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join the discussion: Is pornography, especially hardcore pornography, too widely available in the United States today? Would you support action by the federal government to crack down on porn?

Dear FRONTLINE,

I thought that "American Porn" was both enlightening and disturbing. Although I have deliberately chosen to avoid pornography in my personal life, you may be surprised to know that my unwanted exposure to it has been at my workplace, the Chicago Public Library CPL.

I couldn't help but notice that you linked to the American Library Association ALA in your "Readings & Links" section under "First Amendment Proponents."

I am a librarian and for almost two years have been protesting against the pro-porn Internet policies of both the ALA and CPL. The ALA hierarchy and CPL Commissioner Mary Dempsey believe that libraries "must support access to information on all subjects that serve the needs or interests of each user, regardless of the user's age or the content of the material."

My major concern is the increasing movement of pornography from the private to the public sphere. Regardless of what people think of pornography on a personal or philosophical level, I believe that most Americans would agree that viewing and printing it in a public library building or school is, at best, highly inappropriate, and at worst, a violation of a number of state and federal laws.

While some library administrators have acted responsibly and at the very least have installed Internet filters in children's rooms and enforced no-porn acceptable use policies for adults, many have not.

Regarding the pornography industry generally, I strongly support the enforcement of existing harmful to minors, obscenity, and child pornography laws. Lastly, I would like to commend feminists Lynn and Lane Langmade, co-founders of spiderwomen.org linked on the PBS page. It is encouraging to me to see young feminists question the role and effect of pornography on women and society. For those interested in exploring the feminist critique further, I highly recommend the passionate and articulate writings of University of Michigan Law Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon such as "Only Words" 1993 and "Sex Equality" 2001.

Chicago, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

First, I would like to commend PBS for the excellent work on this. It's good to get a good third-party look at the industry.

As for porn crackdown, I think that the focus should be different than what it currently is. The common focus is on stopping distribution of pronography on the basis of obscenity. In all honesty, without another means of exploring sexuality, a good majority of the population who currently watch sexually explicit material would start to actually explore with real people, often outside their current relationship. Even the more extreme material can be a healthy experience for someone who otherwise can't experience what's being depicited in media.

Where my concern lies is with the women who are in the industry. The vast majority of women, and some men, who participate in this do it strictly for money, and I think few really know the ramifications of what they do. For those who do understand, I commend them, and I think that people who participate in it as a form of enjoyment and expression , not just monetary compensation, should be allowed to make even extreme content, if it suits them. However, this is a very small minority, and I think that laws should be concentrated on helping these people make an informed decision.

All in all, I think that overcommercilization of sexual material will have a markedly negative effect on the material itself, as well as leaving a distaste in the public's minds of everything associated with it. Let's get it back to the basics, the enjoyment of a wonderful part of our humanity, and not on dollar signs.

Louisville, KY

Dear FRONTLINE,

The program that you had aired was indeed long over due.The program was strong,and,it was disgusting at times.We ,as a married couple,watched it.

We had decided to see what the government is trying to ram down our throats.

Pornography is geared at the male segment of the population. What Frontline had failed to mention was,that,the segment of the population who do buy pornographic tapes,or,rents them,are women.

What the government forgets is the fact that,as long as there is a supply and demand for porn,the industry will continue to grow.

Children will view this,accidently.But,it is our responsibility as parents,to make sure that,we know where our children are going on the internet.This should not be the responsibility of the Government.

As Americans,we should be allowed to do what we want to,this is our first amendment right.God Bless this country.

.

Brooklyn,N.Y., N.Y,

Dear FRONTLINE,

There is something I am confused about. What is the legal description that would describe prostitution?

The way I understand it, in short, when a man or woman accepts money and agrees to preform sexual acts for or with someone they are considered to be prostituting themselves and are subject to being arrested and prosecuted by law. In the porn industry it appears to be the same. How do the people accepting money to preform sexual acts in the porn industry avoid being arrested and prosecuted?

