The Lighted Candle Society
818 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, N.W. STE. 1100
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20006
JUNE 2003 NEWSLETTER John L. Harmer
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU
To all of those whose generosity made the evening of Wednesday, 18 June, such an exciting success, we can only say again and again, thank you, thank you, thank you. Last April we set a goal of raising fifty thousand dollars for the work of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. It was never easy, but literally in the last twenty four hours of our endeavor we reached a sufficient level of donations that we knew there would be fifty thousand dollars available after all of our expenses were paid.
On the back of this newsletter you will find a photograph of former Utah Governor Norman Bangerter presenting an envelope containing the fifty thousand dollars to the two co-chairman of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, Elder Steve Kohlert, the Chairman of the Public Affairs Council for the Utah North Area of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and representing the other co-chairman, Bishop George Niederauer, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Utah, The Very Reverend Joseph Mayo, Rector of the Cathedral of the Madeline.
During the coming year the Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) will use these funds to give support to individuals and organizations around the state that are
working in their local community to counteract the growing presence of pornography within their neighborhoods. In view of the unfortunate decision of the Utah legislature to cease the funding of the Office of the Pornography Ombudsman, we understand the UCAP may also open an office to assist individuals and organizations in their efforts to combat pornography. All of this is a modest beginning, but the candle that was lighted on the evening of 18 June will one day become a vast beacon disbursing the darkness of pornography from our midst.
Former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese, III, was the featured speaker at the event. In his talk the former Attorney General noted that his was the last Administration of the Department of Justice that appointed an Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. General Meese recited many of the findings of the Meese Commission, which submitted its report in 1987, some sixteen years ago. Although there have been well substantiated requests for a new Attorney General’s Commission, notwithstanding the great need and the overwhelming evidence of the magnitude of the problem, there is no evidence that the present Attorney General intends to create another commission on pornography.
The most poignant part of the evening was the presentation to Attorney James J. Clancy, of California, the Lighted Candle Society’s GUARDIAN OF THE LIGHT AWARD. Mr. Clancy has been for the past forty years one of the most committed and effective attorneys in the United States in the courtroom battles with the pornography industry. From the most humble municipal courts to the Supreme Court of the United States Mr. Clancy has been a veritable David among the many Goliaths who have been working with and for the pornographers. Mr. Clancy received an enthusiastic and prolonged ovation from the audience.
In his remarks former Attorney General Edwin Meese outlined some of the efforts that have been made by Congress to deal with the incredible increase in child pornography, or pedophelia, as well as the rapid increase in the exposure to pornography among children. Mr. Meese pointed out that during the eight years of the Clinton Administration the Attorney General affirmatively stated that the Justice Department would take no action involving pornography. This opened the flood gates for the production and distribution of obscene materials. When the Bush Administration came into office the pornography industry had operated for eight years with no opposition from the federal government.
However, noted Mr. Meese, even during the Clinton Administration the Congress made several determined efforts to deal with the increasing problem of the accessability of pornography on the Internet to minors as well as the vast increase in the production and distribution of obscene materials featuring children. In 1996, Congress passed the first law to protect minors from pornography on the Internet. It was called the Communications Decency Act, or CDA. It was immediately challenged in court by the ACLU and the American Librarian’s Association (ALA) as an unconstitutional abridgement of the freedom of speech. The federal court in Philadelphia held it unconstitutional.
In the appeal to the Supreme Court in 1997, the Supreme Court struck down the CDA’s provisions against the display of “Indecent” material online, saying that standard was too restrictive for the new Internet medium.
In response, Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, or the “COPA,” which is still in the courts, having also been challenged by the same plaintiffs plus a variety of Internet companies. This law requires commercial porn sites on the World Wide Web to take an adult PIN number or credit card number before showing samples of their pornography. The Philadelphia federal court held COPA unconstitutional as well, but the Supreme Court reversed on the first appeal and said that community standards could be applied in cyberspace. The case has been sent back to the lower courts, where the opponents continue to try to strike it down on other grounds. The COPA will make at least one or two more trips to the Supreme Court before the final fate of that law is ultimately determined.
In 1996, Congress also passed some “virtual child porn” amendments in a law called the Child Pornography Prevention Act. This statute outlawed computer generated images that appear to be real photos of actual children being sexually abused. Last year, 2002, the Supreme Court struck down that statute, saying that virtual images created by computers were protected speech if no real children were used to make it.
While the courts are dealing with the COPA law and, since there were no federal obscenity prosecutions being done at the time, Congress passed a law in 2000 to require federally subsidized public libraries and schools to put porn filters on their Internet terminals to block out obscenity and child porn on all of their computers. The law also required them to block out pornography that is harmful to minors or obscene for minors on terminals used by children under 17. This law is called CIPA, or the Children’s Internet Protection Act. The same plaintiffs, the ACLU and the American Library Association brought a case in the same court in Philadelphia, which struck down the Act. On Monday, June 21, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the Act, and reversing the Philadelphia Court. In essence the Court said that if the schools and libraries receive federal funding (which they all do) then the federal government has the constitutional right to append restrictions to the use of that funding.
This year Congress passed another statute, the PROTECT ACT of 2003, to try to respond to some of the court decisions. The PROTECT ACT included new provisions on virtual child porn, a new obscene child porn law that covers even computer generated images, a new child sex trafficking and prostitution provisions, and amendments to re-activate the CDA by having it outlaw Internet display to minors of any obscenity or child pornography.
These Internet pornography and child protection laws were passed by Congress because the problem is literally out of control. Since the Internet went public in 1995, there were no federal obscenity prosecutions until the Bush Administration restored activity in this area in 2001. Even though Congress passed the laws the Justice Department did nothing to enforce them. The nature of the material that has been put on line over the Internet exceeds in depravity and vileness anything that was previously sold in the porn shops or under the counter in the magazine stores.
In his brief remarks prior to the introduction of former Attorney General Meese by Salt Lake Attorney and former U.S. Attorney David Jordan, the LCS Chairman, John Harmer, made the following comments.
“I once read a statement attributed to Abraham Lincoln to the effect that ‘...they who mold public sentiment do more than they who enact laws or hand down opinions.’ In a day when we see our children’s future being devoured before our very eyes by those who have no sense of shame - for whom no exhibition of vulgarity or obscenity merits any apology - we must restore the light of truth. The mission of the Lighted Candle Society is bring that light into the homes, the schools, and the churches of America.
“Democracy, more than any other form of government, requires citizens possesed of self-restraint. As our founding fathers frequently noted, such self restraint comes from moral virtues which are enunciated in the churches and are taught in the home and the school, and which are the basis for the laws by which the citizens of a democracy govern themselves.
“Now our children are bombarded with explicit and implicit testimonies from swaggering politicians, from arrogant entertainers and athletes, and from the media and the entertainment industry to the effect that no act, no manner of vile human conduct is shameful. That dark cloud of deceit and error must be repulsed from the minds of our youth by bringing into their lives the Light of Truth. That is the mission of the Lighted Candle Society.
“With your continued sacrifice and support we will indeed make certain that our children’s future will include living in a land where laws based on eternal verities govern the people, a people of moral virtue and dignity. Only such a land can be a land of true liberty.”
These were the highlights of the fund raising event held on Wednesday 18 June. The Lighted Candle Society is now preparing to sponsor similar events in several other states, including Ohio, California, and Georgia. We shall keep you advised of our progress in each of these states.
Photo by Innovative Photography
Former Utah Governor Norman H. Bangerter presents a $50,000 check to Elder Steve Kohlert and the Very Reverend Joseph Mayo, who accepted the donation in behalf of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography.