March 18, 2004

Americans still want Federal obscenity laws enforced against hardcore Internet pornography, according to poll results.

NEWS RELEASE from MORALITY IN MEDIA, Inc.

NEW YORK (18 March 2004) –Americans continue to believe that the Federal laws against Internet obscenity should be vigorously enforced, according to results of a new poll conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for Morality in Media.

Eighty-two percent of adult Americans surveyed in March 2004 said that the Federal laws against Internet obscenity should be vigorously enforced.  In a virtually identical question asked by Wirthlin in March 2002, 81 percent said yes to that question.

The question read as follows:

“Since 1995, the World Wide Web has expanded rapidly and is now estimated to contain as many as 40 million websites.  A large number of these Internet websites contain hard-core pornography.  The Supreme Court has said that those who distribute hard-core pornography can be prosecuted under obscenity laws.  In 1996, Congress expanded federal obscenity laws, making it a crime to distribute obscene materials on the Internet.  In your opinion, SHOULD the federal laws against Internet obscenity be vigorously enforced?  And do you hold that opinion strongly or just somewhat?”

[MIM note: In the 2002 poll, the question cited “20 million” World Wide Web sites, instead of “40 million” in the 2004 poll.  Otherwise, the questions in 2002 and 2004 were identical.]

The following table shows how those surveyed responded in the 2002 and 2004 Wirthlin polls:

2004 poll         2002 poll

·        Yes – Strongly                         72%                  70%

·        Yes – Somewhat                       9%                  12%

·        No – Somewhat                        6%                   9%

·        No – Strongly                          12%                  7%

·        Don’t Know/Refused                1%                   2%

The Wirthlin Worldwide national telephone poll of 1,001 Americans over age 18 was conducted from March 5th through 8th, 2004 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

“In essence, the vast majority of Americans continue to believe that federal laws against Internet obscenity should be vigorously enforced,” Wirthlin said.  This held true across the demographic spectrum.  Here are sample demographic categories:

Percentage saying “Yes” to vigorous obscenity law enforcement

2004 poll  2002 poll                                        2004 poll  2002 poll

Women, overall          89%         90%             Some H.S. education      81%           80%

Men, overall               73%         72%             High school grads          88%           86%

Republicans                83%         82%             Some college ed.           82%           81%

Democrats                  82%         81%             College grads                73%           79%

Independents              78%         79%             Postgraduate ed.            80%           73%

Registered voters        83%         82%

Robert W. Peters, President of Morality in Media, commented:

“The Wirthlin poll results is yet another indication that a large majority of the American people is offended and concerned about the distribution of hardcore pornography, particularly on the Internet.  And, in recent months, the President and Members of Congress have taken note of that popular opposition.

“In October, President Bush proclaimed ‘Protection from Pornography Week.’  In November, the Senate adopted by unanimous consent Concurrent Resolution 77, expressing the sense of Congress that Federal obscenity laws should be ‘vigorously enforced’ throughout the U.S. (an identically worded H.  Con. Res. 298, with 79 sponsors, awaits a vote in the House Judiciary Committee).

“Defenders of hardcore pornography say that that the widespread availability of hardcore pornography indicates community acceptance of it.   Undoubtedly, there is a large market for hardcore pornography; but just as with any other addiction, a large percentage of hardcore pornography is consumed by a relatively small percentage of people who are addicted to pornography (young and old).

“Furthermore, the mere fact that an individual looks at pornography does not mean he approves of the materials viewed (many are ashamed of themselves) or of the full array of degrading, perverse and violent hardcore sex materials available on the Internet.

“According to an article in USA TODAY (‘Online porn often leads hi-tech way,’ 3/9/04), ‘one in four Internet users in the USA visited porn sites in December.’ What the article didn’t say is that many visits were by individuals who are addicted to pornography, who are under 18 years of age, or who accidentally went to porn sites while looking for other sites.  Even then, 75% of Internet users (a large majority) didn’t visit a porn site.”

Author: MIM   03/18/2004

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