Mike Raffery


When you begin an organized effort against the traffic in illegal pornography in your community, certain cliche arguments will be brought up to weaken your effort. You will hear them in private conversation, in public debate and in the media.

These cliches and answers should be studied and mastered so that the truth will be brought out.


1. You are advocating censorship by urging enforcement of state and federal obscenity laws.


Absolutely not. From a constitutional perspective, censorship means prior restraint of First Amendment rights by government. The Federal and state obscenity laws, however, operate after, not in advance of publication. Quoting from an earlier opinion, the Supreme Court said in its landmark 1931 Near v. Minnesota decision that the “main purpose” of the First Amendment provisions regarding free speech and press are “to prevent all such previous restraints upon publications as had been practiced by other governments, and they do not prevent the subsequent punishment of such as may be deemed contrary to the public welfare.” The First Amendment has never been interpreted as preventing censure for criminal matter when published, and persons can be fined and imprisoned if they disseminate obscene material.

2. But the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and of the press.


Of course it does. But despite its unconditional phrasing, the First Amendment was never intended to protect every utterance, and the Supreme Court has consistently held that there are narrow categories of speech which are not protected by the First Amendment, which include obscenity, child porn, libel, false advertising, perjury, contempt of court, inciting a riot and falsely shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater. Obscenity is not protected speech. It is a crime, and traffic in obscenity is largely controlled by organized crime.

3. Pornography is thriving, so the American people must want it or accept it.


A. Certainly there are people who want it. That’s what makes it profitable. National opinion polls, however, have consistently shown that the large majority of Americans are opposed to pornography and support legal measures to curb it. The majority do care, but they are confused and discouraged in the face of a highly organized pornography industry and its defenders, which include the ACLU and much of the mainstream media.

B. Just because pornography is available for sale does not mean it is acceptable in the community. In its 1974 Hamling v. United States decision, the Supreme Court, quoting from two lower court cases, said that just because pornographic materials are for sale and purchased around the country “does not make them witnesses of virtue … Mere availability of similar materials by itself means nothing more than that other persons are engaged in similar activities.”

C. “Community standards” cannot be measured by the number of patrons in an “adult” bookstore or in the “adults only” section of a mainstream video store. The illegal drug industry also is thriving, but obviously that does not mean that the majority of Americans accept this heinous traffic. Most illegal drugs and most illegal pornography are consumed by a small minority of the population, who are addicts.

4. Pornography is a victimless crime.


A. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. Every criminal law is intended to protect individuals from direct or indirect harm to their own persons or property or to the communities in which they live. The victims of the pornography industry are strewn from coast to coast. They include sexually abused children, corrupted teens, degraded and violated women, addicted men, broken marriages, ruined neighborhoods, AIDS victims and ultimately, the very soul and humanity of our nation.

B. Victims of “copycat rape” are common. Easily accessible hardcore pornographic materials are known to set off rapists and provide them with blueprints for brutal assaults on women and children.

C. Children are victims of porn in a myriad of ways. Some are used in child porn. Others are exposed to pornographic materials to soften them up for incest or other sexual molestation. Children sexually molest other children in imitation of what they’ve seen in pornography. “Throwaway” teens are lured into performing before the pornographer’s camera. Many children lose the support of two parents because of divorce related to pornography addiction. Finally, every child risks exposure to materials that distort human sexuality and can lead to a lifetime of sexual dysfunction.

5. Obscenity is difficult to define; there is 50 no clear definition on the books.


False. The United States Supreme Court defined obscenity quite adequately in its landmark 1973 decision Miller v. California. Before sexual material can be adjudged obscene and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment, a judge or jury must determine: 1. that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest; 2. that the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, when applying community standards, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable law; and 3. that a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value.

6. But the Supreme Court left it to communities to decide what is obscene.


It isn’t true that a community can ban whatever sexual expression it chooses. To be “obscene” sexual materials must at a minimum depict or describe “hard-core” sexual conduct. Furthermore, “community standards” is not the test for obscenity, but a part of the test. If sexual material, taken as a whole, has serious artistic, political, literary or scientific value, it is not obscene, no matter how deeply it offends the community.

