Morality in Media: President Obama's Choice for Deputy Attorney General Would Likely Weaken Justice Department Efforts to Curb Sexual Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Calls Into Question Whether the New President Will in Fact 'Stand Up for Policies That Value Families'
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings tomorrow to examine the nomination of David Ogden, President Obama's choice for Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Ogden has a long history of making "ACLU-minded" arguments in court cases involving obscene materials, harmful-to-minors materials, and child pornography. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then candidate Obama said (Saddleback Presidential Forum, 08/16/08) that curbing human trafficking must be "a top priority" and also said ("The Candidates on Faith," Time, 08/07/08) that there are a "range of moral-values issues that must be addressed in our families, our communities...But we can't just talk about 'family values.' We actually have to stand up for policies that value families." As a U.S. Senator, he also co-sponsored the "Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2007."
MIM President Robert Peters had the following comments:
Nominating David Ogden for such a high position in the Justice Department raises questions about whether the new President means business about curbing sexual trafficking in women and children and other sexual exploitation of children and about standing up for policies that value families.
It would be one thing if David Ogden had represented pornographers or those defending pornography in one or two cases over a long distinguished legal career. But this man went into court over and over again to represent soft-core and hardcore pornographers and other smut peddlers.
Ogden also served under former Attorney General Janet Reno, who proved to be one of the best friends pornography distributors ever had, including distributors of child porn. Reno had a reputation for fighting child pornography; but under her leadership the Justice Department largely ignored the explosion of child pornography on the Internet, focusing instead on the relatively small number of adults who create child porn or who attempt to make contact with children for sexual purposes.
Janet Reno also brought to an end a very successful effort against commercial distributors of "adult" obscenity, which may not depict actual children but does depict 18-year-olds who look younger, sexual perversions of every kind imaginable, and the degradation, rape and torture of women.
Janet Reno even refused to enforce federal obscenity laws against Internet hardcore pornographers who allowed children to view their materials free of charge and without proof of age.
President Barack Obama cannot have it both ways.
If he wants to be tough on those who traffic in women and children and who sexually exploit children in other ways, he must also be tough on distributors of obscene materials.
The explosion of "adult" obscenity (no actual minors depicted) contributes to sexual exploitation of children in at least two ways. First, child molesters use "adult" obscenity to arouse, desensitize and instruct their victims. Second, many men arrested on sexual exploitation of children charges begin their downward spiral by viewing not child pornography but "adult" obscenity.
Many men who are addicted to "adult" obscenity also use prostitutes to act out their porn-fueled fantasies. To the extent that addiction to pornography helps maintain the demand for prostitutes, it also helps maintain the demand for women and children trafficked into prostitution.
If he wants to protect and nurture family life, he must also be tough on distributors of obscene materials, because addiction to hardcore pornography is destroying countless marriages and because addiction to pornography is crippling the ability of countless children to later make a marriage work.
It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration did not do more in the "war against obscenity;" but to its credit, the Justice Department under President Bush did resume enforcement of federal obscenity laws against commercial distributors of "adult" obscenity. The Department also established an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which is now headed by a former U.S. Attorney who isn't afraid to take on commercial distributors of "adult" obscenity, if he gets the support he needs.
It wouldn't require a tremendous allocation of investigative and prosecutorial resources to substantially reduce traffic in "adult" obscenity. But it will require a commitment that David Ogden is not likely to want the Justice Department to now make.
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