Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Porn a public health concern?; Water company prepares for climate change

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Sep 16, 2015 10:07 AM

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 16, 2015:

Most Pennsylvanians were shocked to learn that prosecutors and other staffers in the Attorney General's office were exchanging pornographic emails with one another and with others outside the office.  Porngate, as it's being called, resulted in six people being fired, two resignations and reprimands of almost two dozen AG employees.

One question many asked is how those who sent and received the emails while on the job did so probably knowing it violated workplace policy and would be embarrassing if they were caught.

One theory may be that pornography is so pervasive in our society, especially on the internet, that many find it acceptable or at least are desensitized to the taboo nature of it.

Dr. Mary Anne Layden, a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of victims and perpetrators of sexual violence, sex addicts and sexual exploitation at the University of Pennsylvania says pornography is so prevalent that it has become as public health problem and has an impact on the brains and behavior of those who view pornographic images on a regular basis.

Dr. Layden explains on Wednesday's Smart Talk.

Also, while scientists study the potential effects of climate change, there are many people, institutions, and commercial entities that may have to adapt to a changing climate.

Capital Region Water, with customers in Harrisburg and surrounding areas, is one of them.

CEO Shannon Williams and Sustainability Manager Tanya Dierolf along with Peter Grevatt, Director of the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency join us on Smart Talk to discuss plans to deal with flooding, drought, and storm water.

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Capital Region Water CEO Shannon Williams and Sustainability Manager Tanya Dierolf

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:21

    Nick emails:

    Historically the largest porn purveyors were always hotels. I did not hear that mentioned in your opening dialogue. The respectable hotel brands used to serve pornographic movies via their internal TV systems. Their typical customer was men on business trips.

    • Nick img 2015-09-16 12:15

      The hotel porn industry predates internet porn and although it is now in decline, it was once a multi-billion dollar industry.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:22

    Manuel in Carlisle emails:

    Can your guest discuss studies showing that there is a rise in the usage of this material by women?

  • Robert D Colgan img 2015-09-16 09:26

    The greatest threat from pornography is its influence on children-------who are being made aware of sexual activity without the emotional content. Adults who are healthy can look, see almost anything and respond to it appropriately. . . but children cannot.
    While I am against any form of censorship, there is a critical difference between exposure to material when one is mature enough to handle it, and exposure to material when one is not ready for it.

    So how to safeguard children from pornography......? difficult, but filters on what is projected to children, restricting web browsing, restricted viewing of movies/video games seems most reasonable, at least until they are old enough to have the emotional functionality to deal with it.

    The doctor is absolutely correct-----pornography is a potential toxin. Very dangerous.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:33

    Thomas emails:

    Wow what a one sided argument.

    What about all the jobs that the porn industry creates? How would poor Brandi Knox put herself through college if it were not for porn?

    I find it very insulting when lawyers and politicians force their particular view of the proper lifestyle on other people by making shame laws. What is the weather like up there on your high horse?

    • Lisa img 2015-09-16 09:55

      You're right. The porn industry does create a lot of jobs. Let's list them here:
      psychotherapists
      doctors
      pharmacists
      nurses
      family counselors
      divorce attorneys
      rape counselors
      police
      teen suicide hotline staffers
      etc. you get the idea.

      Jobs that one can do to earn money for college: waiting tables, retail sales, house painting, parking cars, security guard, landscaping, etc. There are plenty of students who have put themselves through college with jobs like these. In fact, I think that likely the majority of students have similar jobs and do not resort to the porn industry. What exactly would you put on a professional CV for prior work experience and still expect to have the respect of your future employer/co-workers if your only job experience is in the porn industry?

  • DebbieM img 2015-09-16 09:34

    Are there women who email porn to their friends?
    Are " fireman" calendars a form of soft porn; they are shirtless, in suggestive poses, with their fire gear or jeans below their hips. Just wondering where the line gets drawn......

