Each May is “Victims of Pornography Month” — nothing to celebrate — just a month-long remembrance of something we’d like to forget. We pin on another ribbon, hold a press conference, pass a resolution, and do whatever else we think will help the cause with the hope that it’s the last time. But this one that just ended should be the last one. Don’t wait until the victim is the face of someone you love.
If you’re skeptical about “victims of pornography,” read some of the stories posted at the “Victims’ Stories page on the VictimsOfPornography.org website.
Consider the following:
“A military jury Wednesday gave a 25-year prison sentence to a lieutenant colonel who admitted killing his wife during an argument about his use of the Internet to view pornography, an Army spokesman said.” Associated Press, October 30, 2002.
Seven-year-old Danielle Van Dam, murdered last year in San Diego County, California, by a porn addict, became another victim of the “victimless” crime, as did the kidnapped and murdered 5-year-old Samantha Runnion of Orange County, California. Media have reported that the mother of Samantha’s accused murderer said that she saw porn on his computer.
“Father stabs his 12-year-old son in the head for refusing to perform a sex act less than one hour after downloading pornography from the Internet.” Associated Press, December 12, 2000.
“Pedophile with backpack full of pornography assaults child in library.” The Spokane Spokesman-Review, December 29, 2001.
“Two girls, ages 11 and 12, post pictures of themselves nude on the Internet, saying they were influenced by pornography on the Internet.” The Boston Herald, January 17, 2002.
“Man charged in Oregon nun’s murder had just left the only strip joint in Klamath Falls before he attacked the women.” Associated Press, September 3, 2002.
“Study shows pedophiles start as young as nine, often exposed to pornography and violence. Asia Intelligence Wire, September 10, 2002.
“A barrage of Internet pornography has turned the downtown library into a hostile work environment for a dozen librarians, according to claims in a new federal lawsuit. The 12 sued the city library system Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleging they endured an intimidating, hostile and offensive workplace that violated state and federal law. The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $400,000 each, plus workplace changes. … ‘We were living in hell, and they were unwilling to acknowledge the problem,’ said [Wendy] Adamson. … The issue arose soon after Internet access was installed in 1997. Almost immediately, the librarians claimed, the screens began displaying ‘virtually every imaginable kind of human sexual conduct.’” USA Today, March 26, 2003.
“A man was arrested for masturbating while on the computer in the children’s department at the Cleveland Public Library downtown Wednesday. According to security officers at the library, a security camera caught 23-year-old John Titter with his hands down his pants at the library. … Titter was busted in October 2002, for downloading child pornography at the Mayfield Village Library.” WKYC.com, Cleveland, April 10, 2003.
In a Fortune magazine article May 10, 1999, “Addicted to Sex: Corporate America’s Dirty Secret,” Patrick Carnes, a nationally recognized expert in sexual addictions is quoted: “Most of my patients are CEOs or doctors or attorneys or priests. We have corporate America’s leadership marching through here.”
Porn performer “Reagan Starr,” in an interview with Talk magazine in February 2001, described her experience while filming Rough Sex 2 in horrific terms. She said that, while sex acts were performed on her, she was hit and choked until she couldn’t breathe. Other “actresses,” she said, wept because they were hurting so badly. In the same article, a sex-film star notes how threatening the work is to performers’ health. “Nearly everyone has STDs [sexually transmitted diseases],” said Chloe. “If you’re a porno performer,” she continued, “your latest HIV test is your work permit. … The tests we take test only for AIDS. We’ve contained AIDS in the industry, but what about all the others? You know we’re now up to hepatitis G?”
“Cybersex compulsive” is a term coined in a 2000 study, “Online Sexual Compulsivity: Getting Tangled in the Web,” to define at least 200,000 American adults who visit Internet sex sites at least 11 hours per week. According to researchers Al Cooper, David Delmonico and Ron Burg, writing in the journal, Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: “This is a hidden public health hazard exploding in part because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously.”
WHERE DO VICTIMS GO FOR HELP?
Therapists: There are professionals who treat victims and addicts of pornography. They provide an important service. A friend has treated an eight-year-old who is addicted to Internet porn. But they will tell you that they are like a hospital at the bottom of an unfenced cliff.
Pornographers: Those living high off the abuse and exploitation of women and the weakness of men would have you believe that victims of pornography exist only in the minds of “right-wing religious zealots.” Pornographers and their allies want no fence around the cliff and do their utmost to destroy those that exist.
Congress: Legislators build fences by passing laws. For the last several years, Congress has acted to prevent more victims of pornography by passing new laws to make it easier to stop illegal pornography, especially on the Internet.
Courts: These are the fence inspectors. All too often they find fault with new fences and order them torn down. Some judges seem to care more for those who don’t want a fence than for those who are falling over the cliff. Still, there are several federal obscenity laws that have been tried, tested and proven effective when they are enforced.
