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readings and links
An analysis of the challenges in defining the word "pornography," plus links to anti-pornography organizations, first-amendment proponents, and articles analyzing the porn industry, its technological revolution, and the industry's new self-imposed "guidelines" for the Bush era.

the definition of pornography
A short primer on the confusion and complexities that have surrounded attempts to define the meaning of the term "pornography." The general litmus test for "pornography" seems to be whether it excites the viewer or the reader. But if that's the case, then how does one distinguish between pornography and "erotica" or "obscenity"? Here's a helpful excerpt from Pornography in America: A Reference Handbook by Joseph W. Slade.
anti-porn organizations
American Family Association (AFA)
In a 48-page manifesto regarding its campaign against pornography, titled "A Guide to What One Person Can Do About Pornography" (PDF), the American Family Association lays out its reasons for battling pornography and gives methods to rid video rental stores and communities of porn, complete with a sample protest letter. The AFA is a conservative organization that was founded in 1977 by a Unitarian Methodist minister. In April 2001, AFA spearheaded the effort to rid Internet portal Yahoo!'s online store of pornographic materials.
National Law Center for Children and Families (NLC)
The NLC describes itself as a "specialized resource to those who enforce state and federal obscenity and child exploitation laws. " It also provides advice for communities on obscenity and child exploitation laws and their enforcement. The website includes a collection of legal briefs that the NLC has filed in obscenity cases as well as a section about "sexually oriented businesses," which includes the NLC land-use studies about the "harmful secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses" in communities such as New York City and Cleveland, Ohio, among others.
Family Research Council (FRC)
The Family Research Council is a conservative public policy group whose mission statement says that its goal is "to reaffirm and promote ... the traditional family and Judeo-Christian principles upon which it is built." Its campaign against pornography is targeted at hardcore pornography. On the website, you can find news headlines along with position papers written by FRC policy analysts. In "Dangerous Access (2000): Uncovering Internet Pornography in America's Libraries" (PDF), FRC's Senior Director of Legal Studies Janet LaRue introduces a study by a public librarian in Oregon that documented almost 500 incidents of children accessing pornography in public libraries.
SpiderWomen
A small grassroots organization founded in Los Angeles in 1999 by two sisters, Lynn and Lane Langmade. Its mission, as stated on the website, is to "advance the feminist revolution by building relationships through technology to empower women." On the website, readers can learn about SpiderWomen's campaign called "Stop the AT&T Porn Empire" and read the group's protest letter to AT&T, along with AT&T's response.
National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (NCPCF)
Its website includes brochures (in PDF format) entitled "Caught in the Porn Trap: For Clergy and Lay Leaders Advising Victims and their Loved Ones" and "Warning: What You Risk by Using Porn." Readers are given advice on how to counsel someone who admits to pornography use, along with information about adult businesses' effects on communities. NCPCF is an Ohio-based organization whose mission is to "protect children and families from the harms of pornography and its messages."
Enough is Enough
Enough is Enough is a California-based group that campaigns against Internet pornography. The site provides a range of information on the effects of pornography, including a 20-page report entitled "Just Harmless Fun?" that outlines the harmful results of pornography from a social science perspective. The site also provides tips for parents on how to keep porn away from their children, alternative websites for children, and a resource list of articles on pornography.
Concerned Women for America (CWA)
The mission statement for CWA says that the group's goal is to "protect and promote biblical values among all citizens." Its website offers the latest news in the fight against porn. Articles are separated into four groups: the fight in general, the involvement of big business, porn on the Internet, and government action against porn.
Morality in Media (MIM)
A conservative media watchdog group, MIM's website has anti-porn materials, including news, background information on its positions, and political analysis related to the pornography debate.
