U.S. Courts: Defenders of Porn

From the May 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

A U.S. district judge has ruled against the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (copa), designed to protect children from online pornography.

Judge Lowell Reed Jr. argued: “[P]erhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection.” In other words, if the ruling were upheld, it might become marginally more difficult for adults to access pornographic content and much more difficult for children (abcnews.com, March 22).

The plaintiffs against copa ranged from homosexual newspapers to so-called “sex educators” who feel they should be able to disseminate explicit pictures for educational purposes, and from artists who portray nude content to bookstores that may offer adult-only content—in other words, exactly the sort of people and organizations many would like not to influence their children with pornographic material.

Lest you worry that some of these organizations’ rights have already been trampled, rest assured that copa was never enforced. Thanks to these plaintiffs, copa has been in legal limbo from its inception and has been under a temporary injunction upheld by the Supreme Court since 2004. Not one porn enthusiast or unsuspecting child was restricted by copa.

This is not the first time a U.S. court has struck down laws that protect children from pornography. In 1997, the Supreme Court declared the Communications Decency Act unconstitutional, specifically stating that prohibiting “patently offensive display” violated the First Amendment (cnetnews.com, June 26, 1997). In 2002, the high court struck down the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act, giving the okay to “virtual” child pornography (never mind that modern technology allows simulations that would be indistinguishable from the real thing).

We cannot rely on the court system to protect our children. Nor can we rely on the government. In this latest case, an attorney for the government argued that it is unreasonable to “expect all parents to shoulder the burden to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children, rather than the government’s addressing the problem at its source.”

The attorney correctly identifies the government’s responsibility, but where the government has failed, parents must step in to close the breach. Installing a filter is one step you can take to protect your children (internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com), but there is much more you can and should do. Don’t allow your child to be on the Internet in another room behind closed doors. Proverbs 29:15 warns that “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Be aware of the websites or chat rooms your child is visiting. Ask the child, but also learn how to check the Internet history files on your computer. As the parent, you have the responsibility and the right to know what your children are doing on the Internet, and an obligation to take steps to protect their minds. For more tips on how to do that, visit theTrumpet.com to read our July 2005 article “Protect Your Child’s Mind.”