'The Censors Among Us'

This is in response to your editorial (Feb. 28), "The Censors Among Us."

There are some agencies in this community that would throw out the baby with the bath.

They would have you grin and bear the punishment, the horrible penalties of a loose and permissive society, rather than light a candle in the midst of pornographic disintegration of our civilization with all its obsceneness.

The Times advocates just that.

We must bear the darkness of the pornographic gremlin of this and all the other communities of our fair county. The Times offers not one inkling of a solution to this ravenous cancer of civilization, which is not dissimilar to that of the Roman Empire, which ultimately perished from within.

We, as a society, must deal with and accept the "pluralism" of democratic principles in action and shoo the pesty insects away when they annoy us. They say nothing about a swatter or a swish of Black Flag to kill the pest without killing its intended host.

I am sure The Times can come up with something better than "even if it means allowing publication of offensive material."

We of the Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity and Pornography are not ready to throw out the baby with its bath. We exist to save our one and only dear and precious society in which The Times enjoys its existence, aided by the darkest cloud of its own civilization, pornography and one of its siblings, crime. DON GENHART

Los Angeles

Genhart is chairman of the Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity and Pornography.

It is sad to see that once again our freedoms and constitutional liberties are under attack from the pushers of the latest ideological cliche. Babbling about the "subordination," "exploitation" and "objectification" of pornography does not change the basic fact that some fringe group is trying to ban something that is constitutionally legal just because they don't like it.

It is a shame that so many liberals are so intimidated by the words "feminist" and "civil rights" that they lose the moral courage to tell these people that destroying freedom of the press is wrong, regardless of whatever higher calling they may invoke.

Get real. If attorney Gloria Allred can casually dismiss the First Amendment as a "smoke screen," then if the ERA she supports becomes part of the same Constitution, Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly can laugh that off in the same way.

Allowing any individual to sue the seller of anything with any erotic content on the ground that its mere existence discriminates against her is asinine. It would cheapen the very concept of civil rights. It is also intellectually dishonest. No study has ever proven that pornography actually causes increased violence against women. In fact, studies in Scandinavia after porn was legalized there showed just the opposite.

The past 15 or 20 years, when pornography has been the most open and available, have been the very period when women have made the most progress in every walk of life. Nobody would be foolish enough to say that pornography has been a factor in this--but neither does it seem to have hurt.

The hard-won battles against censorship from the right cannot be lost now merely because the new censors claim that they're doing it in the name of "women" and "civil rights." It would be criminal for the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance for the purpose of political grandstanding that would result in millions of tax dollars being wasted in lawsuits defending a law that has already been declared unconstitutional by other courts.

The "feminists" who have formed an unholy alliance with the Moral Majority on this matter had better be aware of one thing. If Playboy and Penthouse are outlawed now, then Anais Nin and "Our Bodies, Ourselves" will surely be next. MARK LEINWAND

Los Angeles

Since The Times does not accept ads for X-rated movies, it seems inconsistent that your editorial would criticize Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and Mike Antonovich for proposing a pornography ban.

My advice to you both is to let me decide what I see. I agree with your editorial, but not your policy.

Please re-evaluate your policy in light of your editorial, which states "Prohibiting the publication or distribution of such material is far more dangerous than the material itself." TOM BUDLONG

Los Angeles

It is unfortunate that the writer of your editorial did not read nor understand the anti-pornography ordinance brought before the Board of Supervisors by the Los Angeles County Commission for Woman. The interpretation of the proposed legislation was inaccurate and the comments misleading.

1--The ordinance is based upon the clear distinction between "obscenity" and "hard-core pornography." Pornography is the "graphic, sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words" . . . with women being presented as "experiencing pleasure" in situations ranging from "dehumanizing them as sexual things or commodities," to "torturing and maiming them as sexual acts."

2--The supervisors have been asked to declare "sex-based discrimination" illegal--not pass laws censoring "offensive material," as the editorial indicates, nor allow "anyone" to indiscriminately "sue the publishers, distributors or retailers of printed material or films."

Pornography is not an idea . It is a practice that hurts and destroys people and is therefore, a violation of civil rights! The damage it does to women is the issue and has nothing to do with allowing "government to initiate or facilitate efforts to restrict free expression."

3--Your editorial comment, "No government should set itself up as the arbiter of what people may read or think about," is inflammatory and totally irrelevant in this situation. The proposed legislation was never intended to control erotic literature nor prevent the spread of "distasteful ideas and expressions." It is not a license to raid the libraries or museums and put fig leaves on nude statues! Censorship is not now, nor has it ever been an issue. The issue is civil rights !

4--Those genuinely concerned with censorship, should be reminded that rights of free speech and press are, by law, restricted in many ways, some of which are: defamation, perjury, libel, incitement to riot, obscenity, false advertising and child pornography. They should also understand that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment. When the courts held that "indecent language in broadcasting can be prohibited," it was still another demonstration that laws are to regulate--not to censor!

5--Since existing obscenity statutes simply do not offer victims the necessary protection for legal claims of discrimination, the commission's ordinance provides opportunities to seek justice in the courts for violation of civil rights through: coercion into pornography; forcing pornography on a person; assault or physical attack due to pornography; trafficking in pornography.

Because Los Angeles County is charged with protecting the public good, health, welfare and morals, this community has already established standards of public decency with laws against prostitution, incest, drugs, gambling and public expressions of obscenities. Still missing however, is a law to protect women and girls from sexual terrorism and exploitation. BETTY ROSENSTEIN

Los Angeles

Rosenstein is past president of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.

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