In our opinion: Prosecuting obscenity should be a priority


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  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 5, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    If Mitt gets elected the control mentality will reign supreme.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 4, 2012 8:06 p.m.


    I use the family member scenario to drive home the point that there is a problem with pornography - one we can more easily miss as long as the folks on the screen or in the magazine are strangers.

    I am no attorney and I do not suppose that I can do better than Justice Potter Stewart’s famous line of “I know it when I see it”. I will have to leave to others to draft an acceptable standard.

    We agree that all media is not for all audiences. We used to censor media much more just a few decades ago. America was still America and we at least thought we had free speech. So what I am advocating is not something from the dark ages of time.

    I agree that govt. should be careful about what it censors. But my point is that pornography does have dangers and should be therefore subject to controls.

    My point about "position advocacy" is that there are grades of speech and govt. needs to/can treat them differently. That a movie put forth purely for entertainment can be restricted more than speech advocating a position.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 3, 2012 11:06 p.m.

    Twin lights, I don't know if you have used your four comments yet. But you didn't even come close to defining in any concrete way what pornography is. Do you really believe that you can ban things based on the fact that you do not want to see a family member in it? Do you really think that the government will be able to, or should be able to, ban anything based on that?

    Would you like to try again to provide a definition that the government could actually work with?

    I'm not sure what you mean about putting stuff on display in the public square. But there is media that is not appropriate for all audiences. I enjoy horror movies. I would never show certain horror movies to kids. I also don't want to be limited to only material that is appropriate for children.

    But let me ask, you think that the only speech that is protected is "position advocacy?"

    I think the government should be very careful in censoring material. For instance things dealing with legitimate state secrets. Sure. But government censoring things like movies or books? No.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 3, 2012 7:52 p.m.


    No. Not just someone talking. But position advocacy.

    Hasn't the govt. always had some power of censorship if the information is too dangerous? Do you feel the govt. can NEVER censor any information under any circumstances?

    Were we not a free people just a few decades ago when pornography was not considered protected speech (at least not as it is now)?

    Also, if it is truly just speech like any other, then I should be able to put it on full display in the public square at any time I choose, right?

    Can I define pornography? Sure. If you have children or siblings you love and adore, it's the stuff you would never want to see them in. Yeah, I know, that's messy. But you get my drift. Just as I may not be able to provide a succinct definition for you, surely you can see that there is stuff that has only a prurient interest (and is not speech as the founders would have defined it).

    I understand this is a thorny issue. But we must recognize that simply stating it is speech is an inadequate analysis of the issue.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 3, 2012 4:48 p.m.

    Am I understanding you, Twin Lights? Are you saying that the only form of speech you feel is protected is literally someone talking? That once we are talking media, then the government has a legitimate right to censor if it feels the material is harmful?

    Also, would you care to define for us "pornography"? And, please, not a vague definition using words like puriant and offensive, but a concrete definition of what exactly you see as porn, and even more to the point, what the government should recognize as pornography to be banned and prosecuted. The D-News has never done this in their many pieces on porn. Can you?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Oct. 3, 2012 4:00 p.m.

    Twin Lights,

    "....If the issue is speech, then I have NO problem with anyone advocating for or against something - that is to make their case in the public sphere. But that is not the same as allowing its production and distribution...."


    Court rulings on 1st Amendment cases apply freedom of speech to inlude the printed word and film as well as public speaking. My view is that the only way we can guarantee freedom of speech for anybody is to resolutely enforce the right for everybody. That of course is going to include people who exercise that right in ways that I never would.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 3, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    Twin lights, there are many things that I would not want family members to be a part of, but also don't think should be illegal. For instance, I would not want any member of my family to be a conservative or part of the Republican Party or part of any religious groups, and I would be embarrassed to admit it if they were. But I would still love them and support them no matter how flawed I thought their decision to became, for instance, a conservative, was.

