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Protecting Our Children

Understanding our First Amendment Right to Protect Children

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Minority groups have inundated us with First Amendment rights issues. What they forget is that we have a First Amendment right to rear our children in an environment that does not force sexual images on to them at ages when they should not have to deal with sexual feelings.

Dr. William McGrath, a psychiatrist, states, “There is a phase of personality development called the latency period, during which the healthy child is not interested in sex. This interval from about the age of five until adolescence serves a very important biological purpose. It affords a child an opportunity to develop his own resources, his beginning physical and mental strength. Premature interest in sex is unnatural and will arrest or distort the development of the personality. Sex education should not be foisted on children.” (To Strengthen the Family, JoAnn Hamilton, p. 49)

The truth is that it is not a First Amendment right to harm children by introducing them to sexual concepts. On the contrary, there is a law called the “Harmful to Minors Law.” Sometimes it is referred to as the “Indecent Public Display law.” This law defines what is appropriate for children. As I read the definition of that law, it seems clear to me that all of those plunging necklines that go nearly to the waists of the models on the covers of magazines break that law. A copy of this law can be found on the web site, www.strengthenthefamily.net, under “Articles About Pornography.” If we do not enforce that law, it will become a moot law, which means that it is unenforceable, and then we can legally have obscenity on billboards, on posters, and on magazine covers that are publicly displayed.

As we think about First Amendment rights, we need to look at the fact that all civilized nations have laws. Laws establish limits. Driving with blood alcohol over a certain limit is an example. Drug use is regulated. Soft-core pornography is regulated by the “Harmful to Minors” law and the standard can be even higher if the community wants it higher. In Bountiful, Utah, we have chosen to have everything inappropriate for children removed from the sight of children. See our web site for more information. It is a First Amendment right for any community to establish its own community standard.

So what is soft-core pornography? Soft-core pornography introduces sexual concepts to children. Some people define it according to what the “Harmful to Minors” law protects. It can be defined by your community.

Censorship? All stores choose what brand of items that they sell. Stores can choose what books or videos they sell. No one is forced to sell pornography or sexual material of any kind. What comes into the community is read by children. Remember that what is read by other children is talked about on the playground and therefore it does affect your children.

Is covering magazines hurting someone's First Amendment rights? No! It is a First Amendment right to be able to obtain some materials that might be inappropriate for children, and covering them to protect children actually doesn't take away anyone's First Amendment rights. People will still have access to covered materials. Covering inappropriate materials actually protects children's First Amendment rights to not be inundated with sexual material that breaks the “Harmful to Minors” law. Frankly, the stores can choose to not sell magazines they deem undesirable for the community. People who want those materials can go elsewhere to get them.

There is a giant silent majority in America that needs to speak out in polite ways to the sellers of merchandise. Silence can imply consent. As members of a community, we need to determine what is inappropriate for children and what is displayed where they can see it, remembering that a minor is anyone 17 and under. We can either politely thank people at the service desk for appropriate displays, or we can request that uncovered materials be covered up. By doing so, we establish a community standard and preserve the First Amendment rights of the children in our community.

See www.strengthenthefamily.net under “Articles About Pornography,” “Redefining Community Standards” by Frank D. Mylar and “Have You Seen Any Indecent Public Displays Lately?” by Jim Olsen.

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