Some of society’s problems are just so upsetting that it’s hard to imagine that they continue to exist, or in fact, are spreading.
Well, this episode explores one of the worst: Internet child pornography and sex trafficking.
Internet pornography been called the largest unregulated social experiment in history.
Ushered it into the cultural mainstream, it enjoys increasingly widespread acceptance. But while it’s well known that the internet has been hijacked by the sex industry, what’s less understood is that it provides children free and easy access to all types of pornography, and sexual predators’ easy and anonymous access to children.
“Much of the content that is out there is hardcore, it’s extreme. Kids under 10 years old are getting hooked on it, addicted to it. And it’s free. It’s mostly prosecutable under U.S. law. But it’s not being prosecuted. Then you’ve got sex trafficking, which is one of the largest organized crime businesses in the United States,” says Donna Rice Hughes, CEO of Enough Is Enough.
The New York Times reports that last year, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year. Smartphone cameras, social media and cloud storage have allowed the images to multiply at an alarming rate.
“It’s a profound problem for society. Yet, it’s such a difficult topic. No one really wants to talk about it,” explains Colby May, Senior Counsel and Director of the Washington Office of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Dedicated to promoting child dignity in the digital world, Enough is Enough, raises public awareness about the harms of Internet pornography, sexual predators, cyberbullying, sex trafficking and other dangers.
Join me as Donna and Colby describe this very troubling world.
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episode 88 transcript
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH WITH DONNA RICE HUGHES AND COLBY MAY
Speaker 1: 00:04 Welcome to the Bill Walton Show. Featuring conversations with leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and thinkers. Fresh perspectives on money, culture, politics and human flourishing. Interesting people, interesting things.
Bill Walton: 00:24 Welcome to the Bill Walton Show. Some of society’s problems are just so upsetting that it’s hard to imagine that they continue to exist. Well, today’s show is going to get into some of the worst. Child abuse, child pornography, sex trafficking, internet pornography. It’s been called the largest unregulated social experiment in history.
With me to dig into this, Donna Rice Hughes and Colby May. Donna, is president, CEO of Enough Is Enough. She’s an internationally known safety expert, author speaker and film producer. Since 1994, she’s been a pioneering leader on the front lines of the U.S. effort to make the internet safer for children and families.
Colby May, Senior Counsel and Director of the Washington Office of the American Center for Law and Justice, where he represents members of the U.S. House of Representatives in the Senate on legislative matters involving national security, abortion, marriage and pornography. Well, we’ve got quite a subject for today.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 01:39 We do.
Bill Walton: 01:39 Donna, you’ve dedicated your life to this and Colby, you’ve been at this also for three or four decades. We’ve got some grizzled veterans from the front lines on these issues. Donna, this is an extremely emotional and upsetting topic. How’d you decide to dedicate your life to fixing the problem?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 01:59 Well, quite frankly, I didn’t make that decision early on. I was looking for a job. I had the opportunity to come to work at Enough Is Enough. It was run by a wonderful woman who’s a friend of Colby’s and his lovely wife, Nina. Her name is Dee Jepsen. When we were talking, when she was interviewing me, at that time, this was 1994. The focus of Enough Is Enough was protecting children and families from pornography and print and broadcast.
Because the internet hadn’t happened yet. When she was talking to me about this, she talked about the harms of pornography and the myths of pornography. I said, “Well, what are those?” She started naming off all the stuff and my head was spinning. But one of the things she said is that one of the harms of pornography is that it promotes the rape myth.
I said, “Well, what’s that?” She said that, “When a woman says, no, she really means yes and wants to be violated. For me, the light turned green because I had heard those words before when I lost my virginity when I was 22. When the man said to me, “But I thought you were just playing a game and that you really meant, yes,” I knew that this was something I had to get involved with.
Over the years, I’ve discovered from even my early sexual abuse as a child that this issue and it’s a massive issue, like you said, has impacted my life. My prayer has always been for God to use the pain of my life for good. This has been a wonderful way for me to use the gifts and talents and the opportunities He’s given me to help prevent this type of thing from happening to other children and to other women.
Colby May: 03:47 Well-
Bill Walton: 03:47 Colby, you’ve been on the board of Enough Is Enough and you’ve also been involved.
Colby May: 03:51 Yes, indeed. I mean, from my perspective, I feel like one of the reasons I got involved of course is through, you know people and they need help. So you help. But the thing that always struck me about this issue, particularly, in its various forms from pornography to child abuse, to sex trafficking, the whole gambit is all tied together. For me, I recognize that the one characteristic that human beings have that ties us all together is the capacity for empathy.
The idea is that, how can you be looking at these images and not have some understanding about these being real people and you’ll be empathetic? Right? Right. Do unto others, sort of an idea. Nobody really wants to be treated in a particular way. When you tee off on that myth idea, that really is just a game. You wonder why society is still trying to figure a lot of these things out and moves into things like the, Me Too Movement and other things. Because there’s just such a convulsion that’s happening.