    Same thing with pornography. No, just like if my children were thinking of becoming a Republican, I would try to convince them not to make such a mistake.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 3, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    Craig Clark,


    If the issue is speech, then I have NO problem with anyone advocating for or against something - that is to make their case in the public sphere. But that is not the same as allowing its production and distribution.

    The govt. may well allow for someone to advocate for the possession of high explosives. But should it allow them to take the next step and produce and distribute the explosives?

    Of course the question is then whether the medium itself is a form of speech. I think it goes well beyond simply being speech. Perhaps if it were advocating a political view or cause it might muddy the waters, but suffice to say that I do not really believe that all media are at all times and in all places - speech. At least not the kind we must protect.

    If I make a pamphlet or video showing how to kill tens of thousands with very simple mechanisms I would likely not be able to publish it. Why? Because it goes beyond normal speech into a realm where the foreseeable consequences are objectionable. I believe pornography is the same.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Oct. 3, 2012 2:31 p.m.

    Twin Lights,

    ".....There is a difference between what we want and what we know to be good for us....."


    ....just as there is a huge difference between my disapproving of something and my trying to get it suppressed. Your right to freely express yourself is my right to do likewise so if I can't defend your right to free speech, I can't in good conscience or full confidence defend my own.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 3, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    If you argue that pornography is okay, then participation in the industry is as well, true? And, you would find your family member's participation in the industry to be acceptable, right? And, if your family member got a leading role in such a movie or a significant set of pictures in a leading magazine, then you would be justifiably proud and encourage all of your friends to see the movie or buy the magazine, correct? Finally, if a young family member came to you for advice and revealed their desire to be in that industry you would encourage them to do so because you believe that industry that is good for its participants, right?

    If you answer no to ANY of these questions, please explain why.

    Because if you believe pornography is okay, then the above should describe your actions. If you would act otherwise, then perhaps you do not really think it is okay. At least not for the people you love.

    There is a difference between what we want and what we know to be good for us. Using our family as proxies helps to illustrate this. Treat pornography accordingly.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Oct. 3, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    Yes, prosecuting obscenity as the Des news suggests is a way to make Utah truly a Zion place. With a current Utah population of about 2.8 Million. Lets suppose 100,000 Utah males regularly view obscene material. Now if the possssion, viewing or discussion of obscene material is a criminal offense. These 100,000 Males should be in prison. Utah would have to build prisons to hold these 100,000 criminals. I've seen numbers suggesting it costs $50,000 per year to incarcerate inmates. The Tax Tab for locking up these fans of Playboy, Cosmo, etal would be about $5 BILLION per year. or about $6,000 per year for a Family of 3 in Utah. But I'm sure there is an upside to this proposed public policy. Think of all the prison guard jobs it will create and the construction jobs to build prisons in Utah. We may also get prisoners from the Bible-Belt States If this legal principal spreads. Thanks Des-News for the idea . It sounds like a Win-win idea to me !!!

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Oct. 3, 2012 10:23 a.m.

    Isn't there some way the names and addresses of people who are involved in this sordid business could be released to the public? Convictions could be hard to come by and expensive, but is it against the law to say that the person who produced the material is "So-and-so who lives in Blank City." Same with the photographer and those that posed, etc. They might be less inclined to be involved if they were socially stigmatized for their profession. Just a thought.

  • Pippin Kaysville, UT
    Oct. 3, 2012 7:18 a.m.

    Thanks to the many commenters against this "obscene" attack upon liberty, specifically free speech and commerce.

    The pornography industry is pathetic. They take one the greatest subjects of art, the human body, and tag it like punk vandals. Their defamation is reprehensible and I wish them utter failure.

    However, pornographers must be allowed their freedom to do their commerce. Only to the degree that children (who are not of sufficient age to choose this industry) are exploited, to the degree that adults are forced or coerced into the industry, or to the degree that someone is forced to consume this product, should pornographers be prosecuted. This same standard applies to any industry.

    Free speech protects everyone. I am free to disparage an industry, as I have done here. But I should have no power to force them out of business, not even in majority-combination with my neighbors.

