Special Feature

Previous Months' Topics

Conquering Pornography

Deacon Ralph Poyo tells about his own former addiction to porn and offers hope for men seeking to avoid this vice.



Obscene Should Not Be Seen

As president of Morality in Media for the past 14 years, Robert W. Peters has headed an often frustrating battle against pornography on TV, on radio, in magazines and now the explosion of offensive material on the Internet.

Bob Peters

While it may appear that he is waging a losing battle, he has what should be a winning message – the federal laws now in place against obscene material have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In other words, obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment. Getting local and federal authorities to enforce the obscenity laws is another matter.

Readers are encouraged to report violations of obscenity laws to Morality in MediaObscenity Crimes.

Fathers for Good spoke with Peters, who has a law degree from New York University, as part of our ongoing feature “Men Are Stronger than Porn.”

FFG: Your recent Harris International poll in October showed that a large majority of Americans see ‘hardcore pornography’ as unacceptable and destructive. Sum up the significant poll findings.

Peters: According to a survey commissioned in October 2009 by Morality in Media and conducted by Harris Interactive, 76% of U.S. adults disagreed that “viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable,” and 74% disagreed that “viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet provides, generally, harmless entertainment.”

I suspect that many will find these results hard to believe! “How,” they will ask, “can so many people think ill of this garbage when there is so much of it around?”

Part of the explanation is that we Americans are still in large measure a “religious people.” We still know right from wrong. Another part of the explanation is that much if not most hardcore adult pornography is purchased by a relatively small percentage of individuals who are addicted to it. Furthermore, just because a person on occasion yields to the temptation to view this material does not mean he or she approves of what is viewed or of all pornography, especially when online pornographers often promote their products aggressively and deceptively.

I also think that the Internet has helped bring the sordid world of hardcore adult pornography out of the shadows into the light of day. Not long ago, if an adult wanted hardcore pornography he had to go (sneak) into an “adult” business. Today, adults are assaulted by this material in their homes, and children can easily access it free of charge from a computer at home, a friend’s house, a job, a library or school, or with a mobile device. The news media have also published many stories about the adverse affects of pornography on marriages and children.

FFG: Do you think most people would object to the Playboy type of pornography? Would most see this as harmless entertainment?

Peters: I suspect that many younger Americans are not very familiar with Playboy magazine. Why should they be when they have easy access to a smorgasbord of both soft core and hardcore pornography on the Internet, free of charge? For my generation (the boomers), Playboy was to pornography what marijuana was to drugs. Playboy introduced us to pornography, and for many it was a first step to hardcore pornography. Many kids today don’t progress from soft core to hardcore pornography. On the Internet, they go directly to hardcore materials.

FFG: Do you see a connection between 'soft' and ‘hardcore' pornography?

Peters: As I see it, all pornography is addictive; and from a “spiritual perspective” viewing any type of pornography is a sin. Both soft and hardcore pornography also portray women as sex objects.

From a legal perspective, there is a difference between soft and hardcore pornography. In Miller v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court stated: “This much has been categorically settled by the Court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.” The Miller Court went on to define “obscene” in a manner intended to restrict the reach of obscenity laws to “hard-core” pornography. Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially is hardcore.

FFG: The flood of Internet porn has made most of us feel helpless. What can anyone reading this do to help battle the advance of porn in our media?

Peters: 1. To begin with, we can avoid being part of the problem. When people buy pornography they contribute to the demand for it, and where there is a demand there will be a supply.

I would add that “performing” in hardcore pornography is not a positive experience for most women. Most hardcore pornography is produced for males, and when males become addicted to it they seek out more deviant, degrading and violent materials to get their sexual “highs.” To gratify these warped sexual desires, women in pornography are degraded and verbally and physically abused. When males buy pornography they contribute to this degradation and abuse.

2. We can educate others about the harms of pornography and what constitutionally can be done to combat it. Morality in Media and other organizations have published a great deal of information about the problems and solutions. What we need are foot soldiers to help distribute it.

3. We can make complaints to businesses that distribute pornography in our communities; and we can also avoid patronizing these businesses.

4. We can make complaints to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors about hardcore adult pornography (magazines, videos, cable/satellite pay TV channels, etc.) distributed in our communities. Federal obscenity laws apply in all 50 states, and most states have their own obscenity laws. Citizens can report possible violations of federal Internet obscenity laws at Morality in Media’sObscenityCrimes.org

5. In 2010, Morality in Media will also be asking citizens to contact their representatives in Congress about the obscenity problem. The question we want Congress to look into is this: “Why are federal obscenity laws rarely enforced when it is clear to any objective observer that hardcore adult pornography is harming children, family life, women and the economy (loss of worker productivity) and making the war against religiously based terrorism more difficult?”

6. And finally, we can pray that God will raise up public officials who will enforce (and where needed enact) constitutional laws against adult pornography in our nation and communities, and judges who understand the crucial difference between freedom of speech and obscenity.