February 12, 2005
Adelphia Communications, America's 5th largest cable
company recently announced that it will soon be providing hard core pornography, so-called
programming. "The more Xs the more popular," said an Adelphia spokesman.
"I think they made a really smart business decision,"
said Tim Connelly, publisher of
Adult Video News, the industry's trade journal. "So today Adelphia, tomorrow
Other cable companies, such as Time-Warner, Cox and
Comcast plus DirecTV
have been offering hard core porn for some time. Adelphia's previous owners
such business as "immoral." Its new owners concluded Aldephia ought to tap
into this lucrative source of funds.
Of course, visitors to Hilton, Marriott and other hotel
chains, have long offered sexually
explicit videos on LodgeNet or On Command.
However, all of these companies know that federal
criminal law prohibits cable and
satellite providers from distributing hardcore obscene material. Why
would major corporations risk criminal prosecution?
"Adelphia felt safe in offering illegal obscenity
because they know that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not prosecute
them," charges Don Wildmon, Chairman of the
American Family Association. "By their inaction, DOJ has indicated that they
prosecute any cable system or Internet provider showing hardcore
pornography. During the past 12 years the distributors and retailers of
obscenity have had an open door to distribute their product while DOJ looked
the other way."
It was one thing when the Clinton Administration
stopped prosecuting obscenity under
Attorney General Janet Reno. But little was done during George W.
Bush's first term. Attorney General John Ashcroft promised he would
reverse years of neglect, but even
appointed Drew Ooserbaan, a holdover from the Clinton Administration, to
head the Child
Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
Few major distributors of obscenity have been
prosecuted. And there have been no cases filed against cable,
satellite, or hotel chains who are reaping hundreds of
millions in profits.
There was a similar reluctance by Reagan's Attorney
General Edwin Meese, to prosecute obscenity. He appointed an Attorney
General's Commission on Pornography, which unanimously approved 92 proposals
to enforce existing laws or strengthen them.
It provided evidence of the material's harm. For
example, rapists are 15 times as likely as non-offenders to have had
exposure to hardcore pornography "during childhood or
between six and ten years old." In the 1980s few children had access
to obscenity, but it
is ubiquitous today on the Internet which children begin seeing at very
tender ages. The harm is incalculable.
In 1986 I wrote the Introduction to a
commercially published "Final Report of the
Attorney General's Commission on Pornography" in which I noted that both
President Reagan had shied away "from publicly endorsing the document."
However, the leaders of major religious denominations created a Religious
Alliance Against Pornography.
Led by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin and Rev. Jerry
Kirk of Cincinnati, the group
included three Catholic Cardinals, the Orthodox Bishop of North America,
seven bishops of United Methodist, Episcopalian, Orthodox and Catholic
Churches, the elected
leaders or top staff of Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Assemblies of God,
National Association of Evangelicals, Mormons and even the left-leaning
National Council of Churches.
These leaders gathered in 1986 on the steps of St.
Patrick's Cathedral. "As religious
leaders, we believe in the inherent dignity of each human being," said
Bernadin. "Created in
God's image and likeness, the human person is the clearest reflection of
God's presence among us." He said one "assault on human dignity" was
"hardcore and child pornography," issues surfaced by the Obscenity
"We are in unanimous agreement that hardcore and child
pornography, which is not
protected by the Constitution, is an evil which must be eliminated."
They pushed Meese to hire competent attorneys who
prosecuted dozens of major
wholesalers of obscenity. In the last two years of the Reagan
Administration and over the four years of the first Bush Administration,
there were dozens of prosecutions of major
pornographers. Some went to jail and others paid such high fines they
It is high time for America's current religious leaders
to take a similar stand with the
Bush Administration. In fact, the Religious Alliance Against Pornography
still exists and could exercise leadership for this generation.
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