Bill Walton: 04:45 Well, how pervasive is the problem? I mean-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 04:48 If I can just run through, Colby, started with all the different problems. Let’s just take one of the worst. Child pornography. That is the actual sexual abuse of a child being videotaped or recorded. Last year, there were over 75 million images reported in a congressional testimony. The tech company said-
Bill Walton: 05:10 75 million images on the internet?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 05:13 And that the images are as young as babies and toddlers being sexually violated, abused and even raped. All right? This is a problem that AG Barr says that we cannot prosecute our way out of. That’s one issue. The other is pornography, hardcore material. Colby and I will a little bit more about this. But this was what you referred to as the unregulated social experiment in human history.
Much of the content that is out there is hardcore, it’s extreme. Kids under 10 years old are getting hooked on it, addicted to it, the themes that they’re, I know.
Bill Walton: 05:50 And It’s free.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 05:52 It’s free. It’s mostly prosecutable under U.S. law. But it’s not being. Then you’ve got trafficking. Which is the largest organized crime business in the United States, in worldwide. All of this ties together because one fuels the other. Then of course you have sexual predators. They use child pornography, they make child pornography, they groom kids on the internet. Our focus that Enough Is Enough, is preventing the internet enabled and the internet fueled exploitation of children and women.
Bill Walton: 06:26 You talk about a cycle of abuse. We’ve got, I guess, the child sex abuse images plays into the sex trafficking and pornography. They’re all related. Who’s behind this? I mean, we’ve got sites like Pornhub. That’s the famous and the big one. But I mean, who’s making money from this? This is an industry. There’s the human appetite for sex, I suppose. Then there’s the human appetite for money and they are coming together and an unholy alliance in this. What-
Colby May: 07:00 It’s a perfect storm in many ways where you have both the mom-and-pop operations that are otherwise allowed to get access to the world through the World Wide Web. You also have large publishing companies. Whether or not, it’s the Playboy’s, is it the Penthouse’s? This kind of thing. Which moved into completely different content than you might imagine when you were a young man in the 1960s or something. It is on both ends of that economic spectrum where this thing is being exploited and used.
Obviously, if there was no money to be made in it, then certainly the magnitude of the problem would not exist the way it exists today. There is an enormous amount of money that’s involved in it. Once you get those two things together, you’re never going to be able to simply stamp it out. Which is why constantly it has to be a confrontation of it. You have to be able to expose it. In many ways, the shame factor for so long, that works so well, I think is missing from the modern discussion-
Bill Walton: 07:54 Well, yeah, there’s really very little shame factor. If you go on and you look up Pornhub, for example, you’ll find an interview that was done in Yahoo Finance. Talking about the Pornhub business model.
Colby May: 08:07 Yeah.
Bill Walton: 08:07 Then that you’ll learn the Pornhub’s worth what, the number $3 billion and-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 08:10 $3 billion. Yeah.
Colby May: 08:12 Yeah.
Bill Walton: 08:15 It’s being treated as a mainstream activity. Then Pornhub’s got something called the Pornhub Fund which is providing scholarships to porn stars.
Colby May: 08:24 Sure.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 08:25 Yeah. This is mainstream. When we started the kind of content that was available was just on newsgroups.
Bill Walton: 08:35 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 08:35 It was free but it wasn’t mainstream. Now, it’s mainstream. Pornhub is a pornocupia. You can get anything from bestiality-
Bill Walton: 08:35 Did you call it a pornocupia?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 08:44 Pornocupia. You can get bestiality, you can get whatever that you want.
Bill Walton: 08:51 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 08:51 Asian girls, groups sex, this and the other and kids are going there. There were 42 billion visits, last year in 2019. It’s not just obscene adult types of pornography. There’s also child pornography there. There are victims that are trafficked there. The largest most watch video this year was of a teenage girl who was being raped and electrocuted. The amount of visits had gotten one day will blow your mind. That’s trafficking. We are really trying to get this justice department to… This is low hanging fruit, to prosecute Pornhub. Because they really are the cornerstone of this effort. There’s big money.
Bill Walton: 09:40 Well, the vice president who was interviewed talks about all those predatory things they do, lines of business.
Colby May: 09:50 Yeah.
Bill Walton: 09:52 Who owns Pornhub?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 09:52 MindGeek.
Bill Walton: 09:54 Who’s that?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 09:55 They’re the company that owns Pornhub. Understand-
Bill Walton: 10:01 Publicly traded?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 10:02 No.
Bill Walton: 10:02 No. Okay.
Colby May: 10:03 It’s private.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 10:04 It’s private. But there’s so much money involved that it’s mind boggling.
