Washington (CNSNews.com) - In the wake of Monday's Supreme Court
decision that removed barriers designed to keep children from viewing sexually
explicit programming on television, lawmakers and family activists urged
the Clinton Administration on Tuesday to enforce existing obscenity laws
involving the burgeoning Internet porn industry.
Calling the multi-billion dollar per year Internet pornography industry
"America's dirty little secret," Representative Steve Largent (R-OK)
said, in an interview, that the Justice Department, under President
Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, has been noticeably lax in
enforcing obscenity laws.
"In certain areas they've been hyperactive and probably need to take a
little Ritalin," said Largent. "But in other areas, they probably need to
turn up the heat, and this is one of them."
According to Traditional Values Coalition Executive Director Andrea
Lafferty, there has been a sharp decrease in obscenity law prosecutions
since 1994, the year after Clinton and Vice President Al Gore took office.
"Even the pornography industry's own trade magazine, Adult Entertainment
Monthly, has published articles 'about the benevolent neglect' that the
industry has enjoyed under Attorney General Reno," said Lafferty.
Largent does not understand why the Justice Department has done so little
to enforce obscenity laws and keep adult material, particularly that
which is sent over the Internet, away from children.
"I really don't know why they have not addressed this. It's clearly a
serious problem that's doing great harm and damage to our country and
families," Largent said.
However, Largent pointed out that Clinton has a close relationship with
adult magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, who is hosting a huge fundraiser at
his Playboy Mansion for the Democratic Party when they have their
national convention in Los Angeles this August.
"You start wondering if there isn't some unspoken agreement that, you let
us hold fundraisers at your mansion and we won't prosecute the illegal
aspects of your business," said Largent, who described Hefner's Playboy
Magazine as "legal indecent material."
Other Congressmen also blasted the Clinton Administration for largely
ignoring the explosion of pornography over the Internet.
"The Internet is used by pornographers as an aggressive and corrupting
tool. It literally has the ability to reach into our homes and touch our
children," said Representative Joe Pitts, (R-PA). "Unfortunately, the
Clinton Administration has shown very little interest in pursuing this
According to Pitts, the Justice Department's own records show that
federal obscenity law enforcement has dropped more than 80 percent during
the Clinton Administration.
"Why is the Administration ignoring these laws?," asked Representative
Billy Tauzin, (R-LA), whose subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and
Consumer Protection held a hearing Tuesday on Internet pornography.
The Justice Department contends that it is enforcing obscenity laws as
they apply to the Internet. "We do investigate and prosecute transmission
of obscenity over the Internet, where appropriate," said Deputy Assistant
Attorney General Alan Gershel in a statement before Tauzin's committee.
However, family advocates such as Janet LaRue, who is the director of
legal studies at the Family Research Center and specializes in
pornography law, said the Justice Department is doing little to stem the
tide of pornography that is flooding America, and now, because of the
Internet, has even invaded public libraries.
"In addition to the many other serious problems caused by the
proliferation of hard-core pornography in our country, its accessibility
via the Internet is turning America's public libraries into virtual 'peep
shows' open to children and funded by taxpayers," LaRue told the
subcommittee. "This is primarily due to the failure of the Department of
Justice to enforce federal obscenity laws."