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Morality in Media: McCain, Obama Closed Mouth About Obscenity Law Enforcement

NEW YORK — Yesterday, Morality in Media President Robert Peters sent the following letter to VP Candidates Sarah Palin and Joseph Biden:

I am writing to ask you to make public your position regarding enforcement of federal obscenity laws. The American people deserve to know where the PRESIDENTIAL candidates stand on this vital issue; but to date Senators McCain and Obama have been closed-mouth about obscenity law enforcement.

There are federal laws that prohibit distribution of obscene materials in interstate commerce. In recent decades Congress has also strengthened these laws on several occasions, including an amendment in 1996 to clarify that use of an interactive computer service to transport obscene materials is prohibited.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that enforcement of obscenity laws does not violate the First Amendment. The Court has also recognized that there are “legitimate governmental interests” at stake in stemming the tide of obscene materials, “even assuming it is feasible to” shield children from it. These include protecting public safety, public morality and family life and maintaining a decent society.

It is of course no secret that the United States has failed miserably at protecting children from exposure to hardcore “adult” pornography. The Internet in particular is awash with such material, and much of it is available to minors without cost or proof of age. Surveys also indicate that large numbers of children have been inadvertently exposed to Internet pornography or have sought it out.

Under President Clinton, the Justice Department rarely enforced obscenity laws. Under President Bush, there has been more enforcement but not enough to stem what is now a floodtide of obscene materials. It is our hope that the next President will do all in his constitutional power to ensue that the Justice Department vigorously enforces obscenity laws. According to the results of a national opinion poll commissioned by Morality in Media and conducted by Harris Interactive in April 2008 (see enclosed Release), 75% of adult Americans will support him if he does.

I understand that there are many pressing issues facing our nation, but evidence abounds that hardcore pornography, among other things, debases women, ruins marriages, corrupts children, and contributes to sexual exploitation of children, sexual trafficking, and forcible rape.

The choice our nation now faces is to wage war against obscenity or succumb to it. The hour is late.

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