The Senate's War On Hardcore Porn

A large group of Senators — Republican and Democrat — are peeved at the Obama administration because it's not prosecuting enough adult, apparently consensual, pornography. The Justice Department says that's because it's applying its limited resources to fighting the exploitation of children, which isn't good enough for some advocates.

Earlier this month, 42 Senators, including a handful of relatively liberal Democrats like Dianne Feinstein (who is about to hear from San Fernando Valley taxpayers) and Amy Klobuchar, asked Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute more adult pornography. They were annoyed that the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, set up to pander to conservatives in the Bush administration, was shut down and similar cases moved to local U.S. attorney's offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity section of the Justice Department.

"We write to urge the Department of Justice vigorously to enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography...We know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking. This material harms individuals, families and communities and the problems are only getting worse."

The problem here, of course, is the wholesale conflation of media portraying consenting adults with sex trafficking and addiction. And, when it comes to Feinstein at least, conflation with child pornography:

Asked about her interest in the obscenity issue, a spokesman for Feinstein pointed to her support for several measures targeting child pornography in recent years.

Whatever you think of adult pornography, it is clearly not the same moral universe as the always-illegal sexual exploitation of children. In fact, the DOJ says it's pursuing fewer adult obscenity cases because "The Department has focused its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources on the most egregious cases, particularly those that facilitate child exploitation and cases involving the sexual abuse of children, including obscene depictions of child rape," according to its official response.

But if you ask the agitators on this issue, they're actually upset the DOJ has decided to spend more resources on prosecuting the abuse of children via pornography.

Former obscenity prosecutor Patrick Trueman, who now heads the group Morality in Media, said the claim of 150 recent obscenity prosecutions is misleading and that, in fact, no adult obscenity prosecutions have been initiated under Obama.

"In various administrations - not just this one - DOJ has tried to sell the notion that it has a vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws underway," Trueman said. "A look at the cases, however, reveals that what are counted as ‘obscenity cases' are in fact child pornography cases where the defendant is allowed to plead down to an obscenity charge. … To suggest that such cases are adult porn cases is just wrong."

And to prosecute child porn cases, it follows from Trueman's statement, is just not good enough. But then he tries to make a spectacular, heretofore undocumented link between the two:

Trueman asserted that the rising number of child pornography cases is due in part to the government's failure to take meaningful action against sexually-explicit adult material. "Significant numbers [of] adult porn consumers move eventually to child porn because nothing else excites them," he said.

You can't make this shit up. But Trueman can.

Eric Holder Accused Of Neglecting Porn Fight [Politico]