ACLU Seeks to Defend Virtual Child Porn

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Civil Liberties Union has come under attack for seeking First Amendment protection for virtual child porn, in which actors or characters appearing to be underage are exhibited in a sexual manner.

Citing 2002’s Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition, in which, among other things, the Supreme Court ruled that creating virtual child porn was protected under the First Amendment, the ACLU is protesting a bill being shepherded through Congress by Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman F. James Sensebrenner that would create mandatory sentencing for people who distribute such material.

The ACLU often has irritated liberal adherents by siding with organizations such as the National Man Boy Love Association and the Ku Klux Klan when those groups have sued to assemble or to publish their views.

ACLU lawyers filed an amicus brief in the 1982 Supreme Court child pornography case, New York v. Ferber. The case sought to legalize the sale and distribution — but not the production — of child pornography. The Court unanimously decided that child pornography was not worthy of protection.

Prior to the current 2257 controversy, the ACLU’s Barry Lynn in 1985 told the Senate Judiciary Committee that requiring porn producers to maintain records of their performers' ages was impermissible. "If there is no federal record-keeping requirement for the people portrayed in Road and Track or 'Star Wars,’" he said, "there can be no such requirement for Hustler or ‘Debbie Does Dallas.’”

ACLU critics say the organization cannot see the forest for the trees.

According to StoptheACLU.com editor Jay Stephenson, “How can one argue this sick, twisted view in the name of protecting civil liberties?"

According to its website, "The ACLU believes that the First Amendment protects the dissemination of all forms of communication. The ACLU opposes on First Amendment grounds laws that restrict the production and distribution of any printed and visual materials even when some of the producers of those materials are punishable under criminal law."