7. When “consenting adults” view obscene materials, no one is being harmed.


In its 1973 Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton decision, the Supreme Court “categorically disapprove[d]” the theory that obscene films acquire constitutional immunity from government regulation simply because they are exhibited for consenting adults only. “In particular,” said the Court, “we hold… that there are legitimate state interests at stake in stemming the tide of commercialized obscenity, even assuming it is feasible to enforce effective safeguards against exposure to juveniles and to [unconsenting adults] … These include the interest of the public in the quality of life, the total community environment, the tone of commerce in great city centers, and, possibly, the public safety itself.”

As the Court in Paris Adult Theatre I also pointed out: “If we accept the … well nigh universal belief that good books, plays and art lift the spirit, improve the mind, enrich the human personality and develop character, can we then say that a … legislature may not act on the corollary assumption that commerce in obscene books … has a tendency to exert a corrupting, debasing impact leading to antisocial behavior? … The sum of experience … affords an ample basis … to conclude that a sensitive, key relationship of human existence, central to family life, community welfare, and the development of human personality, can be debased and distorted by crass commercial exploitation of sex.”

8. I have a right to watch what I choose in my own home.


To some extent you are right. In a 1969 case, Stanely v. Georgia, the Supreme Court held that obscenity laws cannot be applied to the mere possession of obscene material by the individual in the privacy of his or her own home. There is no right, however, to sell or purchase obscene material in the marketplace, and the Supreme Court has consistently rejected constitutional protection for obscene material outside the home. Obscenity laws punish the purveyor, not the home viewer.

In a 1990 case, Osborne v. Ohio, the Supreme Court also upheld a law penalizing the private possession and viewing of child porn.

9. If you don’t like obscene films and books, you don’t have to see them or buy them, but don’t interfere with my right to buy them.


My like or dislike for obscenity is irrelevant. Dissemination of obscene materials is illegal, and no one has a right to sell illegal materials. Obscenity laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. They have been enacted to protect the common good from prurient, patently offensive sex materials lacking in literary, artistic, political, and scientific value – materials which do, in fact, have a destructive effect on individuals and society (see No. 4).

10. You cannot legislate morality.


Yes, you can. All law rests on moral assumption, and every law legislates morality. Think of all the criminal laws – those against rape, murder, robbery, and so forth. Defining what is morally right and wrong is and always has been the essence of the legislative function. Public morals are the business of the entire community, and it is public morality that obscenity laws are designed to safeguard.

In its 1973 Paris Adult Theatre I decision, the Supreme Court, quoting from an earlier opinion, said that a legislative body could prohibit obscenity to protect “the social interest in order and morality.”

11. Obscenity is in the eye of the beholder.


This implies that the determination of obscenity is subjective. It is not. What is legally obscene is determined by applying a three-part obscenity test. At a minimum, to be obscene sexual material must depict “hard-core” sexual conduct specifically defined in the statute. When taken as a whole, the material must also lack serious artistic, literary, political and scientific value. Furthermore, obscenity is determined by applying community standards, not my personal standards or yours.

12. Who are you to tell me what I can see or read? You are imposing your morality on me!


A. I am not telling you what to see or to read. The people, through their elected representatives in Washington, D.C., and in over 40 state capitals, have decided that obscene materials cannot be distributed in interstate commerce or in their states. The people, with the approval of the Courts, have decided to protect themselves, their families and their communities from the harms associated with hardcore pornography.

B. Pornography now invades the home in the form of mail porn, dial-a-porn, cable porn, video porn, computer porn, radio porn, rock and rap music porn and satellite-to-dish porn. The reality is that the sex business is trying to impose its libertine immorality on an entire nation by appealing to the worst in individuals and by preying upon an entire generation of children.

