According to this U.K. newspaper article (by way of Boing Boing), anti-pornography researcher and über-Nanny Judith Reisman is trying to prove that porn physically damages viewers' brains through the release of "erototoxins." Such a finding
...might open the floodgates for "big tobacco"-style lawsuits against porn publishers and distributors. Second, and more insidiously, if porn can be shown to "subvert cognition" and affect the parts of the brain involved in reasoning and speech, then "these toxic media should be legally outlawed, as is all other toxic waste, and eliminated from our societal structure."
By way of a can't-top-this encore, Reisman argues that
...people whose brains have been rotted by pornography are no longer expressing "free speech" and, for their own good, shouldn't be protected under the First Amendment.
Delve into Reisman's past and you find plenty of such howlers. For instance, she believes that great hordes of homosexuals "recruit" children via schools and mainstream media; and that pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey pretty much masturbated himself to death (what, he didn't go blind first?). Sure, she might seem a few jokers short of a full deck, but don't underestimate Reisman's influence and pull: she frequently testifies before government committees in the U.S. and abroad.
Alternet's Max Blumenthal reminds us that
Through friends in the Justice Department, Reisman has helped push for an increased focus on prosecuting porn. ... [Her] anti-porn crusade gained steam with the February, 2003 appointment of her longtime friend Bruce Taylor to senior counsel to the assistant attorney general. Taylor has prosecuted over 700 obscenity cases in his career, including the famed 1981 Ohio vs. Larry Flynt trial.
Indefatigable at 70, Reisman continues her crusade against "the sexindustrial complex" mostly by trying to prove the existence of those elusive "erototoxins." Right now, only she knows what those are — she coined the word herself, and it seems it has yet to make it into anyone else's medical vocabulary. In fact, though she consistently identifies herself as "Dr. Reisman," that title refers to a degree in communication, not to any expert medical knowledge. (This echoes her fondness for reminding people that her maiden name, Gelernter, is German for "learned one." Indeed.)
A Wikipedia entry notes that what Reisman means when she carries on about erototoxins is endorphins: pleasure-signaling neurotransmitters that are released during running and other physical exercise, as well as during sex, laughing, and acupuncture. Who knows, she might be against all of those things too, given that endorphins have mildly addictive properties. In any case, the Wikipedia article concludes correctly that
There is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of erototoxins, nor has any link between pornography and sex crimes been scientifically proven.
But rather than rely on others' assessments, perhaps it's best to let Reisman paint herself with her own words — which supply lots of prima facie evidence that there's a fine line between spirited advocacy and downright nastiness. In a recent New Yorker piece, she is quoted as saying that
...the Nazi Party and the Holocaust itself were largely the creation of "the German homosexual movement." Thanks to Alfred Kinsey, she warns, the American homosexual movement is poised to repeat those crimes. "Idealistic 'gay youth' groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original 'Hitler youth.' "
Then there's this beauty, from a speech Reisman gave at a 1994 conference of Christian Right leaders:
"I would suggest to you that while the homosexual population may right now be one to two percent, hold your breath, people, because the recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere. You'll be seeing, I would say, 20 percent or more, probably 30 percent, or even more than that, of the young population will be moving into homosexual activity."
A few years later, she declared:
"Everyone knows Jews do lead the abortion industry, and I'll thank B'nai B'rith from the bottom of my heart if they can prove otherwise."
A thought occurs: Maybe it's Reisman herself who is the brain toxin.