Comments about ‘In our opinion: Prosecuting obscenity should be a priority’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Joan Watson

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.

Kaysville, UT

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.

Sugar City, ID

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.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

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 !!!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

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.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

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

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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


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.

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

If Mitt gets elected the control mentality will reign supreme.

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