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President Bush is calling on Congress to pass a bill to ban virtual child pornography, but it is being blocked in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Bush Demands Zero Tolerance for Kiddie Porn

President Bush is calling on Congress to pass a bill to ban virtual child pornography, but it is being blocked in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Child pornography, the Supreme Court has ruled, can be a good thing.

The point was made in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, an April decision demonstrating what a dark and destructive force the court has become.

“Pictures of what appear to be 17-year-olds engaging in sexually explicit activity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority in Ashcroft, “do not in every case contravene community standards.”

If Kennedy’s vision of America is not yet accurate, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the court has its way, America will become a nation that casually welcomes child pornography into its neighborhoods and homes.

Ashcroft was decided 6 to 3, with Justices William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Sandra Day O’Connor dissenting. It struck down the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. This law was enacted by a Republican Congress and signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton with little controversy. It reflected a bipartisan consensus: zero tolerance for child pornographers.

The law prohibited any image that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” It was designed to ban an emerging phenomenon called “virtual child pornography”-a form of smut that uses technology to create kiddie porn without using actual children. It also was designed to prevent pornographers who do use children from escaping conviction by claiming their product is virtual.

In Ashcoft, the court did not merely strike down the law prohibiting this filth, it applauded child pornography’s potential “social value,” suggesting that virtual child pornography was the best means of exploiting this value.

Kennedy noted that in an earlier opinion, New York v. Ferber, the court “did not hold that child pornography is by definition without social value.

“On the contrary,” wrote Kennedy, “the court recognized some works in this category might have significant value, but relied on virtual images-the very means prohibited by the [Child Pornography Prevention Act] as an alternative and permissible means of expression.”

In part, it is this “social value,” the court argues, that makes virtual child pornography protected speech under the 1st Amendment.

The court is twice wrong. First, it sweeps aside the plain meaning of the Constitution. When the authors of the 1st Amendment said free “speech,” they did not mean dirty pictures-let alone dirty pictures of children.

Secondly, if the court insists on establishing a judicial dictatorship by writing its own laws, it ought to at least establish a benevolent dictatorship and write good laws. In Ashcroft, it wrote an evil one.

Lawmaking is a moral exercise. Virtually every Founder believed, as Thomas Jefferson did, that a statute that violates the Laws of Nature is no law at all. This is the self-evident foundation of civilized society.

It is hard to imagine a statute that does more violence to the Laws of Nature than the court’s declaration that trafficking in a form of child pornography is a “right” that must be protected.

If neither the Constitution nor morality guides the court, what does? Amoral utilitarianism. The Child Pornography Prevention Act, said the court, is illegitimate because it “prohibits speech that records no crime and creates no victims by its production.” In other words: Virtual kiddie porn makes some happy without making others sad.

Even on its own sick terms this reasoning is false, and points to a hideous double standard that has been embraced by liberals, if not yet by the liberal court. Images of teens smoking lead to teens smoking, and must be banned, we are told, but images of children being abused do not lead to children being abused, and is a “right.”

Wrong.

In June, the House voted 413 to 8 for a new bill to ban virtual child pornography. It includes some changes in response to the court’s objections, but is in fact a counter-offensive against the court’s usurpation, and misuse of, the legislative power. President Bush is anxious to sign the bill. “With the Internet,” Bush said at the White House last week, “pornography is now instantly available to any child who has a computer. And in the hands of the wrong people, in the hands of incredibly wicked people, the Internet is a tool that lures children into real danger.”

Considering that danger, why isn’t the bill law already? “For whatever reason the Democrats in the Senate blocked this bill,” said Margarita Tapia, spokeswoman for the Republican minority of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The culprits are the usual suspects: Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.), who hasn’t let the bill out of his committee, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.), who can bring any bill he wants directly to a vote.

Written By

Terence P. Jeffrey is the author of Control Freaks: 7 Ways Liberals Plan to Ruin Your Life (Regnery, 2010.)

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