C. In any society, someone’s -morality (or immorality) must prevail. The real question becomes, “Whose morality will prevail in America?” The pornographer’s, leading to anarchy and decadence? Or the moral principles of the large majority who honor the Judeo-Christian code – a code which has been embraced, not imposed, as the cornerstone of Western civilization.

13. Pornography is harmless. The 1970 Presidential Commission report said SO.


The 1970 Majority Report of the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography was called a “scientific scandal” by many in the scientific community. A minority report of that Commission (“Hill-Link Minority Report”) cited numerous instances where evidence against pornography was suppressed when it went counter to the predetermined “findings” of the Majority Report. It was the Hill-Link Minority Report, not the Majority Report, which was read into the record in both Houses of Congress as a “responsible position on the issues,” and was later cited four times by the U.S. Supreme Court in upholding obscenity laws. However, pornographers and their defenders continue to resurrect the flawed and discredited Majority Report, which was rejected by the President and the U.S. Senate (by a vote of 60 to 5).

14. The findings of the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, concluding that pornography is harmful, have been totally discredited.


Absolutely untrue. After the Commission issued its Final Report, a high-priced campaign was conducted by the defenders of pornography to discredit the Commission. The Commission and its findings, however, were sound, affirming what common sense has already told Americans. The Commission found that a causal link exists between sexually violent materials and antisocial and unlawful acts of sexual violence and that “nonviolent materials depicting degradation, domination, subordination, or humiliation” bore “some causal relationship to the level of sexual violence, sexual coercion, or unwanted sexual aggression in the population so exposed.”

15. There is no scientific proof that pornography causes sexual crime.


A. Scientific proof is not necessary. In its 1973 Paris Adult Theatre I decision, the Supreme Court expressly rejected the argument that government cannot regulate obscenity unless it has “scientific data” that “conclusively demonstrates” that exposure to obscene materials adversely affects individuals or society. This does not mean, however, that no adverse effects occur or that no evidence of a causal relationship exists. Reports from professionals who treat individuals with sexual disfunction’s, field studies of sex offenders’ use of pornography, police and news reports, laboratory studies, our own life’s experiences and common sense all provide evidence of pornography’s harms.

B. Prevention of sex crimes is not the only reason for prohibiting the dissemination of obscenity. As the Supreme Court said in Paris Adult Theatre I, “Apart from sex crimes … there remains one problem of large proportions … As Mr. Chief Justice Warren stated, there is a ‘right of the Nation and of the States to maintain a decent society.'”

16. Why bother enforcing the law? The “adult” bookstores keep operating while their owners are in the courts, and even if eventually closed, they later come back.


A. Patience, persistence, and continuous, vigorous enforcement of the law is the answer. When arrests and prosecutions begin, the sex industry is put on warning. Prison sentences and fines can eventually put the pornographers out of business. Many cities across America, including Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and Cincinnati, were freed of obscene material because of vigorous, continuous law enforcement. When the pornographers realize that the community and prosecutor “mean business,” they’ll stay out of the business.

B. The RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws provide the ultimate weapon against the pornography industry. Besides imposing stiff fines and prison sentences, RICO laws can force the forfeiture of all assets of a pornography business, including real property, stores, vehicles and bank accounts. This is what breaks the porn racketeer’s financial back. The federal government and many state governments have their own RICO statutes including obscenity. Every state should be armed with such a law.

17. It is impossible for the owners and managers of stores selling pornographic videos and magazines to know if the material is obscene.


The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected vagueness challenges to its obscenity definition. For example, in its 1957 Roth v. United States decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said, “[W]e hold that these statutes, applied according to the proper standard for judging obscenity, do not … fail to give men … adequate notice of what is prohibited.”

In its landmark 1973 Miller obscenity decision, the Supreme Court said that “no one will be subject to prosecution for the sale or exposure of obscene materials unless these materials depict or describe patently offensive ‘hard core’ sexual conduct specifically defined … We are satisfied that these specific prerequisites will provide fair notice to a dealer in such materials that his … activities may bring prosecution.”

