A paper published by a conservative think tank sketches out a plan to abolish pornography in the United States.
"Internet pornography is a 'monstrous injustice,' and the time for its abolition has come," writes Morgan Bennett, a law student at Pepperdine University and former intern for the Heritage Foundation.
She argues that First Amendment protections should not apply to sexually explicit material because it can be considered obscene and because the Constitution’s framers “lauded virtue” and would have considered pornography harmful to society.
“Surely our current jurisprudence, which protects depictions of prostituted -- and therefore criminal -- sex acts, cannot be the proper interpretation of the First Amendment,” Bennett writes.
In her paper, which was published Oct. 10 in The Witherspoon Institute journal Public Discourse, Bennett claims “collective sexual behavior and norms, including the effects of internet pornography, cannot be kept ‘private,’” and should be regulated.
Because pornography is sexual, it is inherently relational and thus inherently social,” Bennett writes. “How people relate to each other in society is important, but how people relate sexually is crucial to the sustenance of a society because it either incentivizes or de-incentivizes the very foundation of society: the family unit.”
She urges prosecutors to enforce existing obscenity laws and apply prostitution statutes to performers in sexually explicit material, along with a coordinated campaign to advertise the harmful effects of pornography, but Bennett calls for the eventual censorship of pornography.
“Looking beyond those ‘first steps,’ I would argue for the eventual enactment of new laws that would censor obscene internet pornography,” she writes. “A statutory system of narrowly-tailored, criteria-based censorship would use accurate and effective censorship technology similar to content-control software.”
Bennett concedes this would not prevent the private viewing of pornography on DVD or other video formats, including downloaded files, but she says censorship would strip Internet porn of its affordability and accessibility.
“Censoring would also help state and federal prosecutors focus their obscenity prosecutions on the sale and distribution of obscene material by way of mail, downloads, and porn shops,” she writes. “Currently, it feels futile to prosecute obscenity in the face of seemingly endless amounts of free online hardcore pornography, with more added every day.”
The Witherspoon Institute is funded by conservative foundations such as the Bradley Foundation, John Templeton Foundation and the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation.
The think tank was the source of the widely debunked conservative study that claimed children with same-sex parents had higher risk of drug use, depression and suicide.
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Update: Bennett does not currently work for the Heritage Foundation but served as an intern there for two months this summer. A spokesman for the think tank says the paper does not reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.