Open Letter from MIM President Robert Peters to FBI Director Robert Mueller: Failing to Enforce Federal Obscenity Laws Undermines FBI Efforts to Curb Traffic in Child Pornography

Apr 28, 2008, 01:00 ET from Morality in Media

    NEW YORK, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - On April 28, Morality in
 Media President Robert Peters released the following open letter to FBI
 Director Robert Mueller, in response to Mr. Mueller's statement during a
 House Judiciary Committee hearing last week that "We're losing" the war
 against child pornography.
     Dear Mr. Mueller:
     It doesn't surprise me that we are losing the war against child
 pornography. I still recall the shock I felt upon hearing that the U.S.
 Justice Department's focus under Janet Reno was on apprehending suspected
 child molesters, not on curbing child pornography as such.
     This seemed awfully stupid to me, since it is child pornography that
 often fuels a molester's sexual fantasies, and surveys indicate that high
 percentage of persons arrested for possessing or distributing child
 pornography have molested a child or attempted to do so.
     Thankfully, former Attorney General Ashcroft began to change that
 policy, but from what I read it would appear that law enforcement energies
 are still focused primarily on apprehending suspected child molesters.
 Meanwhile, child pornography proliferates.
     The Supreme Court also made it more difficult to prosecute sexual
 exploitation of children cases when it invalidated the "pseudo child porn"
 law in 2002. As the dissent pointed out in that case, a limiting
 construction could have saved that important law.
     The FBI also makes it difficult to successfully wage war against child
 pornography by refusing to devote more than token resources to combating
 obscenity and by refusing to investigate obscenity crimes that do not
 depict the most extreme hardcore pornography.
     The explosion of obscenity contributes to sexual exploitation of
 children in a number of ways. First, child molesters use "adult" obscenity
 (i.e., no minors depicted) to entice, arouse, desensitize and instruct
 their child victims. See, e.g., Kenneth Lanning, "Child Molesters: A
 Behavioral Analysis," National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, pp.
 55-57, 70 (2001).
     Second, there is growing evidence that many men arrested on sexual
 exploitation of children charges began their downward spiral by viewing not
 child pornography but "adult" obscenity. For example, in the article,
 "Confessions of a child porn addict" (Buffalo News, 10/17/07), we read:
     "Clarence once enjoyed the adult pornography sites he viewed on the
 Web. But after a while, the thrill was gone. So he started clicking on some
 of the ads that popped up on his computer screen above the naked men and
 women he was watching. He was seeing something new -- young teenagers and
 even young children, posing in the nude, having sex with each other, or
 being molested by adults. At first, [Clarence] was appalled. But once the
 shock wore off, he couldn't get enough. Like thousands of other men..., he
 was hooked..."
     Third (& related to the second), much obscenity features teens who may
 be at least 18 but who are promoted for their youth. A citizen complaint
 made recently to the tip line included links for
 "XXX Teen Movies" and "Hardcore Real Babysitter Videos." Even mainstream
 hotels promote youth oriented pornography. Here are the titles of some
 films shown at Marriott Hotels where my wife and I stayed last year while
 visiting family: "Hustlers Barely Legal," "Young Bait," "Tight Virgin
 Holes," "So Young So Tight," and "Eighteen and Corrupted."
     Fourth, there is growing evidence that many men who are addicted to
 obscenity use prostitutes to act out their porn fueled fantasies. See,
 e.g., the article, "Help for the Sexually Desperate" (Christianity Today,
 3/7/08) ("Viewing pornography is nearly always accompanied by
 masturbation...'If a guy masturbates to something it would take a
 prostitute to do, he's more likely to find one.'"). To the extent that
 addiction to pornography helps maintain or increase the demand for
 prostitutes, it also helps maintain or increase the demand for women and
 children who are trafficked into prostitution.
     Fifth, addiction to obscene materials is also destroying countless
 marriages, which puts children at greater risk for sexual abuse. See, e.g.,
 "One-parent Households Double Risk of Child Sexual Abuse,", 3/14/07.
     In addition to protecting children from sexual exploitation, the
 Justice Department and FBI should also be doing all they can to protect
 children from exposure to Internet obscenity. In the late 1990s, Congress
 twice enacted legislation to protect children from Internet pornography,
 but the Supreme Court invalidated the CDA in 1997, and COPA has been tied
 up in the courts since 1998.
     The Congressionally created COPA Commission concluded in its October
 2000 Final Report: "Law enforcement resources at the state and federal
 level have focused nearly exclusively on child pornography and child
 stalking. We believe that an aggressive effort to address illegal, obscene
 material on the Internet will also address the presence of harmful to
 minors material."
     It wouldn't require a tremendous allocation of investigative and
 prosecutorial resources to substantially reduce traffic in obscene
 materials because much if not most hardcore pornography is controlled by a
 relatively small number of companies based in the U.S. But it would require
 a commitment.
     I hope you succeed in your requests for ISP record retention and for
 more Agents to help in the war against child pornography. I also hope the
 Justice Department and FBI will change their counter productive obscenity
 enforcement policies that make it more difficult if not impossible to win
 that war.
     Robert Peters
     President of Morality in Media
     CONTACT: Robert Peters 1-212-870-3210

SOURCE Morality in Media