Colby May: 10:10 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 10:10 There’s a lot of money in child pornography. Even in child pornography, there’s more and more child pornography being created. Because in order to get into these child porn clubs, pedophiles are being asked to, in order to get access to new child pornography, they have to create child pornography themselves. Which means they have to abuse another child, create content then upload it to gain access to the club. It’s all just-
Bill Walton: 10:38 It’s a, paid to play thing or you-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 10:40 Yeah. Pay to play. That’s a barter deal.
Bill Walton: 10:42 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 10:43 But there’s also money involved. It’s big business and it’s the greed. The love and money is the root of all evil. You combine that Bill, with what you said, the sexual exploitation factor. Really, this is just counterfeit sex.
Bill Walton: 11:00 Well, you’ve been educating people now for almost three decades. I mean, why isn’t more known about this and done about this? Is it just people looking the other way? I mean, you point out that parents are uninformed and ill-equipped, they don’t really know what’s out there, I guess.
Colby May: 11:18 It’s a constant education process that you have to go through. Enough Is Enough developed Internet Safety 101. It’s a complete program to arm families from, how do you allow your children to go into the frontier known as the internet?
Bill Walton: 11:18 Yeah.
Colby May: 11:32 There are really effective ways to do it. There are other groups that have done the same thing. There’s lots out there that can help families address it. But frankly, what happens is, you get busy in your own life and you don’t really pay that much attention because you’ve got so much else going on. Yet, the corrosive impact of this is being manifest in a lot of different social problems that you see.
I mean, one of the things you mentioned at the outset here is this a large social experiment just on the pornography access to pornography side of things, to where the neurological connections in young men’s minds, for example-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 11:32 And women.
Colby May: 12:08 And women’s minds, they’re impacted by the idea of seeing pornographic images and the idea of like a lottery, like a roulette wheel or a slot machine or whatever it is. You don’t know what you’re going to get when you go to the new next website. This image pops up and if you like it, you get the effective endorphin rush that happens. As a consequence, your brain is literally wired differently and you’re only 13 years old or 14 years old.
It begins to really change you in a profound way that impacts you the balance of your life. Now, what child at the age of 13, would you want to say, now get to make a decision that’s going to affect the rest of your life. Not many parents would allow their children’s to be able to make that unless they were involved in their decision making. That’s not what’s going on now. It’s a profound problem for society. Yet, it’s an icky topic. No one really wants to talk about it.
Bill Walton: 13:00 Well, that was what I experienced when I was researching this. It just, you wander into it and you go, I need a shower. This is really an ugly topic. You’re watching the Bill Walton show. I’m here with Donna Rice Hughes and Colby May. We’re talking about the sewer, that is, the pornography business in America and worldwide.
Donna, you mentioned something in one of your writings about the 2016 Barna Report. We talked about teenagers. It says that 75% of males between the ages of 13 or 24 actively seeking pornography at least once or twice a month on the internet.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 13:36 That was a couple of years old. Yeah. We now know that it’s actually more than that. That was really comparing Christian youth to non-believers. You do see that oftentimes those with a faith are being more-
Bill Walton: 13:36 Fewer Christians.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 13:36 Fewer.
Bill Walton: 13:36 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 13:56 Fewer are but it’s still a huge problem inside the church. But one of the things I wanted to mention back to parents, parents are the first line of defense to protect their own children. We all want that, right? But what I found over the 30 years is that parents often think that their kid is immune. Because if they have a smart kid, a good kid, a kid that likes sports and this kind of things, they’re thinking my kid isn’t going to fall into pornography.
They’re not going to be stupid enough to be groomed by a sexual predator in a chat room or on social media or to send a text at themselves and to take their clothes off. Yet, this is happening all the time. These are good kids that are being drawn into this world because their lives are very much online. There’s a whole online culture.
Colby May: 14:46 It’s worse. It’s as if you have to be mainstreamed, right? You get teen magazine and all these cultural icon places that just encourage it, right? They do articles on, how can you send a sexting? And how do you do that. It’s just-
Bill Walton: 15:01 Well, mainstream popular culture in America has no taboo against any of this. In Teen Vogue, which you’ve written about.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 15:07 Right. We have a-
Bill Walton: 15:08 It’s egregious.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 15:10 Yeah.
Bill Walton: 15:10 This is a problem, not just for young men, it’s a problem for young women as well.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 15:13 Well, Teen Vogue, they brag of an audience of 13 to 19 year olds. Girls and boys. But they don’t call them girls and boys. They call girls nonprostate owners and they call boys prostate owners. We started a petition years ago because they-
Colby May: 15:28 You’re kidding.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 15:29 No, I’m not kidding. There’s such an agenda, right? There’s an agenda. But the first-
Bill Walton: 15:33 If I pick up Teen Vogue, I’m going to read that, that’s what you were think?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 15:36 You are prostate owner, Bill. So are you. I’m the only nonprostate owner at the table. But the thing that got our attention three years ago is they came up with the Anal Sex 101 guide. Teaching tweens and teens to engage in anal sex. They didn’t talk about the transmission of AIDS or anything else, what’s gone downhill from there. This year, with COVID, they took full advantage of COVID. They said to kids, through Teen Vogue, “Keep your sex lives alive and learn how to sext.
