In spite of all the sleaze and degradation that makes up pornography, particularly child pornography, it continues to flourish in the United States, but in ways that are different from the old magazines and movies of the past. Keeping up with these changes - and putting pornographers out of business - requires some tougher new laws.
While there is a lot of printed filth still around, thousands of stores have stopped selling porn magazines. In their place, the even worse pornographic videos are selling or renting at the rate of 100 million a year.Hard-core porn can be picked up on cable or satellite dishes, and child pornographers across the nation routinely exchange information and materials over computer networks.
A federal Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act proposed by the administration would put teeth into existing laws or close loopholes. The changes would make it easier to prosecute interstate transportation of obscenity - presently hard to do when pornographers use their own trucks rather than the mail.
Under the proposed law, if pornographic material were produced in one state and sold in another, interstate transportation would be assumed to have occurred - a realistic assumption that would be hard to dispute.
The proposed law also would allow the seizure of assets, including bank accounts of pornographers. A similar law already exists in the drug enforcement and helps finance prosecution of drug dealers.
Another change would make child pornography on computers illegal, which is not presently the case.
There are 260 co-sponsors of the bill in the House and 42 in the Senate. Yet the measure is tied up in committee in both houses.
The American Civil Liberties Union and some of its supporters in Congress are hindering the legislation. With only weeks left for Congress to be in session, bills that have stubborn opposition - be it ever so small in numbers - have little chance of passage. That's unfortunate, because America's children are the losers.