Statement of Diane D. Cusack

Part: 
One
Chapter: 
3

At the conclusion of our year-long effort to assess the impact of pornography on American society, it seems appropriate to add my personal thoughts on just a few aspects of deliberations and the report.

Although sometimes with the majority and other times with the minority on certain points, I believe the report fairly states both sides of any divided issues and I am proud to sign this report and to have been a part of a most intensive and intelligent look into a troublesome aspect of our society today. Our chairman, Henry Hudson, and Staff Director, Alan Sears, deserve the gratitude of the country for so keenly perceiving and discharging their uniquely important responsibilities. I know they have my admiration and thanks.

Those who seize upon our divisions do the report a great disservice. Rather, they should credit the high degree of consensus-and frequently unanimity-as a strong statement of our concern for society. Our 92 recommendations are sound and sure, and must be implemented at all levels of government if there is to be any hope of "stemming the tide" of obscenity which is flooding our environment.

There is no doubt among us that the quantity of pornography available today in America is almost overwhelming. In addition, that large portion of it which would be obscene under the Miller test is shockingly violent, degrading and perverted. It is my personal opinion that there is no one who is a consistent user of this material who is not harmed by it. And who, in turn, may harm others because of it. This obscene material should be prosecuted vigorously under the laws and according to our recommendations, whether pictorial, film, or written works.

But let us not ignore that body of material which is sexually explicit but not obscene under the Miller test. This material can also be harmful-but in a somewhat different way. Although not prosecutable, nor recommended to be so, it nonetheless presents a cause for concern. Our report clearly states a concern for material that is objectionable but is and should be protected by the First Amendment freedoms. The fact that it is "protected speech" does not automatically remove its objectionable character. For 2500 years of western civilization, human sexuality and its expressions have been cherished as a private act between a loving couple committed to each other. This has created the strongest unit of society-the family. If our families become less wholesome, weaker, and less committed to the fidelity that is their core, our entire society will weaken as well. People who consistently use the materials we have studied-and children who inadvertently are exposed to them-are not made better persons for it. No pornographer has ever made that claim. And those who insist that these materials do no harm had better be right, for the risks to our future are substantial. These materials, whose message is clearly that sexual pleasure and self-gratification are paramount, have the ability to seriously undermine our social fabric. It is the individuals in our great nation who must see this, and reverse the trend-not the government. Chapter 4 of Part One of the Report addresses this issue quite well.

Aristotle has taught us for years that a society must concern itself with virtue. "Otherwise ... law becomes a mere contract or mutual guarantee of rights, and quite unable to make citizens good and just, which it ought to do...." It is this "good and just" society which America has enjoyed from its beginning. It became so because its people had a shared respect, a unifying vision, a common understanding of man's place in the world. We have a phenomenon today, in the pervasive presence of sexually explicit materials, that challenges one of those understandings held by society for thousands of years-that sex is private, to be cherished within the context of love, commitment, and fidelity. We can use this wondrous gift to create or destroy, to rule or be ruled, to honor each other or debase each other. This Report provides an abundance of information, and the conclusions of a community of eleven citizens. The American people must now decide what to do with it.