Internet Cash Cow: Slaughter Time

There is no question of what the Internet cash cow is: anyone at least marginally aware of what’s going on will identify it with his eyes shut (out of necessity) as porn distribution. In fact, porn is the only profitable branch of the vast Internet commerce. According to Patrick McGrath of Morality in Media Inc., as reported on &to=' target=_blank> site turns in Web pornographers), "The distribution of illegal hard-core pornography has seemed to be the one area of the Web that's shown a consistent profit over the years."

The wave of layoffs and bankruptcies of the "dot-coms" during the recent slowdown of the US economy stands an eloquent witness to that fact: most of the impressive and ambitious Internet ventures turned out to be little more than hot air, while the Internet porn is cheerfully marching on. Moreover, as McGrath observes, "the entire porn industry is migrating to the Internet and it's becoming more and more difficult to avoid Internet pornography." Anyone who’s using e-mail or browsing the Web will surely agree with that. Porn industry, it should be noted, is no trifle: it is estimated to be bigger than all other branches of the US entertainment industry taken together.

Why so? Porn advocates claim that supply follows the demand and cite human nature as the basis for the latter. And they are right – to an extent. Indeed, there are two sides in the human nature: original, godly, – and corrupt, sinful. It does not take a PhD to figure out which side of the human nature gets carefully developed, fed and fanned by porn industry. Much the same way such real human traits as greed and aggression might be cited as a legitimate basis for purveying larceny and murder.

However, what we call "pornography" (from the Greek porne ─ whore and grapho ─ write) is not precise enough for any practical action against it. The law in the US deals with two different notions – indecency and obscenity. Various images of human private parts and discussions of comparative merits and demerits of various sexual perversions by and large fall under the first category; diverse rules and regulations apply to that, in particular focusing on how to limit the access of minors to indecent materials. A number of the high profile legal battles related to the First Amendment are being fought on these grounds.

But indecency, no matter how objectionable, has little to do with porn industry. Big money isn't made on indecency, at least nowadays: big money is made on obscenity. It is obscenity whose power over a human soul is akin to that of narcotics over the body ─ which boosts the profits of porno-business to the level of narco-business. If you fail to see the difference between indecency and obscenity – and really want to see it – just open a couple of those numerous pieces of spam which you delete before opening. Only make sure to have some sort of a pail at hand: you might become sick right away. Now, what the people are ignorant of – not only abroad, but unfortunately in the US as well, – that obscenity is not covered by the First Amendment. Per consistent rulings of the courts, there is no freedom of obscenity, period. "It's illegal to distribute obscene material in any medium, including via the Internet," underscores Patrick McGrath.

So, what’s the problem? Why are those people flooding us and our children with their loathsome production rather than doing time in federal prisons? The problem is, as usual, not in the laws but in the enforcement. According to McGrath, “During the Clinton administration the prosecution of obscene materials by the Justice Department dropped precipitously” (selective affinity?) Today, with the new administration and, not the least, after September 11 (would Satan foresee the connection?), the wind has changed, and “the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a speech earlier this month [June 2002] claiming that the current Justice Department will be committed to prosecuting obscenity laws.”

It remains to be seen whether or not the Justice Department will make good on its promise. But America being a nation of doers, people are already taking action. Morality in Media Inc., as reported by the WorldNetDaily article quoted above, “has launched a new website where Net users can file a report against possible obscenity-law violators… Visitors to MIM's new site can also find a mail-in form to report any possible off-line obscenity violators like “adult” book or video stores. Links are provided on the site to report child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and a petition is available to sign for those who want to express their support for obscenity law enforcement. also explains why there is no First Amendment protection for obscene materials.”

“Every citizen concerned about the explosion of obscenity on the Internet,” ─ says the president of MIM Robert Peters, ─ “should bookmark on his Web browser.” Then, at least, the administration would not be able to cite the lack of public concern about the issue. Our heartfelt desire is that the Russians follow this example of citizen’s action and prompt the Government to harsh measures against porn dealers and other figures of loathsome business.

Hierodeacon Macarios Ivanovo, Russia

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