be afraid of being prudish if they found their employee watching porn on company computers on company time. They would evaluate whether to keep the moron or not. After all, if he has time to be nonproductive then his position can’t be all that needed. But of course as government helps managers manage government makes it clear who really runs the company.

  18. #18 |  Salvo | 

    Nonsense. I think what this country needs most is extended discussions of Felicity Fey. Repeatedly. For weeks at a time.

    Whoever she is.

  19. #19 |  Gonzo | 

    Follow up: What if you work for a porn distributor?

    Second Question: Do you think Balko’s site here is going to start getting filtered out? Not only does the word ‘porn’ come up quite a bit, we’ve also got the name of a specific porn star.

    At least, I’m assuming that’s who this Felicity Few is.

    Full Disclosure: I work in academia. When we’re not looking at porn, we’re probably asleep.

  20. #20 |  tim | 

    Pornography is a major workplace problem in contemporary American society – and yet few private employers or government managers are willing to talk about it for fear of seeming prudish, or blindly trusting their employees, or being accused of infringing on individual liberties.

    I am the one who typically gets the “pleasure” of monitoring or implementing monitoring for this type of traffic. And I will say this. No company – not a single one – I have ever encountered would allow someone to cruise porn from a company own asset on a company own network. They are terminated immediately. Just last year we re-enabled the monitoring systems after they were temporarily disabled due to loss of personal for a local company. Three people were walked out the door within 7 days due to repeated viewing of “inappropriate” material.

    I have no idea where the washington times is getting its information.

    (porn is not the usual focus for these systems – its usually for worms, virus’s, data loss prevention, etc – porn is added just because its a ‘sexual harassment’ issue).

  21. #21 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Correlation is not causation.

    There’s no real way to know for sure if the decline in sex crime is caused by the availability of porn.

    That being said, when I googled Felicity Fey, there was definitely some correlation and causation going on.

  22. #22 |  Robert | 

    Unless they block google image search, everything else is pointless. So I’ve heard, anyways.

  23. #23 |  CharlesWT | 

    Porn is so pervasive on the Internet that kids will be beyond bored by bare bodies by the time they are teenagers and the hormones kick in.

  24. #24 |  matt | 

    Ok, last time I booted a work-owned computer (including this laptop I’m on now), it said something about “this belongs to the Company, we reserve the right to know how you use it, etc”. My employment policy states the same. It’s their computer. No matter how prudish I may THINK my company is (and they do block a lot, at least when I’m in the office and accessing outside stuff), it is THEIR computer, thus THEIR rules for it. If I wanted to surf porn, well, I can damn well do it at home and not on their computer. After all, they pay a LOT for these. Is that too much to ask? If it’s a big problem at any company, fire the people abusing it! (preferably only after stating that it’s not ok, but any normal person I think should assume if you wouldn’t want your significant other watching you, maybe it’s not ok in your lifestyle at work)

    Bah.

    Letting gov’mint into it just makes it so that rare (and stupid, unless it’s business related) company that APPROVES of such stuff can even legally allow it. My company does things you’ve all probably used every day. We used to have playboy.com blocked. Now we don’t, because, well, we do business with them.

  25. #25 |  Joe Sims | 

    reminds me of Chris Parnell’s classic short, “Farm Sluts”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na7vqd3DvFg

  26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I too have the courage to tackle porn head-on. And by “tackle” I mean beat my hog like I caught it stealing my car.

    No chance in hell we’re enjoying the access we have today to porn in 10 years.

  27. #27 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Jack Paar: What do you think about pornography?

    Oscar Levant: It helps.

  28. #28 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #22 Robert

    Unless they block google image search, everything else is pointless. So I’ve heard, anyways.

    They do block google image search where I work. I’m surprised they don’t block theagitator.com since they had reasonmag.com blocked for a while.

    They also used to block email messages from outside the company if they had certain dirty words like “breast”. Eventually they learned that some words have meanings that aren’t dirty, so they eventually dropped the screening. Lots of people’s messages weren’t getting through because they were saying, you know, grownup stuff (which frowned upon there).

    I complained about their blocking the image search because I sometimes use it for legitimate engineering reasons, but they told me that it’s company policy to block anything that could lead to offensive images. I told them I was stunned that they didn’t take a website’s worked related utility into account when they blocked it. They never replied.

    Oddly, they don’t block yahoo image search.

    I also asked them to stop blocking my website. They refused. Needless to say, I was crushed, suffering irreversible diminishment of my self esteem. Seems like I should be able to draw disability for that or at least be allowed to park in the handicapped parking spaces.

