President Obama has appointed David Ogden to be Deputy Attorney General. This selection will be a major disappointment to anyone concerned about our cultural slide into the sewer since Ogden, in private practice, was an ardent defender of pornographers in general and child pornographers in particular. Now as a Deputy Attorney General it will be his job to prosecute those who seek to exploit children for sexual purposes, but it's hard to imagine how he could do this with any enthusiasm given his view that pornography is protected free speech.
Here's Matthew Schmitz of the Witherspoon Institute on Ogden:
Ogden has argued that a law designed to protect children from molestation and rape at the hands of child pornographers would "burden too heavily and infringe too deeply on the right to produce First Amendment protected material." The law Ogden opposed reasonably asks that those who wish to profit by selling explicit content keep documents verifying that their models are of legal consenting age.
Even those who think that adults have a right to obtain and use pornographic material should recognize that David Ogden's advocacy for the pornography industry goes much further. His position would allow the purveyors of exploitative images to hide their abuse behind a vanishing paper trail. There is some irony in the fact that while our country employs thousands of inspectors to ensure that meat and poultry are safe, David Ogden opposed even basic steps to ensure that the images consumed by pornography users are not of children. While David Ogden's stated concern was protecting "free speech"-in his confirmation hearing he said that he is opposed to the exploitation of minors, and presumably he is sincere-it is hard to see any justification for a position that has the effect of abetting abuse.
In addition to making it harder to prosecute those who sell images of child molestation and rape, Ogden has sought to ensure that pornography can be easily distributed and readily accessed in almost any medium or location. He has fought cases in Puerto Rico to allow Playboy to broadcast explicit programming on TV. He represented Philip Harvey, a man who runs the nation's largest mail-order pornography shop out of North Carolina, in his attempt to deflect a Department of Justice investigation of his business. Completing a sort of multi-media grand slam, Ogden has sued to allow sexually-explicit content to be transmitted over the phone. Taking this quest to its absurd limits, he has even claimed in court that there is a constitutional right for pornography to be kept in firehouses. Ogden's position is good for the industry groups he has represented but bad for female firefighters who could be subjected to humiliating and harassing images in the workplace. With an equal disregard for the comfort and protection of children, in 2000 Ogden sued to allow pornography to be accessed in public libraries.
It's hard to imagine how a man with two young daughters would choose someone with Ogden's history to serve anywhere in his administration, let alone in the Justice Department, but he has. The Senate must still confirm the appointment so there's a chance that enough senators will find Ogden more repellent than does our President. But who knows with this bunch?
Rumor has it that Larry Flynt is set to chair the President's new Council on Marriage and the Family.RLC