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which deal in magazines, pictures and films of the material (and
live porn) I have just summarized. There are between 260 and 280 monthly magazines catering to pedophiles--people who get their
kicks" by looking at the nude bodies of eight-year-olds and younger in compromising poses. There are private syndicates or
clubs of sometimes hundreds of people who, through the mails,
order and trade pictures of such children, in poses distinctively
porn do better than the entire legitimate motion picture and record
It is likely that literally millions of young people, in their
impressionable teens and certainly in their early and mid-adult
years, view films of bestiality, lesbian masturbation,
niques, gang sex and other typical forms of pornography.
And now the industry is moving into videotapes so that it can
make another billion in the hotel, motel and home cassette markets.
That is, if the Congress does nothing, soon every neighborhood is
virtually certain to have a few people who entertain themselves
with these kinds of pornography--which means that when our little
girls go babysitting they may chance to view these, and no one
will be certain that when his teenage son is invited to a classmate's
home for a party, and it happens that the
nts are out--or
they are home! --"stag films" of S-M and masturbation will not be
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The full revision of the Federal Criminal Code is also a water
With the crime of pornography transformed in both quantity
and quality into a hideous monster roaming the land, it is time to
cage the beast with tough anti-pornography laws.
11. MODERN PORNOGRAPHY CAUSES IMMENSE HARM.
extent, the Senate bill, seems disinterested in protecting the moral
environment from the spiritual pollution of pornography is that
some members of Congress believe that pornography is a "victimless
ning to recognize the mounting evidence that violence on television
and in the movies causes violent conduct.
As the liberal columnist,
Nicholas von Hoffman, wrote in
an essay, Assault by Film,
WASHINGTON POST (April 13, 1979), p. D-4:
Why is it liberals who believe "role models" in third grade readers are of decisive influence on behavior when it concerns racism or male chauvinist piggery, laugh at the assertion that pornography may also teach rape? Every textbook in every public school system in the nation has been overhauled in the last 20 years because it was thought that the blond, blue-eyes suburban children once depicted therein taught little people a socially dangerous ethnocentrism. if textbooks, those vapid and insipid instruments of such slight influence, can have had such sweeping effect, what are we to surmise about the effects on the impressionably young of an R- or X-rated movie, in wide-screen technicolor, with Dolby sound and every device of cinematic realism?
Later in the same essay, von Hoffman added:
Network television executives who deny the likelihood their programs can alter human behavior lie and they know it. All you have to do is listen to what these same gentlemen say to their advertisers. They boast, they brag, they bellow about what an effective sales medium their networks are ... how good they are at getting people to alter their behavior and part with their money.
The evidence on violence, the clinical, professional-psycholo
gist-developed evidence, continues to mount.
But in structure
(and often in practice) what happens in the human mind and
is depicted is
no different from what happens when violence is depicted.
Two things happen:
(1) some overly-impressionable viewers
do act out what they have seen; (2) all the viewers are left with
lasting impressions which sink into the subconscious and, if fre
quent enough (and for some persons, even if not frequent), these
impressions influence and warp their entire attitude about life and
about other persons.
As Dr. Fredric Wertham put it in an article
titled, Medicine and Mayhem (M.D. Magazine, June 1978, p. 11):
Negative media effects do not generally consist in simple imitation. They are indirect, long-range, and cumulative. Violent images are stored in the brain, and if, when and how they are retrieved depends on many circumstances. It is a question not so much of acts as of attitudes, not of specific deeds but of personality developments.
One wonders about pornographic sadomasochistic videocassettes
when he reads the comment later in Wertham's essay:
The saturation of people's minds with brutal and cruel images can have a long-range influence on their emotional life. It is an effect that involves human relations in fantasy and in fact and can become a contributing factor to emotional troubles and adjustment difficulties.
Certainly, before the Congress repeals all effective Federal
Criminal Laws controlling pornography, it could call as a witness a
man of Dr. Wertham's credentials (Consulting Psychiatrist at Queens
Hospital Center, New York; formerly Associate
Johns Hopkins Medical School; author of several books on the
subject) and ask him to elaborate on this statement from the cited
With regard to sex, the explicit display of sadomasochistic
may have lasting effects. They may supply the first suggestions for special forms or reinforce existing tendencies. The whole orientation of young people with regard to the dignity of women is affected. By showing cruelty with erotic overtones, we teach that there can be pleasure in inflicting pain on others.
In this connection, the American Civil Liberties Union magazine,
THE CIVIL LIBERTIES REVIEW (January/February 1978), p. 51,
contained the highly pertinent article, 'Violent Pornography' & the
The essay summarizes the founding and work
of a feminist group called Women Against Violence Against Women
(WAVAW) "which grew out of organized opposition to the showing
in Los Angeles
of "Snuff"--a film that depicted as entertaining
the murder and mutilation of a woman.
Taking as a case in point
a billboard ad for a Rolling Stones album, which ad depicted a
beautiful scantily-clothed woman, her wrists, ankles and torso
bound with heavy cords, her bare legs bruised and bleeding, but
nonetheless saying, "I'm 'Black and Blue' from the Rolling Stone-
and I love it!" the article describes WAVAW as
'an activist organization working to stop the gratuitous
and quotes a member:
We think it's harmful in that it contributes to the overall
The author, an ACLU staff attorney, observes:
WAVAW probably cannot demonstrate that particular media portrayals are directly responsible for antisocial conduct, although it is not irrational to believe that the offending material may well have harmful effects. As WAVAW claims:
'When millions of people see women portrayed
Furthermore, a lot of record advertising
manner --which ... trivializes and demeans the very real pain that raped and battered women suffer ...'
(Emphasis, by underlining, added.)
It is encouraging to see this serious libertarian journal publish
ing an article which acknowledges that still photos, even, on mere
billboards and record album covers, can promote actual violence in
"the real world" and that it is socially important to worry about
the "overall environment."
But when the writer states that "WAVAW probably cannot
demonstrate that particular media portrayals are directly responsible
for antisocial conduct," she has fallen into a trap of her own
making. The words particular and directly and demonstrate confine
form of proof that in other fields no
demands, e.g., we do not insist on rigid empirical proof when we
that poverty "causes"--i.e., predisposes to--crime, or
even that cigarette smoking or polluted city air causes cancer.