April 15, 2010
SEN. HATCH CHALLENGES AG HOLDER TO ENFORCE OBSCENITY LAWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 15, 2010
CONTACT: Cris Clapp Logan
Statement of EIE President Donna Rice Hughes
Regarding the Questioning of Attorney General Holder on Obscenity Enforcement
Yesterday, in a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch challenged Attorney General Eric Holder about his administration’s policy of the enforcement of Federal obscenity laws, more commonly known as hard-core adult pornography. Such content, which includes depictions of graphic sex acts, group sex, bestiality, torture, incest, and excretory functions has proliferated on the Internet with very little push back from federal prosecution
Because of the nature of current obscenity law, content prosecutable as obscene is widely available on the Internet, not because it is legal, but because it must be treated as "constitutionally protected" until it has been prosecuted, received due process and proven illegal in a court of law. Currently, prosecutions are at a standstill, and, as a result, children, whom the government has a “compelling interest” to protect, continue to have free and easy access to prosecutable pornography.
Because it is easier to do, prosecutors often only pursue the low-hanging fruit—the most extreme material. Unfortunately, because many elected and appointed prosecutors have ignored the need to protect children from exposure to pornography, there is enough low hanging fruit to keep prosecutors busy for a long time.
Worse yet, purveyors of less extreme material receive a loud and clear message that they get a free pass. A wiser approach would be to aggressively prosecute the less extreme material meeting the three-pronged Miller test, which serves as the basis for the obscenity statues. Successful convictions of the “higher hanging” fruit would automatically send a message to producers and distributors of all prosecutable pornography to abide by the rule of law or risk the strong hand of enforcement.
Every commission, task force and summit that I have had the privilege of serving on since the mid-nineties, represented by broad coalitions consisting of conservatives, liberals and libertarians from both the public and private sectors, have all agreed to the need for prosecution of existing obscenity laws. The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice is charged with a variety of critical programs to protect the welfare of America’s Children including fighting child pornography, child prostitution, child trafficking and sex tourism. With limited time and funding, weighing the allocation of Department resources is certainly a challenge, but we encourage Attorney General Holder to take a strong stand in the war against illegal pornography.
Graphic, hard-core pornography fuels the global sexual exploitation of children, and the prosecution of this material should be no less important than the Department’s other efforts to protect children. Pornography’s relationship to rape, sexual violence, child molestation, sexual illness, infidelity, predatory behavior, teenage pregnancy, desensitization, sexual addiction, violence against women, child sex acts and more have been widely documented. Despite the good laws on the books, the carrot approach expecting the pornography industry to self regulate has not worked—the industry has not and will not abide by the law without the threat of the strong stick of aggressive law enforcement. The battle for the hearts and minds of our children and our nation is worth fighting for, and we applaud those who continue to fight to uphold our laws and do the right. We thank Senator Hatch for his leadership on this issue, and we hope that others will join Senator Hatch in encouraging the Attorney General to make it a priority to enforce our nation’s obscenity laws, for the sake of our children, families and our culture.
Donna Rice Hughes is President of Enough Is Enough (EIE), a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, emerged in 1994 as the national leader on the front lines to make the Internet safer for children and families. Since then, EIE has continued to pioneer efforts to confront online pornography, child pornography, sexual predation, cyberbullying and sexting with innovative programs, the most recent of which is Internet Safety 101®.
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