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Traditionally, liberals defended the freedom of consenting adults to publish and consume pornography in private from moral and religious conservatives who wanted pornography banned for its obscenity, its corrupting impact on consumers and its corrosive effect on traditional family and religious values.
But, in more recent times, the pornography debate has taken on a somewhat new and surprising shape.
In 2003, the pornography industry (taken to include adult videos, magazines, Cable/Pay per view, Internet and CD-Rom) is estimated to have grossed US billion world-wide; and in excess of billion in the U. alone, greater than the combined revenue of ABC, CBS, and NBC (.2. (See “Internet Filter Review: Internet Pornography Statistics” in Other Internet Resources.) Pornography is much more widely consumed than is sometimes supposed, and is a large and extremely profitable international industry.
However, the term “pornography” is often used with an additional )as “pornographic”, they seem to be doing more than simply dispassionately describing its sexually explicit content or the intentions of its producers-indeed, in these debates, the intentions of producers are sometimes treated as irrelevant to the work's status as pornography.
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“Sexually explicit” functions as a kind of indexical term, picking out different features depending on what has certain effects or breaks certain taboos in different contexts and cultures.
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As we shall see, the debate over whether pornography should be censored remains very much alive. The word “pornography” comes from the Greek for writing about prostitutes.
However, the etymology of the term is not much of a guide to its current usage, since many of the things commonly called “pornography” nowadays are neither literally written nor literally about prostitutes. Pornography is any material (either pictures or words) that is .