A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Pornography: the Degrading Behemoth
Alan Sears on the Evils of a Booming Enterprise
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona, 28 JULY 2004 (ZENIT)
A lawyer who has been fighting pornography for more than 20 years says it may be the "true hate literature" of our age.
Alan Sears, president and general counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, shared with ZENIT how pornography perpetuates hatred and exploitation of the human person and preys upon individuals' weaknesses for profit.
Part 2 of this interview will appear Thursday.
Q: What is your background in fighting pornography?
Sears: I had the privilege of serving as the executive director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography [AGCP] during the Reagan administration and as the chief of the criminal section in an office of the United States Attorney. My colleagues and I wrote state and federal anti-obscenity laws, testified in Washington, D.C., and before 22 different state legislatures with 20 states adopting our recommendations.
God provided us the opportunity of speaking before committees of the British Parliament and at the Vatican, as well as training hundreds of law enforcement officials and attorneys — from Australia to Scotland Yard — on obscenity and related laws, and in how to successfully prosecute an obscenity case.
Q: How big of an industry is pornography?
Sears: First of all, let's define our terms.
Pornography includes several classes of material: obscenity, material harmful to minors, child pornography, indecency, and lawful but nonetheless pornographic depictions. The AGCP defined pornography as "sexually explicit material designed primarily for arousal." This is not a healthy "product"; therefore, I refuse to call its production an "industry."
Depending on the type of material, its offensiveness ranges from the "merely immoral" — which depicts women and other persons as a subspecies of humans to be used, to be abused and to amuse — to what I have always called "crime scene photographs," actual depictions of unlawful sexual behavior for profit or exploitation.
I call those who produce material that is unlawful part of a "criminal enterprise," not an "industry."
So, pornography is shamefully large in its scope and, depending on how broadly it is defined, it is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. As large and pervasive as it may be, however, it is not too large to be reigned in and dramatically limited in any community with the will to do so.
According to Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America, pornography production worldwide takes in approximately $56 billion annually. In America alone, the figure is $10 billion to $14 billion annually.
As you can see from these statistics, this destructive, maiming refuse is entrapping and devaluing hundreds of thousands of human lives while a few ruthless, stone-hearted business people profit.
Tragically, this material aids and abets all too many in their fall to despair, destruction or even death, while pornographers insist the American public believe they are only "providing services" — and that those services are a private matter and hurt no one.
Q: Why has pornography become so culturally prevalent and acceptable?
Sears: Outside of the spiritual factors, there are two overwhelming cultural reasons: Those who oppose it are largely silent and indifferent, and those who want it will pay a high price culturally and financially to obtain it.
The AGCP wrote a nearly 1,000-page report to go into great detail about many other factors and what could be done about it. Virtually everything from that commission's report is still current, except the names of the players and the shift to the Internet as perhaps the primary form of distribution.
Our culture now allows a blatant disrespect to be made of our God-given sexuality and in our media and magazines. This display is paraded in a degrading, erotic and socially unhealthy manner and all because we have remained silent, while pornographers, the national media and the music industry have dictated to us what is and is not acceptable for our culture.
At no time in history is the need greater for people of faith and moral conviction to begin working together to stop this snowballing decline into further moral decadence.
We cannot remain silent; we must be prepared and take credible and decisive action in the public arena. If we do nothing, hundreds of thousands of additional lives will be destroyed by pornography.
Its consequences are devastating to the marriages, families, friends and businesses of our nation.
Q: Is the increase in pornography related to the abortion or homosexual movements?
Sears: The short answer is yes. The longer answer would take a lot of detail, but both answers are based upon the fact that pornography is a result of a disordered view of the human person, sexual behavior and purpose.
The sexual union within marriage, between one man and one woman, is meant by the Creator to be an act of supreme love, giving and unity. It's a picture, if you will, of the supreme selflessness.
Virtually all advocates of secular sexual behavior center on an "it's all about me" philosophy rather than mutual love and care for the other partner.
Abortion is tragically too often the result of sex being separated from a committed marital relationship that is both open to life and centered on uplifting another, rather than using another person for self-gratification.
With regard to pornography and the homosexual movement, Craig Osten and I co-wrote the book, "The Homosexual Agenda: The Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today" (Broadman & Holman) because we have witnessed firsthand the pain of those who are trapped in homosexual behavior.
I have been exposed to it from the time I spent as a full-time and special prosecutor — on both the local and federal levels — and as the head of several criminal investigative task forces.
In multiple prosecutions of people involved in every level of the pornography trafficking industry, I learned firsthand, many times from hours of conversations with defendants and their counsel, of these individuals' real view of the First Amendment. It was a joke and a smoke screen.
I learned what the profiteering pornographers thought of the homosexual persons who were plied with every manner of video, magazine and appliance. To be blunt, the pornographers had nothing but disgust and ridicule for those who paid them hard cash.
In years of public speaking since that time, I have repeatedly referred to pornography as the "true hate literature" of our age, because of its hatred and exploitation of the human person, regardless of size, shape, color or gender.
It reduces human beings to valueless commodities to be ogled at and disposed of like used tissue. Sadly, many of the individuals whom the pornographers dispose of are vulnerable young men and women who engage in homosexual behavior.
I've met young homosexual men and women who were struggling with the issue of pornography and the various forms of sex trade outlets. These included the so-called gay bars, many of which we learned were often owned or controlled by exploitive heterosexuals and even criminal enterprises. These manipulative individuals and organizations just wanted to "make a buck" off the weaknesses of others.
