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Legislation Undergirds Obscenity Prosecution, Protects Kids

Bill Fancher, Rusty Pugh and Jody Brown | Agape Press | Thursday, December 4, 2003

Legislation Undergirds Obscenity Prosecution, Protects Kids

The U.S. Senate has decided it's time to give Attorney General John Ashcroft a little nudge when it comes to the issue of obscenity.

A resolution recently passed by the Senate would encourage the AG to make prosecutions of obscenity a priority. Senate Concurrent Resolution 77, passed unanimously by the chamber the Saturday before Thanksgiving, states simply that "it is the sense of Congress that the Federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced throughout the United States." Pat Trueman, who works with several pro-family organizations, explains the impetus behind the resolution.

"Morality in Media encouraged Congress to pass a resolution that encourages vigorous prosecution of illegal pornography because during the Clinton Administration nothing happened," Trueman says, "and unfortunately, so far in the Bush Administration, John Ashcroft has not had a good record of prosecuting obscenity either."

Trueman says the Senate resolution will assure Ashcroft that Congress is fully supporting any effort at going after obscenity and its purveyors. "This would not only alert Attorney General Ashcroft to do a better job, but it would support him as he moves forward to prosecute more and more individuals and companies," the pro-family advocate says.

Why is that support important? According to Trueman, the lack of such support leaves the Attorney General vulnerable to media attacks accusing him of being "a right-winger way out on the extreme" -- but with the concurrent resolution, Ashcroft is able to show he has the entire Senate behind him.

Trueman says a similar House resolution is being drafted as well. Pro-family activists have been very critical of Ashcroft, claiming he needs to do more to stem the tide of obscenity.

Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media (moralityinmedia.org), says enforcement of federal obscenity statutes will dispel two common notions found in American society today: that obscene materials no longer violate contemporary community standards in the U.S., and that obscenity is something that must be tolerated if Americans are to preserve their freedoms of speech and press.

"The lie that obscenity has become as mainstream and acceptable as apple pie is a 'siren song' that producers and distributors of hard-core pornography and their defenders love to sing," Peters says on his group's website. "Every American concerned about the floodtide of hard-core pornography pouring into our communities, homes, and children's minds -- especially through the Internet -- should be heartened by the passage [of this resolution]."

Peters adds that he believes most Americans are offended by the distribution of hard-core porn and prefer to live in a decent society, rather that in one that is shaped by pornographers.

Concern Over Peer-to-Peer

Meanwhile, a leading children's protection advocate says steps need to be taken to help protect children from a vicious form of pornography trading -- one that is not affected by Internet filters.

Penny Nance, president of the Kids First Coalition (kidsfirstcoalition.org), says parental supervision and Internet filters are a good way to help protect children from pornographic websites. But she says action needs to be taken to stop peer-to-peer (P2P) file-transfer sites, which allow anyone to download any kind of video or audio file.

Nance's group is supporting House Bill 2885, the Protecting Kids from Peer-to-Peer Pornography Act -- also known as the "P4 Bill." She says the legislation would require the Federal Trade Commission to enact safeguards that would enable parents to better protect their children from pedophiles who share sexual images of children and target children with graphic images.

Nance's organization is encouraging concerned parents to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to support the P4 Bill. Still, she says, parents are the first line of defense for their kids -- and she recommends that children not be allowed to stay alone in their room with Internet access.

© 2003 Agape Press.