18. Why be concerned about obscenity when there is so much violent crime?


Because they’re related. Pornography denies human dignity and has an eroding effect on moral standards, thus contributing to violent crime generally, and it also often stimulates the user into violent sexual acts. Sexually oriented businesses also breed and attract violent crime. It is no coincidence that when “adult” bookstores are closed down, violent crimes often decrease in that neighborhood. The prostitutes, drug pushers, and the criminally prone who are attracted to pornography outlets leave the area. In addition, the link between the porn business and organized crime is well-documented.

19. If you’d let pornography flow freely, people would get bored and the problem would take care of itself.


A. This boredom or satiation theory is invalid. Many users of pornography do not get bored, but rather become addicted, seeking more and more bizarre materials. For many, also, the passivity of pornography must eventually give way to action. In the unstable, it often triggers sexual abuse, rape, and sometimes even murder.

B. Because of a lack of vigorous obscenity law enforcement since the late 1960s, illegal hardcore pornography has been allowed to flow freely in many communities. Yet, instead of pornography going away, it has lured more and more people into destructive addictions. Remember that new markets for the industry are being created every day as children and teenagers are lured by the pornographer’s siren song into becoming consumers of pornographic material.

20. I’d rather see people make love than make violence.


Much pornography is sexually violent material, depicting sadomasochistic behavior, rape, disfigurement, torture and murder. The 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography also found out that an “enormous amount” of nonviolent sexual materials depict degradation, domination, subordination, or humiliation and that substantial exposure to such materials bore “some causal relationship to the level of sexual violence, sexual coercion, or unwanted sexual aggression in the population so exposed.”

And lastly, violence is inherent in all pornography, because there is no love in pornography. It debases men, women, children, and all humanity, reducing sex to an animalistic appetite; divorcing sex from marriage and procreation; creating unrealistic expectations and resulting frustrations; lowering inhibitions and inflaming passions.

21. War, poverty, hunger, and homelessness are the real obscenities that you should be fighting.


There are many noble causes to which we may be able to contribute time and treasure. However, it is not possible for one person to fight all the evils of the world. Each person should select his or her own primary battlefield in the fight for a decent society. Hardcore pornography – dehumanizing, depraved, and an assault upon the sacredness of the person in the most intimate sanctuary of his or her own being – is a true obscenity. The war against pornography is worthy and winnable.

22. What next? Where do you draw the line? A ban on obscene materials today will lead to real censorship tomorrow, with maybe the Bible or Michelangelo’s “David” being banned next.


A. We have enjoyed political and religious freedom for more than two centuries. That is the clearest proof that enforcement of long-established obscenity laws does not threaten our First Amendment freedoms. As the U.S. Supreme Court said in its landmark 1973 Miller decision: “We do not see the harsh hand of censorship of ideas – good or bad, sound or unsound – and repression of political liberty lurking behind every state regulation of commercial exploitation of human interest in sex.”

B. The American people are too intelligent to fall for the “slippery slope” scare tactics that would have you believe that a prohibition against obscenity today will ultimately lead to a ban against everything from the Sistine Chapel to a trousers-less Donald Duck. If you believe that, you would believe that a ban against playing loud rock music at 3 a.m. in a residential area would lead to a ban on the right of a symphony orchestra to perform in Carnegie Hall.

C. The question, “What next?” should be asked in the context of what next will happen if the obscenity laws are not enforced. What happens when the dehumanizing, depraved materials are allowed to spread with dazzling speed by means of high-tech advances? What happens when virtually all moral restraint is gone, in significant measure because of pornography?

D. Where do you draw the line? The U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress and most State legislatures and State Supreme Courts have already drawn that line at obscenity, and the definition of obscenity provided by the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly been upheld as constitutional. As former Chief Justice Earl Warren stated in a 1964 obscenity case, Jacobellis v. Ohio: “No government … should be forced to choose between repressing all material, including that within the realm of decency, and allowing unrestrained license to publish any material, no matter how vile. There must be a rule of reason in this as in other areas of law, and we have attempted… to provide such a rule.”

