Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Ashcroft has to protect us from smut

Suppose a sleazy porn pusher broke into your house and showed dirty XXX-rated pictures to your children. You'd break a finger dialing the cops - and they might not do a thing about it.

"Virtual" porn break-ins happen every day wherever a computer shakes hands with the Internet. Instead of lock picks, broken glass and pry-bars, the porn pushers use spam, pop-up ads, viruses, cookies and Trojan horses that hijack your PC and cram it with raw, graphic pornography.

That's a federal crime.

But the U.S. Department of Justice is doing next to nothing.

"We're collecting information and sending it to federal prosecutors in various districts," said Patrick McGrath of Morality in Media. That's the New York group that runs local radio ads for a Web site (www.obscenitycrimes.org) , urging people to file complaints to "Stop it."

Since 1992, McGrath's group has collected 34,000 complaints - including more than 700 in Southern Ohio - which is about the number of porn pop-ups and spams on a single infected computer.

In a society that runs to court over spilled coffee and files class-action lawsuits against "big tobacco," fast-food and breweries, you'd think someone would have sued the porn pushers for invading our privacy, vandalizing our property and "flashing" smut to our children.

You'd think Attorney General John Ashcroft, who promised a crackdown on porn crimes that were ignored for years during the Clinton administration, would have prosecuted some of the big smut tycoons, using organized crime laws to seize assets from a business that makes more than $1 billion a year on the Internet.

"I am very upset with the lack of enforcement from the Department of Justice, but I don't want to attack too hard because anyone other than Bush would be worse,'' said Phil Burress, president of Cincinnati's Citizens for Community Values.

When the Los Angeles Times published a recent story, "U.S. Anti-Porn Effort is Found Wanting,'' it quoted Burress and a spokesman for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, who also expressed "disappointment" in Ashcroft.

Other anti-porn, pro-family groups that supported Ashcroft had the same comment.

I believe Ashcroft is a good man whose image has been distorted by the carnival mirror of delusional ACLU paranoids who can't admit a Christian conservative could be right.

After all, he does have a war on terrorism in his "In-Box."

But it wouldn't take that much manpower to bust the porn spammers.

"It's a target-rich environment," McGrath said. "They're getting leads by the truckload."

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution demanding vigorous enforcement of federal obscenity laws, and the House is expected to second the motion.

Meanwhile, where are the class-action lawyer-bees who swarm all over gun makers, McDonalds, R.J. Reynolds and Budweiser?

Why don't they sting Internet obscenity?

Burress says his group is teaming up with Cinergy to distribute DVDs and booklets that tell parents how to protect children from Internet porn. (Information: 733-5775.) But that's just playing defense in an arms race between computer filters and porn hackers who find ways to sabotage them.

Terrorists who hijack airliners are the top priority, but Ashcroft should also go after the creeps who hijack our computers.


E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301.

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