Over at the Daily Caller we see that apparently presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said if he’s elected president he will appoint an attorney general who will aid him in eliminating Internet porn.
“The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”
If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”
Leaving aside for the moment that it would be rather like handing someone a broom and telling them to “get all that sand off my beach” there are some issues here — most of them First Amendment Issues.
As both a journalist by day and a caped conservative crusader by night, I’m rather a fan of the protections afforded me by the First Amendment.
What I’m not a huge fan of, personally, as a Christian, is porn.
But that’s my personal choice.
My issue with Santorum’s sudden war on porn is several fold.
A. It’s a First Amendment issue. We may not like everything which is said, but freedom of speech and expression includes speech and expression we may find personally repugnant. Moreover, while the law does indeed say obscene material may not be transmitted “over the Internet, cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier,” how do you define obscene?
Which brings me to my second point.
B. Who decides? The government? There are a few things most people seem to agree are obscene. Child porn, bestiality, depictions of necrophilia, most of us can agree these things are obscene. But the standards of decency in California are far different than those in here Southeast Kansas. No two people can agree on what’s obscene and what’s not, we’re supposed to come up with a common standard for the entire country now?
C. U.S. law applies only in the United States, which means most of them would simply move off shore. So what’s next? International treaties regulating the Internet? Didn’t we just have this fight with SOPA/PIPA?
D. As conservatives, aren’t we supposed to be the actual tolerant party? Isn’t shutting down speech we disagree with the sort of thing we decry when the left does it? I expect better out of my fellow conservatives. I may not be a big fan, but how exactly is it my business, let alone the president of the United States’ if a couple wants to watch a little porn to spice up their sex lives?
I realize Santorum has been gaining traction with social conservatives by saying this sort of thing. I appreciate it’s not even actually pandering because he really does believe it. Nor am I suggesting he’s even wrong or that there aren’t some serious issues with the porn industry — there are — but this is exactly the sort of thing the left is always accusing us of, and of which we claim we’re innocent. Namely trying to control people’s personal lives.
Ultimately, we have far larger issues at stake in this country than Internet porn and if Santorum doesn’t see that then he’s not qualified to be president.
All IMHO, of course.
(Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Cherokee County News-Advocate. He can be emailed at email@example.com. Comment on this and other articles at www.sekvoice.com.)