Prioritization of Response

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The Commission's majority vote to encourage allocation of obscenity intervention resources in a prioritized manner has caused some concern on the part of those who believe all categories of pornography to be equally damaging. It is clear that current law enforcement resources are inadequate to respond effectively and appropriately to all types of pornography at all times. The prioritization should assist in focusing attention on those violent, degrading and dehumanizing materials that have gradually emerged, with impunity, as a major market. This does not preclude pursuing action against other material. However, it is the violent and degrading materials that reflect the changing nature of pornography in America, a major impetus for the creation of our Commission. We saw these materials, we were shocked by them, and our reactions and concerns about them should be and were reflected in the decision to give them first priority in the allocation of law enforcement resources.

A Word about Words

It was the majority opinion of the Commission that law enforcement agencies should not be encouraged to commit resources to the prosecution of the non-illustrated pornographic written word, unless the message is directed to children or involves child pornography. Again, there has been a great deal of concern regarding the possible proliferation of obscene books which encourage sexual perversions and other crimes. While I agree that passages in certain paperback books sold in adult book stores represent the most vile and offensive messages imaginable, I do not believe it is realistic or constructive to presume that obscenity prosecutions can be initiated or will be effective in protecting the public from any possible negative effects from the materials. I do, however, believe that the fear of censorship expressed by librarians and others concerned for the protection of literature which may contain "explicit" passages, is an extremely important consideration. Our Commission's respect for the special place of the written word was more a statement of support for freedom of speech than an action which was meant to, or will, change existing practices in the enforcement of obscenity laws.

Statement of Deanne Tilton-Durfee

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