NewsPolitics

Actions

Indiana Congressman asks attorney general to crack down on 'obscene porn'

Jim_Banks.jpg
Posted at 5:37 PM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 17:44:54-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indiana Congressman is one of four U.S. Representatives pushing for the Department of Justice to crack down on obscene pornography in the country.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr to use the country’s current obscenity laws to “bring prosecutions against the major producers and distributors” of obscene pornography.

There is a three-pronged test the Department of Justice uses to define obscenity in the country. Known as the Miller test, something could be considered obscene if it meets all three of the following qualifications, taken from the DOJ site on obscenity:

  1. Whether the average person finds that the matter appeals to prurient interests (i.e., an erotic, lascivious, abnormal, unhealthy, degrading, shameful, or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion)
  2. Whether the average person finds that the matter depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way (i.e., ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse)
  3. Whether a reasonable person finds that the matter lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

The letter says Barr “effectively shut down the pornography industry” when he was attorney general under President George H. W. Bush from 1991-93. But the internet has grown exponentially over the past 25 years. In 2011, Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder was criticized for closing the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, a unit designed to prosecute obscene material on the internet. Holder's Department of Justice defended the move by saying obsenity violations are better handled by other departments, not that specific task force.

Banks' letter to Barr also notes that President Donald Trump signed an anti-pornography pledge before he was elected. He signed the “Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge,” which called for him to enforce federal laws to prevent sexual exploitation of children online. As the letter states, Trump’s pledge has so far been ignored.

The letter was also signed by the following Republican members of Congress: Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Brian Babin of Texas.

"The prevalence of obscene pornography in our society has consequences, especially for our children," Banks said on Twitter. "It’s time we start talking about it & it’s time to do something about it."