- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009

First of two parts

On Sept. 29, my Washington Times colleague Jim McElhatton led the paper with a story about National Science Foundation (NSF) employees accessing pornography at their work computers.

The porn problem was pervasive enough to trigger a massive internal investigation. One senior NSF executive, for instance, had “spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer and chatting online with nude or partially clad women, without being detected,” Mr. McElhatton reported, based on records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The NSF executive retired once his pornography use was exposed, but investigators estimated that he alone wasted between $13,800 and $58,000 of taxpayer monies.

RELATED STORY:
WETZSTEIN: Porn common in college dorms

No one should imagine that the NSF scandal is isolated or rare. Workplace pornography is a major problem, according to the American Management Association (AMA).

Employers are fighting back with anti-porn filters on computers; as of 2007, about two-thirds of U.S. companies used such software, the AMA said. But there are still ways to evade the filters, and inexplicably, many employees seem determined to access porn at work, even if it costs them their jobs.

Listen to these comments, gathered by Idaho Post-Register reporter Corey Taule in an award-winning 2007 article on pornography.

Mark J. Holubar, a human resources executive, told Mr. Taule that his company is clear about its no-porn-at-work policy, but he still had an employee confess to him: “Yeah, I know I did it. I know it was wrong. I don’t know why, I was just doing it.”

And Gordon Boyle, a pastor at Calvary Chapel Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, who counsels men for sex addiction, said it was “so bizarre” that employees would look at porn even when they knew they were being monitored. “I don’t think we understand the grip or the pull [of pornography],” Mr. Boyle told Mr. Taule.

That, I think, is the big question: What makes presumably well-educated, well-paid professionals risk everything they worked for just for another look?

The answer is simple — sex addiction, says Michael Leahy, author of the new book “Porn @ Work: Exposing The Office’s #1 Addiction.”

Mr. Leahy, a recovering sex addict, believes he was one of the first people to get involved with workplace porn. As an IBM computer specialist in the early 1980s, he and colleagues used porn at work years before online pornography and personal computers entered American homes. Later, as an executive with a private office and top-of-the-line computers, Mr. Leahy found even more ways to spend hours engrossed in porn.

“I was that person who is every line manager’s and HR professional’s worst nightmare — the sex addict at work who flew under the radar for years and never got caught,” Mr. Leahy wrote.

How does porn interfere with work? Initially, it just consumes countless hours (viewing images, concealing images, plus regular trips to private places to masturbate).

As the compulsive behaviors grow, porn-related rituals detract from work performance, Mr. Leahy wrote. A person preoccupied with porn, for instance, will miss meetings, fail to make calls or leave projects unfinished. They may seem to undergo a personality change, becoming easily irritated, unreasonably defensive or socially withdrawn.

It’s not uncommon for sex addicts to lose their spouses or their jobs, Mr. Leahy wrote. They also are prone to acting out sexually, exposing themselves to sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy, or legal problems “ranging from nuisance offenses to rape,” Mr. Leahy wrote. Business managers, he added, are particularly alarmed by sexual harassment or hostile workplace lawsuits filed over employees’ bad behavior.

Mr. Leahy has some solutions to offer, but first he wants to sound the alarm about college students.

Their college experiences are in a pornography-friendly subculture, he told me. “But the key is, when they have to stop — when they are made to stop — what will they do?”

Next week: Collision course.

Send e-mail to cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide