||Budgeting Wars Part I: Porno
Jan LaRue ] [writer,
Our military and our kids have a common enemy -- pornography.
George W. Bush released his 2008 budget on Monday, cashing in at $2.9
trillion dollars. It includes $481 billion for defense costs, plus
another $142 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's
another $313.4 million for the U.S. Department of Justice "to address
violence against children, including sexual exploitation through the
Internet," according to the White House Office of Management and
Budget. More on that in Part II.
| Contributor -
LaRue is not your usual Washington political commando
or Ivy League-trained insider. She is not your power-suit-wearing,
dinner-party-schmoozing, headline-grabbing Beltway
operator. / What she is, though, is a street fighter
-- a Christian one, armed with a law degree.
Washington Post 1/9/06
LaRue is Chief Counsel and Legal Studies Director
Women of America. [go to LaRue index]
Our troops and their families who are sacrificing themselves to
save us from annihilation need and deserve all the moral support we can
give them and all of the resources our national budget can bear. For
that reason, government officials must make sure that none of our
limited resources is spent in ways that harms rather than helps our
troops and their families.
Members of Congress, including some in the President's own
party, oppose the war in Iraq on philosophical and political grounds,
as well as monetarily.
Many continue to cite abuses at the Abu Ghraib military prison
in Iraq as an excuse to oppose the war. Certainly, the abuses at Abu
Ghraib must not be repeated. But that requires a lot more than
re-training guards and interrogators.
Much of what is depicted in the 279 photos and 19 videos taken at Abu Ghraib resembles behavior in hard-core pornography, which is readily available to our troops via the Internet, magazines and DVDs.
Porn peddlers feign patriotic support with phony offers of free
porn to the troops. Our military chaplains are faced with the fallout.
Chaplains are reporting that pornography addiction is a serious
problem among our troops, even though alcohol and porn are banned for
those serving in Iraq:
In Iraq, alcohol and pornography - including Internet porn - are
banned for enlisted personnel out of sensitivity to adherents of the
country's dominant religion, Islam. But despite the prohibitions and
blocking software on military computers, Father Mark Reilly, who served
as a Marine chaplain in Iraq this year, said increasing numbers of both
men and women serving in Iraq have access to porn and have become
"I don't think I've ever been confronted as much face-to-face
with men and women - in and out of the confessional - saying, 'I'm
addicted to porn and I don't know how to get out of it,'" Father Reilly
said. "They're looking for a life preserver. It's wrecking their
marriages. Like any addiction, they lose control."
British historian Joanna Bourke said that at their worst,
pornography causes imitative behavior like the Abu Ghraib photos - made
by and for porn addicts. "The abuse is performed for the camera," she
wrote in the London newspaper The Guardian. "These obscene images have a counterpart in the worst, non-consensual sadomasochistic pornography."
Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic said that the Abu
Ghraib photos "speak to the coercive and brutalizing nature of the
pornographic imagination so prevalent in our world today." Patrick
Novecosky, "War porn - U.S. military in Iraq facing growing problem of
porn addiction," Catholic Online, Sept. 13, 2006.
Last year, New Life Ministries, a Christian group, shipped 11,000 "sexual purity"
kits mainly to Iraq and Afghanistan as a defense against pornography
for the troops. But increasingly, troops at home are requesting the
kits. Unfortunately, the demand has outpaced New Life's funding support (20,000 sent, and only 13,000 of them funded):
Chaplain Randy Brandt, stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, said the
kits have helped combat the "problem of pornography." "Even while we
were in Iraq, the pervasion of this problem was evident - soldiers had
porno CDs they could play on their personal DVDs, and they had sexually
suggestive magazines 'graciously' donated for the soldiers'
entertainment," Brandt said. "The problem is an age-old one with the
military: Soldiers are far away from home for a long time, sexual
frustration sets in, and the visual stimuli become the easiest
release." But Brandt said the real problem starts when the soldiers
return home. "The soldiers come home, many are addicted to this type of
sexual stimulation and either consciously or subconsciously they begin
to compare their current relationship with the visual/Internet/virtual
reality that they are used to and unfortunately, the real woman - wife
or girlfriend - rarely can measure up," Brandt said.
"Battle Kits Fight Porn, Adultery in the Military," Jan 6, 2006: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1474638
President Lincoln would have applauded the efforts of New Life
Ministries, as evidenced by his "Executive Order - General Order
Respecting the Observance of the Sabbath Day in the Army and Navy,
November 15th, 1862," which reads in part:
The discipline and character of the national forces should not
suffer nor the cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the
day or name of the Most High. "At this time of public distress,"
adopting the words of Washington in 1776, "men may find enough to do in
the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to
vice and immorality." The first general order issued by the Father of
his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit
in which our institutions were rounded and should ever be defended:
The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will
endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the
dearest rights and liberties of his country. (Emphasis in original).
