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Reagan Unveils Anti-Pornography Legislation

November 10, 1987 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan, proclaiming that the pornography industry’s ″days are numbered,″ unveiled legislation Tuesday giving police the tools to keep up with high-technology purveyors of smut.

Appearing before an array of anti-pornography figures, church leaders and law enforcement representatives, Reagan outlined details of the ″Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1987.″

″If this nation can send men to the moon, then we can certainly do some cleaning up here at home, and give our sons and daughters the simplicity and beauty that an American childhood should entail,″ the president said.

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The legislation, which will be introduced in Congress shortly, would be aimed at reining in the so-called ″dial-a-porn″ telephone services and the broadcasting of obscene material on cable television.

It would seek to combat the exploitation of children by going after the use of computers to exchange information on young people, prohibit a parent or legal guardian from selling children or offering them for pornographic uses and would require producers and distributors of pornographic material to maintain verifiable records on the ages and identities of the people who engage in ″sexually explicit conduct.″

One child protection provision would make it a criminal offense to utter obscene language or distribute obscene matter by cable televison or other subscription television service.

White House spokesman Ben Jarrett said the Justice Department would be lining up congressional sponsors for the legislation, an outgrowth of the recommendations of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography.

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va., already have sponsored legislation cracking down on the ″dial-a-porn″ services.

Appearing before the crowd gathered in an auditorium of the Old Executive Office Building, Reagan said the aim of the bill is to update existing law, ″to take into account technologies newly utilized by the pornography industry″ and to close ″loopholes and weaknesses in existing federal law which have given criminals in this area the upper hand for far too long.″

″In the last several years, distributors of obscenity and child pornography have expanded into new areas, employing new technologies and reaching new audiences,″ he said. ″Neither our Constitution, our courts, our people, nor our respect for common decency and human suffering will allow this trafficking in obscene material, which exploits women, children and men alike, to continue.″

Jerry Kirk, president, of the National Council on Pornography Abuse, said that ″in declaring war on child pornography and illegal obscenity, the president takes the focus off censorship and puts it on enforcement of the law.″

″The new legislation is a great step toward effective prosecution of illegal pornographic materials which promote rape, abuse and degradation,″ Kirk said.

Reagan noted the creation of the national obscenity enforcement unit recommended by the pornography commission and said that ″this administration is putting the purveyors of illegal obscenity and child pornography on notice: your industry’s days are numbered.″

He said that organized crime controls ″the vast majority of the multibillion-dollar obscenity market,″ and said that law enforcement agencies have estimated that this activity brings in $7 billion to $10 billion a year.

″I’ve read statistics that, in a single city, one (dial-a-porn) company has received up to 800,000 calls per day - 180 million calls in a single year,″ he said. ″Every time a child calls one of these numbers, he or she hears an explicit sexual dramatization. And the time has come for this to stop.″

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