The Answer to Climate Denial Can Be Found in Porn

Climate Change Pornography

by Johnny Townsend

I work in an adult video store, a job that’s given me unexpected insight into the motivations of good, religious people willing to continue accelerating global warming no matter how much personal suffering they experience as a result.

Granted, I have other experiences—four years at a Baptist high school, two years as a Mormon missionary, and several years as a Sunday School teacher—which also help me connect the dots, but it’s the porn that’s offered the biggest revelations.

In the past couple of months, almost half a billion animals have been killed by the unprecedented wildfires devastating Australia.

Are we trying to create Hell on Earth?

Why, yes, we are.

Most Christians are hoping desperately for the End Times so Jesus will finally come back and usher in a thousand years of peace. We can interpret both the worsening physical and political climate as the long-predicted Tribulation, or we can subconsciously strive to make sure these are the Last Days. Then Christ has to come back and save us.

Why do some of the faithful nail themselves to crosses on Easter? Why do some believers practice celibacy? Wear hairshirts? Crawl up stairs on their knees? Deny themselves coffee or wine or music? Take vows of poverty? Or do any of the countless other things that add suffering, major or minor, to our lives?

Have you ever been to an adult video store? There are folks who buy a new Squirt video every month, who buy Bondage videos regularly. There are customers into Fisting, into S&M, into Scat.

Yikes.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through proselyting for a religiously oppressive organization, it’s the cruelty of judging others unfairly.

While I’m not into pain or humiliation, lots of other people are. They enjoy it.

Life is hard under the best of circumstances. If we turn to religion to get through the constant struggle, then religious leaders must give us a viable strategy for coping. Telling us they’re powerless to ease our suffering won’t do the trick.

But telling us pain is good for us, and encouraging us to embrace it, turns our misery into consensual S&M.

As a missionary, I was kicked and spit on. I had guns pointed at my chest, was threatened with garden shears, was chased down a country road by a driver bent on spraying me again and again with mud. I was stoned with rocks as large as my fist.

It “proved” I was doing the work of the Lord. It validated me.

It also gave me higher esteem in the eyes of my fellow missionaries.

I’ve had many genuinely happy moments in life—meeting Patricia Nell Warren and Vito Russo, walking the streets of Paris, meditating in the Muir Woods—but I’ve sure had plenty of unhappy times as well. I watched my mother die horrifically at 43. I saw friends die of cancer, AIDS, and gay bashing. I lost my job, my home, and almost everything else in Hurricane Katrina.

We need to give meaning to our suffering or it’s just suffering.

One of the regulars at the video store says he can tell that allowing his partner to spit in his face gives the man pleasure, and knowing this gives the customer pleasure, too.

My store also sells Love Cuffs, Pleasure Gags, Enchanted Floggers, and Kissing Paddles.

Many religious fundamentalists oppose anyone trying to end fracking, trying to stop new drilling or additional pipelines. We can see the damage fossil fuels do right now, but we insist on creating more and more devastation.

Why?

Should we ask the makers of A Fistful of Submissives?

We know 99% of scientists around the world agree that conditions are deteriorating rapidly. Catastrophic effects don’t await us in some vague, undefined future but will drastically change the lives of our youngest grandchildren before they reach high school. Hell, most of us will still be alive to suffer new horrors, too.

Paradise, California was merely the tip of the melting ice sheet.

Why in Heaven’s name don’t we stop what we’re doing?

The way some women are conditioned to feel they can only “prove their love” by allowing a partner to spank them, religious devotees are often conditioned to believe we can only demonstrate our faith by allowing ourselves to suffer everything “God” inflicts on us until he decides to give us “release.”

The Almighty, we tell ourselves, will fix everything if he chooses to. He is the Master, she is the Dominatrix, they are the Sadists in control of our spiritual orgasm.

Pain is pleasure for some. But even in consensual suffering, responsible partners establish a safe word.

Here’s one the faithful should consider using with fossil fuel corporations and the politicians and religious leaders who support them:

Stop!

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