The GOP's Anti-porn Plank Shouldn't Prompt Panic

The GOP's Anti-porn Plank Shouldn't Prompt Panic
Bob Johnson

LOS ANGELES — Mainstream media has been in a tizzy over the Republican Party’s 2012 platform that states it will vigorously enforce obscenity laws. So what’s the big surprise?

Last March, a coalition of anti-porn groups spearheaded by Morality in Media President Patrick A. Trueman, sent a letter to then GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney asking for a meeting to discuss the enforcement of federal obscenity laws.

The letter, posted on The War On Illegal Pornography's website, claimed that the U.S. Department of Justice has stopped all enforcement of laws prohibiting the distribution of hardcore porn through nearly every means of distribution.

Well, not really true, considering the John Stagliano and Ira Isaacs trials.

So now in its platform plank under the heading “Making the Internet Family-Friendly” the GOP has stirred up the anti-porn pot. The last line of the section first asks for a crackdown on child porn and then states, “Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.” The operative words here of course are “current law,” “pornography” and “obscenity.”

According to the Washington Times, the platform revises language from the Party’s 2008 document, which primarily opposed child porn and exploitation.

Doomsayers however, are worried that the new verbiage is more targeted, and if the Republicans gain power they will unleash the Department of Justice’s anti-porn dogs resulting in a firestorm of arrests and convictions.

Some reports, like the Daily Tech’s are even fearing that by banning most hardcore content, “...the Republican party would choke off a major chunk of Internet pornography, which a recent study estimates makes up over 30 percent of the total Internet data traffic.”

Others maintain that the clamping down would hurt major hotel chains that make a healthy, albeit dwindling, profit from adult video on demand — citing an almost anti-capitalist move by the big business proponents. Trueman noted that current federal obscenity laws not only prohibit distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet but also on hotel/motel TV, on cable/satellite TV, and in retail shops.

But what needs to be remembered amidst this frenzy is that enforcing obscenity laws have over the years proven to be extremely difficult for the government, regardless of what party is in control. The Feds would still be confronted with the 1973 Miller v. California case where the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity need be determined by community standards — a very tough battle that’s defense has won major battles for the adult industry.

Even with political firepower, prosecuting porn has always been tough. In 2010 for example, John Stagliano’s obscenity case was dismissed when the government failed to prove the charges.

A Jezebel report pointed out, “There have been very few obscenity cases over the last 20 years, and though the most recent Bush administration promised more vigilant enforcement of current obscenity laws, it only really took aim at the most extreme porn languishing in the great rain gutter of X-rated material.”

Fast forward to the recent Ira Isaacs obscenity win for the Feds (under the Democrats' watch by the way) — but that included scat  — extreme content that in most cases would be considered obscene even by jaded porn fans.

And yes, the GOP leaders would probably be more inclined to come down harder on porn if they win (we can’t forget President Reagan’s Meese Commission), but the porn industry can’t panic if the Republicans oust President Obama in the fall.

And the move may not have any teeth at all. In all probability it's typical GOP party rhetoric pandering heavily to the religious right, especially considering Romney's very conservative Mormon faith. The winners of the next election after all, have bigger problems (read the economy).

When it comes down to it, the decision to stop porn really lies with the people — citizens who thus far have proven to be a lot more savvy and freedom loving than their elected leaders.

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