Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obscenity gets green light with ‘.xxx’ domain. (Oh, horse feathers!)

By DOUG CARLSON
SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Mar 22, 2011


For all its benefits and blessings, the World Wide Web harbors a dark side that has ensnared countless men, boys and increasingly women and girls. That realm of darkness is now expanding.

Last Friday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which authorizes Web domains such as .com and .net, voted 9-3 with four abstentions to approve a .xxx domain for pornography.

This green light to the information superhighway’s red light district puts society on a fast-track toward more child pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking, objectification of women and breakdown of marriages. It is a moral collision course in waiting. And children, families and society will be its wreckage.

Under ICANN’s decision, online pornographers won’t be required to shift to the .xxx domain. They can continue to nest in the world of .com, for example, or acquire multiple domains. This only gives them more exposure—and profit.

The porn industry already brings in more than $13 billion per year. That dwarfs revenues by the four major professional sports associations—the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball—each of which takes in only single-digit billion-dollar revenues annually.

With the unholy advent of .xxx, porn distributors will continue to prey on the public as many will surf the net under a false assumption of safety from encountering porn outside .xxx sites. Anyone who wants to find online porn will do so—with or without a .xxx domain. The major difference now is that the approval of .xxx sanctions the sewage by giving it a special place.

ICANN’s decision comes amid a muted response from the Obama administration to online porn. “It is premature for us to comment at this time,” said a Commerce Department spokeswoman, concerning the administration’s position on the .xxx domain.

ICANN voted days later. In contrast, the Bush administration maintained strident opposition to the .xxx domain since its relative conception in 2005, when a Florida company began to make a push for its approval.

The irony of it all is that hardcore pornography on the Internet is illegal under U.S. law. Now it’s being legitimized. The tragedy is that the Obama Department of Justice, tasked with enforcing anti-obscenity laws, yawns at the porn industry pervading the Web. Its number of prosecutions stands at none. The answer, it seems, is that the Justice Department must feel the heat from without before it will lay bare the industry and resume prosecutions.

The framework for such pressure is in the offing. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) and Randy Forbes (R-VA) are sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (PDF) urging him to begin vigorous prosecution of major producers and distributors of illegal hardcore pornography. They are asking other members of Congress to join them in co-signing the letter. To date, amazingly few members have done so.

The Justice Department will act as it sees this as important to Congress. In turn, Congress will act as it sees this as important to the American people. The question, then, is whether the public will rise up and declare its seriousness.

If you want the government to implement rather than ignore obscenity laws, please urge your senators and representative to sign onto the congressional letter to Attorney General Holder to restart porn prosecutions.

http://www.gofbw.com/blog.asp?ID=12722

Doug Carlson is manager for administration and policy communications in the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Washington, D.C. office. This article first appeared on the ERLC’s website (www.ERLC.com) and is used here with permission.