Marvin Olasky

Thirty years ago Congress passed protective measures regarding pornography. On May 21, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Child Protection Act, which was supposed to protect persons younger than 18 from exploitation by pornographers. (Other measures were designed to keep those under 18 from accessing pornography.) Two months later President Reagan signed into law the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, designed to keep persons below age 21 from purchasing alcoholic beverages.

Now, visualize this scene: Herbie, 13, walks into his local tavern and asks for a vodka martini—shaken, not stirred. Tex the barkeep asks, “Are you at least 21 years old?” Herbie says, “Sure.” Tex serves him. As he sips, Herbie pulls out his iPhone and watches a pornographic scene. I suspect most of you know what’s wrong with that picture: In all 50 states Herbie would not get his martini. Tex or anyone else would card him, demanding a driver’s license or other official proof that Herbie is at least 21. But the porn? No one would interfere.

The poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971) wrote, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.” Today, I’d add another line with a different rhyme scheme: “Porn’s even faster but it leaves you forlorn.” I won’t go into detail here, but relatively few porn sites electronically card users. Some require use of a credit card to access much of their content, but even they are like bars at which persons of any age can get drunk.

And yet, pornography is a huge problem not only among adults but among children and teenagers as well. If you’re sending your very well-mannered children to college and the dorm Wi-Fi has no filtering mechanism, they are likely to be exposed early and often to hard-core porn—and some become addicted. Even if it does have a filter, your son and perhaps your daughter will probably see porn at some point.

Why the difference between alcohol and pornography, both products that sideswipe many teens? Thirty years ago President Reagan at the signing ceremony said he would appoint a commission to investigate pornography, and he did. Attorney General Ed Meese headed it up, citizens including James Dobson served on it—and the press ridiculed its serious conclusions. The U.S. Supreme Court also failed to take pornography seriously enough to change the almost-anything-goes attitude it had pioneered during the 1960s.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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