One of the ironies of recent American history is that free-market success has come to an industry that exploits persons and sex in a society dedicated to the preservation of personal worth and privacy. Here is a new kind of slavery that hides behind the skirts of the First and Fifth Amendments and limits itself only by the limitations of the appeal to prurience. Pornography today enlists the services of not just skid row derelicts or seasoned prostitutes but young people. It sells its product not just to lonely old men but to Americans of all kinds and all ages. Pornography is a huge and profitable business that has managed to thwart most attempts to prohibit or curb it.

Consider some figures released by Daily Variety, the show-business bible. In the major U. S. population centers, some two dozen key cities, The Devil in Miss Jones placed fifth among all movies in 1973, earning $7.3 million, and Deep Throat placed eleventh, grossing $4.6 million. The nearest Disney picture, World’s Greatest Athlete, earned only half of Deep Throat’s income. The Devil in Miss Jones and Deep Throat are not ordinary X-rated movies but examples of hard-core pornography that, as one UPI reported put it, “detail just about every sexual exercise known to man and woman.”

In the short time since the passage of the revised Criminal Code in the 1971 Oregon legislative session, pornography has become a multi-million dollar industry in Oregon. In the same period there has been an alarming increase in certain categories of crime such as rape, and a serious penetration of the state by organized crime. The national income figure for the pornography industry staggers the imagination: it is estimated to exceed a billion dollars.

Not even the most liberal champions ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.