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Supreme Court Pornography Dilemma

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1988

WASHINGTON, D.C. (EP) – Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger told 300 religious leaders with the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) gathered in Washington March 1-2 that “Nothing could be clearer from the Court than that obscenity is not protected speech.” Representatives of major Protestant, Catholic and Jewish groups attended the conference, which was chaired by Dr. Jerry Kirk, president of the National Coalition Against Pornography (N-CAP).

RAAP is an effort to mobilize churches and church leaders to renounce hard-core pornography, encourage the passage of child protection legislation, and participate in a national campaign to promote awareness of the harmful effects of pornography. Those attending the conference heard a wide variety of religious leaders address the need for a stepped-up war against pornography.

Joseph Cardinal Bernardine, vice chairman of RAAP, told members of the Washington press corps that “we are against censorship, but we are also against obscenity which is not protected by the First Amendment.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Victor Cline outlined the steps taken by hundreds of men he treated following their conviction for sex-related crimes. Cline said that viewing pornographic material leads to sex-related addiction followed by departure from the values an individual has previously held. The appetite for pornography grows, and the addict finds himself desiring more and more violent and bizarre material until they finally act out some of the fantasies they have become obsessed with through their exposure to obscene material. “The more intelligent the man is, the more vulnerable he is to acting out his fantasies,” explained Cline.

William Weld, assistant attorney general, outlined current activities being undertaken by the U.S. Justice Department’s Obscenity Enforcement Unit. That unit is completing the training of 5,000 individuals who will enforce obscenity laws and prosecute offenders. The unit provides support for District U.S. Attorneys and local law enforcement units who need expert legal advice, including supplying experienced trial attorneys. The unit is also involved in long-range planning toward the goal of dismantling the obscenity industry.

Other activities of the Obscenity Enforcement Unit which were outlined by Weld include litigation. In 1987 there were 79 indictments of purveyors of obscenity – many under anti-racketeering statutes, which allow the proceeds of the lucrative porn industry to be seized. Over 40 U.S. attorneys are now prosecuting and investigating obscenity cases. Indictments of child pornographers have risen dramatically, from three in 1983 to 244 in 1987.

The Justice Department is also pushing for legislation that would expand the provisions of racketeering laws to cover high-tech dissemination of obscenity and the selling of children for pornography.


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