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:51

    Lisa emails:

    Upon listening to this program I think that the lack of the Philadelphia prosecutor's actions in prosecuting those in the AG's office who were trading pornography might be due to a lack of mutual guilt. Has anyone checked the prosecutor's computer for porn? While I think some things Kathleen Kane has done may be questionable, I do believe that there is a conspiracy against her. It is shocking to hear that your guest has received death threats based on appearances such as these. Has there ever been follow-up prosecution to these threats? And what does your guest think of Kane's claims of a conspiracy?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:51

    David emails:

    Wow! 3000 year old depictions of sex acts on Hindu temples. Roman coins depicting sex acts. Literary porn throughout the ages. Frayed Sears catalogs opened to the underwear section in teenager's basements.Could it just be that human beings are interested in sex? And yes, no doubt porn addiction looks like Cocaine addiction, which looks just like gambling addiction or even food addiction. So what?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:53

    I am so happy this conversation is being had, it seems all too often our "educated" society is not putting forth enough effort to combat common addictions that HAVE BEEN PROVEN to weaken our society. Why is it so hard to get change put forth to regulate the use of pornography?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-09-16 09:53

    Ted in Lancaster emails:

    Men should realize that using porn is simply lazy. Learn how to woo a woman and meet her needs. Don’t be lazy.


  • Nick img 2015-09-16 12:13

    Scott. I usually love listening to your show. You usually have pointed, intelligent questions for the person that you are interviewing. You usually have a fair balance between the audience participation and the subject matter expert. I really think that you dropped the ball today in the porn discussion. The lengthy diatribe that Mary Anne gave against porn turned into what was basically a filibuster to prevent audience or interviewer participation. There was nobody there to counter her arguments and opinions and I really feel that you did not allow representation from the 'other side'. It was almost like watching Fox News with their one-sided arguments. At a minimum you should have had a male perspective on the subject.

    My wife doesn't 'get it' either. Porn is disgusting to her, but many men are 'wired' to be motivated by visual stimulus. To be honest, things for me work better with visual stimulus than expensive ($35+ a pill) medication that has multiple side effects and health risks. Whether Mary Ann has a PHD or not, she just doesn't seem to be willing to listen to anything that goes against the way that her female brain has been wired. For many men porn is a very effective supplement that can be used discretely without addiction and without causing offence to partners.

    Also, if today's subject matter was supposed to relate to the Kathleen Kane porn emails incident, then Mary Anne was a poor representative chosen to comment on this matter. Her comments were just 'anti porn' instead of commenting on inappropriate emails sent at work with multiple offensive subject matters - and then the counter attack on Kathleen that followed her exposure of the offending parties. I believe that porn is a subject matter that has no place in most workplaces. The same can be said for homophobia, racism and bullying.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-09-16 12:33

    Nicky writes...
    As a listener of WITF and a former sexual health peer educator at the University of Tennessee, I am extremely disappointed in this morning's segment, "Porn a public health concern?"

    Sexuality is central to humanity. Oftentimes in America, we receive "sex negative" perspectives about sex and sexuality. Sex negativity attempts to police sexuality and claim that some sexual practices are "normal." This leads, among other things, to the alienation of LGBTQ+ people and pushes people to be hypermasculine or hyperfeminine. We receive these messages daily, including in abstinence-only sex education programming in schools and through the entertainment industry. Alternatively, the "sex positive" perspective acknowledges that sexuality influences many aspects of our society and culture and that everyone experiences it differently. Sex positive individuals acknowledge that sexual practices should not be judged as long as it is safe, consensual sex. This centers on choice. A woman can choose to display her sexuality even though society tells her she shouldn't, and we should not "slut shame" her for doing so. Additionally, a man should be allowed to show emotion even though society tells him to "man up." (I am engaging in gender binary language here to express hyper-masculine and feminine expectations. However, more than two genders exist.) Instead of policing, sex positivity encourages conversation and open-mindedness.

    The segment this morning only highlighted one viewpoint, and it was sex negative. Since we receive these messages from a host of other sources, it seems odd that there was not an opposing viewpoint brought into this conversation. It would have been refreshing to hear someone express views from a sociological standpoint, especially considering Dr. Layden could not produce a good answer to the question about happily married couples that watch porn together.

    Pornography in some instances does show unhealthy behaviors. For example, most sex negative porn does not include a conversation about consent or the use of condoms. However, other types of porn, such as "feminist porn," do include these actions. Just as with sex work and prostitution, word choice must be specific and accurate. "Pornography" is not an appropriate, generalizable term that encompasses all types of pornography.

