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|Porn: The Poison of the Mind||
While America is vigilantly fighting the war against international terrorism, another enemy is engaging in an alarming assault on our families. Pornography and obscenity -- forms of mental terrorism -- affect tens of millions of Americans. It has a serious, detrimental impact not only on all who consume it, but also the people to whom they relate. I am convinced it will have long-term effects on the strength of our families.
Andrew Oosterbaan, the Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, is a holdover from the Clinton administration. Under Clinton, for reasons that should be self-evident, indecent materials and activity faced little restraint. Under Oosterbaan's continued leadership, only cases involving child pornography have been given priority. While it is certainly important to pursue such cases, this narrow focus has allowed other forms of pornography and obscenity to run rampant. Many in Congress and in the faith community are lobbying for Bruce Taylor, who served in the section effectively under Bush-Quayle, to replace Oosterbaan with stronger leadership and wider vision.
Pornography and obscenity are like emotional, psychological and spiritual AIDS. Unlike terrorists, they don't kill large numbers of people in spectacular, explosive fashion. Instead, they erode the defenses of marital and familial relationships in a steady, almost imperceptible manner. Like the AIDS patient who dies of pneumonia or tuberculosis, pornography and obscenity tend to result in the loss of trust, respect, self-esteem and love.
In extreme cases, pornography and obscenity contribute to violent criminal acts. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National 2002 Crime Victimization Survey, every two-and-a-half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. Viewing and fantasizing about sexual acts, including the criminal acts graphically depicted in some pornographic material, creates a mindset for acting out. In religious terms, we say, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." In secular terms, we say it's common sense -- if you think about something long enough, you'll probably do it.
A 15-year-old Minnesota girl recently received live webcam images of a man sexually molesting a baby. Her parents reported the incident, and a 34-year-old British man went to prison this week for the crime. After searching the man's computers, authorities found -- you guessed it -- a collection of pornographic images.
I could go on and on with specific cases linking pornography and obscenity to vulgar and criminal acts, but the connection should be obvious to any rational human being. What can be done about it?
First, encourage the prosecution of the most heinous offenders. The distribution of certain types of pornography is a crime. Report suspicious activities to local or federal law enforcement. Online incidents should be reported to the National Center for Mission and Exploited Children at www.cybertipline.com.
Second, raise awareness with your social, religious and political leaders. Write your state and national congressmen and press them to deal with pornography and obscenity, citing specific examples in your community, if possible.
Third, politely express your opinion to the companies involved in the distribution of pornographic and obscene speech and materials. Let the convenience store owners know that if they sell Penthouse, you will not buy their gasoline. E-mail your local radio station and tell them that you're turning off all of their stations if their deejays don't clean up their act. Write your cable TV company and local networks and tell them that you do not want indecent programming, then follow it with letters to the advertisers of those programs. Conversely, pay attention to those who take a stand against pornography and obscenity, and reward them for it by patronizing their stores and buying their products.
While it's proper to raise the issue with the government, we each need to do our part. Those of us who care about the long-term health of our families must wisely and diligently do the things that are within our power to keep the deadly virus of pornography and obscenity from running its naturally destructive course.