Iceland Might Ban Internet Porn

Iceland could (but probably won't) become the first Western democracy to censor Internet porn. Halla Gunnarsdóttir, an adviser to the interior minister, explains the country's anti-smut rationale to The Guardian:

"We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech..."

This is Iceland, after all. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is the first openly lesbian government head in the world. It's already illegal to print and distribute porn within the country, and since 2010, strip clubs have been prohibited as well.

Research indicates that, on average, Icelanders first see online porn at age 11, including sexual content of an "increasingly violent" nature. In the U.S.—where the online porn industry makes nearly $3 billion annually—children can now enjoy access to RedTube from within the womb.

According to interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson and his supporters, the ban would specifically censor "violent" and "hateful" pornography—an admirable idea in the abstract. But as Justice Potter Stewart famously said of hardcore porn in a Supreme Court obscenity case, "I know it when I see it." We're not in waters any less murky here. There's certainly some disturbing shit out there (graphic images of children are another would-be target of the Icelandic ban), but would this mean... no spanking? No biting? No consensual BDSM? Would Iceland's porn consumption be limited to lovey-dovey candlelit cunnilingus?

Logistically, the only reason this idea is remotely feasible is because Iceland is adorably pocket-sized: 322,000 residents share a Kentucky-sized island more than a thousand miles off the coast of Europe. It's both small and removed enough that it could be possible (to a certain extent) to jam traffic to offending websites—essentially stretching a cyber-condom over the country. Icelandic credit cards could also be blocked from use on porn sites, which seems worthwhile, because I've never seen a e-boob that I didn't pay for.

Unsurprisingly, concerns about censorship and restricted access have largely dominated this debate. Parliament member Birgitta Jonsdottir sets the odds of a porn ban passing at "near zero."

[Image via Shutterstock]