It's a $12 billion industry in the United States, with 40 million adults visiting "adult" Internet sites each year. Inevitably, such a big business is also becoming more mainstream. The New York Times business page now covers pornography as blithely as any legitimate industry, even citing names of actors and movies, as if the average reader would be familiar with this body of work.
Americans hate pornography. In the recently released National Cultural Values Survey, 2/3 of us say there's too much sex in the media, and 75 percent of us worry about the decline in moral values. Yet we seem powerless to oppose it - in part because so many of us say that "adult entertainment" is harmless, or somehow therapeutic, or even a right.
The Supreme Court has ruled that, while adult pornography is protected by the First Amendment, obscenity is not. In the 1974 Hamling v. United States obscenity case, the Supreme Court did say that the word "obscene" connotes sexual conduct that is "portrayed in a manner so offensive as to make it unacceptable under current community mores." The court also said that the "mere availability" of similar pornography in the community doesn't make it less obscene.
By that definition, the pornography that began to proliferate on the Internet in the 1990s, and continues to this day, is obscene. It is something to be ashamed of, something to be hidden. Something that you wouldn't show your friends, your family - or your spouse.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton made fighting pornography one of his campaign promises. "Be assured that aggressive enforcement of federal obscenity laws by the Justice Department," he wrote, "will be a priority in a Clinton-Gore administration."
But by 1994, Department of Justice enforcement of federal obscenity laws against commercial distributors of hard-core pornography had for the most part come to an end. When under President Bush the Department of Justice began to enforce obscenity laws again, headlines excoriated the new administration.
Why was the president spending time and resources going after pornography when so many worse threats loomed? They blamed the "Christian right" for obsessing about naughty pictures while more frightening enemies lined up against us.
But the truth is, the flood of pornography threatens us in ways that may not be as obvious as threats like terrorism and drug abuse, but are every bit as grave.
Pornography threatens marriage and the family by distorting the very meaning of sexuality. It threatens women by reducing them to objects of male pleasure, and blurring the lines between what is acceptable and what isn't. It threatens young people by stoking appetites that are increasingly difficult to satisfy. It abuses freedom of speech, because this freedom that was meant to be at the service of public debate, is now being identified with unbridled obscenity.
And it leads to other crimes. In conjunction with Bishop Paul Loverde's teaching efforts, the Alpha Omega Clinic in northern Virginia launched a Web site, "Unity Restored," to help fight pornography in practical ways. The site points out the strong correlation between use of pornography and theft, violence and other anti-social behaviors because it encourages users in the habit of seeing other people as objects to be manipulated instead of persons to be loved.
The Web site further exposes the darkness of the pornography industry:
• A University of New Hampshire study released in February found that 2/3 of children exposed to pornography in the course of a year came across it accidentally during innocent Internet searches.
• "Stealth" pornography is particularly malicious because viewing graphic sexual imagery causes a biological and psychological response in viewers, whether or not they desire it - a response that makes resisting more difficult. Pornographers try to "hook" young people and other innocents to get new customers.
• Dr. C.J. Manning's 2006 study on sexual compulsion showed that learning of a spouse's porn use typically has the same impact on an innocent spouse as learning of an affair - and pornography is a significant factor leading to divorce.
• "Adult" images won't enhance sexual intimacy (a common justification); research consistently shows that pornography use decreases the desire and ability to have relations with a partner.
America is a democracy. In the end, the fight against pornography will only be as strong as we are willing to make it. For information on fighting pornography and helping enforce America's obscenity laws, see the Web site of Morality in Media (MoralityinMedia.org).
National Catholic Register
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 HD Video
- Daily Readings for Monday, December 11, 2017
- Vatican concerned over President Trump's decision in Israel
- Pope Saint Damasus I: Saint of the Day for Monday, December 11, 2017
- After 100 years of construction, the largest Catholic church in ...
- Prepare for the Lord: Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the ...
- Here's how Pope Francis wants to change the Lords Prayer HD Video
- Daily Reading for Monday, December 11th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, December 10th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, December 9th, 2017 HD
- 200,000 people evacuated as California burns HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way