Debate: Is “Fight the New Drug” an Ethical Company?

Introduction

Everyday as we walk around campus we see students wearing shirts that state the words, “Porn kills Love”. As members of the church this statement seems to be one that we all agree with. Porn kills love, porn kills sex, and porn is a lie are the motto’s of the organization Fight the New Drug.  This organization has been “fighting the new drug” since 2009.  But are they really fighting it? Pornography is wrong. It is a disgusting “world” that people get trapped in. It is an addiction. “Fight the New Drug” is a non-profit organization that works to inform the public about the harmful effects of Pornography. They sell merchandise to promote their company and encourage people to become fighters of the new drug we call Pornography. But we are here to argue that “Fight the New Drug” is an unethical organization. We need to discuss this issue because there are so many people that struggle with addictions. There are also many people who support this company. Many supporters are our peers right here on this campus. Although the company’s intentions are good, their actions do not line up with their intentions. We should not be giving our money to a company that doesn’t have any proof of using it to change anything. cThere are many reasons why this company proves to be unethical. For starters, they are making a profit off of a personal issue, more importantly, an addiction. People everywhere are donating to this cause, but where is the money actually going? The second problem lies in their slogan, “Porn Kills Love”. When you see that slogan, your mind immediately goes to the word “Porn”. This slogan reminds people about pornography, making them feel ashamed instead of trying to help them overcome their addiction. We’ve done lots of research on this topic and this organization. We know how much money they make and where it goes. We’ve researched their mission and goals and know how they go about achieving them. As we go over these things with you, try not to be biased. We know pornography is bad and that the organization is fighting for a good cause, but we can prove that the way they go about this mission is unethical.

 

1st Argument

 I think of those on this campus who are addicted to pornography. They know better than anyone how bad it is. Fight the new drug’s slogan that they put on all of their merchandise is “Porn Kills Love”. We see these posters and tshirts every day on campus. When people see their friends and peers wearing these shirts, they probably feel very ashamed and embarrassed. The first thing wrong with this tactic is that making them feel horrible about themselves is not going to solve anything. They may feel like they are killing love and will be unable to have a successful relationship because of this addiction. This guilt will only prohibit them from becoming better. Those who run Fight the New Drug are probably trying to motivate people to stop, but it can also have the opposite effect. I learned more about the truthfulness of this on an addiction website. Stacey Colino, a professional author about health and psychology wrote, “Often, people suffering from intense shame want to numb their negative feelings, which puts them at an increased risk for developing a substance abuse problem or obsessively engaging in a pleasurable behavior. It’s a way of self-medicating, in other words.”

Basically, the way that Fight the New Drug goes about getting people to quit their addiction is by calling them out on it and guilting them into stopping. This is proven not to work. A way the company could better help the situation is by coming up with actual methods of recovery instead of dwelling on the fact that pornography addiction is killing love. I agree that sugarcoating the issue is not going to be very effective either. I also recognize that making people think this addiction is acceptable will not work, but there is a better way to motivate people that doesn’t involve ostracizing our peers.

If we want to help others recover from this addiction we need to show them more love. If you are wearing a shirt about fighting pornography, do you think one of your friends is going to be comfortable enough to ask you for your help or advice on what to do to recover from it? More likely, they will just try to hide it from you and get nothing off their chest. If instead we made it a topic that people can feel safe to talk about, more people could be reached. More people could feel like it is okay to be in the process of recovery and know that it is possible to accomplish.

The second problem I have with the slogan is that when someone with this addiction sees the word porn all day, it will not help them to stop thinking about it. They can’t escape it because “Porn kills love” is written on so many tshirts, posters and advertisements. This is not making it easier for them to improve.

The brain is very powerful and it is where addictions can be fought or enabled. On the fight the new drug website we can read about DeltaFosB, the “molecular switch for addiction.”  The article states, “DeltaFosB doesn’t just make you remember the pleasurable experience itself; it also forms connections to details associated with the experience. These associations are called “cues” and are found with all kind of addictions.”  So what is a Cue?  It’s defined as, “a hint or a guiding suggestion.”  The word porn becomes a guiding suggestion. It leads the brain to the idea of porn and as the “Fight the New Drug” website says itself, a cue can lead to old habits.