Yes, they are consenting, however so are the prostitutes and their consumers. What's the difference?

Quite frankly, I don't see it. I am somewhat relieved to know that we don't allow prostitutes to walk down the street or go door to door handing out fliers or with a sign around their neck advertizing their business as the porn industry can, I'll do a sexual act for a $1,000 terms and price negotiable. However, what's the difference?

Phoenix, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your show on Porn left out an aspect of the industry that is very prevalent in the trade today.

Movies are being made in eastern european and asian countries that are not made with consentual women participants. Furthermore the "Linda Lovelace" expose should have shined a light on how unconsentual some of the participants are in the USA. In many case viewers are watching exploited women being raped. If you follow the logic of some of the "producers" of these films what lies ahead in the "industry", mutalation, murder?

Banning porn would be a waste of time and money which would be better spent on effective sex education in all of our schools. The porn industry thrives on boys and immature men who are more comfortable in a fantasy than in a relationship. The only answer, grow up.

Richmond, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Bravo, Frontline, bravo.

When you've evidently irritated so many people on so many sides of the issues, you've clearly done something right or, at least, important. Broadly, I approve.

Washington, DC

Dear FRONTLINE,

Many of your writers here have said that the women who perform in pornographic videos get "used up" and degenerate in their personal lives as a result of their porn involvement.

Boy, that sure sounds familiar! Has anyone here ever heard of Robert Downey Jr, Jim Morrison, River Phoenix, Elvis Presley, etcetera etcetera? Mainstream Hollywood produces just as many, or more, basketcases as does porn.

So, why does porn get singled out as a demonic industry that chews people up while Hollywood is celebrated? Well, it could be that we are still stuck in the puritanical mentality, rooted firmly in religious belief, that all sex for fun is BAD & dirty. Could it be?

It amazes me the extent to which secular people, especially the journalists at Frontline who produced this ridiculously judgmental and hypocritical piece, are still influenced by the puritanical religious values that form the bedrock of American culture where it regards sex. Do you people ever stop to question your fundamental assumptions about moral matters?

I don't think I've ever seen a Frontline special on the Gay subculture, which is far more shocking than anything you presented in American Porn. Is it that gays have achieved politically correct status, but heterosexual porn hasn't? Is it really that simple?

There's nothing wrong with sex, there's nothing wrong with porn as long as all are consenting adults, and there's nothing wrong with making money on both.

Are there bad people, degenerate people in porn? Sure there are! Just like there are in politics, music, software developing, journalism, basketweaving, and energy corporations Enron. Let's be a little less simplistic and narrow, shall we?

Miami, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

IM an adult webmaster, and own a few web sites. I have shot my own adult content and was in my own shoots myself. I would like to state why as a male IM in the adult business.

First IM a single father of 2 babies 2 years old and 6 years old no help from momma. Having my own home car food taxes bills I couldn't make it making $10.00 an hour spending time with my kids doing homework and my ex-wife left me 90 grand in the hole. I started messing around with building web sites and started making more money at doing this. So I quit my job and went head in to the porn field.

I can tell you this it isn't as easy as some think it is to get into and make any money. IM still going to lose my home IM still poor just went bankrupt. But I will tell you this I am starting to see some good money come in from the porn sites I have built and when IM in my new place I know I will make it.

IF porn was so bad and 1000's of Americans did not like it then WHY WOULD I BE MAKING MONEY Why would I get over 20 million visitors a month to my sites? 20 million come on now IM a little guy in a big pond how many millions of Americans and non Americans go to the BIG BOY sites? With this said and done I think the porn industry will make it and pull through the bush crap. I agree that their is WAY TO MUCH FREE PORN on the net and would love to see free porn go away! Make all webmasters use a credit cards system.

NOW for what is right and what is wrong in porn I think it is wrong exploiting children and think anyone that looks or does child porn should be placed in prison for life! I think sex with animals are wrong.

