Smut targets America’s hinterlands

By Ellen Makkai

Rural Americans, lock up your women and children. Cable pornography has you on its bull’s-eye. And where smut goes, grief follows.

The National Cable Television Cooperative – a purchasing cooperative of 1,000 small independent cable-TV operators with more than 14 million subscribers – has for the first time decided to traffic in porn.

NCTC will add the Colorado-based New Frontier Media, provider of adult programming, to its stable of respectable networks. The distribution agreement makes cable pornography available to areas once beyond the reach of the televised garbage already seen in metropolitan areas through large cable monopolies like AT&T.

“We’re just a conduit,” said NCTC apologist Dan Mulvenon when asked about the downside of sexually explicit programming. “We make no decision about content. We just offer it. Each community decides whether local cable companies should launch it.”

So, for towns with pro-porn officials, there need be no more embarrassment in the adult section of video stores, no more stealth visits to back-alley book shops. Fewer peeping Toms will be hauled off to the clink. And if Internet smut downloads too slowly, not to worry.

Thanks to digital technology, and a slick marketing deal, rural homes that watch family-friendly television one moment can – with the click of a pre-subscribed button on the remote control – invite sexual gymnasts to perform on-screen a split-second later.

But it would be wise to wait until Dumpling and Junior go to bed because this programming is not for the innocent or faint-of-heart. “Early exposure hardwires a child’s brain for unnatural sexuality,” says licensed professional counselor Rob Jackson, executive director of The Institute for Sexual Integrity in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Plus, it would be wise to boost law enforcement and social-service budgets. When pornography increases, so do community woes.

“I know of no tragedy linked to adult entertainment,” said Ken Doenish, president of New Frontier Media subsidiary, Erotic Networks. “Adult entertainment has become mainstream. It’s an inexpensive alternative to other forms of entertainment,” adds Peter Shankman, a New Frontier Media spokesman.

Hefty revenues blind them to the price paid by pornography’s victims. Both deny the negative consequences of their programming.

“In the 12 years I have specialized in the treatment of sexual violence victims and perpetrators, I have not treated one case of sexual violence that did not include pornography,” said Dr. Mary Anne Layden (in 1999), of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry.

“The media promotes the myth that ‘everybody watches it,’ that it is a victimless crime, but it’s not,” adds Jackson. “It’s like second-hand smoke in a restaurant. Everybody suffers.”

In the United States Supreme Court decision, Renton vs. Playtime Theatres, Inc. (1986), land-use studies from 16 major U.S. cities were cited which document the effects caused by the presence of sexually-charged material. Rape, prostitution and spousal- and drug-abuse rates swell. Residential and commercial values drop, while there is increased blight as families and businesses flee an area.

Cable smut isn’t a flameout fad. Ken Doenish has plugged 33 million households into Erotic Networks in four short years – and projects greater growth with the NCTC marketing coup.

“It’s a major business in the U.S. hotel market – approximately $500 million a year,” says Leonard Sabal, quoted in USATODAY.com. Sabal is president of Cabil Corp., a company involved in hotel billing for in-room entertainment.

Pornography’s initial magnetism can easily shift into addiction. “All porn changes brain chemistry and function to some extent. Pornography stimulates the same area of the brain as crack cocaine and is equally addictive,” says Rob Jackson.

Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, Ohio, candidly admits to a 25-year addiction to pornography. So fierce was his struggle that he is convinced only divine intervention saved him.

“It will certainly broaden our reach,” chirped Peter Shankman about this latest cable deal. Let’s hope the long hand of the law in turn reaches down to squelch the NCTC – New Frontier Media enterprise.

“It’s nothing but prostitution, paying people to have sex, then selling film of them doing it,” says Burress. “Also federal law (Title 18 USC 1462), largely ignored under Janet Reno, prohibits the interstate transportation of obscene material via a common carrier. That includes Internet, phone, fax, satellite and television.”

When John Ashcroft’s crew takes aim, cable pornographers will have to close up shop.

Good riddance, boys.