They did a whole sexting articles and they promoted it on Snapchat. Well, when a child sext, a minor kid, they’re creating what? Colby, child pornography.
Colby May: 15:36 Oh, yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 16:21 That’s criminal. That’s illegal. Not only that, those images can get in the hands of traffickers and pedophiles.
Bill Walton: 16:27 Hear the title, sexting should make you feel good. How To Sext: The Best Tips and Tricks.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 16:34 Yes.
Bill Walton: 16:35 Then they go wandering into the anal sex manual. Stunning.
Colby May: 16:35 Yeah. It is stunning.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 16:40 We’ve got almost 45,000 petition signers and you can sign the petition at enough.org. We’re asking this time for Condé Nast… Now, this is a wonderful company, Condé Nast, publicly traded, Vogue, Vanity Fair-
Bill Walton: 16:57 Well, I’m not so sure Condé Nast is a wonderful company.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 16:58 Well, okay. But I happen to like Vogue magazine, okay?
Bill Walton: 16:59 No. I liked Vogue magazine 30 years. But it’s changed.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 17:05 Well-
Bill Walton: 17:05 Okay. Different show, different episode.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 17:06 But we’re asking Condé Nast to take this rogue teen publication down. Just because they cannot clean up the rack, they have not. I just don’t think they’re going to do it. They just need to come down. That mean you are shaming them, Colby, like you said.
Colby May: 17:21 Yeah, I mean, it was money. It’s hard to get people to act in the opposite of their own self interest as they perceive it. It’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve got the social activity that’s going on. What do we do? How do companies responsibly act in the marketplace? So on and so forth. That’s important to do it. One of the things that Enough Is Enough and other groups involved in this issue have trying to do is to get the technology companies to weigh in on this in a way that’s much more constructive than what they currently do.
For example, there was an effort, a couple of years ago, that Enough Is Enough started about the WiFi access that you get in public places, right? Your Starbucks store, so on and so forth. You have people that actually access pornography. It’s actively showing and there you are with your kids at Starbucks to get the next macchiato or whatever it is.
The idea was to create a social responsibility on behalf of those companies to not allow that, to block that. Because technology now allows that to happen. You’d be amazed at the resistance you get from that. It’s incredible to think that Starbucks wouldn’t want to be first in line to say, wait, that’s a great idea. Why didn’t we think of that? Let us make sure that the WiFi that’s available in our store is family friendly. Because we are, after all, a family friendly company.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 18:36 Right. They were filtering overseas. We approached McDonald’s and Starbucks, several years ago, saying, you’re filtering, you’re protecting children and families in Europe and in the UK, why don’t you do it America?
Colby May: 18:36 Because the EU requires them to do it.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 18:50 Well, Prime Minister, Cameron, yeah. He said, “I want you to do this or I’m going to regulate it.” So they did. Here, Mcdonald’s said, yes, right away. McDonald’s has been filtering in all their stores in the United States for several years now. It took us a while to get Starbucks on board. But our goal is to get the rest of corporate America that offers WiFi, because remember you go into the grocery store, into a mall, into a stadium, into an airport, you’ve got your cell phone and your tablet. You’re hopping on a WiFi network.
These companies can easily, very inexpensively, turn on a filter that blocks child pornography which is illegal and any other kind of content they want to. We’re appealing to them to be corporately responsible. But also to protect their brand and their place of business from customers misusing the WiFi, that they give them for free to, for instance, download child pornography. We’re seeing this all over. Cops are arresting pedophiles going into these places of business uploading and downloading child porn.
Bill Walton: 19:49 Yeah. I’ve got like 93,000 questions. Let’s stick with the social media companies, the internet issues. I mean, how long has this been going on you? We talked before about the Bluebook and the story, what was that all about?
Colby May: 20:09 Well, the Communications Decency Act which is the grandfather of the attempt to regulate in this area-
Bill Walton: 20:17 That was 1986?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 20:17 ’96.
Colby May: 20:17 1995, ’96.
Bill Walton: 20:17 1995. Okay. Yeah.
Colby May: 20:17 ’95 was beginning to be introduced and finally passed in 1996. The Bluebook story is very interesting. As you’re trying to get this issue to be understood by the legislators, you’re finding that they don’t get it. They’re not really sure, why should I do this? What’s wrong with the First Amendment? Robust issue. You get to choose, that sort of thing-
Bill Walton: 20:40 They we’re for free speech.
Colby May: 20:41 We’re all for free speech. Truth is, I want less regulation, a light regulatory touch. But the reality is that there are laws already in the books that protect children, Harmful-to-minors standards and various state laws, so on and so forth. Then laws against obscenity and indecency and various porn that to take place. When you’re trying to get the legislators to understand why this issue really matters and what’s really going on, sometimes as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Donna’s and her group were responsible in pulling together what we called the Bluebook which was a notebook at the time, 1995 when the internet-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 20:41 I still have that.