Fixing these problems would be easy. Changing their slogan to something like, “You are stronger than your addiction” or “Porn can be overcome” would be more favorable and get people to actually want to learn more about this cause. They can also add more research about what methods work for recovery, instead of their wasted money researching how porn affects the brain. We know porn only has negative effects. Now we need to know how to overcome them more effectively.

Empowering others through support and love is something we all need to learn to do. Fight the New Drug’s approach should work on emulating this more.

 

2nd Argument

 “Fight the New Drug” is a registered non-profit organization, and they generate over $1 mil in annual revenues. People like us are constantly donating to this cause, buying their merchandise, joining the “Fighter Club”, etc. “Fight the New Drug” even has an internet plug in you can install, so each time you visit websites like Target or Forever 21, they will donate money to “Fight the New Drug”. Why are so many people donating to this organization? What is the purpose? Where is the money going?  Is “Fight the New Drug” making a profit off of an addiction?

In 2016, “Fight the New Drug” claimed they spent 87% of their revenue on the organization. But when you look closer at what the money was spent on, it wasn’t necessarily worthwhile expenses. Their annual report said they spent 9% on admin, 4% on fundraising, and 34% on mobilization. What do “admin” and “mobilization” mean? According to the report “mobilization” means spending money on marketing and merchandise. Which means they spend 34% of about $1 mil to make t-shirts and posters with the phrase “PORN KILLS LOVE” on them. That’s about $34,000. The only thing those t-shirts and posters do is rub the phrases “Porn Kills Love” and “Fight the New Drug” in people’s faces.

Fight the New Drug’s motto is “to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.” Well, most people know that pornography is bad, so how is informing people about the harmful effects of pornography really going to “fight the drug”? The organization keeps claiming that we need to raise awareness of this problem, but what is raising awareness going to do? You can tell people about the harmful effects of pornography all you want, but at the end of the day we still all have agency and can choose whether or not to look at pornography. If someone started viewing pornography, chances are they aren’t going to research the harmful facts about it before viewing. The same goes with any drug. People don’t research harmful effects of cocaine before using it. So what could this organization do to better fight against pornography, and better assist those who are dealing with addictions?

“Fight the New Drug” has it’s own addiction recovery program called “Fortify”, an online program designed to help individuals overcome pornography addictions. It comes with 50 educational videos, personalized battle strategy, personal vulnerability test, personal battle tracker calendar, and access on any device. This program is free for teenagers, but $39 for individuals 21 and older. FTND is also looking for people to sponsor teens going through the program, because apparently they don’t already have enough money. There are plenty of free addiction recovery programs available out there, especially for members of the LDS church. So how is “Fight the New Drug” getting away with charging for addiction recovery? It’s also a program that doesn’t involve one on one help or counseling, which a lot of free programs have. You would think that this organization would be doing more to help people in their personal fight against the drug. Especially since they claim they spent 32% of their revenue on recovery last year.

The LDS church offers free addiction recovery programs that are open to the public. This is a 12 step program that includes Addiction Recovery meetings, where you can meet others who are struggling with similar issues and hear their stories. The church also invites individuals to volunteer with the program, hoping to get people to serve and inspire those who are facing challenges and addictions. If you are looking for any way to help others fight addictions, this would be a great place to start.

In 2016, “Fight the New Drug” made $85,000 in public donations, $540,000 in merchandise, and $266,000 from Fortify. That’s a lot of money from the public. And all the company does with this money is market their organization and make insulting t-shirts. Why do people keep donating to this organization? Your donations aren’t really helping to fight pornography, rather they are helping an organization stay afloat and receive a profit.

 

3rd Argument

“Fight the New Drug” website contains a lot of creative media and information on why “Porn Kills Love”. We found another mission statement on their website, different from the one we stated earlier. We found about three different mottos or mission statements on their website. This one says “Our mission is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography through creative mediums.” What does that mean? What it means is that they are using their creativity to promote and sell their organization and products instead of actually helping the cause.