    Finally, I would like to take a critical look at the clinical studies that Dr. Layden outlined. Take the study done with 64 men who described how many hours of porn they watch a week and were measured for gray matter, for example. The type of porn is not specified and correlation does not mean causation. Additionally, Dr. Layden's research is clearly clouded by her judgements based on personal experience with patients (http://socialcostsofpornography.com/Layden_Pornography_and_Violence.pdf). An examination of her biases (one option: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/) before speaking about societal influences of porn would be wise. Seeing sex as a repulsive act to watch or enjoy in every situation is counterproductive to understanding ways in which the mainstream pornography industry exploits women and children and sends messages about their submissive position in society. We have to acknowledge that sex is a part of the human experience, can be pleasurable, and can be accompanied by sex positive pornography before we take appropriate legislative action as a nation.

    Pornography is a very important and complex topic to discuss, and it is important that these conversations are done without a judgmental tone and with opposing views. It is a multifaceted topic that cannot simply be explained through the personal experience of a doctor. Please incorporate a sex positive viewpoint in your show.

  • dadumdee img 2015-09-16 13:05

    Mr. Lamar, big fan here, long time listener, first time commenter. Dr. Layden's ridiculous assertions about causality have been thoroughly debunked for years. Her evidence that sex criminals are more likely to watch porn does not establish cause. Her victim blaming for victims of sex crimes is patently and offensively false. Here's a link to an article from Psychology Today that calls her out for her irresponsible, empirically indefensible pseudo-science.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201007/watch-out-women-porno-will-steal-your-soul

    • Robert D Colgan img 2015-09-17 08:41

      I want to reply to this.
      I've worked for years with men who are abusive, and the partners they abused.
      The one thing that emerged clearly re the use of pornography is how much it "legitimized" the abuse of women in the minds of those abusers, how much it "normalized" the victimization mentality for the abused partners....how much it altered the capacity for physical and emotional inimacy.
      To claim, as Ley did in the article you listed, that studies have failed to show a correlation between the use of porn and serious side effects is to deny the overwhelming evidence that exists in the thousands of studies done which clearly establish such a correlation. It reminds me of the football coach whose star halfback has had his bell rung for the third time in one game that "all he has to do is shake it off and get back in there"----when the science says such trauma can be chronic once it reaches a certain point of neural compromise and that adding to existent trauma can be truly devastating.

      There is a huge difference between casual use of erotica by adults and extreme repetitive use by adolescents or pre-adolescents---just as there is a huge difference in the effects on the body of eating sensible portions and overeating. When factored in that the food consumed may actually not be nutritionally sustaining the health risk of overconsumption increases significantly.

      To deny the potential toxicity of something without having carefully researched the scientific data....?
      For you to assert that Layden's assertions are "ridiculous assertions (that) have been debunked for years" is about as lame an argument as I have heard given the fact that the multiple worldwide cross-cultural studies on both genders, at all ages of maturity, by scientists from multiple disciplines have corroborated Dr Layden's claims.

      You have read those countering studies yourself that substantiate what you are saying here?
      I doubt it.
      I haven't seen such studies, and I doubt you have done any therapeutic work with those whose sexuality has been compromised to more deeply understand the degradation exposure to pornography can effect or you wouldn't have written the above. As far as Ley's article?....opinion piece without legitimate substantive evidence to back that opinion.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-09-17 10:34

    Jana writes...
    Thank you for presenting truthful facts about pornography.
    I find the younger generation is not familiar with the facts.
    I was able to send the Smart Talk episode email my adult children in college.
    Thank you for addressing this issue.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-09-17 10:35

    Bert adds...
    The show you had this morning, on the "dangers of porn", was really horrible. Where did you find that guest? Her repeated nonsense made me turn off the radio halfway through.

    "I get amazing push-back when I speak." -- Yeah, because you're wrong. Did that never occur to you?

    She couldn't even keep straight the difference between emailing porn at work, "using" porn (whatever that means), and disseminating obscene material. She conflated them over and over.

    Why, why, why can't you find a reasonable guest to talk about this issue, or at least bring on an opposing voice, one more aware of actual psychological research on the topic?

    I want a way to un-contribute the money I give to WITF regularly.