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Society and Community:
Porn in the U.S.A
More on This Story:
Viewers Respond

In "American Porn," FRONTLINE reports on the forces behind the recent explosion of sexually explicit material available in American society. Through interviews with adult entertainment executives and lawyers, porn producers and directors, federal and state prosecutors, anti-porn activists and a Wall Street analyst covering the entertainment industry, the program examines the business ties between respected corporations (AT & T, Yahoo!, General Motors and Marriott hotels to name a few) and porn companies, the rise of extreme hardcore porn, and the pending political battle that may soon engulf the multibillion-dollar pornography industry.

Past pornography prosecutions have relied on the 1973 Supreme Court Case Miller v. California. This case ruled that obscenity must be judged by: (a) whether the average person applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. For more on pornography law visit FRONTLINE's "American Porn."

Last week we asked our viewers what they thought about pornography in American culture. Our unscientific poll has broken down opinion this way:

  • I think pornography falls under free speech rights: 57%
  • I want to protect my kids from porn: 11%
  • Pornography is bad and its distribution should be limited: 14%
  • I'm for getting rid of all pornography: 16%
NOW Viewers Respond

  • Pornography is a form of entertainment which should be preserved. If boxing, which depicts such violence can be shown with no reservations then, porn remains.--e_oriol

  • I think you're missing the big picture. I agree with freedom of speech. Every American deserves that right. Pornography is nowhere near boxing. Why do you think teenagers are becoming pregnant more and more often? Why do you think rape rates are so high? Why do you think STD's (including HIV) are always so high? Why do you think the divorce rate is constantly rising?

    The answer to all of these questions is simple. Pornography. Those who attempt to pervert our minds and make us think there are no consequences to our actions. It's easily accessible to even young children! Pornography is not just simple freedom of speech, it is destroying America. --obrien

  • Why do you think teenagers are becoming pregnant more and more often? Because there are more and more teenagers, for one thing.
    Why do you think rape rates are so high?
    Because there are very insecure men in this society who feel the need to dominate a woman (or in prison, where rape is common, a man) in the most hurtful, violent way possible. Rape exists regardless of whether or not pornography is around.
    Why do you think STD's (including HIV) are always so high?
    High in comparison to what? The flu? There are places where STDs run rampant, mostly underserved and undereducated places like Africa, where HIV is a literal plague. And how much porn do they watch over in Africa?--enraged ape, responding to obrien

    Both of your posts make valid points. But, linking pornography and violence is not alike in the context you use. I took a course in human sexual behavior in college. The studies cited there (I don't remember what they were, it was 20 years ago) indicated that pornography and violence have only one thing in common: The more you see, the more explicit it must become or it is boring. --grandma

  • American Porn Resources:

    Frontline's "American Porn" site
    In "American Porn," FRONTLINE reports on the forces behind the recent explosion of sexually explicit material available in American society. This site includes with in depth coverage of issues such as prosecution of pornography and information on the porn industry, as well as featuring live discussion, surveys, streaming video, and more.

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    This article details laws and legislation concerning child pornography on the national and state levels. The site contains contact information for several agencies working against child exploitation.

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    "A Message on Commercial Sexual Exploitation" The official opinion of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on pornography.

    Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP)
    ASACP currently receives approximately 30-40 child pornography reports a day, and since its inception, it has investigated and assisted the U.S. Customs Service and the FBI in enforcing anti-child pornography laws against thousands of child pornography web sites. The site features a feedback page, press releases, and a FAQ section.

    "Skin Game"
    Article by Lee Siegel in THE NEW REPUBLIC online, offering a review of books and articles on the topic of pornography.

    "A rough trade"
    Martin Amis reports from the high-risk, increasingly violent world of the pornography industry. This essay originally appeared as "Sex in America" in TALK magazine.

    "How Big is Porn?"
    Article by Dan Ackman in FORBES.

    "The Perils of Covering Porn"
    Article by Emanuelle Richard in the Online Journalism Review

    "In Defense of Pornography"
    Reprint from a BALTIMORE SUN story by columnist Jack Kammer, posted on the National Coalition of Free Men web site.

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