By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
This week is the annual “White Ribbon Against Pornography” (WRAP) week during which citizens are urged to help raise awareness about the harm of pornography and the need to enforce obscenity laws to curb the proliferation of smut online and in our culture.
According to a press release by Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, citizens are encouraged to wear or display white ribbons and take steps to stop pornography by writing members of Congress or their local U.S. Attorney and FBI offices to ask for more enforcement of the nation’s obscenity laws.
This is the time to educate friends and neighbors about the harm of pornography, and to make people more aware of the facts about what is fast becoming a national addiction. For instance:
1. Experts say that inappropriate sexual images cannot be erased from the mind and have a definite influence on behavior.
3. Sexual addiction can occur within three months for many people, and as short as a week for others.
4. People can begin the descent into inappropriate images just by viewing swimsuit or lingerie images.
WRAP week began in 1987 with Norma Norris of Butler, Pennsylvania who heard the pastor of her Catholic parish lament that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies acted as if people didn’t care about the hardcore pornography being sold in their communities. Norma looked at the people in her church and said, “That can’t be; they’re here!” The idea of a white ribbon as a symbol of community standards of decency came to her and a movement was born.
“In 1987, the same year that Norma Norris launched the White Ribbon Against Pornography Campaign in Butler, Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese announced in Washington, D.C. the formation of a National Obscenity Enforcement Unit to combat the flood of ‘mail porn’ and ‘video porn’ that was then pouring into American homes and communities,” Peters explained.
Back then, defenders of hardcore adult pornography said that the widespread availability of this material was proof that the average American was no longer offended by it and that obscenity laws were no longer enforceable because to be “obscene,” sexual material must depict hardcore sexual conduct in a “patently offensive” manner as measured by “contemporary community standards.”
However, between 1987 and 1993, the U.S. Justice Department proved its critics wrong, winning one obscenity case after another and prompting John Weston, an attorney who represented hardcore pornographers, to describe the crackdown on Los Angeles area pornography businesses as “a holocaust.”
“Today, defenders of hardcore adult pornography are still saying that widespread availability of this material is proof that the average American is not offended by it; and undoubtedly there is growing acceptance of hardcore adult pornography, particularly among young males who are hooked on it,” Peters writes.
In October 2009 Morality in Media commissioned Harris Interactive to ask two questions in a national survey about the acceptability of pornography, with the following results: Overall, 76 percent of U.S. adults disagreed that “viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable” and 74 percent disagreed that “viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet provides, generally, harmless entertainment.”
“To their credit, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment does not protect obscene materials, and Congress has repeatedly updated and strengthened federal obscenity laws. What our nation now needs is vigorous enforcement of these laws by the Justice Department,” Peters says.
This is why it’s so important to wear or display white ribbons this week to show that public disapproval of pornography is alive and well. For information about WRAP week and what citizens can do to fight back, visit www.moralityinmedia.org (WRAP Campaign) or call 212-870-3210.
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