The Department of Defense (DOD) cannot effectively protect our
military from pornography and its copious adverse consequences by
banning porn only in Muslim countries. The DOD needs to understand why
the troops at home are ordering the "sexual purity kits" - they need
homeland security from pornographers.
For starters, the DOD must strictly enforce the Military Decency
and Enforcement Act of 1996 (Act) on U.S. military bases, which it
hasn't been doing. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
upheld the constitutionality of the Act in General Media Communications v. Cohen and the Supreme Court denied review.
The Act prohibits the sale or rental of sexually explicit
material on property under the jurisdiction of the Department of
Defense. "Sexually explicit material" is defined as "an audio
recording, a film or video recording, or a periodical with visual
depictions, produced in any medium, the dominant theme of which depicts
or describes nudity, including sexual or excretory activities or
organs, in a lascivious way."
Military personnel and family members tell us that porn is
available in the PX on their base. That means the DOD is wasting budget
resources by subsidizing the very material that harms our military and
In late 1998, I reviewed 11 magazines purchased in the PX at an
Army base in Northern Virginia. Nine of the 11 should have been
prohibited under the Act. Some met the definition of obscenity under Miller v. California,
413 U.S. 73 (1973), which means that the government would be in
violation of its own law, 18 U.S.C. § 1460, prohibiting sale of obscene
matter on federal property.
Next, our government needs to follow the lead of the libertine
Swedes who get what our government officials have yet to grasp - what
people watch affects their behavior, for evil as well as good.
Sweden will no longer permit civil servants, soldiers and
politicians to stay at hotels that offer pornographic TV programs after
a government agency blacklisted accommodations with x-rated viewing
options in 2005.
"The move against blue movies came from the military, which in
Sweden negotiates deals. … The entire public administration uses the
same hotel deals, so this should affect almost everybody," Major
General Åke Jansson, who heads the military logistics unit that
arranges the deals, told AFP. Starting on July 1 deals will, as far as
possible, only be made with hotels that are pornography-free. The
Swedish military, which welcomes female recruits and seeks to convey an
image of gender equality, wants to do its bit to protect women, both in
the porn industry and in hotels, Jansson said. "In the military, we
have been working to curb attitudes that are degrading to women, which
in no way can be accepted," he said.
The initiative stemmed from discussions with Swedish women's
organization ROKS, which claims that x-rated movies lead to increased
abuse of women and widespread degrading attitudes towards them. "We
talk to a lot of abused women, and in many cases it turns out that
men's interest in porn is linked to the abuse," head of the ROKS
campaign Tina Olby told AFP. The measure would also protect women
working as hotel maids "who are forced to clean up after the men who
watch these films," she added. Jansson said his unit's special deals
account for 92,000 hotel nights each year worth 80 million kronor (11
million dollars). "We think we are so big that we can really have an
impact on the (hotel) industry," he added. However, the military will
not stop at just hotels in its drive to wipe out "unacceptable"
attitudes towards women, he said. "We have also decided to halt the
sales of so-called men's magazines in all stores" on military bases, he
"No more hotel porn for Swedish government officials," Apr. 6, 2005: http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=1235&date=20050406
If Sweden considers itself big enough to have an impact on the
hotel industry, there's little doubt that Uncle Sam could end
pay-per-view porn in American hotels if it stopped contracting with
those like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Radisson and Sheraton that are
shamelessly profiting from hard-core porn, much of which is
prosecutable under federal law.
The following e-mail received last August illustrates the problem.
"It is common to pick up the remote and move through the "regular"
television channels in my room and run into porn that plays without my
ordering it. On one particular trip, ironically, I was in the hotel as
part of a federal grant. Our federal tax dollars were paying for over
200 rooms. Additionally, children are now traveling extensively as part
of field trips and staying in rooms without adults. They are being
exposed to this unsolicited porn, just as I have been."
If it's a matter of existing contracts, at a minimum, the
government needs to require that pay-per-view porn access is off and
stays off in every hotel room it pays for.
That brings us to the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal agency charged with enforcing the federal obscenity laws.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who heads the DOJ, released a
statement about his 2008 budget, which includes the following: "In
total, the budget provides $25.4 million in program increases for
crimes against children and obscenity," which he calls one of DOJ's
A $25.4 million dollar increase to fight "crimes against
children and obscenity" should have to be justified based on past
performance. The fact is that in the past six years, the DOJ hasn't
made a dent in the hard-core porn industry, which leaves the troops,
our kids and the rest of us vulnerable to exposure.
If we're wrong, DOJ should prove it. But please don't try to
placate us with more promises and misleading statistics that have
nothing to do with prosecuting the adult porn industry. The stakes
don't get any higher than national defense and the welfare of our
2007 Concerned Women of America