Protection From Pornography

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President George Bush formally declared this week "Protection From Pornography Week," a far cry from the original and more misleading title Morality in Media cooked up several months ago that would have given a whole new slant to this week's spotlight on the porn industry.

"Pornography Awareness Week," was nixed by the White House and immediately re-written as "Protection From Pornography Week."

"It was basically the White House's move to change the name and it was a great move as far as we were concerned," Patrick McGrath of Morality in Media told XBiz.

Morality in Media is the non-profit watchdog group that was originally behind the presidential proclamation in support of stronger obscenity law enforcement.

The push for an anti-porn week began in 1987 with White Ribbon Against Pornography, according to McGrath. Morality in Media has been a long-time anti-porn advocate that in the past has worked with state governors to issue public porn awareness statements.

"But this year we decided to go for the top," McGrath told XBiz.

According to President George Bush, from Oct. 26 through Nov. 1, the White House is calling on public officials, law enforcement officers, and the American people to confront the "dangers of pornography," although the exact meaning of his call to action and how people are supposed to "confront" pornography was not made clear in his White House statement.

In a broad-sweeping dictum, Bush stated that pornography can have "debilitating" effects on communities, marriages, families, and children, although he focused his reproach of the industry more on sexually explicit content that affects children, rather than condemning pornography for consenting adults.

Morality in Media assembled 120 signatures in a letter to the president that included national, state, and local leaders.

"The signers were united in this understanding: obscenity ('hardcore pornography') harms individuals of all ages, destroys marriages, and undermines the right of every American to live in a safe and decent society," said McGrath.

According to McGrath, the goal of this week's pledge is to encourage more vigorous enforcement of federal obscenity laws that pertain to pornography as a whole, not just child pornography.

In 1996, Congress amended federal obscenity laws to clarify that obscenity on the Internet is prohibited. Additionally, the enactment of the PROTECT Act of 2003 strengthens child pornography laws, establishes the Federal Government's role in the AMBER Alert System, increases punishment for Federal crimes against children, and authorizes judges to require extended supervision of sex offenders who are released from prison.

"The large problem is that during the last administration, enforcement of federal obscenity laws against hardcore pornography went to zero," McGrath told XBiz. "There has been a further commitment on the part of this administration to enforce these laws. There is also a lot of public anger out there, particularly over porn spam. People want to know what they can do about it."

In the president's declaration he stated: "We have committed significant resources to the Department of Justice to intensify investigative and prosecutorial efforts to combat obscenity, child pornography, and child sexual exploi-ta-tion on the Internet. We are vigorously prosecuting and severely punishing those who would harm our children. Last July, the Department of Homeland Security launched Operation Predator, an initiative to help identify child predators, rescue children depicted in child pornography, and prosecute those responsible for making and distributing child pornography."