Protect Innocent Eyes from Obscenity

Last month, four members of Congress wrote to U.S. Attorney General William Barr to advocate for stronger enforcement of existing federal laws that ban obscenity.

Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles Project, writes that 15 states have recently declared pornography to be a public health crisis. Schilling adds that “studies that have shown that most children are now encountering pornography during their adolescent years — with one report placing the average first age of encounter at 11.” Schilling points out that various other harmful products and services are only allowed to be sold to adults, and that providers of such products and services are often required to verify purchasers’ ages. Furthermore, Schilling points out that federal law already makes it illegal to knowingly transmit obscene material to a youth under the age of 16. On this basis, Schilling proposes regulatory action to require merchants of pornography to implement age verification systems to prevent youths under 16 from accessing pornography.

At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we agree with Terry Schilling’s proposal. Pornography, like other forms of sin, wreaks havoc upon the lives and relationships of those who use it. It is also unhealthy and degrading to those who create and produce it. However, the prevalence of pornography in 21st century American society (and especially on the internet) means that age verification is not nearly enough to combat pornography availability. Given that the First Amendment does not protect obscenity under the Free Speech Clause, state legislatures across the country should explore innovative steps to combat the pornography industry. Until such steps are taken, we urge Christian parents to take available steps to guard their children’s eyes.