23. People who fight pornography are anti sex, prudish, and sexually repressed.


A. Anti-sex? Surely you joke. The pornography business takes the beauty of real love and converts it into soulless, commercialized slime. The porn-fighters protect healthy sexuality with the key ingredients of love, tenderness, commitment, and the privacy of intimate moments.

B. If “prudish” and “sexually repressed” are the labels attached to those who oppose the depictions of sadomasochism, gang rape, sexual orgies, bestiality, incest, rubbing excrement on others, ad infinitum, then we will wear those labels proudly.

24. Our law enforcement resources today should be used to fight a far greater menace than obscenity – illegal drugs!


A. Is there anyone who thinks that the drug trade exists in a vacuum? Obscenity and drugs march hand in hand to the deadly tune of the organized crime industry. Organized crime launders its profits from pornography and pumps the money into the illegal drug trade. By fighting one, you are fighting both.

B. To ignore the commercial distribution of obscene materials and indeed, by lack of law enforcement, assign it a protected status is much like repairing faulty electrical wires in a home to prevent a fire while deliberately ignoring the army of termites gnawing away at the foundation.

C. Drugs can lead to a physical addiction; pornography to a psychological addiction. Both are destructive not only to the hooked individual, but eventually to the entire moral fabric of any society. Both are also directly linked to criminal and other antisocial behavior.

25. Pornography is beneficial to the lonely, the sexually confused, and to those who believe they are hopelessly unattractive; in fantasy, it gives them some relief from their sexual frustration and can serve as an outlet for persons who would otherwise commit sexual crimes.


A. The consumption of pornography can lead to an addiction, and the type of person just described – one who can’t relate – is the most vulnerable to becoming a slave to pornography. Pornography can provide him (or her) with anti-social sexual imagery that becomes locked into his mind and returns again and again to haunt him.

B. Dr. Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist who has treated more than 300 sex addicts, has found a near-universal four-step syndrome associated with immersion in pornography: addiction; escalation (more deviant material is needed to attain the same sexual stimulation); desensitization (the shocking has become acceptable); and, finally, acting out. The last step may result in violent as well as illegal sexual activities.

C. Since the late 1960s, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of hardcore pornographic material and, through new technologies, in its availability. During this period, the content of pornography also changed, becoming increasingly explicit, more violent, more degrading and more perverse. If pornography had a “cathartic effect,” there should have been a tremendous decrease in sexual crimes against adults and children. Instead, the incidence of rape and sexual child abuse has skyrocketed.

The four-step syndrome and other information about pornography’s harms are described in “Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children,” by Dr. Victor B. Cline. Single copies are available from Morality in Media for $3.75 postage paid.

26. District Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys have good reason for not enforcing the obscenity laws – namely, “limited resources and more important priorities.”


A. This cliche, year after year, has become the standard excuse of delinquent prosecutors who do not enforce the obscenity laws. Their reasons vary. Some prosecuting attorneys are uneducated about the pernicious impact of illegal pornography on their communities. Some are simply ideologically opposed to obscenity laws. Others, with political aspirations, find it more politically popular to prosecute Wall Street white collar crime than organized crime-controlled Times Square obscenity. Sure, “white collar” crime robs the public’s pocketbooks, but obscenity robs the very humanity – the soul – of a community. Violations on Wall Street and in Times Square both need to be prosecuted.

B. The most prevalent reason why some prosecutors ignore obscenity laws is because they misinterpret the silence of the community as acceptance or indifference. District attorneys and U.S. Attorneys who are not enforcing the obscenity laws need to hear from the public with reminders that sexually oriented businesses ruin neighborhoods and serve as magnets for the sexually deranged and that pornography itself contributes to sexual crimes against both adults and children, corrupts teens, degrades women and destroys families (see No. 4). They will make obscenity a priority if they receive enough encouragement to prosecute an illegal business which threatens to corrupt our entire society.

