In a field office somewhere in Washington, 32 prosecutors along with computer forensic specialists, FBI agents and investigators are diligently working to file charges in the sorts of cases that haven’t often been brought in more than a decade. At their disposal are the new powers offered to federal officials by the Patriot Act. Are they fighting terror? No. They’re fighting porn in the latest iteration of the war on indecency.
Cultural fights most people assumed were over have come back with a vengeance as the Bush administration looks throw bones to the extreme conservatives in their base. But on this issue, it’s not so simple. Forget about the fact that consumers have clearly exhibited their enthusiasm for the products in question. And forget about the fact that the emergence of the internet has basically taken all of the steps to getting porn out of the public sphere and therefore further than ever from offending “community” standards. The real problem for Ashcroft and company is that some of America’s biggest companies (and some of the Bush team’s closes allies) are waist deep in the porn business. Cable companies. Satellite companies. Phone companies. Major Hotel chains.
So one can assume that all but your most extreme porn is relatively safe for now. What’s really troubling about this is the dedication of resources and the abuses of the Patriot Act. We’ve got bigger fights to fight.