    Free speech is what allows us to effect change without force of arms. This article uses that freedom to call for force of arms against pornographers. The contradiction is alarming. This article should not have been published by the DN let alone authored by it.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:58 p.m.

    Hey Deseret News Bashing guys - what newspaper does not have an opinion page? One can access many newspapers on line - Deseret News being just one of them that has an opinion page. You have stated your opinion - so why have you called shame on Deseret News for publishing an opinion?
    As for the hits I took on my opinion concerng pornography - I firmly believe that if the framers of the constitution could have read or seen today's in your face pornography and smut they would have been horrified and dismayed at the degeneracy.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Oct. 2, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    Here's my opinion: Practice professional unbiased journalism and stop having an opinion. You're a newspaper ... act like it.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 4:36 p.m.

    I am curious Desnews. Under your proposal and in your opinion what would be banned in a community such as Utah? Playboy for instance? Would mere nudity that has purient interest without scientific or artistic reason for having it qualify for being banned? Can anyone else also answer this question?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Oct. 2, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    Conservative ideology is at cross purposes with itself when it demands spending reductions but wants to stick us with the tab for increased obscenity prosecution. It rails at excessive government as the root of our problems but what do they call this? It opposes Federal Government meddling in state and local matters and calls for stepped up Federal involvement in vice enforcement which is traditionally a state and local matter. It decries the erosion of freedoms while wanting to crack down on commerce rights of choice.

    The Deseret News should consider how the press are the only business enterprises that enjoy special protection under the Constitution. They of all entities should be slow to call for restrictions on others under the 1st Amendment. No one should have to tell them that a smut peddler’s right to peddle smut is a new outlet’s right to do its job as it sees fit. In a free society, the rights of all are diminished when the rights of even one are threatened.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 1:59 p.m.

    What federal budget money are we going to use to do this? Are we going to raise taxes in order to fund additional prosecutions of adult pornography? We are in a bit of a budget crisis right now.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 1:39 p.m.

    Is that more obscene than 23 million without jobs or our sovereign debt?

  • Ying Fah Provo, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 12:17 p.m.

    Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID

    "Pornography is a lethal cancer that is eating away at the moral fiber and ideals of America . . . "

    I thought that was "socialism"!

    It's only a problem if you make it a problem. In the religious Muslim world, a man talking with a woman who is not related to him is a serious offense. And a woman in certain parts of the Muslim world exposing her body (for example, her hair, her face, or her wrist) can result in stoning and death. For some, dancing is sinful. It's the Old Testament, a thousand years of men writing stories and dealing morality, dragging us back to a time best remebered so not to repeat it.

    Teach children about pornography so they can deal with it on their own in a mature fashion. It will never go away. Perhaps it's the world's second oldest profession, but then sex has always been a central part of any culture. You just need to understand the simplistic, unrealistic, and basically ridiculous nature of it.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 11:00 a.m.

    Joan would you be comfortable living in places like Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan.
    "So what to do - be as bumps on a log or an ostrich with its head in the sand"

    How about you live and let live, and pray for the sinner, not legislate laws against adults who believe differently than yourself.

    Who decides what is pornography, religious leaders, artists, politicians?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Oct. 2, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    The Deseret News should know that 1st Amendment rights extend to more than just freedom of the press. The DN should also know that 1st Amendment rights are inviolable as protected speech, which the Supreme Court has ruled covers sexually explicit materials as well as journalism.

    The essence of protected speech is not that it is legally obligated to reflect a particular set of values, which defeats the purpose of freedom of speech. It's not even that it has an obligation to not offend any segment of society, which is an impossible standard to apply across the board. The essence of protected speech is that it free of attempts by government to coerce or police it.

    Shame on the Deseret News. Any news venue in America should know better.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Oct. 2, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    Pornography is a lethal cancer that is eating away at the moral fiber and ideals of America and other nations. It has become a disease that has adversely affected, if not destroyed, individuals and families. So what to do - be as bumps on a log or an ostrich with its head in the sand - as this man made poison continues its deadly distructive course?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:51 a.m.