Law Enforcement: Fences need enforcement — vigorous, unrelenting enforcement. In the federal government, that’s the job of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service and Customs. It’s illegal to mail obscenity, ship it via an instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce or in the federal maritime jurisdiction, transport it on an interstate highway, including in your own vehicle, broadcast it on radio or television, distribute or acquire it via an interactive computer service — you get the idea. The DOJ has a special section, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), experts whose job is to enforce the federal laws in conjunction with the U.S. attorneys.
www.obscenitycrimes.org: This is a great place to report the fence-busters. Last June, Morality In Media (MIM) launched this website so that the public can file complaints about online obscenity, including porn spam and websites offering hard-core pornography. Hard-core porn is the kind the Supreme Court has said can be prosecuted as obscene. From June 2002 through April 30, 2003, MIM has forwarded to CEOS 22,897 reports from citizens that were filed on the website. Copies of the complaints have been sent to all 93 U.S. attorneys. The question is: What are they doing about it?
President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft have made clear that they want the federal obscenity laws enforced:
“Until recently, the worst kind of pornography was mainly limited to red-light districts or restricted to adults or confined by geography, isolated by shame. With the Internet, pornography is now instantly available to any child who has a computer. And in the hands of the wrong people, in the hands of incredibly wicked people, the Internet is a tool that lures children into real danger. … We don’t accept this kind of degrading. It’s unacceptable to America. We don’t accept offensive conduct like this in our schools, in the commercial establishments, and we can’t accept it in our homes. We cannot allow this to happen to our children. … We’re waging an aggressive nationwide effort to prevent the use of the Internet to sexually exploit and endanger children. That’s what we’re doing.” President George W. Bush, October 23, 2002
“Obscenity invades our homes persistently through the mail, phone, VCR, cable TV, and now the Internet. This multi-million dollar industry with links to organized crime has strewn its victims from coast-to-coast. Never before has so much obscene material been so easily accessible to minors.” Attorney General John Ashcroft, June 6, 2002
“I am committed fully to dedicating the resources necessary to combat this burgeoning problem.” Attorney General John Ashcroft, May 7, 2002
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Attorney General John Ashcroft sets the policy for the DOJ, including the 93 U.S. attorneys who are political appointees of the president. They are also accountable to you, the taxpayer. Their “Mission Statement” acknowledges their accountability: “Each United States Attorney exercises wide discretion in the use of his/her resources to further the priorities of the local jurisdictions and needs of their communities.” You can read their mission statement here.
Write a polite but firm letter to the U.S. attorney in your district stressing that the “priorities” and “needs of their communities” include obscenity enforcement. Limit it to two pages. (You can get the name and contact information from this link. They are listed alphabetically by state. States with larger populations are divided into federal districts, each with a U.S. attorney. Some states have only one.)
Tell him that you agree with 81 percent of Americans polled in 2001 who want the federal obscenity laws enforced. Tell him that the president and the attorney general have made it clear that they want the federal obscenity laws enforced.
Tell him that you know that X number of complaints have been sent to his office from the obscenitycrimes.org website. If you’ve made a complaint, tell him. (You can find out the number of complaints that have been sent to them at this link.)
Ask what is being done about the complaints. Ask how many investigations are in progress, the names of those who’ve been indicted, the names of those who’ve been convicted, and what was the penalty? All of this is public information.
Tell him that child-pornography enforcement is important, but it doesn’t affect adult obscenity such as the 100,000 hard-core websites with thousands of free teaser images available to your children and grandchildren.
Tell him that as long as prosecution is focused on the higher offense, child pornography, it will have no effect on the “adult” pornography industry. That is why there is so much hard-core adult obscenity pandered so brazenly and fearlessly. There was no virtually no federal enforcement of obscenity in the eight years of Clinton/Reno and only a few prosecutions in the two years since. Tell them the federal government must send a clear message to those who produce and distribute illegal adult obscenity.
Tell him that Rudy Guiliani and New York’s finest made the NYC safer from crime than at any time in recent years. They did it by enforcing all of the laws starting with low-level street crimes such as prostitution, pick-pocketing, petty theft, sleeping on the streets and public intoxication. They didn’t ignore murder but they didn’t focus on it; yet, the murder rate dropped 50 percent. Even the dumbest criminals get the point.
Tell him obscenity isn’t a “victimless crime” and that pedophiles use obscenity to seduce children.
Tell him he has no authority to ignore an entire section of U.S. law, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1460-1470.
Tell him that it’s up to a jury to say whether material is obscene. And the people in their district are being deprived of their right to set their community standards if the laws aren’t enforced.
If you don’t receive a prompt response, follow up with a phone call or, better yet, make an appointment to see him in his office and take others along who share your concerns.
If you don’t think the answers are satisfactory, find out the reason. And if you’re still not satisfied, tell him that you’re writing to his boss, the one who said, “Saddam Hussein knows that I mean what I say.”
The victims need help. The fence needs enforcement or there will be more victims next year and another remembrance.
Write a letter. Pray. Spread the word by giving copies of this article to others where you work, live, and worship. Ask them to read it and help you make a difference. Send us copies of your letters. We will consider it a privilege to hand deliver them to the White House.
Let’s make next May a celebration instead of a remembrance.
— Jan LaRue is chief counsel of Concerned Women for America.