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
Founded by religious leader Pat Robertson in 1990, the ACLJ has "a national network of attorneys who are committed to the defense of Judeo-Christian values." The website's anti-porn resources include an article outlining ways to remove pornography from local communities and presents an overview of the issue of porn in public-school libraries.
first amendment proponents:
Feminists for Free Expression (FFE)
Feminists for Free Expression is a group of feminists organized in defense of pornography. Its board of directors includes several attorneys and a former porn star, Candida Royalle. FFE houses a speakers bureau that coordinates the presentations of several of the top pro-pornography feminists such as Nadine Strossen, Marjorie Heins, and Wendy Kaminer. Check out the reading list for a handy reference guide to the group's major arguments.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The ACLU is one of the nation's most vocal supporters of free expression. This page gives a brief overview of the ACLU's position on the freedom of speech.
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)
NCAC is an alliance of national nonprofits, including literary and artistic organizations. One of the goals of its "Free Expression Policy Project" is to "persuade policymakers that it isn't necessary to take knee-jerk stands in favor of censorship in order to be responsive to popular concerns about violence, sex, racism, or taxpayer-funded art." In support of that goal, NCAC's March 2001 white paper on the effects of indecent material on children attempts to debunk the theory that pornography is harmful to children.
Libertarian Party
On its website, the Libertarian Party outlines its anti-censorship platform and includes "Talking Points" about its positions on pornography and online censorship.
American Library Association (ALA)
The American Library Association, a nationwide consortium of public libraries, has been affected in recent years by federal laws designed to restrict Internet access in America's libraries. The ALA has launched a lawsuit against the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Neighborhood Internet Protection Act, both of which went into effect in April 2001. This site provides information on how librarians are preparing to comply with the law while at the same time they're readying to fight it in court.
general readings:
"Pornography, Main Street to Wall Street"
In Policy Review, a publication of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writer Holman Jenkins Jr. writes that "[w]hile Republicans and Democrats were competing to see who could issue the most comprehensive denunciation of Hollywood depravity, they ignored an authentic and unprecedented phenomenon: the revolution in the availability of pornography."
(Policy Review, February 2001)
"Growing Pornography Industry"
"The adult entertainment industry rakes in more money than pro-football, basketball and baseball combined. Americans spend more money on pornography than on movie tickets and the performing arts." With this premise, "Talk of the Nation" host Juan Williams and his guests -- New York Times writer Frank Rich, porn star Veronica Hart, and Paul Fishbein, president of Adult Video News -- consider the growth of the pornography industry and debate whether technology allowed it to become more mainstream.
(NPR, June 14, 2001)
"The Perils of Covering Porn"
Emmanuelle Richard, a contributor to Online Journalism Review, reviews the hyperbole that accompanies most of the current reporting on the porn industry.
(Online Journalism Review, July 10, 2001)
"On-the-go Porn"
In an entertaining and historical overview of Internet porn, Salon.com writer Annalee Newitz says the next wave of adult techno-entertainment, cellphone porn, pales in comparison to the world's first Internet pornography -- "ASCII pr0n." "Spelled 'pr0n' instead of 'porn' in a typically obscure hacker joke, it consists of erotic art composed of the most basic elements: the ASCII character set -- not much more than the alphabet, numbers and assorted punctuation marks," writes Newitz.
(Salon.com, June 4, 2001)
"Skin Game"
In reviewing the rash of press reports about the porn industry that hit the newsstands in 2001, Lee Siegel, a contributor to The New Republic Online, writes that "[p]orn still inflames tempers on either side. To treat porn neutrally is to pretend that a favorable consensus toward it exists where one does not." Siegel also criticizes the acceptance of dubious statistics about the porn industry by mainstream journalists.
(The New Republic Online, July 19, 2001)
"Porn's Compassionate Conservatism"
"Welcome to the era of kinder, gentler smut," writes Mark Cromer in The Nation. Cromer, a porn producer, says that the porn industry is in an all-out race to sanitize itself. "In an effort to head off any potential anti-porno jihad by the Bush Administration, some of the major porn outfits have reached a common conclusion and issued sweeping new guidelines to producers and directors -- rules that are supposed to make even the most eager prosecutor think twice before filing charges."
(The Nation, February 26, 2001)

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