When I shoot my photos and movies I make sure the females and males I use understand 100% they can say stop or they can continue. I never ask a male or female to do something That myself would not do.

My hopes are to be retired in 5 years and spend the rest of my life with my kids and making sure they have what they need. I really hope people take a good look at them self and really think what is wrong with adults looking at porn? If your an adult isn't that your right?

Hampton, Va

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is clear from the responses that americans have strong opinions when it comes to their sexual freedom. Individual tastes and tolerances are part of our civil liberties.

The most disturbing thing about last night's program was not the fake assault/rape scene. It was the making of that anal boot camp movie.

Not only was that pure exploitation, but it was a degrading competition where the actor who responded most zealously recieved a $10,000 bonus. It disturbs me that our culture breeds so many young women vunerable to this type of coercion. The point is not should we outlaw what adults--if in age only--may or may not do on video tape, but how we educate our children and the values they hold.

If young girls think that because they don't look a certain way they have not option but to use sex to be accepted, then our society will rot from within. I'm not saying all porn is bad--in fact, I enjoy some of it myself. But that movie disgusted me and I pray for every girl in it.

NY, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Just what segment of the viewing public were you targeting? Centegenarian spinsters with a Puritanical, sheltered upbringing? Do you assume most of us actually learned something that we didn't know from this lame excuse for a grab at a bigger slice of the viewing public?

The entire premise was in bad taste: your warnings of "Adult Content" probably only served to pique the interest of young people who surely see more smut than they need to, and your exposure of bare-bosomed porn actresses on the job, as naturally as if they were part of a documentary on native African villagers, was equally nauseating.

PBS must know that this special served only as free advertising for the porn industry!

Young people, especially, need to see, hear, and apprehend far fewer details of the insidious debauchery that increasingly permeates our society, flushing both the abusers and the abused down to the sewer of perversion that you feel compelled to so candidly dredge up for close examination.

Children naturally imitate what they see, and that they have little understanding of the devastating consequences of involvement in pornography. It ruins marriages, wrecks careers, engenders crime. We all know about it, and we need to have a safe haven from it. PBS was once such a haven, but no more!

Not all knowledge, not all information is worth knowing, is it? Much of what you reported could have been expressed discreetly, far less graphically, far less dramatically.

If any of our kids didn't know that they can make $1000 or more for a single week of performing sex acts before a camera, they know now. If any of them didn't know that some people incorporate pain and torture into the sex act for heightened stimulation, they know now. If any of them didn't know the term describing a large group of men ejaculating simultaneously on a woman, they know now.

Jacksonville, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

For me personally, you have missed the point that I

was interested in. Let porn go on, I don't care as long as it does not walk by and hit me in the face.

It has just done that. I am assaulted in my home. On my computer and discs are the worst things that I have ever seen. The worst thing is that my son can get them

for free. I started using the internet about 2 years ago, when my son is 14. He had absolutely no problem getting thru the parental controls and getting the most vile stuff for free.

My wife discovered this before I did and since it was My Fault, she took me to court. I had to go to

counseling classes for a year. Due to my compliance, the charges, contributing to delinquency, were dismissed. I am writing to you from a rented house about 40 miles from my wife and son.

I have a very personal grudge against the porno

industry. They have destroyed my family. I will support any legislation to limit porn on the

internet.

Burbank, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

The adult industry as a whole has been around for countless generations and is well ingratiated in the fabric of our society. As the operator of adult Websites and a consultant in this area to Fortune 500 companies, I can claim emphatically that the shock factor is gone.

I opened the Victoria's Secret catalog recently and wondered: How many mothers leave it on the coffee table near the remote control?

How many fathers still keep Playboy magazines underneath their beds or have adult movies in the back of the closet next to the shoe rack?

We are an "advanced civilization" grow up. The greatest freedom we posses is our freedom of choice.

The constitution does not guarantee that it will parent your child, cover your eyes, hold your hand, or avoid presenting reality. You still have a choice not to look: Look before you walk and make sure you know what is happening around you.

