Eight in ten Americans want laws against Internet obscenity vigorously enforced

NCOSE Press Statement logo
NEW YORK (18 March 2002) – Eight out of ten Americans (81%) believe federal laws against Internet obscenity should be vigorously enforced, and seven out of ten (70%) believe that strongly. A higher percentage of women support vigorous enforcement of federal laws against Internet obscenity than men (90% versus 72%).

On the other hand, seven out of ten Americans (70%) say they do not believe these laws are currently being vigorously enforced.

The results come from a just-released opinion poll conducted by the Wirthlin Worldwide survey research company for Morality in Media. The national telephone poll of 1,004 Americans over age 18 was conducted from March 1st through 4th and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Morality in Media President Robert W. Peters commented: “Hardcore pornographers have been telling us for years that widespread availability of hardcore pornography is proof of community acceptance. Well, eight out of ten Americans saying that they want vigorous enforcement of Federal laws against Internet obscenity adds up to community rejection of hardcore pornography, and support for prosecutors who vigorously enforce obscenity laws.

“Most Americans do not want their Internet-connected nation and homes drowning in a floodtide of illegal hardcore pornography. They want to live and raise children in a decent society, and in the 1973 Paris Adult Theatre obscenity case, the Supreme Court said that there is a ‘right of the Nation and of the States to maintain a decent society.’

“Two Federal obscenity laws (18 USC 1462 and 1465) were amended in 1996 to clarify that use of an interactive computer service to transmit obscene material is prohibited. Violations of these two statutes also constitute predicate crimes under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law (18 USC 1961 et seq.) which, among other things, permits the forfeiture of an entire pornography empire.

“For nine long years, there has been little or no enforcement of federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore pornography. In the 2000 presidential elections both major party candidates expressed their support for enforcement of federal obscenity laws. Now is the time for the winner to begin fulfilling his important campaign pledge.”

Those interviewed were told, “Since the World Wide Web became more accessible in 1995, more than 20 million Web sites have been created. A large number of these Internet Web sites 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 the Federal obscenity laws, making it a crime to distribute obscene materials on the Internet.”

They were asked, “In your opinion, should the federal laws against Internet obscenity be vigorously enforced?” For all respondents, the results were:

  • Yes, strongly: 70%
  • Yes, somewhat: 12%
  • No, somewhat: 9%
  • No, strongly: 7%
  • Don’t know/refused: 2%

Support for obscenity law enforcement was particularly strong in the female demographics. Here are some percentages:

  • Women, overall: 90%
  • Women, 35-54: 92%
  • Women, over 55: 94%
  • Married women: 93%
  • Homemakers: 93%
  • Working women: 89%

Support was also strong among parents with children:

  • Respondents married with children: 88%
  • Respondents with 3 children: 90%
  • Respondents with 4 or more children: 88%
  • Working women with children: 91%

In the second question, respondents were asked, “Based on what you may know, do you believe the federal laws against Internet obscenity are currently being vigorously enforced?” For all respondents, the results were:

  • Yes, strongly: 10%
  • Yes, somewhat: 11%
  • No, somewhat: 24%
  • No, strongly: 46%
  • Don’t know/refused: 9%

Headquartered in New York City, MORALITY IN MEDIA is a nonprofit national interfaith organization that works through constitutional means to curb traffic in illegal obscenity. Author: MIM   03/18/2002

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