Bill Walton: 21:17 Donna pulled this [crosstalk 00:21:18]?
Colby May: 21:18 Sure. Donna and her people-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 21:18 Our team.
Bill Walton: 21:19 Okay. Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 21:19 Yeah.
Colby May: 21:19 [crosstalk 00:21:19] and at the Enough Is Enough group pulled this together. It was essentially just images that you could get and print off the internet in 1995, when the internet was young, totally unregulated-
Bill Walton: 21:29 And Netscape had been public for about three years. Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 21:32 It’s two. Yeah. Very young.
Colby May: 21:33 You compile this book saying, here’s the reason the legislatures need to check in on this particular issue. Take away from here, Hughes.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 21:41 What happened was, we had a big event where we actually launched the Internet Safety Movement. Colby’s wife, Nina, was there and Colby were there.
Bill Walton: 21:52 I’m going to introduce Colby as he’s married to [crosstalk 00:21:55]. Let’s be clear about it.
Colby May: 21:54 She is a force of nature, I’ll agree.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 21:59 Yeah, she definitely is.
Bill Walton: 21:59 Okay.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 22:02 But anyway-
Colby May: 22:03 She was on the show with Nancy Stafford a little bit ago.
Bill Walton: 22:05 Oh, nice. Anyway, continue.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 22:07 Senator Exon’s office said nobody’s paying attention. I said, “Well, why not?” I said, “What are you doing? Are you showing them what’s there? Are you showing them the descriptions and the images?” They said, “No.” I said, “Well, you have to do that.” They didn’t know how. So we put together this Bluebook. It’s just a blue binder and Senator Exon’s staff passed it to every senator. It went around the Senate floor and the next day they took a vote and there were only two dissenting senators.
That’s how the Communication Decency Act got off the ground. Then it went to the house and we went back and forth. That really formed the framework for the sole issue. Now, we’re still dealing with some of that.
Bill Walton: 22:44 I just have this image of old men looking at dirty pictures.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 22:49 Well, here’s the thing. What we wanted to do-
Bill Walton: 22:51 They must have really enjoyed these briefing books get better.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 22:54 We wanted to shock them. Because there was incest in there, there was a lot of anal sex, there was a lot of-
Bill Walton: 23:01 Even back then-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 23:01 There was a lot of bestiality and we wanted them to understand this is not airbrushed nudity Playboy stuff. We want you to understand this it’s a whole different ball game. This is the content that you can’t get in a triple X-rated bookstore before the internet and kids are going to be able to get it for free. Fast forward, Pornhub, that kind of content that was on the fringes is now mainstream.
This is the appetite that this is what kids are getting a steady diet of through the internet. It is absolutely frightening. The kinds of content that they’re using, that they’re getting addicted to, that they’re acting out with their peers. Young teenage boys are among the largest growing demographic of sex offenders, of those who were acting out their fantasies on other kids and younger kids. Because they’re acting out what you’re seeing.
Bill Walton: 23:58 These internet pornographers must have an army of lawyers, Colby?
Colby May: 24:01 They do. Oh yeah.
Bill Walton: 24:03 Because we’re advocates of free speech. First Amendment rights. We get into these issues of obscenity, the question is, where’s the line drawn? Tell me about what their lawyers are saying when you tell them, take it off the internet.
Colby May: 24:21 It’s a very difficult and very subtle kind of any series of issues. The law describes things that obscene or indecent in terms of sexual organs and extratuory functions. Then, if you’re going to describe those particular topics, you have to do it in a manner that at least has some redemptive factor to it. Social, civil and civic, scientific, artistic, something along those lines.
In order to make those kinds of judgments, clearly there’s subjective evaluation that goes on. Now, a lot of states have passed what they call Harmful-to-minors standards that define some of those specific terms. If you produce something that meets one of those terms, you’ve violated the state law.
But in terms of the obscenity charge, why is that important? Because the mere possession of obscenity is not illegal but the passage that production or pandering or distribution of pornography is a crime. It matters what it is we’ve got, what content do I have here? From a libertarian First Amendment standpoint, if you have it, okay, no harm, no foul, right?
No one’s going to come into your bedroom or your home and say, you can’t have that material. But if you try to pander that and pass that around and do that, now that’s the crime aspect of it. That’s what we believe that the technology formats allow you to have happen in this anonymity and secretive way that’s wrong.
Bill Walton: 25:43 Okay. You’re watching the Bill Walton Show. I’m here with Colby May and Donna Rice Hughes and we’re talking about freedom of speech issues, obscenity and where the line gets drawn with child pornography and the toxic, terrible stuff that’s on the internet.
Again, I keep wandering into different directions. But let’s go at the core problem which is the psychological impact it has on kids and viewers. What’s this doing to our psyche? I mean, it seems to me that there’s an underlying evil thing that’s being percolated inside people.
