NEW YORK (BP)–The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 along party lines Feb. 20 to disband the county’s Commission on Obscenity over the objections of Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, Sheriff Lee Baca and District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Morality in Media President Robert Peters, in a Feb. 21 statement, vented against the Democratic Party as playing a key role in the Los Angeles vote — and in the sharp drop in pornography prosecutions in recent years.
Morality in Media is a nonprofit national interfaith organization, with headquarters in New York City, working through constitutional means to curb traffic in obscenity and to uphold standards of decency in the mainstream media.
“As a result of widespread concern about the explosive growth of the hardcore pornography industry in the 1970s and early 1980s,” Peters recounted, “President Reagan initiated efforts leading to numerous successful prosecutions from 1987-92 against major interstate distributors of obscenity, many of which were located in Los Angeles County.
“Then Bill Clinton came along, and now the hardcore porn business in the United States and Los Angeles is booming as never before — with even mainstream businesses peddling hardcore pornography in videostores and on cable and satellite TV,” Peters continued.
“Under the Bush administration, the Justice Department is expected to resume enforcement of obscenity laws. The success of the department’s enforcement efforts will depend both on the level of its own commitment and the level of public support.
“The Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity assisted with the successful effort launched in the 1980s against Los Angeles-area hardcore pornographers, and should have been revitalized to assist with the expected resumption of that effort,” Peters recounted. Established as a 15-member commission in 1964, The Los Angeles Times reported that its membership had dwindled to six members; it had no staff, budget or regular meeting schedule; and it had met only once since 1995.
“Instead,” Peters said, “the Los Angeles County Supervisors voted along party lines to disband their Commission on Obscenity, with the three Democratic Party supervisors voting to disband.
“Perhaps it is not just morally challenged ‘Hollywood’ that owns a big piece of the Democratic Party’s soul,” Peters said. “It is now also the wildly successful but morally depraved hardcore porn industry.
“Whatever the explanation, it seems clear that the Party of Clinton has handed the hardcore porn industry yet another victory. One wonders, ‘Why are they so blind to the evil of illegal hardcore pornography?
“It is also clear,” Peters said, “that marriage, children, public safety and health, and a decent society were the losers — not just in L.A. County, but also in communities across the nation. One hopes but also wonders, ‘Is the Party of Lincoln up to the challenge?'”
Dennis Jarrard, an adviser to the Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity who testified at the supervisors’ meeting, said the vote displayed the power of the illegal pornography industry: “Los Angeles is becoming like Al Capone’s Chicago, where, during the 1920s, there was wide-open prostitution and gambling. No one did anything to clean it up.
“That’s what we’ve got with this $10 billion illegal obscenity industry centered in Los Angeles,” Jarrard said.
In an interview with CNSNews.com, Jarrard contended, “The American people are paying a tremendous price for that illegal industry that Janet Reno and Bill Clinton allowed it to go untouched for eight years. Under Jimmy Carter, under Ronald Reagan, under George Bush, they were prosecuting them. They put the biggest distributor of those things in the country … in jail. And they were really making progress against the obscenity industry until Bill Clinton came in and it was totally hands off.
“We just don’t want that Clinton policy to go on in Southern California anymore. L.A. is the porn capital of the world. Everybody knows it. They’re in violation of interstate transportation of obscenity laws, and they’re also in violation of an international treaty the United Nations adopted against the distribution of obscenity internationally. And they’ve been importing it too. And once again Clinton did nothing; in fact, he had a hands-off policy.”
Morality in Media had asked its supporters throughout the country, and especially in Southern California, to contact the five supervisors and express their outrage at the proposed elimination of the Commission on Obscenity. Letters, faxes and e-mails were sent to the supervisors from all over the country, and even from overseas countries.
Arlene Sawicki of the Chicago Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women wrote, “It is public knowledge and an international disgrace to know that Los Angeles County is the source of most illegal, ‘hardcore’ porn. … Most of these obscene depictions portray violence, degradation, humiliation and hate towards women. Women are portrayed in vile and repulsive ways.”
Sawicki told the supervisors she had direct experience of the most tragic of porn’s effects: “I know the tragedy of rape, and how it affects the victim — for life. I have nine friends who have experienced being raped. My husband’s cousin (age 42) was stabbed to death during a rape attempt — her assailant was addicted to hardcore porn. She was the mother of three young children. I know that Alice Straka would have me personally speak out in memory of her beautiful life cut short by the crime of rape.”
Sawicki also noted, “Anti-porn advocates have described hardcore porn as ‘handbooks for rape’ against women and children. Obscene pornography is not about love and sex — it’s about hate, violence and depravity. … Knowing this and the astoundingly high statistics of rape in this country, our Women’s Councils would have to ask why you would knowingly act to continue the proliferation of this type of criminal and illegal activity by disbanding the obscenity commission in Los Angeles — the hub of the obscene porn industry?
“As women — we have a right to be protected from those who would violate the sanctity of our bodies and the God-given dignity and beauty of our femininity. We have a right to be protected from those who would criminally exploit us and financially profit from that exploitation,” Sawicki said.
Richard Halliday of Waikanae, New Zealand, e-mailed the five supervisors: “You may wonder why this concerns me. … True, I only know what I have read via e-mail, but I do see the impact the U.S. pornography industry has over here in [New Zealand]. My concern is as a person in the global community. New Zealand imports the pornographic mags produced in L.A. … so yes, what happens in [California] affects our society too. …
“Pornography only exploits part of a person, and degrades the whole of a person. It attacks family values, spoiling decent relationships. I encourage you to believe that this commission could be a useful instrument in this fight, and to support, and use it,” Halliday wrote.