In 2015, the organization posted hundreds of billboards all over the Bay area with the phrase “Porn Kills Love. Fight for Love.” You may have seen similar billboards around your hometown, I know I have seen them all over Utah as well. It’s interesting that they chose San Francisco to place these billboards, since the city has a history of supporting sexual freedoms. Many people were angry about these billboards, and saw the transparency in them just like we did. In an article on “The Daily Beast”, Samantha Allen wrote “FTND’s billboards and T-shirts are flashy but their message is rooted in pseudoscience—a classic case of style over substance… the supposed facts behind the “Porn Kills Love” billboards are not quite so convincing without eye-catching graphic design to back them up.”

Everything on FTND is very creative and well designed. We’re all communication majors, we know what good design is. If this company didn’t have as good of designs, do you think you would want to buy their merchandise, or even notice their poster on the street? More importantly, do you think this organization would be as popular without it’s aesthetic? The public’s donations to FTND are supporting the creative measures and marketing, not fighting the drug.

You can also find a “blog” section on the FTND website. This section contains blog posts from different people, some talk about overcoming addiction, some talk about harmful effects of Pornography. There was even an article about former porn stars who have left the industry and now fight against pornography. What you don’t know is that FTND pays people to write these blog posts. They aren’t necessarily real testimonials, rather people who wrote about their addiction because FTND paid them to. Even more than that, all of these blog posts are about how porn ruined their lives, or the life of someone they know and how they are so much better and happier without pornography. But there is nothing in these posts that says how they got over their addiction and what helped them the most.

How are these blog posts going to help individuals combat pornography? Why is FTND using your donation money to pay for writers? Again, they aren’t using their money in a worthwhile way.

Earlier I mentioned the “Fighter Club”. This is a club that “FTND” created in effort to encourage people to become fighters of pornography. Let me explain what the “Fighter Club” entails. FTND wants you to pay as little as $10 a month to “support the cause, get insider info and exclusive gear”. For every dollar you pay a month to be a part of the “Fighter Club”, FTND will educate 1 individual on the harmful effects of pornography. You can join the “Fighter Club” for $10 , $20, or even $100 a month. Basically, the “Fighter Club” is an effort to get more money from the public. When you become part of the club, there is no way for FTND to prove that they informed 10 or 20 or 100 people about the effects of pornography. They just want you to pay to sport their merchandise and raise awareness for their organization.

Did you know celebrities like Terry Crews, Josh Radnor, Blake Lively, and Russell Brand all fight against pornography? FTND even landed an Instagram endorsement from Terry Crews. FTND uses these celebrities and their opinions to boost their image and make themselves more popular among teens and millennials. They are too focused on their image, and not focused enough on actually fighting pornography. They want to make the fight against pornography a trend.

FTND is extremely good at strategizing and marketing. How else would they be able to bring in $1 million each year? I hope next time you see a piece of FTND propaganda you will think more about it’s message and what FTND really wants you to do.

 

Conclusion

Fight the new drug is an unethical company. They need to reform their goals and their tactics. They can easily improve by using their earnings to better help people recover from their pornography addictions. Making their recovery program free would be a good start. Getting rid of a slogan that only serves to shame others would help as well. Using creativity to inform people about the harmful effects of porn is great, but they need to do this in a way that doesn’t shame their audience. Having really good design is a sneaky way they make money while not giving much in return.

The next time you’re about to drop $20 on a T-shirt that says “Fighter” or “Porn Kills Love” think of how wearing it will make those around you who may be struggling with this addiction feel. Remember that this money may not be actually doing everything it should be to help those struggling. Many people have been helped by this organization, but so many more could be reached if the company approached it in a different way.

Commercializing this addiction is unethical and is not an effective way of solving this issue. While this is an issue society needs to address, Fight the New Drug’s model of doing this is ineffective.

I want us to fight against pornogrpahy. I wish that this was not something so many struggle with. What I want is for it to be fought against in a better, more loving way.

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