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March 1, 2003
Column #1,122

Are You Upset Enough About Porn to Do Something?

     Are you disgusted with the invasion of pornography into your life? I can't turn on my computer without finding unsolicited hard-core porn. It has invaded every household. 

     In 1986 I wrote the Introduction to the Attorney General's Report on Pornography, and got it published when all mainstream publishers refused to publish it. It provided evidence of the harm of this material, which needs to be underscored today.

     The Commission concluded that "clinical and experimental research" is "virtually unanimous" that "exposure to sexually violent materials has indicated an increase in the likelihood of aggression." And there is a "causal relationship between exposure to material of this type and aggressive behavior towards women."

     What sort of evidence is there? "Rapists are 15 times as likely as non-offenders to have had exposure to `hard core' pornography during childhood or between six to ten years old." 

     That was 17 years ago, when very few children had access to hard core porn. Now everyone sees it at very young ages. 

     Obscenity affects the whole culture. Dating has reportedly disappeared on college campuses, replaced by "hooking up," quick sex unrelated to relationships. 

     No wonder the marriage rate has plummeted 39% since 1970. And cohabitation has soared 11-fold from 439,000 couples in 1960 to 4,736,000 in 2000, reports the Census. On-line porn is also sparking many divorces.

     The sewer that is disintegrating marriage is pornography. 

     "Some mainstream corporate giants, allured by immense profits, have reached a new low trying to reach a new high on Wall Street," writes Janet LaRue, Chief Counsel of Concerned Women for America.

     "Profiting from porn-peddling is a dirty ring around the white collars at AT&T, MCI, Time-Warner, Comcast...GM's DirecTV, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Radisson, VISA, Mastercard and American Express." She cites press reports, which probably understate the facts, that AT&T and MCI earn $1 billion from dial-a-porn. The cable and satellite industry rake in at least $600 million. Hotels, $250 million plus free TVs. VISA earns $45 million a month.

     Doing what? Depicting illegal obscenity. 

     Would any of these companies show their "adult" videos at the company Christmas party or at annual stockholders' meetings, or permit employees to view porn on the job? Not likely.

     Why? Hard core porn sparks sexual misconduct, as the Porn Commission stated. The American Management Association says 27 percent of Fortune 500 companies have battled sexual harassment claims stemming from employees misuse and abuse of corporate e-mail and Internet.

     Dow Chemical fired 50 employees and disciplined 200 others over hard-core porn.

     But this stuff is illegal. In 2000, retired FBI agent Bill Kelly wrote to AT&T stating that its Hot Network hard-core porn offerings violated the federal obscenity laws. AT&T's Broadband President Daniel Somers, replied that its competitors were offering the same or worse material.

     Indeed. Where are the prosecutors? LaRue says the mainstreaming of hard-core pornography by major corporations is largely the result of the eight-year failure of the Clinton/Reno Justice Department to enforce the federal obscenity laws. It creates the false assumption that when hard-core pornography is blatantly pandered and openly marketed it must be legal, and if it's legal, why not cash in?"

     I asked LaRue what the Bush/Ashcroft Administration has done. She replied, "Very little. They took some good steps to gear up, but there has been only one indictment of one videotape."

     Attorney General Ashcroft says it is a "high priority." Bunk. 

     He appointed Andrew Oosterbaan, a Clinton holdover, to prosecute obscenity, instead of hiring the tigers who put a lot of obscenity peddlers in jail under Reagan and Bush I. I could not get Oosterbaan or even his press office to answer my calls. 

     Pat Trueman, a tiger who directed obscenity prosecution 12 years ago, says it would be easy to go after Vivid Video which has 400-500 websites, or 20 other companies producing the material peddled on the Internet, or sold by GM, AT&T or Marriott. "If AT&T were brought before a Grand Jury, that would put a stop to their porn channel. The law is a great teacher." 

     What can YOU do about this mess? Three suggestions:

     1. Morality in Media has a website which citizens can use to file complaints about hard-core porn: http://www.obscenitycrimes.org. That will bring pressure on Justice to act.

     2. Be sure your computer, and those of your children, block out all porn sites. AOL, MSN and others offer this service for free. Another option is http://www.symantec.com.

     3. If you, or a loved one, is addicted to porn, seek help on http://www.obscenitycrimes.org.

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