Congressmen Call on AG Barr to Make 'Obscene Porn' Prosecution a Criminal Justice Priority

By Michael W. Chapman | December 12, 2019 | 1:03pm EST
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) -- Four Republican members of the U.S. House, including Freedom Caucus co-founder Mark Meadows (N.C.), have sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr recommending that he declare "the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority," and that he advise U.S. attorneys to start prosecuting the "major producers and distributors of such material."

"The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral," reads the Dec. 6 letter. "This explosion in pornography coincides with an increase in violence towards women and an increase in the volume of human trafficking as well as child pornography."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"Victims are not limited to those directly exploited, however, and include society writ large," the letter states. "This phenomenon is especially harmful to youth, who are being exposed to obscene pornography at exponentially younger ages."

The letter notes that Barr, as U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, led an aggressive prosecution effort against pornography and especially against child pornography.


There are several federal laws against obscene pornography. For instance, as the letter explains, it is illegal to distribute "obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, in hotels/motels, by retail or wholesale establishments, and by common carrier."

The enforcement of those laws "was stopped by the Obama Administration when Attorney General Eric Holder disbanded the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the Criminal Division," according to the congress members. 

The letter to Barr also notes that in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump signed an "anti-pornography pledge," issued by the group Enough is Enough, which seeks to make the Internet safer for children and families. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The pledge requires the signer, if elected president, to take numerous steps with the Department of Justice and other federal departments or agencies to prosecute child pornography, enforce federal obscenity laws, and sexual predation and trafficking laws.

The pledge also calls for enforcement of the Child Internet Protection Act, which says public schools and public libraries must filter porn; and consider appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harm caused to individuals and society by pornography.


Although Trump signed the pledge, his administration has ignored it, according to the Congress members. As a result, "the harms of illegal pornography have continued unabated, affecting children and adults so acutely to the point that 15 state legislatures have declared that pornography is causing a health crisis," reads the letter. 

The congressmen call on Trump to honor his pledge. In conclusion, they write to Barr, "Given the pervasiveness of obscenity, it's our recommendation that you declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority and urge your U.S. Attorneys to bring prosecutions against the major producers and distributors of such material."

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)  (Getty Images)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) (Getty Images)

In addition to Rep. Meadows, the other members of Congress who sent the letter are Jim Banks (Ind.), Vicky Hartzler (Mo.), and Brian Babin (Texas).

Matt Walsh, a conservative commentator with The Daily Wire, discussed the letter in a recent podcast. "On average, children are first exposed to hardcore porn at the age of 11, if not sooner," he said.  "This exposure is not neutral in its impact. Children are damaged in quantifiable ways, affecting their emotional and psychological development, their attitude towards themselves and others, their behavior, and their ability to form healthy sexual relationships in the future."

"[T]he question is whether the privilege of adults to post their sexual escapades online is more important than the privilege of children to be protected from the profound psychological harm caused by exposure to such escapades," said Walsh

Attorney General William Barr.  (Getty Images)
Attorney General William Barr. (Getty Images)

"You might argue that this is something for parents, and not government, to handle," he said. "But this argument ignores the reality of the situation. Parents cannot possibly shield their children from a porn epidemic that is so ubiquitous and accessible. Even if they restrict all internet access in their own homes, and refuse to allow their children to have phones with internet access (a wise move, to be sure), all it requires is one friend whose parents have not taken that step."

Some of the research cited by Enough is Enough on its Internet Safety Presidential Pledge page shows the following:

-- "Any child with open Internet access can view, either intentionally or accidentally, sexually exploitive material, ranging from adult pornography, prosecutable obscenity including graphic sex acts, live sex shows, orgies, excretory functions, bestiality, and violence and child pornography.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

-- "Sexting is now the 6th top ranked issue in the list of health concerns for U.S. children.

-- "A third of 11 to 14 year olds have watched porn on a mobile device.

-- "Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.

-- "The average age of first exposure to pornography is 12.2 years.

-- "53% of boys and 28% of girls (ages 12-15) use sexually explicit pornography, most via Internet.

-- "88.2% of top-rated porn scenes contain physical aggression (spanking, gagging, slapping, etc.).


-- "For some adults and youth, pornography increases the risk of sexually aggressive behavior, and is one factor contributing to sexual dysfunction, including sexually deviant tendencies, sexual offenses, and difficulty with intimacy and acceptance of rape myths.

-- "Children as young as 5 are imitating sex acts at school because they are allowed to stay up late and watch pornography."

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