Stricter pornography laws are often seen as a solution for the problem of sexual exploitation of children. This sample criminology essay explores the ways in which the First Amendment applies to the matter of illegal adult content and the reasons for why stricter laws may not be the most effective solution to this problem.
Stricter pornography laws in the U.S.
While it is true that popular opinion binds some to regard the United States’ First Amendment and Bill of Rights as a blanket license for the proliferation of pornography as an unlimited right to freedom of expression gone wild, pornography abuses and its unfettered spread needs to be better regulated by law.
In the Texas Law Review a discussion around this very topic and the “evils that sexual exploitation inflicts upon children” helps explain a First Amendment defense oftentimes used to excuse using child subjects in pornographic based recordings. (p. 1101).
The argument, states the Texas Law Review summary, revolves around the technicality of a twisted reasoning that state and federal statutes which require “no knowledge” as to the child subject’s age somehow limit their freedom of speech (p. 1102). This paper argues three main points.
- The First Amendment cannot be used to excuse the unregulated proliferation of pornography.
- The ease of Internet use provides easy access for children to watch pornographic material.
- Not every adult is interested in being bombarded with pornography laden advertisements.
Pornography in the United States should be restricted by law, whether the activity involves consenting adults or the sexual abuse of children in order to guarantee the protection and privacy of all citizens.
Child pornography and the First Amendment
Child pornography is an illegal trade banned by most governments in the world. While the trade still exists, the international court, European Union, and other Western organizations claim the problem is worsening. In fact, it is one of the concerns regarding the missing migrant children abducted recently. But courts and laws leave loopholes that distract from fighting the cases.
It is truly amazing that child pornography producers, who appear as court defendants in such cases appeal to their First Amendment rights to excuse this outrageous behavior. It is one thing for consenting adults to agree to make or watch it, but quite another for children to be sexual participants in an adults’ game of filth, thus becoming victims of prey whose lives will never be the same.
Although some court rulings have muddied the waters, in terms of declaring some pornography as ‘obscene speech’ common sense and morality goes a long way. A Texas Law Review commentary on the issue points out the statistical evidence of damage done to children abused in this way.
“Sexually exploited children tend to be unable to establish healthy romantic relationships,” suffer drug abuse and prostitution struggles, and lifelong psychological harms (p. 1101 and 1102).
See the problem? Furthermore, even if adult pornography is produced it is illogical and unethical to assume First Amendment ‘free expression’ of this kind is a right. This is not a right, but nothing more than unladen obscenities. Easy access for children to watch pornography is rampant, too.
Children expose to illicit material
Children watching pornographic material are almost as bad as the abuse of youngsters forced into sexualized performance abuse. In the first place, it doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure out how easily accessible the Internet is. Kids are smart. Kids are curious. If not under proper supervision children may accidentally, or out of curiosity land on a pornography website.
No one is suggesting the government censor all material with regards to the Internet, but the easy access children have to pornography is ridiculous and evil. It is clear that adults who watch child pornography, for example, have a psychological problem and need clinical treatment for their disordered sexual addiction. A peer-reviewed journal article in Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, announces:
Clients who face this problem have no uniform laws to turn to because “the definition of child pornography is complex,” and differs by state (p. 17).
The third point why pornography should be restricted by law is not every adult wants to watch it, or have ads about it in their face.
Many adults have healthy romantic and busy professional lives and are uninterested in hearing about, seeing ads for, or much less engaging in pornography. In the last fifty years television has become much more sexually loose, even in daytime broadcasts. The Internet is rife with pornographic material and advertisements that a lot of people don’t care to see or hear about. Sneaky ads are offensive to individuals who have more important and productive lives to lead.
Take another look at the First Amendment. Do not persons who do not want anything to do with pornography have the right to not be bombarded with the obscene nature of its speech? The Cornell University Legal Information Institute declares the First Amendment to protect “freedom of expression from government interference” but these rights are subject to interpretation (“First Amendment”). All in all everyone is not going to agree. And of course, the debate will continue as long as there’s a legal slippery slope.
Cornell University Law School – Legal Information Institute. (2013). First amendment: An overview [Data file] Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment
Ritter, M. J. (2010). Child pornography, the First Amendment, and mistakes of age: An Age-Old debate. Texas Law Review, 88(5), 1101-1123.
Samenow, C. P. (2012). Child pornography and the law: A clinician’s guide. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19(1/2), 16-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.660432.