The most fastest growing sites are the gang bang sites and things like that. I mean, are there studies that say, x amount of hour… I’m not making this question very succinct but I’m struggling with trying to define tough issues.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 26:39 Well, remember, we’re talking about many issues here. We’re talking about obscene pornography, child pornography and others. Let me just talk about obscene pornography. That’s not protected speech, as Colby said, right? But there’s peer reviewed medical science that shows the harms of this content on behavior, on attitudes, on your brain chemistry, all of this. We didn’t have that. We had anecdotes when we started all these years ago but now we’ve got the science.
I can’t remember how many states now, about half of the states have passed resolution saying that pornography is a public health issue. It is. We know that. Now, what’s the harm of child pornography? Well, a child is being sexually abused and then it’s being recorded and sold. So that every time a pedophile or a predator uses that child porn, they are re-abusing that child again. Trafficking, trafficking victims are also being used in the production of child porn and obscenity, right?
You get back to the cycle of abuse. What’s happening, our whole culture worldwide is being coarsened, we’re coarsening. But this is a human dignity issue. I always like to bring it back to, what are we fighting for? We’re fighting for the dignity of everyone, not just those who get hooked into this or who are used in this content or who are traffic.
But for those who have gotten duped into thinking that they can use another person for sex. Whether they’re a traffic person or they’re a sexual predator or they’re somebody using pornography that’s being abused right there on camera and think that’s okay. I mean, look at Hitler. The Nazis thought it was okay to exterminate Jews.
Bill Walton: 28:27 Coming back to our favorite magazine, Teen Vogue has got an article about how sex workers are no different from any other kind of workers.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 28:34 It’s real work. They say sex work is real work. In other words, kids forget being a rocket scientist, just go into sex.
Bill Walton: 28:43 How pervasive is sex trafficking? Are there hundreds of thousands, millions, how much of, it’s in the U.S. How much of, it’s worldwide? Is it oriented towards any particular country or are the Chinese involved in sex trafficking?
Colby May: 28:59 Well, every culture is involved in there.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 29:00 Every culture.
Colby May: 29:01 There’s not any limits. It’s a large problem. It’s a worldwide problem. You’ll get criminal gangs that’ll bring women from Eastern Bloc to Europe or to the United States from Mexico, Latin America up to the United States or to Canada. The rings of the way in which they do it, it’s just like the coyotes that bring illegal immigrants to the United States, so on and so forth.
I mean, it is a worldwide pandemic and it’s a real problem. You ask about, what really happens? The truth is we don’t know, as a society, what the long, long term impact is going to be. But we do know that there has been chemical changes in the brain of the people that consume this product. If you’re a parent, you’ll say to your 13 year old or your 12 year old, don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke cigarettes, don’t do drugs. But it turns out that if you observe pornography, it has the same impact on the human person. Therefore, it ought to be the same thing that parents say, don’t do that.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 30:01 Well-
Colby May: 30:02 Yet, it’s just missing in the conversation. The reason is, is because it’s an icky topic.
Bill Walton: 30:08 A perverse outcome is that we use the sexual dysfunction… Real sex, it’s now-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 30:14 Yeah. We’re now back to pornography. But I want to go to your sex trafficking issue.
Bill Walton: 30:18 Okay.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 30:19 Kids and women are being trafficked right here in this country. They’re not necessarily coming from overseas. Sometimes they are. There are recruiters and groomers going into our high schools across the country and grooming these girls into sexual activity, getting them on tape then coercing them. We call this sextortion and whatnot. Oftentimes, getting them into sex trafficking race and then shipping them off to some other hub in the United States.
A lot of this is forced prostitution or sex trafficking whatever you want to call it. I’m going back to the point that, no child is immune. I’ve seen this happen in good families with bright kids, bright girls that are on the track team and whatnot and ready to go on a full scholarship that end up sucked into this world. It’s really everywhere.
But the United States is one of the top in trafficking. We’re also number two in hosting child pornography sites worldwide. We’re also number one in the production of hardcore obscenity. Bill, I think it’s important to talk about why we need these laws enforced. The porn laws need to be enforced, the obscenity laws and child pornography. But like P. Barr said, we can’t prosecute our way out of this. But we did come up with a children’s internet safety pledge-
Bill Walton: 31:41 Well, let’s turn to remedies.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 31:43 Yeah.
Bill Walton: 31:44 If we missed anything, I think we’ve covered the waterfront in terms of how terrible this is. Any other ugly thing that we need to…
Donna Rice Hugh…: 31:52 Well, no. I mean, it’s dark and it’s ugly. But it’s important kids know this. You ask any teenager ff I talk to them about what they’re saying and read some of this stuff, they go, yeah, I know I’ve already seen it. Usually, they won’t tell their parents but they’ll tell me. They’ll tell somebody that knows. Because they know that we know and we know that they’re struggling. But what are the remedies?