Morality in Media promotes the annual White Ribbon Against Pornography (“WRAP”) Campaign to encourage citizens to speak out for enforcement of Federal and state obscenity laws against the illegal hardcore pornography in their communities.

27. Obscenity laws are impossible to enforce.


This is another excuse provided by prosecutors who are afraid or unwilling to commit the necessary resources to enforce obscenity laws. The obscenity definition provided by the Supreme Court is workable when applied by a judge or jury in a common sense fashion. High-paid defense attorneys will try to pick jurors who are ideologically opposed to obscenity laws and to confuse or mislead other jurors with “expert witnesses,” surveys and distorted arguments about the First Amendment. Properly prepared and motivated prosecutors, however, have proved over and over again that obscenity laws can be effectively enforced.

Morality in Media has many legal materials to assist prosecutors, including Handbook on the Prosecution of Obscenity Cases, by George M. Weaver, the three-volume Obscenity Law Reporter, and bi- monthly Obscenity Law Bulletin.

28. Only right-wing religious fanatics want to have the obscenity laws enforced.


This cliche is a classic “ad hominem” attack: Don’t discuss the merits of the case; make the supporters of decency and morality into bogeymen. The porn merchants and their allies want you to reject the assertions of anti-pornography groups on the basis of religious discrimination and bigotry. In fact, national opinion polls show the majority of the American people view pornography as a moral and social evil and want stronger laws to control it. In fact, only five percent of Americans believe that obscenity laws should be repealed, according to a Washington Post/NBC News opinion poll.

29. Bad speech should be fought with good speech rather than banned.


This may make good sense when the speech consists of ideas and opinions which can be refuted by better ideas and opinions. For example, the lie that pornography is harmless can be refuted by reason and the evidence. Pornography itself, however, like illegal drugs, draws individuals into destructive addictions.

Quoting from earlier opinions, the Supreme Court said in its 1973 Miller decision: “[T)o equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the First Amendment … It is a ‘misuse of the great guarantees of free speech and free press’…’The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people’…But the public portrayal of hard-core sexual conduct for its own sake, and for the ensuing commercial gain, is a different matter.”

30. Why should pornography be banned? Alcohol isn’t banned and it causes a lot more harm than pornography.


Not all pornography is banned. Because of First Amendment limitations, only child pornography and obscene materials are prohibited.

Alcohol is not banned because the large majority of people believe that alcohol, used moderately and responsibly, is not a social evil. Even so, many communities do not permit the sale of alcohol, and some “alcoholic beverages” (e.g., “rotgut”) are illegal everywhere. There are also laws against the irresponsible use of alcohol.

Prohibition failed because only a small minority of the American people viewed all drinking as inherently evil. Pornography flourishes because prosecutors and law enforcement agencies mistakenly view public silence as public acceptance.

31. Well, if you don’t want to see hardcore porn on cable or satellite TV or risk your children’s exposure to such programming, get a lockout box.


A. I have no obligation to get a lockout box to protect my home or children. Federal law prohibits the transmission of obscene material by means of cable, satellite and broadcast TV, and the obligation is on the system operator to not transmit obscene programming. It is also true that many lockout boxes are ineffective or overly complicated, and none are tamper-proof.

B. Your response is just another variation of the “What’s the harm if only consenting adults view pornography?” cliche. In its 1973 Paris Adult Theatre I decision, however, the Supreme Court described many harms that flow from the distribution of hardcore pornography, even if viewed only by consenting adults (see # 4), and specifically rejected the argument that obscene material is protected if viewed only by consenting adults. It is also true that when pornography is readily available to adults, much of it will also find its way into the hands of children and youth.

Morality in Media has also prepared “Cliches” for use in promoting standards of decency on TV and radio. These “Television Cliches” are included in MIM’s TV handbook, “TV.- The World’s Greatest Mind-Bender ” available for $4.


