Industry Leaders, Mainstream Media Blast Santorum's Anti-Porn Pledge

Mar 19, 2012 7:00 AM PST

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum opened a “Porndora’s Box” last week when the Republican Presidential hopeful's campaign website posted a mission statement vowing to vigorously prosecute the adult industry that he claims is creating a national "pandemic."

Peppered with crackpot assumptions like porn causes brain changes in children and adults that lead to toxic marriages, misogyny, prostitution and sex trafficking, Santorum's screed ignited a firestorm of controversy and outrage among the adult industry and mainstream media.

Top industry leaders including Hustler founder Larry Flynt, Vivid Entertainment co-founder Steven Hirsch, Pink Visual CEO Allison Vivas along with a number of performers blasted the former Pennsylvania Senator’s vehement anti-porn position and vow to rectify the Obama administration’s soft stance on adult obscenity prosecutions.

Flynt told that Santorum’s stance is nonsense, and noted President Lyndon Johnson’s 1969 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography that spent millions of dollars studying the evils of porn that finally yielded no concrete results.

“You have guys like Santorum come along and they bring out the bogeyman every chance they get,” Flynt said. "You will be hard-pressed to find anyone that can point out to you a study that shows harm is caused to anyone exposed to porn materials."

Vivas told the N.Y. Daily news that it’s useless to try to crush porn because of its evergreen popularity.

"There is overwhelming evidence that most adult males enjoy adult entertainment," Vivas said.

She added, “Sure, there are still some people out there who dislike porn, but even in that case, how many of them really want the U.S. Dept. of Justice spending its time and already stretched-thin resources on prosecuting companies for making entertainment protected by the first amendment and consumed by many Americans voluntarily?’

Hirsch maintained that there’s absolutely no proof that porn does harm. He told MSNBC, “I find it ironic that Republicans (like Santorum) are out there wanting less government and government intruding into our lives, but when it comes to moral issues they want government to legislate morality. It doesn’t work. It will never work.”

Performer Joanna Angel was “infuriated” over Santorum’s position and told the Daily News, "Pornographers aren't trying to hurt anyone."

"At this point — we're all just trying to keep our jobs. We are already hurt economically by not being allowed to be sold on iTunes, Netflix, or Amazon — do you really need to threaten to take away the few areas of distribution we have left?

"I wish people would stop seeing us as immoral monsters, and understand that we struggle with the same problems lots of other Americans struggle with right now," she added.

Angel pointed out that she’s a legitimate business person and that the Presidential hopeful should focus on more important issues, like the economy.

Forbes magazine on Sunday said Santorum should stop talking about the self-regulated porn industry because it’s not going away and instead should focus on child porn.

“The porn industry is very careful not to violate laws protecting underaged boys and girls from being exploited for porn. If porn is made with underaged performers, those responsible for the project do get caught and do go to prison.

“Big porn producers like Vivid and Hustler go out of their way to keep underaged kids out of the business, and they work with the authorities to track down and prosecute anyone involved in pedophilia. They do so because they want to protect their legitimate business from government’s prying eyes,” Forbes said.

The magazine pointed out that any attempts to ban porn will only push it underground and to other countries where there is no child protection.

Forbes also echoed Angel’s sentiments and said, “Ultimately, we have bigger problems than restricting what adults can do with other adults. If Santorum really wants to fight obscenity he should focus on limiting the crazy things senators and congressmen do with unconsenting taxpayer dollars.”

N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman took a more subtle and snide shot at Santorum in his Sunday column titled “Porn in the USA.”

“No special insight — I just wanted dibs on this now that Rick Santorum has decided to focus on our most pressing national issue.”  The last few words sarcastically linking to an article focusing on Santorum’s porn war.

Despite the heat, Santorum defended his stance on Sunday news shows and newspapers but apparently backpedaled some, claiming on ABC TV's "This Week" that his campaign only posted its stance on porn after people wrote in asking where he stood.

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