October 1, 2006

A View from Riverside Drive, Commentary by Ed Hynes, October 2006

Google’s XXX ads are a taunt to law enforcement

Google doesn’t take sides in the porn wars. It just sells advertising space to companies that provide links from the ads to websites that distribute pornography and that could be violating federal criminal obscenity laws.

In response to one porn-related search term the other day, Google reported about 11,000,000 relevant online items in eight hundredths (0.08) of a second. That’s what Google is supposed to do, but along with the hits there were also a handful of ads paid for by hardcore porn merchants in what may be a violation of federal obscenity law.

Here’s a sample:

Free Porn – uncensored
#1 sex pick of The King
Extremely good porn
100% Free!

Want XXX Free Porn?
Check out the Free Porn here.
It’s All Free!

Watch Porn Movies Online
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Over 30,000 Full Length XXX Movies

Live XXX Adult Video Porn
Largest adult video chat community
Chat with over 2 million users, Free!

Free Sex Videos
Free full-length porn sex videos. No credit card or e-mail required!

Hardcore Live Sex Shows
Live nude XXX webcam shows
Meet hot sexy amateur models

Watch Free Porn
Check out free Porn Videos here. No credit card required.

There’s so much “free” pornography you have to wonder if anyone pays for it. Can you believe the propaganda that this is a $10 billion business? The truth is, of course, that most porn websites permit visitors, including children, to view pornographic content free of charge, knowing that enough visitors will then pay to see more to make it profitable.

In another porn-related search, Google delivered more hits and more ads, with headlines like these:

Better Than Porn – Real Sex

Hardcore Live Sex Shows

Bang the Babe Next Door

Pornographers are not people you want next door. Neither are their customers.

All of this says something about Google, of course, but it says even more about police and prosecutors who are being taunted by these ads. Think about it. The pornographers might as well be out there yelling “Yaa, yaa you can’t catch me.” For very little money law enforcement agents can buy the evidence they need right from Google’s XXX advertisers.

Getting it wrong at the First Amendment Center

Paul McMasters, of “First Amendment Center,” writes sneeringly of attempts to connect violent media with violence in real life: “To argue that violence in media causes actual violence, or that indecency in media causes harmful sexual adventurism, is to argue that the cleansing of movies, TV, radio, video games, comic books, the Internet and even books will remove crime, perversion and other unpleasantness from our midst.”

His article appeared in newspapers of September 23.

But, of course, no one contends that “cleansing” the media is the whole answer to crime, perversion and other unpleasantness. Yet Mr. McMasters clearly wants his readers to think the case for “cleansing” rests on that nutty idea. In fact, polls show that most Americans do believe that Internet obscenity and indecency in the entertainment media are morally objectionable, and studies show such content influences behavior badly.

Mr. McMasters knows that the federal obscenity and indecency laws impose a positive duty on government to do at least some cleansing of the media. He also knows that the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment does not protect obscenity, and that indecency has only partial protection. All of this is relevant to the topic Mr. McMasters has put on the table, but none of it helps his argument, and he ignores it.

An Associated Press story dated October 6 is noteworthy in this context. AP reported that the American Association of Pediatrics has found, “Teenagers listening to music with explicit sexual lyrics fornicate sooner than teenagers who do not.”

The AP story went on: ”Among heavy listeners of sexually degrading music, where men are ‘studs’ and women are sexual objects, 51 percent started fornicating within two years, versus 29 percent of those who listened to little or none of that type of music.”

Mr. McMasters could not have seen this story before he wrote his article. Would it have mattered?

Much negative news from abroad

Much of the news from the European front in the porn wars continues to disappoint.

Last spring, Germany’s legal brothels went on a building boom in advance of the Soccer World Cup and brought in thousands of extra prostitutes, anticipating a boom in demand as lusty male soccer fans flocked in to see the games and the girls. There was a bright side – business was not as brisk as the pimps expected. There may be hope for male soccer fans.

Last month we learned “condoms for kids” are being sold in Germany by Durex, a subsidiary of the multi-national conglomerate SSL International.

Now we find out, from LifeSiteNews.com, a pro-life online news service, that the German weekly magazine Bravo is publishing nude photos of teenage boys and girls with interviews about their sex lives. Germany’s international broadcast service, Deutsche Welle, commented, “Sell this in America, and risk prison time for child pornography. . . But in Germany, this is nothing tawdry. It’s the country’s most popular teenage magazine, and it turns 50 on Saturday.” It seems an odd thing to brag about, especially via the country’s radio voice to the world.

In Scotland, the Sunday Times of September 17 announced in a large headline, “Attitudes to sex relax as more than half condone adultery.” The story noted that only 21% of Scots think that looking at pornography is morally wrong, down from 31% in 2000. Public attitudes are markedly different in the United States. Among adult Americans, 73% think viewing pornographic websites and videos is morally unacceptable, according to a poll for Morality in Media by Harris Interactive in July. This finding is in line with poll results in the United States going back a number of years.

In The Netherlands, a group calling itself the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity party (PNVD) wants to lower the age of consent to 12 from 16 so that sex with children as young as 12 would be legal. PNVD also wants legalization for child pornography and sex with animals. PNVD is gathering petition signatures to get a place on the ballot in Dutch national elections November 22. The “party” has managed to shock and outrage even the tolerant Dutch. Reuters North America reported on September 1 that a poll shows 82% of the Dutch public wants the government to do something to stop PNVD.