First of all, parents are the first line of defense. The corporate world needs to be more of a part of the solution than part of the problem. They hate regulation, big tech hates regulation and they don’t want it. We’re trying to get them to do, proactively things, that they should be doing on their own Colby, like you said.
Colby May: 32:30 Absolutely.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 32:31 But then the government is so important. They really are. When we’re one of the top producers of child porn and pornography, we need our Department of Justice and U.S. attorneys and the prosecutors to be well-equipped. They may need more funding. They need more resources. We need to be treating this like the war that it is. We wrote a Children’s Internet Presidential Pledge, Safety Presidential Pledge. Let me say that again. The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge.
We took it to Donald Trump and to Hillary Clinton before the last election and said, “Let’s get ahead of the curve. If you get elected, will you make it a top priority to use all the forces of the government and the White House to protect the human dignity and the innocence of our children by enforcing the child porn laws, the porn laws, trafficking laws and making new policy as necessary?” Donald Trump signed it, Hillary Clinton supported it. Now we’ve got an opportunity to go to Joe Biden to ask him to do the same thing. But we need to recognize this as the pandemic that it is.
Bill Walton: 33:40 Well, did we get action? I mean, every politician is probably going to pay lip service to this. That’s their job, I guess. She comes over this, you’re like this, of course, they’re going to sign. Who’s responsible for enforcing these laws? Is that the FBI? Is it the-
Colby May: 33:55 It’s the U.S. attorneys offices. At the federal level, it’s the U.S. attorneys offices and at the state level, it’s the state-
Bill Walton: 34:02 If the Justice Department has got a budget, how much of it, it’s dedicated to this?
Colby May: 34:09 Oh, it’s minuscule. I don’t know the exact percentages. But it’s very, very small.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 34:12 To pornography, none.
Colby May: 34:16 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 34:17 I went to the members of the Senate and the house, they said that they don’t have the funding to prosecute this. I said, “Can you write it in the appropriations budget?” And they did. For this coming year. But they do have money for child pornography and prosecutions and trafficking. But it’s not enough. We need to ramp this up. Like We did with our military when this president came in. We realized we were getting crushed. If we were going to be in any kind of war, we would not be ready, militarily.
I think if we look at this as the war on our culture and a war on the innocence of our children and the future of our nation, that we would treat it with the dollars that it needs to get the prosecutors and the action that it needs. It has not been a priority and it breaks my heart.
Colby May: 35:04 Yeah. It may actually be worth if we can continue to push at that level. We also impact culture more, written more large. You’ve got the religious communities of America impacted just like everybody else. They ought to be taking a much larger role in this than they currently do. It’s curious as to why it is that the pulpits of America are not otherwise taking this issue and really driving it home.
But we’ll let wandering mind is figuring out whether or not they think there’s some compromise within the church itself. I mean, there’s a problem, they need to be addressing that particular problem. Now related to this is, recently, the conservatives have complained mightily about the various Facebook and Google and all that the way in which they might put their finger on the scale.
Now, you’ve got the president pushing back with his executive order saying, “Look, maybe we’re going to do way with the liability shield and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. And I want the FCC and the federal trade commission and all the U.S. attorneys to begin to look at that and figure out what’s happening.” Now, we’re going to see whether or not they respond. But it’s-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 36:09 That needs to happen.
Bill Walton: 36:11 But you’re hinting at a complicity. That I think, you can’t hide from the consideration, which is, a lot of adults are paying attention to pornography. There’s a lot of guilt. I think there’s been studies about the number of pastors and ministers involved in this. They’re not going to give us a speech about it.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 36:31 Child pornography too. I mean, there’s a lot of crossover with men, especially the start with adult, extreme porn that think it into younger kids. There’s what’s called barely legal content where they use girls that are just turned 17 and 18. But they make them look like they’re 11, 12 and 13. It got the appetites of men. Now men are starting to then gradually start to using child pornography. At the end of the day, this is a spiritual battle. This is a spiritual battle. [crosstalk 00:37:05].
Bill Walton: 37:06 Let’s spend some time with that. Because if you read the Bible, the Bible is very clear about this behavior. It’s evil and it destroys people. God destroyed a couple of serious cities because of this kind of behavior.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 37:18 Right.
Bill Walton: 37:21 It feels like we’re there. It feels like we’re in a kind of biblical scenario here.
Colby May: 37:26 I would agree. I mean, I think that the human heart is complex. It’s mysterious. Yet we understand it pretty well having one, all of us, in the life. We know what the tendencies are. Unless we’re willing to talk about it, unless we’re willing to put a light on it, then it continues to thrive in the dark or in the shadows as it were. We can talk around it. Government do this.
