Porn and the NFL: In Search of A Biased Referee

With condoms, what, 2.5 X’s?

55% of California voters decided yesterday to make porn stars wear condoms on the job—good for their health, bad for the health of the state’s booming XXX film industry. It is a reasonable guess that injecting condoms into the proceedings will put California’s porn products at a significant competitive disadvantage, and also a reasonable guess that the voters who enacted the measure couldn’t care less. So legal enterprises may go bust, their employees may lose their careers, and consumers may lose a form of entertainment they crave because of the policy priorities of those who hold all three in low regard, and who are unlikely to apply any kind of balancing standard. It’s safer for all concerned to require condoms, that’s all. Porn companies, porn careers, porn lovers—who cares about what they want?

I hope the NFL is watching this drama, because it may be the next act. As with porn films, the performers in NFL games accept significant risks to their health in order to make the product more entertaining, but it is fast coming to the day when regulators, lawmakers or juries decide that they don’t care whether the players accept the risk of being brain damaged in their forties and dead in the fifties, it is safer to ban the practices that cause concussions on a regular and predictable basis, and so be it. The problem is that what causes those concussions is called “pro football.”

The argument then becomes whether the ethical dilemma should be decided in a closed system. The teams, players, sponsors and fans are willing, for various forms of compensation, to accept the risk and consequence of killing the players, or at least their brains—why should those outside the system, who may not care whether Sunday is spent watching bodies get crunched by 400 pound linemen or antiquing, be able to decide to cripple the sport itself rather than the players? The argument is that in cases like this, eliminating conflicts of interest is unfair and thus unethical. Let those who have an interest in keeping the NFL—and similarly, the porn industry—in its most dangerous and entertaining form be the ones entrusted with deciding the issue.

This raises a troublesome issue for ethicists. We like to insist that the only ethical decision-makers are those who are free of conflicts and biases, but the unbiased observer can be difficult to find, and in some settings may be mythical. Disinterest is itself a bias. In the case of porn films, for example, the performers are already required to be carefully screened for STD’s; the addition of a condom mandate may wreck the industry with while eliminating just a smidgeon of additional risk. Just as a porn director would be inclined to say, “That’s an easy call: the condoms aren’t worth killing our business,” someone who regards porn as filth or just uninteresting would be likely to seek a different balance, arguing that any preventable health risk is too much.

In football, in porn, with recreational drugs, prostitution and gambling, even with abortion, society seeks a fair scale to balance the considerations, and fair scales for these issues don’t exist. What ultimately settles the issue is the culture’s decision over time what it is willing to tolerate, and ultimately regard as ethical. A majority of individuals who don’t care about the product or activity they are restricting don’t determine the ethical verdict,  because their decision is as biased in its way as when the adverse position is championed by those who love the product or enjoy the activity. Until there is a cultural consensus, everyone is conflicted.

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Facts: CBS

Graphic: International Business Times

 

8 thoughts on “Porn and the NFL: In Search of A Biased Referee

  1. Wouldn’t the ADA require that ‘reasonable accommodations’ be made for porn stars allergic to latex? This is about enjoying telling others what to do. With their lives. It’s a moral smugness. ‘I certainly don’t approve of that’ has somehow been amended to include: ‘so everyone has to stop.’ The justification is inevitably concern for the health and safety of others.
    The whole thing makes me want to ride over to my bookie’s without a bicycle helmet, lighting fireworks with the end of my cigarette, stopping occasionally to toss a (willing) dwarf.

  2. It seems that if these examples, and others like them, existed in a vacuum; you would have a stronger point. I am not aware of what steps the porn industry has in place for providing compensation or help for those afflicted from HIV or other disease through their operations. The NFL has some sort of insurance at least, but in both cases, those affected encounter costs and burdens that are borne by all of us, whether we watch or enjoy the product. Children and families who may need public support because a parent has been killed or disabled would seem to give the public some standing in considering the issue regardless of whether the proximal cause of death or disability was a concussion or a menage a trois.

  3. Warning: I’m talking about pornography. Any faint-of-heart individuals should skip my comment and retreat to the nearest stitch-n-bitch.

    You know what this reminds me of? That nonsense in New York about large sodas, or the soda taxes that wouldn’t apply to diet sodas (when we know, at this point, that artificial sweeteners are no better than the regular sugars). There are laws that want to administrate allegedly wise behavior that somehow completely miss the target.

    So, all male porn actors now have to wear condoms in LA, which would seem to rule out a small section of the vast cornucopia of what two people can do. There’s a chance this will just further deviate the porn itself; the producers will look in the law and see EXACTLY what it says, and anything not expressly disallowed will happen. It could just driver new and exciting fetishes into the gutter to fester. (My mind springs with grotesque possibilities, none of which I will share here unless you think it will add soemthing). The law could even be so badly written that it says you must wear a condom, but it does not specify that it must be worn on the penis.

    Personally, I predict a huge influx of lesbian pornography. Because I’ve seen some pornography where the participants wore a condom, but i have NEVER, not even once, seen any pornography where the participants used a dental dam.

  4. The enforcement angle on this law will be interesting. Whereas there is not much professional football played in back alleys and seedy warehouses, the porn industry is highly diffuse, does not solely rely on big distributors, and is very internet savvy. I can see that this will help small producers who allow their workers to go condom-free, then distribute the product via a website in another state or country. Larger companies, like Vivid, will be most affected.

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