SEX

America’s Most Infamous Racist Shared His Thoughts On Porn

After a leading organization rejects the concept of sex and porn addiction, David Duke offers support that probably no one wants

SEX
Photo Illustration: Vocativ
Dec 08, 2016 at 5:40 PM ET

Last week, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists came out strongly against the concept of sex and porn addiction. In a position statement, the major professional organization said it “does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder.” It was a major blow to the sex and porn addiction field, which includes counseling and treatment centers.

Just a few days later, porn addiction has received a ringing endorsement — though it’s one that most in the field surely would rather not receive. In the midst of an anti-Semitic rant, David Duke, the former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, has claimed on his website that “there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that Internet porn addiction is an epidemic, especially among men.”

Robert Weiss, one the leading supporters of the concept of sex and porn addiction, declined to speculate too much on Duke, saying, “I have no clue what people like that man think.” But Weiss, senior vice president of national clinical development for Elements Behavioral Health, which specializes in addiction, says it’s inevitable that sex and porn addiction will be invoked by conservatives who want to see a more conservative sexual culture.

“This would be, I would imagine, the most extreme example, that someone who is very, very conservative and very much to the right would pick out this issue and say, ‘Oh, that’s pathology and that makes it okay to say that we need to get rid of porn,” he said. “But a sex addiction therapist wouldn’t say that the porn is the problem.” Instead, he says, “It has to do with emotional deficits. People are emotionally challenged and have social issues and turn to porn.”

However, David Ley, a clinical psychologist and one of the most vocal critics of sex addiction, sees the appeal of the porn addiction concept to someone like Duke somewhat differently. He argues that the concept essentially functions as an endorsement of male privilege. “For millennia, rich, powerful men were allowed to have all the wives, mistresses or harems they could keep,” explained Ley, author of “Ethical Porn For Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure.” Then times changed. “Suddenly, males caught exerting this sexual privilege were offered a pseudo diagnosis and unsupported treatment where they could go and be publicly shamed, but ultimately excused for their behaviors,” he said. “Across the country, sex addiction is invoked in court and legal cases, overwhelmingly by white, married, wealthy and professional males, when the men have been caught engaging in sexual improprieties.”

As for AASECT’s position statement, Weiss says, “I don’t truly believe that the leaders of AASECT understand what sex addiction is.” He characterizes the heated debate about sex and porn addiction as a result of egos in the field and a disagreement over terminology. “There are also a lot of folks who want to call something that we all see something else,” he said. “Some people want to call it hypersexuality, some people want to call it hypersexual disorder, some people want to call it sexual compulsion, some people want to call it sexual addiction.” He added, “It’s all the same.”

Weiss says his interest is in seeing experts come together despite these disagreements over nomenclature. “It is the saddest thing to me that, in my opinion, we throw intellectual rocks at each other,” he said. “We need to be working together.” In the meantime, surely one thing both sides can come together on is in wanting nothing to do with the likes of Duke.