I had the opportunity to talk with these men and women in depth about their pain, their heart needs and the role that this material played in their formation and their sexual behavior. Based on these years of experience with those trapped in homosexual behavior, I must continue to express real outrage at the merciless exploitation of those with homosexual urges and temptations. ZE04072821
Alan Sears on Free Speech, Censorship — and Fighting Back
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona, 29 JULY 2004 (ZENIT)
Pornography may be a thriving criminal enterprise, but a legal expert in the field believes the Church and the laity can stunt its growth.
Alan Sears, president and general counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, served as the executive director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography under President Ronald Reagan.
Sears shared with ZENIT why pornography is not free speech, and why clergy and lay people need to break their silence and take action.
Part 1 of this interview appeared Wednesday.
Q: Recently, the Supreme Court in the case of ACLU v. Ashcroft struck down the Child Online Protection Act as violating the First Amendment right to free speech. Why is pornography considered free speech?
Sears: First, the opinion was wrong. Advocates of a culture that supports the affirmation of life must reject any notion that most pornography is even "speech."
Of the five forms of pornography I mentioned earlier, at least four lack much, if any, constitutional protection even by the furthest stretch of the high court's imagination.
Obscenity and child pornography have never been within the bounds of "free speech," the First Amendment or equivalent state constitutions, except according to erratic decisions by courts in a few states such as Oregon and Hawaii that would amaze their founders.
Second, the term "pornography" is a generic, not legal, term. It relates to a broad range of sexual materials, some of which are protected by the First Amendment and some of which are not.
As noted by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California, in 1973: "Pornography derives from the Greek ('harlot' and 'graphos,' writing). The word now means 1) a description of prostitutes or prostitution 2) A depiction (as in a writing or painting) of licentiousness or lewdness: a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement."
The 1986 Attorney General's Commission on Pornography defined pornography as "material that is predominately sexually explicit and intended primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal."
In most First Amendment litigation, the outcome does not depend on whether the materials are characterized as pornographic. Ordinarily, courts begin by determining whether the restriction on free expression is content based or content neutral.
The answer to this question then dictates the amount of deference that is afforded to the governmental restriction and determines whether the speech restriction is constitutional or not.
Content-based laws focus on and proscribe certain unlawful speech. Such laws are based on objections to the "content" of the speech itself. Content-based restrictions are presumptively unconstitutional.
However, there are certain content-based categories of expression, including certain types of pornography, that have no First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court, in the 1992 case R.A.V. v. St. Paul, has said that these categories include "obscenity" and "child pornography."
If the Supreme Court determines that a restriction on pornography is not aimed at the content of the speech, it analyzes the restriction as a content-neutral restriction.
Content-neutral restrictions attempt to regulate the time, place and manner of the speech. Such laws focus on the negative secondary consequences or harmful effects, which certain speech and speech-related activities cause. Their impact on speech is only incidental in nature.
These laws regulate the time, place and manner of these activities in order to minimize or vitiate the harmful effects. They generally take the form of restrictive regulations governing the zoning and licensing of sexually oriented businesses, or so-called adult establishments.
It is much easier for speech restrictions to survive First Amendment scrutiny if they are deemed content-neutral since the government only needs to show that: the law is within the constitutional power of the government; the law furthers an important or substantial governmental interest; the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and the incidental restriction on First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest.
Q: Many people fear that limiting pornography is censorship. Is censorship bad?
Sears: How do we define either term? Bad for the profits lost by organized criminal activity? Bad for a child molester who wasn't able to trade his "collection" of trophy photographs with others?
Bad for potential child molesters who could not get a magazine at the corner store that they would use to lower their inhibitions and eventually end up acting out when they sexually abuse a neighbor's child? Bad for the Internet provider who couldn't let 12-year-olds view his wares at the tax-funded neighborhood library?
And what is meant by censorship? Enforcement of state and federal laws prohibiting the distribution of proscribed forms of pornography is not censorship.
I submit that the largest censorship organization in America is the ACLU and its allies with their long and ongoing effort of fear, intimidation and disinformation against religious liberty. Some radical groups even believe libel and slander should not be "censored." As I often say, "One man's censorship is another man's survival."
Q: How can the Church best combat pornography in the culture through the efforts of both clergy and laity?
Sears: First, as laity, let's first get on our knees and ask God to forgive us for our silence, to forgive us for our sin of omission and to forgive those who exploit others through this evil — sins of commission.
Then we must get educated, get organized and demand that our state and community have laws as broad as the Constitution permits, and that those laws be promptly and vigorously enforced.
As to non-prosecutable forms of pornography, such as so-called men's magazines — as if there is something manly about making women and their sacred bodies and gifts into disposable commodities for profit — demand that your local merchants quit selling them. And be persistent until we make a difference.
Second, the Church itself must first be willing to confront and talk about this devastating issue because it is occurring within its own walls.
We need to ask our leaders to provide leadership and guidance as to God's beautiful plan for men, women and their sexual unity in marriage as well as instruction on the sin of other behaviors and the subject of the use and sale of pornography.
Individual clergy need to clearly present, without compromise, what God has to say on these matters involving personal purity and how, as individuals of faith, the laity can overcome pornography — or, if needed, how to seek assistance in recovering from such devastating addictions.
Third, Church leaders need to implement focused and responsive small group ministries — in concert with effective counseling ministries — in which healthy accountability and confidential, personal care can spring forth, like life-giving water for the souls of each individual that chooses to become an intimate part of a group of people whose goals include moral, spiritual and personal purity.
The time to get involved is now — before your family is affected, before your children are victimized by the pornographer who has no regard whatsoever for their God-given life or sexuality.
May God find us faithful, as we work together by his grace, to stop the further spread of pornography and its devastating effects upon on our nation as we take back the moral high ground lost while we remained silent. ZE04072921
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