HARDCORE PORN ON THE COMPUTER HIGHWAY

HARDCORE PORN ON THE COMPUTER HIGHWAY
Max Barcus

Computers are rapidly becoming the favored vehicle for storing and transporting information, but unless the Federal government acts, the “information highway” may soon become little more than a technological cesspool.

Internet, the government-created global computer network, contains a myriad of sexually explicit images that can be transferred to a home computer and watched. The Internet also has live “chat” sessions, where computer operators engage in sexually explicit “talk” others can see, as well as forums where people exchange messages about sexual desires, including bestiality and bondage.

Countless private computer “bulletin boards,” both commercial and noncommercial, also offer access to photographs and computer-playable movies of people engaged in sexual acts.

Computer Child Porn Outlawed

In the summer of 1985, Senator Trible introduced a bill in Congress to prohibit the use of computers to transmit obscenity or child pornography in interstate commerce. “It should surprise no one,” said Senator Trible, “that computers are being used in this manner. Over the years, the pornography industry has taken full advantage of new technologies in the communications field, and Congress has repeatedly had to revise Federal obscenity and indecency laws to ensure that they kept pace…Today, we must do so again.”

Congress, however, did not act until 1988, and then only passed legislation to curb the use of computers in the production and distribution of child pornography.

Effects of ‘Adult’ Porn on Minors

Youth, however, can be harmed by computer porn in situations where no child pornography is involved. A pedophile, for example, may make contact with minors by allowing them to have access to a computer bulletin board with “adult” pornography (i e.,no minors depicted). Child pornography will never be involved, but the pedophile may eventually succeed in arranging an in person meeting with the minor and sexually abusing the minor.

Minors can also be harmed by exposure to “adult” pornography irrespective of whether there is a pedophile lurking behind a computer. Dr. Victor Cline in his publication, “Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children” [available from MIM for $3.75], states:

“In a study reported to the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, by Dr. Jennings Bryant, 600 American males and females of junior high school age and above were interviewed about their ‘out in real life involvement with pornography.’ He found that 91% of the males and 82% of the females admitted having been exposed to X-rated, hardcore pornography. Two-thirds of the males and 40% of the females reported wanting to try out some of the sexual behaviors they had witnessed. And, among high school students, 31% of the males and 18% of the females admitted actually doing some of the things sexually they had seen in the pornography within a few days after exposure. ”

“…1 was commissioned to conduct a pilot field study on the effects of dial-a porn. I interviewed a number of children (mostly preteens or early teens), who had become involved with this type of pornography…With every one of the children we studied, we found an addiction effect. In every case… girls a well as boys became hooked..and kept going back for more….Some [of these children engaged in sexual assaults on other children.

“…If you were to regard pornography as a form of sex education, you would have to label most of it miseducation. Pornography portrays ‘unhealthy’ or even antisocial kinds of sexual activity such as sadomasochism, abuse and humiliation of the female, involvement of minors, incest, group sex…bestiality, etc.

Not Just Youth Are Harmed

Protecting youth from exposure pornography, however, is not the on valid concern. In a 1973 case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there a legitimate governmental interests at stake in curbing the “tide” of obscenity, even assuming it were possible to shield you from it (which, of course, it is not!). These “include the interest of the public the quality of life and total community environment, the tone of commerce…and possibly the public safety itself.” There also, said the Supreme Court, a “right the Nation and of the States to maintain decent society.”

Existing Federal Laws Inadequate

At present, a Federal law prohibits the use of the telephone to make “any obscene communication for commercial purposes.” In Morality in Media’s opinion this law applies to obscene computer messages that are transmitted I telephone for commercial purpose Many computer bulletin boards that provide hardcore pornographic material however, are not commercial.

Three other Federal laws arguably apply to noncommercial obscene phone calls but a Federal Court of Appeals has already held that two of these laws a not applicable to telephone communications and that the third law only applies where the caller is attempting to annoy or harass another person.

Computer Porn Law Needed!

Morality in Media has, therefore, prepared a proposed amendment to the Federal Criminal Code to prohibit the use of a computer to send or receive obscene communications in interstate commerce, irrespective of whether there is a commercial purpose and irrespective of whether the call is intended to harass or annoy.

In this respect, the proposal is patterned after the Federal Obscene Mails Law which prohibits the use of the mails to send or order obscene material, irrespective of a commercial purpose and irrespective of whether the mailing involves only “consenting” adults.

The communications revolution has brought many advances for which we can all be thankful. But it has also provided new means for the distribution of pornography. Evidence mounts that large numbers of youth are gaining access to pornography by means of home and school computers. Evidence also mounts that both adults and children can be adversely affected by exposure to pornography.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that hardcore, “obscene” pornography is not protected by the First Amendment. Congress has in the past enacted laws to prohibit the distribution of obscenity in interstate commerce, regardless of the means or motive for distribution. Today, it must do so again to curb the distribution of hardcore pornography on the “computer highway.”

As this month’s TARGET OF THE MONTH, Morality in Media is asking you to send a proposed law prohibiting the use of computers to transmit or receive obscene material to your U.S. Senators.

STOP HARDCORE PORN ON THE COMPUTER HIGHWAY…CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS

The United States Code makes it crime to utilize a telephone to knowingly send obscene communications for commercial purposes. Since the computer uses; modem and telephone, Morality in Media believes this law can be applied to computer porn.

However, what is now needed is specific law relating to the transmission of obscene communications through the information highway, whether or not commercial purpose is involved. MIM suggests that you send the following proposed law to both of your U.S Senators and ask them to sponsor it.

Here is the proposed law:

(a) “A new section 18 U.S.C. 1470 is added to Title 18 of the United States Code to read as follows: Any person who knowingly, (1) Sends, transmits or retransmits in interstate or foreign commerce or in the District of Columbia, whether or not for pecuniary gain, any obscene communication, or any advertisement for any obscene communication, by means of a computer, or (2) Receives, distributes or advertises such a communication which has been sent, transmitted or retransmitted by means of a computer in interstate or foreign commerce or in the District of Columbia, shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

(b) The word “computer” has the meaning given in section 1030 of this title; and the word “communication” means any tangible or intangible matter, including data, which is capable, with or without processing, reformulating, decoding or descrambling, of arousing interest through the medium of reading, viewing, hearing or feeling.

(c) Whoever violates this section shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than five years or both.

When writing to your U.S. Senator use the following address:

The Honorable [full name of Senator]
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY MORALITY IN MEDIA, MAY/JUNE 1994, PAGES 1-3. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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