“People have appetites which are often quite ugly. Society’s business, through law and custom, is to hold those natural but unpleasant urges in check, so that we may be truly human, instead of animals [that] walk on their hind legs.

“There’s a Talmudic saying that however debased a man, if he retains the capacity to blush (if he feels shame), he isn’t beyond redemption. Increasingly, our society is losing that ability. We’ve sold our patrimony (the opportunity for holiness) for glossy-stock, videotape, late-night, long-distance dross.”

-Don Feder,
The Boston Herald, July 22nd, 1991

Casablanca is a movie about sex. Yet nobody has ever suggested that it would have been improved by showing Bogart and Bergman naked in bed together. Such a scene would only have diminished the story and the characters. It’s prudish to object to all mention of sex. But it’s not prudish to object to its raw depiction. We let ourselves be pushed around by people who deny the distinction.”

-Joseph Sobran, syndicated columnist,
April 13th, 1992

“Contrary to what its purveyors say, pornography is not ‘telling the truth about sex.’ Just the opposite. It says: About sex there is nothing private, noble, or personal. It robs man of his dignity. Its message is: Man is garbage.

“… ‘Civil libertarians’ would have us believe the only real ‘harm’ the law can guard us against is direct, immediate, and physical. This unconscious positivism blinds them to the other real harms – psychological, attitudinal, moral – that cannot be calibrated but do deeply affect individual lives and, collectively, can debase the citizenry’s spiritual environment.”

-William A. Stamneyer,
The National Observer, May 16th, 1977

“The destruction of morality renders the power of government invalid, for government is no more than public order. It weakens the hands by which society is kept together. The corruption of the public mind, in general, and debauching the manners of youth, in particular, by lewd and obscene pictures … must necessarily be attended with the most injurious consequences.”

-Pennsylvania Supreme Court Presiding Justice
Yeats, in the first obscenity case in the United States, Commonwealth v. Sharpless (1815)

“[P]assage of obscenity laws is an exercise of the police power, and under our concept of ‘ordered liberty,’ laws find their philosophical underpinnings in protection of the health, safety, welfare or morals of the people… Those who don’t like morality as a justification for governmental action will have to accept the constitutional police power principle that ‘Consensus Morality’ is now, ever was and always will be a solid legal basis for obscenity legislation.”

-Paul J. McGeady, General Counsel, Morality In Media Cogitations, Winter 1984

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites – in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity – in proportion as their soundness and sobriety is above their vanity and presumption. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free.”

-That great friend of America, Edmund Burke


Founded in 1962, Morality in Media, Inc., is a national interfaith organization committed to meeting the need for legal materials and public education to address effectively, through constitutional means, two of the pressing moral issues of our time:

The explosive increase in the availability of illegal hardcore pornography, and

The rapid erosion of decency standards in the media.

On these issues, Morality in Media has played a decisive role in a long series of legal victories, including these:

Preservation of “adult” obscenity laws against a sweeping repeal attempt in the late 1960s.

Enactment of numerous State and local obscenity and related laws.

Resumption of investigations and prosecutions of Federal obscenity law violators by the Postal Service, Customs Service, F.B.I. and U.S. Justice Department.

Extension of Federal RICO Penalties to obscenity violations.

Enactment of the 1984 Child Pornography Act.

Enforcement of the Federal Broadcast Indecency law.

Curbing indecent programming on cable TV access channels.

Morality in Media publishes a bimonthly Morality in Media Newsletter for members, and other publications. Morality in Media coordinates the annual White Ribbon Against Pornography campaign (each fall), the National Turn Off TV Day (in February), and other public affairs activities.

The National Obscenity Law Center (NOLC) is a division of Morality in Media. The NOLC is a clearinghouse of legal information on obscenity cases and materials for prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. The NOLC publishes the three-volume Obscenity Law Reporter, a compendium of case law on obscenity from 1800, the Handbook on the Prosecution of Obscenity Cases, by George M. Weaver, and the bimonthly Obscenity Law Bulletin.