  29. #29 |  nic | 

    I studied statistics in college and so I’m positive that “pretty conclusive” is not the same thing as “conclusive”. Anyone who has prepared a statistical report, collected data sets and/or done statistical modeling, knows that numbers can be manipulated to “prove” just about anything. I’d be wary of saying anything like “Internet porn actually reduces sex crimes” especially when it’s drawn from something as vague the statement “Increased internet access leads to fewer sex crimes”.

    One thing that should be obvious, in both this statement and the statements made about divorce, sex crimes against children, etc. are the various confounding variables that haven’t been taken into account here. We can’t conclusively say the availability of pornography is the cause of any of these outcomes- especially considering the numerous other variables that could be at play here. For example police departments in big cities will cite their adoption of information management systems such as Compstat for the reduction of violent crimes such as sex crimes since the 80′s…certain politicians might state the relatively good economy during the past couple decades (and the various reasons for the state of the economy too). Anyway, it’s clear that there are going to be many many variables, and your answer is going to depend on who you ask. I’m usually always wary whenever someone makes such absolute statements as “X caused such and such crime to go down”…in almost any case you will find that there are actually Xa-Xz where the X usually stands. You’d have to do a factor analysis to really weed these variables out, and even then there’s room for interpretation.

    Another reason I would be wary of making certain types of conclusions, especially in the case of crime as it relates to pornography is because Internet pornography especially, is a huge multi-billion dollar, international business, there’s a ton of information to factor in. It’s questionable whether or not the specific conclusions in the slate article took the entire nature of the sex industry into account. For example, most of the child sex slaves, and children used in pornography is done in other countries. A vague claim such as “Internet porn reduces sex crimes” means next to nothing for me…but suppose we were to refine that statement a bit into: “Internet child porn reduces child sex crimes”…Now obviously that statement makes little sense, because logically, the more “child porn” that is consumed, the larger the demand for child porn would be…and since generally a crime has to be committed in order to produce the product, we can only assume that the result would be more and more children working in the pornography business as demand rose. UNICEF estimates that roughly one million children are entered into the sex industry each year (worldwide)…with roughly 12 million already living in slavery. And these numbers are growing each year, not shrinking. Much of this is simply supply and demand…however I should just point out that conversely, not all child porn and child sex crimes is the result of American porno watching adults, again there are many many factors at work, not all of them being equal either. Depending on your data and analysis, it can become very problematic to make such an absolute statement as “Internet porn reduces sex crimes/child sex crimes/etc.” and likewise the same would be true with saying “Internet porn causes sex crimes/child sex crimes/etc.

    I’m using the child pornography the most obvious example…however there’s plenty of not so obvious examples that aren’t readily recognizable unless you are familiar with the data and the issue.

    Anyway, regardless of how porn is seen by society, and regardless of the societal effects, actual or perceived…legislating vice/morals is almost always going to be ineffective. That said, it’s certainly well within the rights of an employer to know what his/her employees are doing, and whether or not they are making efficient use of their time…They are, after all, being paid to do a certain job, if an employee is consistently spending long periods of time on the computer engaged in non-work and personal related matters…It would be apparent to most employers that the employee is not doing the job that he/she is being paid to do. Thus It would certainly be within the employers rights to fire the employee. In my mind, the issue of porn in the workplace really has nothing to do with the societal effects of porn. It has everything to do with an employers right to expect that his employees will do the job that they are being paid for.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    It doesn’t matter if porn shaved 20 years off people’s life expectancy and made them ugly and fat and green. When rights are contingent on having no negative effects, then there will be no rights.

    But then, I guess that’s kind of where we’re at, isn’t it. It’s become almost indisputable that rights have become those things the government still allows you to do rather than activities over which they have no jurisdiction.

  31. #31 |  Is Internet Porn Destroying America? : Porn Newz - Adult Industry News, Events & Articles | 

    [...] The Washington Times editorializes about the “virulent cancer” that is destroying our economy. Toxic bank assets? Nope–Internet porn. (HT: The Agitator) [...]

  32. #32 |  Detect Porn at Work | 

    The same problem is present in many businesses. The problem is not just the employees who spend time visiting pages like facebook, twitter, or even pornography instead of working. The problem is that pages with illegal content may also be virus to harm our computers, or even cause us to lose important databases.
    In terms of productive efficiency and safety, this is something that can not be tolerated, and are companies that have to take action.
    So there are programs that prevent access to certain pages and to monitor employees. So in theory (just in theory) the problem is easily solved.

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