In the vein of similar encouragements from members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, U.S.-based bishops for the Catholic Church have sent a letter to the United States Attorney General, William Barr, and the Department of Justice which calls on them to resume obscenity law enforcement.
The letter notes the increasing and deleterious impact of Pornhub, a large website owned by the online pornography monolith MindGeek, on society at large—especially in light of “gains” they’ve made through aggressive marketing campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic—and urges the AG and DOJ to resume obscenity prosecutions that waned and stopped over the course of the previous four presidential administrations.
Although the bishops’ letter addresses the current increase in problems related to the abuse and exploitation of pornography, they also clearly articulate the historic and ongoing harms that pornography industry inherently inflicts on its myriad victims:
“…the reasons for the [Department of Justice] to address the pornography industry are not limited to this moment. First, there are direct victims: the persons used in the productions. Many have their consent (even if technically legal) compromised by desperate circumstances while, for others, consent is completely absent. The department rightly pursues human traffickers; however, virtually unchecked proliferation of pornography fuels the demand that frequently results in commercial sexual exploitation. Unprecedented, unlimited, and anonymous access to pornography via modern technology has led users to seek more and more extreme videos. Thus, non-enforcement or lax enforcement of obscenity laws against producers and distributors may provide a gateway for this demand to metastasize, increasing the incidents of trafficking, child pornography, other abuse, and broader unjust conditions.
Second, pornography harms families and communities in perceptible ways. Especially when viewed by the young, it provides a terrible model and expectation of how persons should treat each other, potentially leading to coercion or violence. The ubiquity of pornography in the hands of adolescents renders this not a concern of isolated incidents but of cultural proportions.” [Source]
The letter cites ample evidence of these problems, as do we.
It is well past time for the Unites States Attorney General and the Department of Justice to once again do the right thing by enforcing America’s existing obscenity law.