On a positive note, BBC News reported on August 30 that the British government “plans to make the possession of violent porn punishable by three years in jail.” The action was prompted by the strangulation death of a young woman and the subsequent conviction for that crime of a man jurors were told had an obsession with pornographic depictions of strangulation. It is already a crime in the United Kingdom to make or publish such material.

And in Ireland, the Irish Examiner.com reported on August 21 that “Companies fuelling Ireland’s sex industry are being targeted in a hard-hitting campaign” organized by Ruhama, a charity that works with women involved in prostitution to help them change their lives. Ruhama “highlighted the links between lap-dancing and the global sex trade – including prostitution, trafficking and abuse,” the online newspaper said.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. . . .

The Associated Press reported from Pittsburgh on September 27 that a woman was indicted by a federal grand jury on obscenity charges for publishing on her web site “graphic fictional stories about the torture and sexual abuse of children”as young as 2. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said, “Use of the Internet to distribute obscene stories like these not only violates federal law, but also emboldens sex offenders who would target children.”

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced on September 7 that a Brazilian “operator of obscene web sites” was arrested in Orlando, Florida, on charges of conspiracy to distribute obscene material. He is accused of operating “Web sites offering obscene videos for download or delivery in the U.S.” The man faces up to five years in prison and a $150,000 fine if convicted.

The Supreme Court “refused Monday [October 2] to consider whether a Texas law making it a crime to promote sex toys shaped like sexual organs is unconstitutional,” the Associated Press reported. The man will have to go to trial on the charges in Texas. www.washingtonpost.com

In Lexington, Kentucky, the Courier Journal ran a big story on September 5 under the headline, “‘Porn’ war hits heartland.” It was a detailed look at citizen and municipal efforts to contend with unwelcome sexually oriented businesses in five communities in nearby Kentucky and southern Indiana.

In Hoopeston, Illinois, a movie theater owner shut down for a while rather than show “Jackass 2.” The Associated Press reported September 30 that Greg Boardman “wasn’t trying to send Hollywood a message,” but he may have anyway, and he certainly got the attention of his neighbors in the small town a hundred miles south of Chicago. The AP said closing the theater drew “a thumbs up from moviegoers who long for family fare and jeers from others who say his theaters are one of the few diversions — especially for children — in this farming town of about 6,000 people.” For children? Even without “family fare”? Who was that reporter?

Here’s some of what MovieGuide.org (the Christian Film and Television Commission) says about “Jackass 2”:

Very strong pagan worldview with content that is just plain sick, foul, gross, etc., plus some homoerotic references; at least 245 obscenities including 155 “f” words, 27 profanities, people vomiting, and much scatological humor, including eating horse manure; strong violence with dangerous stunts. . . . suggestive and crude sexual images and references but no sexual activity per se. . . . nudity involved in pranks and stunts. . . . fake breasts on an actor dressed as an old woman, male testicles, and full frontal nudity.

A poll by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg this summer found that sexual material in movies and TV programs is offensive to 58% of boys age 12 to 17 and 74% of teenage girls. A story in the Times October 6 quoted some of the participants. One said, “Sometimes in the music videos these days, the women they have dancing in the background, they dress really cheap, and women don’t really look like that and act like that…. When I see that, I change the channel to something I like.” Another said, “I get tired of hearing all the cussing and the sexual innuendoes.”

Cardinal Rigali issues a porn warning

In His death on the cross, Jesus gave the world the perfect model of what true love is. Simply put, true love means giving, not taking. How different that is from the concept of “love” in much of our pop culture. Would a rapper give up anything, let alone his life, for his “bitch” or his “ho”? What does “loving” mean in the lyric “after the loving”?

Cardinal Archbishop Justin Rigali of Philadelphia wrote elegantly about the true meaning of love, and the offense to love that pornography causes, in a pastoral letter published June 8 in the Archdiocesan newspaper The Catholic Standard and Times. This paragraph from that letter speaks to his central point:

Our contemporary age has experienced a vast plunge into carnal satisfaction and sensuality. Yet we know that in contrast to these problems we proclaim a message of charity and chastity. Genuine love and respect for human dignity enables us to see beyond the allurements of what some may consider “beauty.” Rather, genuine beauty lies in the awe with which we view the act of sexual intimacy, a love that is both unitive and procreative, a love that mirrors the sacrificial love of Christ for His Church. In acknowledging the beauty of sexual intimacy in the permanent covenantal love of husband and wife, we come to understand how pornography is a grave offense against human dignity.

The Cardinal pointed out the essential work being done by Morality in Media and others in the struggle to defend society from pornography’s evil influence. He wrote:

In opposition to the degrading and devastating impact of pornography, efforts have arisen to eliminate this terrible cancer from our society. Among these is Morality In Media, a non-profit organization based in New York. Morality In Media seeks to stop the pornography industry through constitutional means.

The quarterly newsletter issued by Morality In Media reports on the regular efforts to combat obscenity and provides testimony of those whose lives were damaged because of pornography. In the October/November/December 2005 newsletter, one man explained his addiction: “When I finished high school and was not so busy, I was drawn to pornographic videos that I could rent from stores in my hometown. The more I watched, the more I craved. What I did not realize was that day-by-day, I was creating an empty pit in my soul that could not be filled with anything that this world has to offer.” The testimony of that author captures succinctly the trap in which people fall when they become exposed to and addicted to pornography.

I commend the efforts of Morality In Media and other organizations which, recognizing the positive value of television, film and the Internet, educate the public on the dangers of obscenity and pornography.

We are grateful to Cardinal Rigali for this favorable comment and for his leadership. Author: Ed Hynes   10/01/2006

Further Reading