Should There Be Stricter Laws on Pornography?
Three articles have opposing viewpoints on laws concerning pornography. All three authors argue their side of this issue while having many of the same ideas as their opposing writers. The first is, "I am a First Amendment Junkie", by Susan Jacoby. Susan has written many articles on women's issues for popular magazines such as Glamour, McCalls, and The Nation. This article appeared in her syndicated "Hers" column in 1978. Jacoby believes that certain restrictions on pornography would be a violation of the first amendment. The second article is, "Report of the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography(Minority Report)". This is a report that was submitted by minority members of a commotion that was established by congress in 1967. This commotion was designed to study the impact of obscenity and pornography on American life. The final article is "Let's put Pornography Back in the Closet" by Susan Brownmiller. Brownmiller is a Journalist, Women's rights activist, and a founder of Women against Pornography. This article appeared in Newsday, a Long Island newspaper in 1979, and in Take Back the Night, a collection of essays against pornography. These articles are geared towards audiences who have an interest in the issue of pornography.
Despite the authors contrasting viewpoints, there are many similarities. Brownmiller feels that pornography is the result of women's bodies being dehumanized for pleasure. She also feels that pornography is commercially advertising the female body being raped, tortured and mutilated. The commission agrees and argues that this type of pornography should be censured to prevent moral corruption. If this does not happen, children trained with pornography will not be able to fall in love. Although Jacoby strongly agrees with the first amendment, she also agrees that pornography can become a bigger threat to women than the right of free speech. She adds that not all pornography falls into this category.
The three authors agree that the first amendment should not allow obscene pornography. Brownmiller feels that the legislature should be able to decide what is obscene by comparing it to the community standards of today. Jacoby adds that even women who support the first amendment agree that pornography should not be tolerated. The first amendment should not allow certain forms of threatening or degrading forms of speech. The commission reports showed evidence that a majority of the American public feels that there should be tighter restrictions on pornography. One hundred adults were interviewed on their feelings toward this issue. Eighty-five of them felt that there should be tougher state and local laws concerning pornography being sent through the mail. Seventy-six felt that there should be stricter laws concerning the types of magazines and newspapers sold over the counter.
Although there are many similar ideas among the three articles, there are also many differences between them. Brownmiller states, "In 1973 materials were judged obscene if they depict patently offensive, hard-core sexual conduct; lack serious scientific, literary, artistic or political value; and appeal to the prurient interest of an average person as measured by contemporary community standards"(573). It used to be obvious to determine if something was pornographic. Today it is a multi-million dollar business. On the other hand Jacoby argues that censorship can be judged on a rational basis than others believe. Not all nude magazines are overly obscene. In fact, certain movies are more obscene and parents take their 10 to 14 year olds to see them. An example of this is the movie "Looking for Mr. Goodbar". This movie sends out the message that casual sex equals death. The final viewpoint by the commission says that rapes were up 93% from 1960-1969. It also says that rape arrests were up 56.6% in the same time period. Despite this evidence, the commission claims that it is impossible to prove that pornography leads to later sex crimes. They also add that empirical research cannot define a reliable way to prove that exposure to explicit sexual materials causes delinquent or criminal behavior among youth or adults.
Although all three editorial were effective in presenting their side of the issue, Susan Jacoby's article, "I am a First Amendment Junkie", had the best evidence to persuade her audience. She did not show any bias in her argument. She had a well outlined restrictions of what should and should not be named obscene. She covered all areas of both sides of this issue and stated what she felt was right. This is a effective way to pull readers into your article and get them to take your side.