Senator Calls for Hearing on Pornography

WASHINGTON — Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is no stranger to many in the adult industry, especially purveyors of adult content in his home state of Kansas.

The intensely religious Brownback, who has already publicized his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination for president, has been an outspoken critic of adult content for years, and next week he’s bringing his platform to the nation’s capital for the third time.

Brownback has organized a hearing of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Right Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the topic, “Why the Government Should Care About Pornography: The State Interest in Protecting Children and Families.” The meeting will take place Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.

The Free Speech Coalition’s new Washington lobbyists, The Raben Group, said it plans to be in attendance at the hearing.

This isn’t the first time Brownback has led anti-pornography hearings. Almost exactly one year ago the same subcommittee, also lead by Brownback, held a hearing on “Pornography Addiction,” during which Brownback called on members to endorse a public health campaign warning that the “addiction” is destroying families and harming children.

In February, Brownback conducted a hearing on “Obscenity Prosecution and the Constitution.” Members of the FSC said they requested an opportunity to address the Subcommittee at the “Obscenity” hearing but were denied.

Throughout the previous two hearings, the Senate Commerce subcommittee on science heard from a number of researchers who compared erotica's effects on the brain to addiction to heroin or crack cocaine. One witness, James B. Weaver, a Virginia Tech professor, pointed to studies that he claimed showed that a prolonged use of pornography leads to “sexual callousness, the erosion of family values and diminished sexual satisfaction.”

Interestingly, Brownback was not always characterized as a staunch conservative. When he first campaigned for Congress in 1994 he was described by the New York Times as a middle-of-the-road politician, “friendlier to abortion rights [for example] because he did not oppose abortions in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the pregnant woman.”

In 1995, however, Brownback was diagnosed with melanoma, which later influenced his conversion to Catholicism and a marked shift in his political views to the right.

At the Republican National Convention in 2004, for example, he rallied a meeting of Christian conservatives with calls for a “cultural war” in the U.S.