This column may well generate about 40,000 "Unsubscribes" this morning, but there you are.
In the early 1960s a man named Nico Jacobellis was arrested after the showing of a French movie in his theater by the name of "The Lovers" on the grounds that the film was obscene.
This case would doubtless be relegated to punishing second year law school students were it not for the fact that (a) the case went to the U.S Supreme Court and (b) in a concurring opinion Justice Potter Stewart penned one of the most memorable phrases in Court history.
In concurring with a reversal of Mr. Jacobellis' conviction, Justice Stewart wrote about trying to define the phrase "hard-core pornography":
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."
Putting aside how Mr. Justice Stewart had come upon comparative material, this famous quote came to mind when I read that GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum plans to boldly go where Supreme Court Justices have feared to tread.
On his campaign web page a position paper on pornography contains this:
While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum Administration.
I am opposed to children being exposed to, much less featured in, pornography. I am also opposed to children being exposed to, or involved in, under aged drinking, smoking, or driving dangerously.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 nearly 3,000 teenagers died in automobile accidents - 35 percent of all teen deaths. Nearly 8 children a day - every day.
How about spending some quality time trying to dramatically cut down on that problem?
I don't care if you like pornography. It's none of my business. The bigger issue for Santorum is he does care whether you watch it. The dichotomy in Santorum's position is that he wants to use the full might and reach of the Federal government to forbid the distribution of pornography.
"on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier"
This from a candidate who has consistently argued for less Federal intervention in our lives. Wasn't that the cornerstone of Santorum's opposition to the contraception ruling, that the Federal government was stomping on the First Amendment rights of religious groups?