Studies and reports from the likes of Forrester Research and Jupiter Media Metrix, along with independent studies conducted by my consulting firm and others, show that more than 20 percent of all Internet users engage in some kind of online sexual activity. Recently, Adult Video News AVN and our own Sex.TV had more than 148,000 users from 125 countries watching a live Webcast of the AVN Awards show, dubbed the "Oscars of Adult" by Entertainment Weekly. The captured video is still running on both our sites, and since its initial airing, we have had no fewer than ten simultaneous users. What does this say? People are watching and will come back again and again.

The online adult business is a global business model that reaps huge fortunes on a daily basis. As the Internet grows, infrastructures must be paid for and new technologies must be proven. My sites have served as a proving ground, and I have and will continue to assist companies meet their bottom lines and see profit from our industry.

Why should I be denied the use of state-of-the-art technology simply because I may place a naked body on a monitor?

If you are a shareholder of a company, think about this: Would you prefer that your company goes out of business because the mainstream arena does not want to act as a test bed, cannot afford to pay its light bills let alone consider funding new opportunities, or makes a corporate decision not to deal with the adult vertical, or

Realizes it's potential and proves its model on the back of an adult company that will pay it month after month and facilitate its ability to receive dividends?

Which would you choose? If it's the first, sell every stock you own because the companies that will survive the next few years are in the second category.

Reality: Go Network is gone, there is nothing exciting about Excite@Home closing its doors, Exodus is an empty warehouse, and iBeam Broadcasting was saved from the jaws of death by Williams, to name a few real-world examples of mainstream companies that could not afford to prove and would not change their business models. Real and Windows are platforms that transmit video and audio, and the Internet is not a cesspool of hackers.

Super-distribution is a reality, peer-to-peer environments can generate revenue and be controlled, content can be protected, and yes, you can even prevent your children from seeing the photos and videos that exist on any adult Website's home page.

Like the program you don't like on television and the infernal ring your phone makes when you're stressed shut it off!

If you stay online, visit our Website at www.sex.tv - or any of hundreds of thousands of other adult Websites - and enjoy what all of us have to offer. Remember this shocking fact: You will be increasing the revenue streams of the companies that are increasing the value of your 401K.

Los Angeles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

You were quick enough to attack porn, but have you ever thought of the horrible effect that the threat of censorship has on everyone who is part of the porn industry? As has been pointed out, censorship laws are unique in that the only way to know if you've broken them, is to be convicted of breaking them. But you didn't have WORD ONE to say about that, did you, creeps?

You also didn't take a very hard look at censors. Now I happen to think that censorship is innately evil, like rape and murder, and should only be undertaken when there's compelling social necessity, like keeping military secrets in wartime. Censors are like any other kind of witch hunter -- they start out just going after the weird old ladies who live by themselves in the woods, but next think you know, most of the women in the village have been put to the stake.

In other words, ask not who the censor wants to silence -- he or she wants to silence YOU.

Tampa, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I don't go there but sexuality is sexuality and I would guess there must be a big need in our society for porn.

Having the government make it illegal is just another erosion into our privacy. And we might as well ask the government to stamp out bad weather.

Pocatello, Idaho

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'd like to say a few words on behalf of real people.

First of all as my family and I sit surfing our t.v.programs last night your show on porn.hit us broadside. I must say that it's a shame when our young people can't watch a PBS station without seeing things that most people have to "pay" for.It was rather un tasteful to say the least.

What seems to be the problem with our PBS station that you need to air such filth.If people in America want to see this let them do so on video tapes not tv programing that we are innocently subjected to.

Yes,I know if we don't like it turn the channel belive me we did,if we were paying for this station then we'd have to suffer the consiquences,however this is not a"paid for station" that we intend to support.

Do us "families"a favor let porn shows be left in the gutter where it belongs and clean up your air waves for the families that want to watch"real family shows". The media and television industries are trying there best to make nudity and sex available in any way they can....

Waco, Texas

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