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Open Letter to John Kerry:
There is Still Time to Clarify Your Position on
Enforcement of Federal Obscenity Laws
by Robert Peters


October 26, 2004

Dear Senator Kerry:

In each election since 1972, Morality in Media (MIM) has asked its members to write each presidential candidate asking what he will do about the traffic in pornography. This election is no different.

To date, neither you nor your campaign has issued a public statement clarifying your position on the important issue of enforcement of federal obscenity laws.

This morning the news media is filled with pictures of former President Bill Clinton campaigning on your behalf. Presumably, you feel that those who approved of Bill Clinton's policies during his eight years in office will be encouraged by his high profile endorsement.

As you may know, among Bill Clinton's biggest fans in the 1996 election were hardcore pornographers in the San Fernando Valley. They were fans because President Clinton's choice for Attorney General, Janet Reno, shut down one of the most successful efforts ever waged against commercial distributors of obscene materials. From 1987 to 1992, one hardcore pornographer after another closed its doors as a result of effective enforcement of federal obscenity laws. And America was better for it.

Hardcore pornographers and strip joint owners are now campaigning for you, and the article, "The Single Most Important Issue" (Adult Video News, April 2004) explains their thinking:

'As a Democrat, Kerry is unlikely to squander precious Justice Department resources...on prosecuting legitimate (read: non kiddie porn) adult producers whose product is enjoyed by millions of Americans in the privacy of the home. Not to sound melodramatic or anything, but Bush's re-election could threaten the survival of our industry. As if I need to remind you, during Bush's first term, his Attorney General John Ashcroft...instituted the first federal obscenity bust in more than a decade against Extreme Video, with...more investigations in the works.'

My answer to the article is as follows. Criminal enterprises are not "legitimate." Second, the rotten fruits of obscenity crimes include teen promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS), divorce, sexual exploitation of children, rape, and the erosion of decency. Enforcing obscenity laws to reduce these "fruits" will save government resources, not "squander" them. The image of the U.S. as the "porn capital" of the world also undermines our efforts to curb terrorism. Third, with rare exception, obscenity laws are enforced against the purveyors of obscenity, not the purchasers.

What is important today, however, is not what I think about the hardcore porn industry but what you think. What I am again asking you to do is to make clear (verbally or in writing) that if elected, you will ensure that federal obscenity laws are enforced against hardcore pornographers.

That won't make the smut business happy, but it will send a message that while you may see eye to eye with Bill Clinton on many things, pornography isn't one of them. It will also send the message that when you talk about the importance of faith and values, you mean it.


Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media
New York, NY - USA



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