Were The Next President To Do All In His Or Her Power To Ensure That Federal Obscenity Laws Are Enforced Vigorously, Three Out Of Four Adults Would Support That President

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NEW YORK (April 9, 2008) – Were the next president to do all in his power to ensure that federal obscenity laws are enforced vigorously, three out of four (75%) adult Americans would support the President in this matter, according to a survey commissioned by Morality in Media and conducted by Harris Interactive. This compares with about one in five (19%) adults who would oppose the President. The question asked and overall breakdown of responses are as follows:

“During the past 15 years, hardcore pornographic materials have proliferated in the form of videotapes and DVDs sold in sexually oriented and mainstream video stores, films distributed on cable, satellite and hotel TV systems, and still pictures and video disseminated on the Internet. Were the next president to do all in his or constitutional power to ensure that federal obscenity laws are enforced vigorously against commercial distributors of hardcore pornography, would you support or oppose the President in this matter? Would you be strongly (support/oppose) or just somewhat (support/oppose)?”

75% Total Support
19% Total Oppose
56% Strongly support
19% Somewhat support
8% Somewhat oppose
11% Strongly Oppose
7% Don’t know/Refused

There was support for vigorous enforcement (at least 60%) across all major demographic groups examined, including: Party Identification [Republicans: 85%; Democrats: 77%; Independents: 69%]; Gender [Women, overall: 79%; Men, overall: 70%]; Marital Status [Married: 80%; Single: 67%]; Child Status [Grown children: 81%; Children at home: 76%; No children: 66%]; Age [18-24: 60%; 25-34: 73%; 35-44: 70%; 45-54: 84%; 54-64: 80%; 65+: 80%]; Ethnicity [White: 76%; Black: 77%; Hispanic: 63%]; Region [North East: 72%; Midwest: 75%; South: 80%; West: 69%].

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

“Those who defend hardcore pornography, whether in court or in the court of public opinion, point to the proliferation of this material as ‘proof’ either that everyone is viewing it or that people no longer deem it unacceptable. The porn defenders overlook at least four factors.

“First, much if not most pornography is consumed by a relatively small percentage of individuals who are hooked on it; and many addicts hate what they do. Second, just because a person, whether by mistake or deception or out of curiosity or at weak moments, views pornography does not mean he or she approves of it. This is especially true when many pornographers use unscrupulous means to attract viewers. Third, just because an adult thinks it’s OK to look at some pornography does not mean that he or she approves of all of it. Fourth, many individuals who view pornography on the Internet are minors. According to Nielsen/Net Ratings for February 2002, nearly 16% of visitors to “adult” websites were younger than 18; and according to a study conducted for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2006, the percentage of Internet users ages 10 to 17 who were exposed to unwanted pornography or who went to “X-rated” websites on purpose increased significantly between 2000 and 2005.

“In Hamling v. United States, the Supreme Court also recognized that the mere fact that hardcore pornographic materials are available in the nation or in a community does not “make them witnesses of virtue” or prove that similar materials at issue in a criminal obscenity trial are acceptable under community standards and therefore legal to disseminate.

“It is unfortunate that during the past 15 years so little has been done at the Federal level to curb distribution of obscene materials. During President Clinton’s terms in offices, enforcement of federal obscenity laws was not a Justice Department priority. During President Bush’s terms, his Attorney Generals have talked big but haven’t implemented needed policies to get the job done.

“Hopefully, the next President will take whatever steps are necessary to fight obscenity effectively, knowing that the large majority of adult Americans will support such action.”

SURVEY METHODOLOGY: This telephone survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Morality in Media among 1018 adults (aged 18 and over) within the United States between April 2-6, 2008. With a pure probability sample of 1018 adults one could say with a 95% probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. A full methodology is available.

Author: MIM   04/09/2008

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NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


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