Statement of Father Bruce Ritter

Porn Studies > Meese Report Table of Contents

Eleven Solomons we are not!

Eleven Americans, not Solomons therefore, sat down together over the course of a year to listen and to learn, to argue and to debate. At the end we are able to present this modest report of our conclusions to the American people-a report in which, on most key issues, we were able to achieve virtual or at least substantial unanimity.

We are proud of the result. Or to speak for myself and not the Commission-the purpose of this "personal statement"-I am proud of the result and quite proud that I had this opportunity to serve with my fellow citizens on this Commission.

That we could not agree on all issues is hardly surprising. Indeed that kind of total unanimity is simply not to be found in the real world of a culturally and religiously pluralistic society and it would be dangerously disingenuous to criticize the Commission for memorializing in this Report its differences of perception, of logic, of background, of personal conviction.

At bottom, the creation of this Commission was an inescapably political act-we are, after all, a government body, convened to give advice to the government of the United States, and specifically, to the justice Department.

More important still, we have been asked to put our eminently fallible judgments at the service of the American people, who are the final arbiters of political power. Our every word, in every hearing and meeting, has been subject to-and has received-rigorous public scrutiny, and may be used and misused in future political debates.

It would be an egregiously self-serving mistake, however, to assume that the work of this Commission was therefore dominated by political considerations. I think it fair to state that we attempted, as best we could, within the short life span of this Commission, to reach our conclusions based on a diligent and serious study of the evidence brought before us.

In the final analysis, however, every thinking adult is a walking-around collection of a priori assumptions that influence his thinking on all serious issues. These assumptions, in part the product of education and life experience, in part the rigorous conclusions of reason and logic, are, on balance, the "givens" each of us brings to every debate, to every effort to find the truth of a particular matter. These "givens" are tested, challenged, refined and sometimes repudiated in the elastic give-and-take of serious argument. Eleven Commissioners, perforce, brought such assumptions and convictions to our deliberations. It is my hope that we were able to transcend the limitations necessarily intrinsic to any personal view of the world and human behavior-and for that matter, to transcend the limits of any supposed allegiance to the political and religious ideologies of the Right or Left.

Given the severe time and budgetary constraints under which the Commission labored we were neither able, nor should we have been expected, to treat all aspects of our charge with that degree of thoroughness many readers of this Report might have desired. Nor is it possible within the limits of this necessarily brief personal reflection on the work of the Commission to do more than touch upon those areas of more personal concern or those issues where my decision to vote one way rather than another might require elaboration, viz., the absolutely central debate over Category III materials, the Printed Word controversy, the very thorny issue of the Indecency Standard for cable television-and the hugely controversial and largely shunned as too-hot-to-handle subject of sex education for our children.

The Category III Debate
The "Printed Word" Debate
The Indecency Standard
Sex Education for Our Children
A Priest on the Commission
The Writing of this Document
Conclusion
Pornography and Privacy
Nonviolent, Sexually Explicit Material and Sexual Violence

Porn Studies > Meese Report Table of Contents

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