JESUSLAND—With the field of Republican presidential candidates effectively narrowed to two, and with former Senator Rick Santorum already on board with claims that if elected, he'll rid the internet of porn, aggressive pro-censorship group Morality in Media (MiM) has targeted the other high-profile presidential aspirant, Mitt Romney, to swear to "vigorously enforce the nation's adult obscenity laws."
"We are writing to seek a meeting with you in the near future to discuss the necessity of enforcing federal obscenity laws should you be elected president," wrote MiM CEO Patrick Trueman and 12 other anti-porn activists in a letter to Romney dated today. "Those laws prohibit distribution of obscene (hardcore) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier."
The letter echoes sentiments expressed by 42 (mostly Republican) U.S. senators—and, sadly, liberal Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Amy Klobuchar—and 75 members of the U.S. House in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last April, the details of which can be found here.
While the current letter doesn't have the political juice of the Holder missive, it does have what passes in the religio-conservative sphere for "star power." The Romney letter bears the signatures of Alliance Defense Fund's Alan Sears—long-time readers may remember that he was Executive Director of the Meese Commission and responsible for improperly sending letters to the 7-Eleven convenience store chain threatening to bust them for carrying Playboy and Penthouse—as well as Family Research Council head Tony Perkins; Citizens for Community Values president Phil Burress; American Family Association president Tim Wildmon; Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Dr. Richard Land; Enough Is Enough president (and former Gary Hart floozie) Donna Rice Hughes; Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel; conservative religious anti-gay activist Austin Ruse; conservative "Movie Guide" publisher Dr. Ted Baehr; and Catholic Bishop Harry Jackson Jr.
While claiming that "illegal adult obscenity contributes to addiction, divorce and break-up of families, harm to children..., violence against women and misogyny as well as to sexual trafficking," the letter to Romney states, "We believe that the next president needs to udnerstand that a wealth of research now exists that provides overwhelmingly [sic] evidence of the great harms caused by pornography. We deserve to have the nation's obscenity laws enforced. There is widespread public support for enforcement of these laws, which were passed overwhelmingly by the United States Congress."
Of course, little of that is true. The "overwhelmingly evidence" is largely anecdotal, relayed by anti-porn activists and academics with no peer-reviewed studies, and the public at large has little interest in prosecuting adult movie and web producers or content, despite the results of biased public polling sponsored by (you guessed it!) anti-porn activist groups.
The letter also makes the "slippery slope" argument, falsely claiming that adult porn "leads many to consume harder and more deviant material over time and leads many to consume child pornography." Again, no credible evidence exists for either claim.
But in a sense, the letter's writers may be preaching to the choir. As far back as 2007, in a speech before the El Paso County (Colo.) Republican Party, Romney himself, then also a presidential aspirant, called for the Department of Justice to prosecute producers and distributors of "the worst-of-the-worst obscene materials," and stated, "Even though the interstate trafficking of obscenity is illegal, federal obscenity laws have not been adequately enforced. To protect our children, we need to enforce our current laws."
Even as recently as this past January, Morality in Media itself had claimed that it had received promises from Romney, Santorum and Newt Gingrich that if elected, they would direct the U.S. Department of Justice to "prosecute violations of the bans on hardcore pornography." (Maybe Trueman forgot? Or maybe, like children, he needs constant reassurances that "daddy's still here.")
And speaking of reassurances...
The adult entertainment industry would like to assure Pat and his associate Dawn Hawkins that no one in the industry is currently planning to kill either of them.
"Our entire staff is now under a death threat as of Sunday," Trueman wrote in a donation-solicitation email on March 6. "Frankly, we don't know how serious this is but we have notified the FBI. On Sunday, an email was sent anonymously through the contact form on our website saying, 'I will kill you all.'"
"This is not an isolated threat," he continued. "We have been under a sustained attack for two full weeks now. I told you how two weeks ago our Executive Director, Dawn Hawkins, asked a man on a plane to stop viewing pornography when the flight attendant refused to help. She posted a video about the experience and it went viral on the Internet.
"Then the porn industry's trade publication attacked Dawn and also hundreds of porn consumers weighed in with vicious or salacious comments against Dawn posted on the video and through emails to her and with phone calls both to her personal phone and our office phone. Next they tracked down her parents and began making threatening calls to their home. Then they got hold of the cell phone number of her brother and attacked him."
The email concludes with, "P.S. We just discovered two other threats as I wrote this note to you. One is a death threat and the other urges violent action against Dawn. Please keep Dawn in your prayers."
First, Pat shouldn't sell Dawn short. Actually, we'd estimate that thousands of porn consumers "weighed in with vicious or salacious comments about" her on YouTube, which got over 24,000 "dislikes" and inspired some excellent commentary by JordanOwen42. But to deal with his main point, we find it hard to believe that most (if any) porn consumers would go to the trouble to search out Dawn's phone numbers, or those of her parents or brother, to rant at her (much less threaten her/their life or health). That's something conservative activists do all the time. Indeed, this Wikipedia page records the eight abortion physicians and assistants who've been killed by religious fundamentalists since 1993, not to mention the dozens of attempted murders, assaults, kidnappings, arsons, bombings and even anthrax threats perpetrated by that same class of terrorists.
So have no fear, Pat and Dawn: You face no threats of violence from anyone in the adult entertainment industry... but we do look forward to your next claims of same ('cause they're fun to write about)!