U.S. Justice Department's Record of Enforcing Obscenity Laws May be Disappointing, but Latest Obscenity Prosecution Success Proves Again That Most Adults do not Accept the Proliferation of Obscenity
Contact: Robert Peters, President, Morality in Media, 212-870-3210
NEW YORK, June 6 /Christian Newswire/ -- Yesterday, a federal District Court jury in Tampa, Florida convicted "Max Hardcore," a California based pornographer, of 10 counts of distributing obscene materials. And, as St. Petersburg Times staff writer Abbie VanSickle observed in a May 31 article: "In terms of finding a conservative community sympathetic to prosecutors," Tampa was not "an obvious choice" because of the area's ties to adult entertainment. MIM President Robert Peters had the following comments:
"It is unfortunate that during the past seven years much more hasn't been done at the Federal level to curb distribution of obscene materials. Contrary to propaganda promoted by the pornographers and their allies in the press, obscenity crimes are not 'victimless.' Among other things, the explosion of obscenity has ruined marriages, morally corrupted children and contributed to sex crimes against both children and adults. It has also undermined the right of all Americans to live in a decent society.
"But unlike the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration has enforced obscenity laws against a growing number of commercial distributors of obscene materials. Yesterday's victory was the second jury conviction that the Justice Department has won against a California based hardcore pornographer in the past eight months. California is still the "porn capital" of the world.
"Those who defend hardcore pornography, whether in court or in the court of public opinion, point to the proliferation of this material as 'proof' that everyone is viewing it or that people think it is acceptable. The porn defenders overlook a number of factors including the fact that much if not most pornography is consumed by a relatively small percentage of individuals of all ages who are hooked on it. Furthermore, just because a person, whether by mistake or deception or out of curiosity or at a weak moment, views pornography does not mean he or she approves of it.
"In Hamling v. United States, the Supreme Court also recognized that the mere fact that hardcore pornographic materials are available in the nation or in a community does not "make them witnesses of virtue" or prove that similar materials at issue in a criminal obscenity trial are acceptable under community standards and therefore legal to disseminate.
"In 1997, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008, Morality in Media commissioned a national market research firm to ask various questions about enforcement of federal obscenity laws. Depending on the question asked, the percentages of adults (18 and over) that expressed support for enforcement of these laws ranged from 75% to 82%. The 2008 opinion poll question was worded as follows:
"'During the past 15 years, hardcore pornographic materials have proliferated in the form of videotapes and DVDs sold in sexually oriented and mainstream video stores, films distributed on cable, satellite and hotel TV systems, and still pictures and video disseminated on the Internet. Were the next president to do all in his or constitutional power to ensure that federal obscenity laws are enforced vigorously against commercial distributors of hardcore pornography, would you support or oppose the President in this matter? Would you be strongly (support/oppose) or just somewhat (support/oppose)?'"
In response to this question, 75% said they would support the President; 19% said they would oppose.
In 2006, MIM also commissioned the same firm to ask this question: "Do you consider it to be morally acceptable to view pornographic websites and videos?" In response, 21% said, "Yes;" 73% said, "No."
"According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2006, about 225 million Americans were 18 and older; which means that in 2006 about 45 million adults thought it was OK to look at porn. So it should come as no surprise that so much pornography is now consumed in the United States.
"But if the 2006 opinion poll results were a reasonably accurate reflection of how adult Americans think, about 180 million adults didn’t think looking at porn was acceptable. So it should come as no surprise that juries will convict obscenity distributors, when given opportunity to do so.
"Unquestionably, the material at issue in the Tampa trial was somewhat 'extreme,' but today, most hardcore pornography is either degrading to women, violent or just plain sick."