Mahony Battle on Pornography

June 12, 1986

I am a Catholic and an American and I am outraged by Archbishop Mahony's attack on the First Amendment.

I do not quarrel with his right to preach against sin. In fact, he is morally obligated to do so. But there is a world of difference between preaching and calling for economic sanctions. It is the difference between conversion and coercion.

It is wrong to punish people simply because they do not share your beliefs. This principle applies equally to both moral and dogmatic theology. Those who publish, distribute, and purchase "adult" literature do not believe they are doing wrong. The archbishop has no more right to call for punishment of these "unbelievers" than he has to call for sanctions against those who do not believe in The Christ.

The only justification for force, including economic force, is defense. This can be self-defense or defense of another who does not competently consent to participate in the sin. But it is an inexcusable assault on free will to use force to save the sinner from him/herself.

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that sexually explicit material harms anyone but (perhaps) the viewer. Even the Meese Commission, whose findings are condemned by the very experts the commission cited, concluded only that explicitly violent sexual material might incite criminal behavior. This type of material has no relationship to the adult magazines carried in drug or convenience stores.

The archbishop's statement that reading Playboy leads to a "craving" for such stronger stuff is a baseless, self-serving absurdity. It shames me as an intelligent human being to be associated with such superstitious nonsense.

As for 7-Eleven, Thrifty, and other stores that have gone along with this heinous assault on the Bill of Rights, I intend to boycott them until such time as they return Playboy and Penthouse to their shelves. And I ask all freedom-loving Americans to join me.

We must not casually discard those rights that we do not personally enjoy. Otherwise we may soon find ourselves looking for support on freedoms we hold dear, and finding no one else is left.


Thousand Oaks

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