Creating safe communities

Scene in a Park by Joseph Hendrick Hubert Lies, 1853

Scene in a Park by Joseph Hendrick Hubert Lies, 1853

“Community standards are not left or right. They are high or low.”

— Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati

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Partnering to build a culture of decency

Polls over the past decade have consistently shown that a strong majority of Americans do not favor the increasing sexualization of society. Upwards of 70 percent say there is too much sex in the media, and as many are concerned about the impact pornography has on society. If so many people oppose the advance of pornography, why is there still so much of it? Can anything be done to stop it or at least reduce its presence in our culture?

There are no easy answers when dealing with a complex problem like pornography and hyper-sexualized media. While Americans in general do not want more overt sexuality in the culture, younger people are more accustomed to it and generally more supportive of it. Young people also comprise the most highly-sought advertising and media demographic. There is also a sense shared by many that nothing can be done about this growing problem. It is too pervasive and has gone on too long to change it, they reason.

It’s true that many factors are beyond the average person’s control, but too often we’ve left untried the many small changes, particularly at the local level, that can significantly influence the social climate toward a culture of decency. We can take steps to prevent exposure to pornography at the library, in the supermarket, on freeway billboards, or on the public airwaves. In addition, communities have a legal right to protect themselves against the harmful impact of sex businesses, such as adult book stores, strip clubs, massage parlors and so-called gentlemen’s clubs.

While uprooting entrenched sex businesses isn’t simple, it is worth the investment. Pornography studios still depend on traditional distributors to sell much of their product. Further, the existence of porn shops and strip clubs facilitates a culture of sexual commodity which often leads to sex trafficking. Eliminating the local feeder industries reduces both demand and some of the opportunities for commercial sexual transactions.

With seven in ten Americans concerned about the impact of pornography, there is a good chance you can take action locally with broad community support. Sometimes, it just takes one person to speak up for others to follow. Be that person.

Copyright © 2013, Daniel Weiss. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Dig deeper with the following online resources:

Why Christians Should Seek to Influence Government for Good
Should Christians try to influence laws and politics? Historically, Christians have disagreed. This booklet offers a historical and theological overview of the disagreement and offers an answer leading to thoughtful action.

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Take Action

Safe Schools, Safe Libraries Project
Protecting children from pornography and exploitation in our schools and libraries.
Cleaning Up Your Supermarket
Don’t be bashful about asking an on-site manager to remove offensive magazines.
Join the ‘Book my Conscience’ Campaign
Pledging to avoid hotels with in-room pornography.

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Research into community harms of sex businesses:

Key Cases and Studies
This collection of linkable studies, court cases and testimonies spells out the legal grounds allowing communities to regulate and zone sex businesses.
Crime-Related Secondary Effects of Sexually-Oriented Businesses
A report by criminologist Richard McCleary, Ph.D. to the city attorney of Los Angeles.
Regulating Sexually Oriented Businesses – Recommended Zoning and Licensing Changes
This PowerPoint presentation made for the community of Cedar Hill, Texas, does an excellent job of clearly communicating myriad changes a community may make to its zoning and licensing scheme.
The Association of Adult Businesses With Secondary Effects: Legal Doctrine, Social Theory, And Empirical Evidence
by Alan C. Weinstein and Richard McCleary in Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Review, December, 2011.
Secondary Effects Research
An entire library of resources providing the research on, justification and expertise for community regulation of sex businesses.

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(Links are provided for information purposes only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of all the views expressed in these resources.)