The anti-pornography crusaders are out in force again, in hopes of expunging tawdry and explicit items from America. The latest push was by Ross Douthat at The New York Times who suggested a grand coalition of social conservatives and #MeToo feminists should band together to outlaw pornography from prying eyes. Douthat’s main treatise against pornography was in reaction to a feature in The Gray Lady on a class in Boston called “The Truth About Pornography: A Pornography-Literacy Curriculum for High School Students Designed to Reduce Sexual and Dating Violence.” The article looked at how teens are using pornography to learn about sex and body types, all at taxpayer expense.

Douthat was obviously, and understandably, horrified. “[T] he people teaching “porn literacy” have accepted a sweeping pedagogical defeat,” he crowed on Sunday. “They take for granted that the most important sex education may take place on Pornhub, that the purpose of their work is essentially remedial, and that there is no escape from the world that porn has made.”

He theorized there are feminists who desire a public debate on the issue, they just don’t know it yet, because they’re more moral than those who decided to defend former President Bill Clinton. Douthat was quite certain the sect of #MeToo which appeared to experience sexual unhappiness would want porn to go away — for instance, those involved in the Aziz Ansari saga and who enjoyed Kristen Roupenion’s Cat Person short story in The New Yorker, about a 20-year-old woman’s encounter with a socially backwards, almost childlike in attitude, 34-year-old.

In many of them, you see a kind of female revulsion, not against Harvey Weinstein-style apex predators, but against the very different sort of male personality that a pornographic education seems to produce: a breed at once entitled and resentful, angry and undermotivated, “woke” and caddish, shaped by unprecedented possibilities for sexual gratification and frustrated that real women are less available and more complicated than the version on their screen.

Douthat closed his argument by suggesting the only way to stop these kinds of men from becoming more and more prominent, although his fear is they’ve thrust their way into society far too deeply, is to ban pornography and damn the freedom of speech and freedom of association protections found in the First Amendment.

“The belief [pornography] should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition,” gleefully promised Douthat. ” Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again…That we cannot imagine such censorship is part of our larger inability to imagine any escape from the online world’s immersive power, even as we harbor growing doubts about its influence upon our psyches.”

The premise will not be one quickly put into practice, despite Douthat’s optimism or, at least, wish.

“If he said anything about production we would quickly realize none of this has to be produced in the United States,” Cato Institute senior fellow Walter Olson told me in an interview. “Basically, everything that people want could be entirely produced in other countries. It would not change what he calls the world porn has made.”

Others were quick to point out the practical issues with a porn ban.

“I’m not sure how you translate that sympathy into government policy,” R Street Institute Vice President of Policy Kevin Kosar, who has four children, including two girls, said to me over the phone. “Setting aside the kind of First Amendment issues, there’s just a more practical problem of A) differentiating what’s gonna count as smut, illicit smut, versus non-illicit smut. It gets very dicey.”

Kosar raised a salient point about what is considered pornography. There are comic books, novels, short stories, video games, and artwork which feature nudity, and could be considered pornographic. John Ashcroft famously covered up Lady Justice’s bare breasts during his tenure as Attorney General. Would movie and TV production companies, plus publishers have to recall all their products to censor them? What about people who already own these products?

“What are we going to do with romance novels?” Kosar wondered incredulously, “Men don’t usually pick them up, but if they did, they would find a lot of them were really outrageous and racy. I mean, absolutely pornographic descriptions in print, are we just going to let that stuff go, are we going to try to take those books away?”

That would be censorship, something libertarians vociferously protest against, and believe could lead America down an even darker path.

“[The government] will almost certainly come under pressure to use that power to censor other things too. You just know it,” Olson, whose work can be found at overlawyered.com, confidently declared. “Whether it be animal cruelty videos, hate speech…whatever the category is, it’s not going to stop with porn. If you’ve got the government explicitly sending orders to screen and stop things from being sent on the Internet.”

Olson also raised concerns about the government having the right to reshape someone’s moral values outside the libertarian belief of not trying to take someone’s life, liberty, or property.

“If they can go after material that is believed to be corrupting to our character, it’s really not at all clear why it would stop with pornography.,” Olson wondered. “Why they would not also feel that next year they could go after the unpatriotic or they could go after stuff that encourages disrespect for parents or they could go after something that encourages non-sexual bullying and rudeness?”

Douthat declined to discuss whether the government should go down this path, or whether there would be checks into preventing a ban on pornography from expanding elsewhere. He also did not discuss the fact the United States government has spectacularly failed at prohibition, whether it be drugs or alcohol. The demand for pornography certainly wouldn’t diminish if it suddenly became illegal and could lead to a similar situation as the problems the government had in enforcing the Volstead Act.

“All the person-to-person technology, whether it’s I want to video call somebody and make them pay on PayPal a fee to see me strip, I mean, how are you going to stop that from happening?” Kosar asked. “How are you going to stop online meeting software, where you can have 50 people in a meeting, turn into a tool for voyeuristic activity? Good luck.”

It does not mean anti-porn advocates haven’t tried to latch onto, and co-opt, one cause or another. There was a push in 2016 and 2017 for states to require porn-blocking software on every new computer before it could be sold to a consumer. Those who wanted to uninstall the software would have to pay a $20 fee and be in a government database. The push was done under the belief it would help prevent human trafficking. It would not be surprising to see another attempt to ban pornography happen again, should this current one suggested by Douthat and his allies fail, like previous ones.

It should be pointed out neither Olson nor Kosar suggested pornography was some sort of noble endeavor. There are certainly questions about whether it can cause men and women to view the opposite sex as some sort of object to be enjoyed, then cast away when intercourse is over and done with. However, we do live in an age where consenting adults are allowed to pretty much do what they want, and view what they want, as long as no one is being hurt or their liberty being threatened. The better option may be individuals convincing other individuals to not view pornography, while being willing to recognize not everyone is going to agree with abstaining from smut.