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It Sounded Like a Good Idea, But —

By JoAnn Hamilton
November 10, 2005

So often I am asked, " What can we do about Internet pornography?" One answer is to purchase a good Internet filter, but even so, knowledgeable people know that this lessens the problem without eliminating it. Filters are imperative, but supervision still has to take place. The Internet should never be in a bedroom or closed room.

 

"But can we get rid of the pornography on the Internet?" I am asked. "Can we relegate it to a new .xxx Internet domain so if we don't choose to see it, we can avoid it."  

 

For some time now, I have thought that was a good idea. Then I read Dr. James Dobson's September 2005 newsletter and I totally changed my mind. Let me explain.  

 

Dr. Dobson stated that proponents of the measure suggest that it (relegating pornography to an .xxx domain) will clean up the rest of the Internet and isolate pornographic sites to a single domain. He goes on to say, "Reality suggests otherwise. Rather than minimize the proliferation of sleaze and offensive material, the added domain will only give pornographers more opportunity to flood our homes with despicable content." They would have an acceptable place to put it, and it would drastically increase. In addition, they would continue to sneak it into other locations as they do today.

 

Dr. Dobson states: "It's been suggested that users would be able to program their computers to totally bock access to any website with an .xxx domain. Yet, some technology experts even believe this ‘magic bullet' approach to filtering won't even work. Then where will we be? At this writing, the Commerce Department, which maintains the authority to block or allow the domain's availability within the United States, has put the proposal on hold at the behest of the Bush administration, which shares concerns similar to ours. ... Communicate your objection to this proposal to the Department of Commerce via letters and e-mail." Contact information: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20230. By e-mail, please contact Secretary Gutierrez at Cgutierrez@doc.gov.

 

Another question I am asked is, "Why can the Internet and cable television take obscenity over state lines?"

 

Obscenity was prosecuted successfully during the Reagan administration and very little went over state lines, but when President Clinton was elected, "porn kingpins, who had donated generously to Clinton's election efforts, cheered lustily as their business recovered and their profits boomed. These are documented facts within the pornography world." When Clinton appointed attorney general Janet Reno, she immediately began dismantling the Justice Department's effort to prosecute the producers and distributors of obscenity. This administration even tried to loosen the prosecution of child pornography, quite unsuccessfully, however.

 

Prosecution of adult obscenity was virtually nonexistent throughout Clinton 's two terms, and knowing this, there was no hesitation by pornographers to send their goods over state lines.  

 

Sadly, there has been some prosecution, but not near enough under President Bush. Our relatively new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, has recently said, "Enforcement (of   obscenity laws) is absolutely necessary if we are going to protect citizens from unwanted exposure to obscene materials." We are hopeful but are still awaiting the indictment of a high-profile pornographer. To encourage him to enforce obscenity laws and prosecute pornography criminals, write to: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20530-0001. Or e-mail: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.


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