    Really? Nothing else important on the go right now, so another dose of porn paranoia is in order. Honestly, if it wasn't for the DesNews, I'd never think of porn.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    Marketers and ministers have done a great job of telling people to be horrified by the human body.

    The end result is a societal fascination with other people's bodies.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:16 a.m.

    "Adult pornography, unfortunately, has over the last two decades gained increased social acceptance. It is available in many hotel rooms and ubiquitous on the Internet."

    It was acceptable under the Marriot empire for how many decades?

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    Pornography and Freedom go hand in hand.

    Pornography is legal in countries like the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy, etc.

    Pornography is illegal in countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc.

    When you start outlawing "obscenity" what's next? Blasphemy?

    Sex and violence are part of the 1st Amendment, even the most conservative Supreme Court Justices recognized that when they struck down California's video game law.

    Yes, America and other free-market democracies do flood the world with porn, thankfully. Nothing says freedom and capitalism like the ability to buy porn.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Oct. 2, 2012 9:02 a.m.

    Love that you have to try to make Obama look bad in every aspect. By "some critics" you mean Rick Santorum. Sorry, not going to buy it just because Santorum said it.

    Also, I find pornography generally offensive. I also find people trying to dictate public policy according to their religious convictions offensive. I also find Thomas Kincaid being called an artist offensive. Offensive does not, and should not, equal illegal.

    I'd be much more interested in devoting resources to programs aimed at helping our youth have a healthy body-image--programs that aim to show both boys and girls that they are more than merely sexual objects. I'm not in favor of imprisoning anyone to achieve that aim.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    America is flooding the world with Pornography. It seems like most of the serious criminals have said that it all started with porn.

    That is the root of the problem and we should rip it out.

    It is time to draw a line in the sand and fight.

  • dave Park City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 8:38 a.m.

    "...it has provided a sound basis for putting pornographers in jail. " You espouse imprisoning people because in your opinion something is offensive. This opens a slippery slope to oppression.

    Imagine that I am not fond of your religion. I decide that your religion offends me and that it should not be classified as a religion. You lose your status as a religion and all of the protections it affords.

    There is no difference in the religion scenario versus the pornography scenario. Who defines offensive pornography? who decides that your religion is valid?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 8:24 a.m.

    Receipts show that Utah is a big fan of Adult Entertainment online.
    Why are you against the Free Market?

    But I have to agree with Darrel as I remember when Rodan at BYU was being called Pornography?
    Once again the party who SAYS they want less government in their lives, wants to make decisions
    about the most intimate parts of peoples lives.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    Oct. 2, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    Really? With all the real problems we have right now, we're supposed to focus on legal materials that consenting adults choose to manufacture and consume in private?

    So much for keeping the government out of people's personal lives...

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 7:31 a.m.

    While I agree pornography has very little, if any, socially redeemable value, my problem is who decides what is obscene, and what is art? The article itself admits this is vague.

    Is Michelangelo's "David" to be censored? What of the art on the Cistine Chapel? What if someone is offended during a movie?

    If it is consenting adults being depicted, I feel the government should have no authority in the matter.

    If you want to stop pornography, stop the viewing of it. If the money disappears, it will too. Attack the demand, not the supply.

  • Mad Hatter Provo, UT
    Oct. 2, 2012 3:23 a.m.

    Get real! With all the problems confronting people today, you want to commit a significant amount of resource (i.e. money) to wage a battle against pornography? When people need jobs and the country needs to repair its aging infrastructure, you can only come up with "pornography" as a major issue requiring priority status?

    Is it true that per captia consumption of pornographic material, Utah ranks in the top 10? Do we assume that fighting pornography should be a major focus of law enforcement rather than dealing with violent crime?

    We can come up with measures to deal with this issue, but it is not a priority of highest importance.