The notion that pornography is a victimless crime has allowed it and its peddlers leniency under the law.

is pornography protected by the First Amendment—or is it properly subject to legal restraint? Does it have damaging effects—or is it relatively harmless? Do Christians have a moral and civic obligation to be involved in the dispute?

This author, who has lectured on pornography before university audiences for 20 years and has testified as an expert witness for the prosecution in federal pornography cases, is convinced that pornography is an even graver menace than most Christians are aware. I believe that it is not protected by the First Amendment and that it is urgently important to curb this abomination. And I believe, moreover, that the intellectuals who oppose censorship can be refuted on every front.

Is pornography a form of expression protected by the free-speech, free-press provision of the First Amendment? The answer is—absolutely not. The Constitution has always permitted certain restrictions on freedom of speech and press. For example, laws properly forbid incitement to violence, libel, slander, partisan campaign speeches by federal civil servants, misleading and fraudulent advertising, the divulgence of military secrets, verbal interference with court proceedings, picketing in a context of violence, and a score of other restraints.

Reasonable restrictions on marginal aspects of speech and press are not only constitutional but essential to the functioning of an orderly and self-respecting society. Among those restraints are long-standing curbs on obscene materials, curbs that were never rebuked by our constitutional fathers or by any court. Specific obscenity laws have been found wanting—but the principle that the ...

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.