Published on The Daily Femme – Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Senate’s Porn Shakedown is Another Attack on Freedom of Sexual Expression

Contributed by Annamarya

Earlier this month, 42 senators, including liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, sent Attorney General Eric Holder a borderline emotional letterurging him to amp up the federal prosecutions of adult pornography. This communique comes on the heels of Holder’s recent disbanding of the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, a government organization set up during the second Bush administration to appease conservative concerns over “obscene,” sexually-explicit material on the Internet.

“The need for consistent and vigorous enforcement is even greater today because both obscene pornography and evidence of its harms have multiplied since then,” wrote the senators. “Simply put, we know more than ever illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking. This material harms individuals, families, and communities and the problems are only getting worse.”

There are two problems with the letter. The first, as Jezebel points out, is the gross compounding of consensual adult pornography with sex trafficking, violence against women, addiction, child abuse, and, in the case of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is among the signing Democrats, child pornography (a spokesman for Feinstein pointed to her support for anti-child pornography measures when asked about the senator’s interest in obscenity by POLITICO).  Child pornography, which is illegal, IS NOT adult pornography, which is legal, nor does it share the same “moral universe” (Jezebel’s words) as child sexual exploitation. To put consenting, mature adults using pornographic material on an equal scale, both morally and legally, with degenerate, abusive criminals exploiting children minimizes the impact and harm of sexual violence against children. It says that all sex is sinful, even sex between two (or more) grown-ups of-legal-age.

When adult consumers of pornography stray into viewing child pornography, it’s not because mainstream adult pornography led them to do this or lost its excitement, as former obscenity prosecutor and Morality in the Media head, Patrick Trueman, suggested to POLITICO. It’s because they already have an attraction to children and feel the repulsive desire to venture into such viewing. Any interest in child pornography had to already exist and should be sanctioned without attributing it to the use of adult pornography.

Trueman also suggested that the growing number of child porn cases is linked to the government’s failure to prosecute adult pornographers, invalidating the Justice Department’s claim in its formal response to the senators’ letter that they’ve charged 150 violations of federal obscenity laws over in nearly three years. Still, whether or not the number of cases is disputable is irrelevant. The fact is the Justice Department holds child pornography as the bigger priority and is focusing its “limited investigative and prosecutorial resources on the most egregious cases, particularly those that facilitate child exploitation and cases involving the sexual abuse of children,” wrote Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, Ronald Welsh, in the response. And as it should. Prosecuting adult pornographers is not a fool-proof solution to ending child exploitation and abuse, so why waste resources on something so unstable?

The second problem with the senator’s letter is that the studies cited show correlation and not causation. As I’ve written before, to say consensual adult pornography is the catalyst for sexually violent, dehumanizing behavior does not take into account other, more damaging influencers like mental health illnesses or repeated exposure to negative environments. Nor does it take into account the culture of violence, oppression and repression that has been embedded in our society centuries upon centuries before pornography-as-consumerist-fodder made its debut. What we do have is a biased, sex-negative belief system, much like the one displayed by the website cited in the letter, pornographyharms.com, that spins research to fit the “pornography = violence and destruction” allegory. Citing such research as proof is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to impose moralistic and prudish standards.

Calling for a step-up in the federal prosecution of adult pornography is just a duct-tape fix–offering a flimsy solution to the problem instead of addressing its root causes. We cannot afford to waste funds on policing the sexual indiscretions of consenting adults when all our efforts should be focused on eradicating the violence the senators rightfully decry but attribute, without strong scientific proof, to such indiscretions.

Jezebel: The Senate’s War On Hardcore Porn

POLITICO: Eric Holder accused of neglecting porn fight

POLITICO BLOG: Senators ask Holder for more pornography prosecutions

US Senate Letter to General Holder


One thought on “Saving Forest Hump

  1. It will be true that Calling for a step-up in the federal prosecution of adult pornography is just a duct-tape fix–offering a flimsy solution to the problem instead of addressing its root causes סקס

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