The Reagan Administration has taken another step in its war against pornography. Last month, the President sent long-awaited legislation to Congress to combat child pornography and obscenity.

“This administration is putting the purveyors of illegal obscenity and child pornography on notice: Your industry’s days are numbered,” Reagan told about 200 antipornography activists gathered at the White House.

The bill, known as the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1987, seeks to update existing laws. The bill would remove loopholes and other weaknesses that have made it possible for pornographers to use computers, cable television, video cassettes, and the telephone system to expand their business. Specifically, Reagan’s bill would:

  • Prohibit the use of computers in child pornography. This is an attempt to break the computerized network that links child molesters, pedophiles, and collectors of child pornography.
  • Make it illegal to buy or sell children to produce child pornography.
  • Amend the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute to include child-pornography offenses. This provision would impose fines and jail sentences on pornographers, while allowing prosecutors to confiscate their profits.
  • Make it illegal for a retailer to receive, possess, sell, or distribute obscene material transported over state lines.
  • Allow the government to use wiretaps when investigating obscenity cases.
  • Make the transmission of obscene messages through “dial-a-porn” telephone services a felony.
  • Prohibit the transmission of obscenity over cable-or subscription-television systems.

Some observers say Reagan may have a difficult time overcoming opposition from groups that argue the bill amounts to censorship. But antipornography activists welcomed the initiative. William D. Swindell, head of Citizens for Decency through Law, called the bill “a great first step.” And Jerry Kirk, president of the National Coalition Against Pornography, praised Reagan for “putting his commitment into action.”

By John H. DeDakis.

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