Lynch Gives ALA Views to Pornography Panel
"Reexamination of the issue of pornography is long overdue," Attorney General Edwin Meese III declared in Washington, D.C., May 20. Pornography, he said, now emphasizes extreme violence, and "is available at home to anyone--regardless of age."
At President Reagan's request, Meese announced, he had established the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography to study the problem and, if appropriate, recommend new ways to control the production and distribution of pornography.
Henry E. Hudson, the Arlington County, Va., chief prosecutor who was commended by Reagan two years ago for curtailing adult book shops and massage parlors, was appointed to chair the commission. The other nine members include lawyers, psychiatrists, physicians, child care authorities, and the editor of Woman's Day. The commission will present its report next June after holding hearings across the country. Its budget: some $500,000.
Although Meese mentioned the need to protect First Amendment freedoms, Barry Lynn of the American Civil Liberties Union told the media, "I'm afraid a train marked 'censorship' has just left the station." The 1970 Presidential Commission on Pornography could find no evidence linking sexual material to delinquency or criminal behavior, Lynn pointed out, but the Hudson commission charter repudiates that conclusion by calling for "specific recommendations to contain the spread of pornography."
Slide show of smut
The first public hearing in the Department of Justice Great Hall June 19 and 20 began with a slide show of violent and perverted acts and dramtic testimony from silhouetted witnesses who said they were victims of pornography. Behavioral experts and political experts testified, as did Townsend Hoopes, Association of American Publishers president.
The existing state of obscenity regulation already creates difficulties for bold, creative, and provocative authors, Hoopes said. He warned against "more layers of restrictive legislation" that could only further inhibit the creative process.
At the Chicago hearings June 24-25, the topic was Law Enforcement Initiatives. ALA President Beverly Lynch urged the commissioners "not to recommend any futher controls on access to materials of any kind, indeed, to recommend elimination of any restrictions that now exist. …