Romney's 'Protecting Our Children' Agenda Calls For Obscenity Prosecutions

Tod Hunter
BOSTON — The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney posted a policy briefing on July 19 under the title "Protecting Our Children" calling for more enforcement of obscenity laws, a federal "One Strike and You're Ours" law for sexual predators who use the Internet, and punishments and fines for retailers who sell "excessively violent and sexually explicit video games" to minors. The policy briefing uses the phrase "protect our children" or a variation 11 times throughout.

Contending that federal obscenity laws have not been adequately enforced, Romney sid he will require the Justice Department to enforce existing federal obscenity laws, prosecuting producers and distributors of "the worst-of-the-worst obscene materials."

Romney's "One Strike and You're Ours" proposal calls for federal penalties for first-time offenders "who use the Internet to sexually assault children," including mandatory jail time and lifetime tracking by a GPS device. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney put photos of sex offenders online, and also signed legislation to make it easier to extend the civil commitments of sex offenders.

The video games proposal calls for "strong punishments and fines for retailers that sell violent and sexually explicit video games to minors."

"To suggest that there is a connection between children at risk and any component of the entertainment universe is entirely fallacious," 1st Amendment attorney Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ. "But it means that you don't have to deal with real issues facing today's children. Children being born to other children. Children being born with no access to health care, to education, to safety. There are hundreds of thousands of kids who live in an environment where they have to always be alert for gunshots.

"A call for more aggressive enforcement of obscenity laws than that which the current administration is engaged in translates into more arbitrary prosecution of people who are only doing what other consenting adults want them to, which is to take photographs of adults consensually having sex. And since having sex isn't a crime, the idea that people could go to prison and have their lives destroyed for taking pictures of that which is legal is absurd. There is no social good, there is no benefit to children, it is all a big lie."

The policy briefing is available at the Romney campaign's website.