I Know It When I See It
Monday March 19, 2012
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This column may well generate about 40,000 "Unsubscribes" this morning, but there you are.
In the early 1960s a man named Nico Jacobellis was arrested after the showing of a French movie in his theater by the name of "The Lovers" on the grounds that the film was obscene.
This case would doubtless be relegated to punishing second year law school students were it not for the fact that (a) the case went to the U.S Supreme Court and (b) in a concurring opinion Justice Potter Stewart penned one of the most memorable phrases in Court history.
In concurring with a reversal of Mr. Jacobellis' conviction, Justice Stewart wrote about trying to define the phrase "hard-core pornography":
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."
Putting aside how Mr. Justice Stewart had come upon comparative material, this famous quote came to mind when I read that GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum plans to boldly go where Supreme Court Justices have feared to tread.
On his campaign web page a position paper on pornography contains this:
While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum Administration.
I am opposed to children being exposed to, much less featured in, pornography. I am also opposed to children being exposed to, or involved in, under aged drinking, smoking, or driving dangerously.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 nearly 3,000 teenagers died in automobile accidents - 35 percent of all teen deaths. Nearly 8 children a day - every day.
How about spending some quality time trying to dramatically cut down on that problem?
I don't care if you like pornography. It's none of my business. The bigger issue for Santorum is he does care whether you watch it. The dichotomy in Santorum's position is that he wants to use the full might and reach of the Federal government to forbid the distribution of pornography
"on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier"
This from a candidate who has consistently argued for less Federal intervention in our lives. Wasn't that the cornerstone of Santorum's opposition to the contraception ruling, that the Federal government was stomping on the First Amendment rights of religious groups?
No one is going to vote for or against Rick Santorum for his position on pornography. I get that. What is bothersome to me is how he has established a pattern of his positions.
"If I agree with it, it is good and everyone should do it (whatever "it" might be) and the government should not stand in our way. If I disagree with it, it is bad and no one should do it (whatever "it" might be) and I will use that very same government to enforce my likes, dislikes, ethics, and tastes on every American."
Those are my words, not his, but that appears to fairly represent how he would govern.
If we demanded intellectual consistency of our elected officials, our parking problems in Washington, DC would be over. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have played just as fast and loose with their deeply held convictions as Santorum.
In conference call with religious leaders earlier this month about gay marriage a woman said "gay marriage would eventually lead to people marrying dogs." Gingrich, according to published reports, not only didn't correct the woman, but placed the blame on teachers:
"Remember we have now had a whole two generations of teachers who explained to us 'you shouldn't render moral judgment, after all it's all situation ethics, who are we to decide,' and that's been a major problem."
According to an ABC News piece in October, 2011 Mitt Romney spoke about a Constitutional amendment which would declare that life begins at conception "and 'birth control prevents conception' but that he was "not campaigning for an amendment of some kind."
According to the ABC article, "two weeks earlier Romney told Fox News host Mike Huckabee that he would 'absolutely' support such an amendment."
Gasoline prices in the U.S. are the highest ever this early in the year. Unemployment is static at about 8.3 percent. The housing market will be in the doldrums for decades. Manufacturing jobs continue to move off shore.
According to a Bloomberg Newt poll "Obama's lowest ratings on the economy involve his handling of the federal budget deficit, with 62 percent of Americans surveyed disapproving."
The GOP candidates should focus on the issues that most of us are worried about and will sway their votes.
What are those issues? I'm not sure, but I'll know them when I see them.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Jacobellis case, to the Santorum position paper on pornography, and to the Bloomberg poll.
Also a Mullfoto - another Mullfoto - showing me at my absolute best and a Catchy Caption of the Day.
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