Okay, that’s fine to a certain level. But the reality is unless the human heart is focused on it. The Bible is a great start. The Old Testament, I always found it to be quite remarkable that you could spend time in the Deuteronomy and the Leviticus part of the book. It starts talking about, stop having sex with your animals and don’t have sex with your brothers and your sister-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 38:11 No, it’s in Leviticus.
Bill Walton: 38:11 Yeah. I know. Yeah.
Colby May: 38:11 Then when you think of like, what? Do I need to be instructed about this?
Bill Walton: 38:14 No. It’s right there. Yeah.
Colby May: 38:17 There is a depravity within the net. It’s mammalian. It’s like part of being biological. The drive is to go ahead and reproduce. You need to have a fairly active sexual drive. I think we all understand that. But within that, unless you bridle that passion, unless you direct that passion, you don’t get a wholesome outcome. Certainly, not the kind of outcome that you’d like to have.
I think society has a great interest in focusing on, what is degrading the nature of the two parent household? How do we foster that and do other things? This is one of the issues that needs to be otherwise described and talked within that context. Otherwise, you’re just simply going continue to thrive-
Bill Walton: 38:59 Where’s the left on this issue?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 39:04 I will say that for the years I’ve been working on this, this has always been bipartisan which has been wonderful. It’s not a Democrat issue. It’s not a Republican issue. Everybody cares about kids. Where you break with some of that is the First Amendment absolutist. I would put the ACLU in that category. Because everything we ever got passed, they were the lead plaintiff to fight that.
Bill Walton: 39:29 ACLU is working with you on this?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 39:31 No. They’re not.
Bill Walton: 39:32 They’re working against you on this.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 39:32 Against us on this.
Bill Walton: 39:33 Okay.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 39:36 Now, we’ll just take child pornography. Let’s just say this as a little girl being sexually abused by a 50 year old man, right? It’s child pornography. They will say that the abuse is criminal and it needs to be prosecuted. But once a video or a picture has been made that, that’s, now, speech and should be protected. That’s in their bylaws. If you understand the root of where they’re coming from, they’re absolutist.
The law, however, disagrees with them on this. I would say that those are the ones that really primarily fight this. Secondly, it’s the corporate world. Because they have had a shield of immunity to Section 230. For all these years, we were involved in getting that passed but it was never meant to give them absolute immunity. They’ve been able to basically say, we didn’t create it. We didn’t see it. We’re not going to do anything about it.
Bill Walton: 40:27 Just to give us all a brief, get us on the same page, 230 was part of the Communications Act of 1995.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 40:33 ’96. Yeah.
Bill Walton: 40:36 It was there for these young upstart social media companies to give them a liability shield to say, you’re not a publisher. You’re just a carrier.
Colby May: 40:44 Correct.
Bill Walton: 40:45 Therefore, whatever comes across your pipes is not your responsibility.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 40:47 If you took a good faith effort to protect children from getting it, that was the caveat.
Bill Walton: 40:55 Is that in the law?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 40:56 Yes. [crosstalk 00:40:57]. It was called the Good Samaritan Defence.
Colby May: 40:58 But the courts have not otherwise enforced it at that level.
Bill Walton: 41:00 I don’t think they have. This is, if gets into regulating political speech too, where…
Donna Rice Hugh…: 41:04 Well, right. We’ve been trying to get Section 230 amended all this time because the courts allowed the tech companies to drive a truck through it. It was never meant for that. A number of years ago, FOSTA was created and it was to protect-
Bill Walton: 41:04 FOSTA?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 41:21 FOSTA-SESTA which was the bipartisan bill. Was signed into law, two years ago-
Bill Walton: 41:25 That was its acroynms.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 41:25 FOSTA-SESTA
Bill Walton: 41:25 Okay, anyway.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 41:28 Well, basically, this was the law that then allowed the prosecutors to say to back page, you cannot run ads, selling women and children for sex. If you do, you cannot hide behind 230 anymore. That passed. Now, there’s another piece of legislation that is looking to even… It’s called the, EARN IT Act, that’s going to take this a step further. These are the attempts now that have been successful-
Bill Walton: 41:59 So-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 41:59 To turn it around.
Bill Walton: 42:00 I’m sorry. Quick promo for the Enough Is Enough website. Do you have information about most of all these topics?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 42:00 Everything.
Bill Walton: 42:06 Almost everything we’ve talked about is you can be fine when reading-
Donna Rice Hugh…: 42:09 Enough.org, get our newsletter, go to enough-
Bill Walton: 42:12 It’s simply, enough.org.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 42:14 Enough.org. Sign the petition to shut down Teen Vogue too. But we’ll keep you updated. All this information that we’ve been talking about is on our site.
Bill Walton: 42:23 We’ve got a few minutes. What if we talk about prevention strategy? I agree. It’s a matter of faith and spirit. You got to have it in the human heart that you want to solve this problem or you don’t. That’s why I asked about left versus right. Because I think of the left is being primarily materialist and this is a spiritual issue. I can’t imagine them wanting to embrace spiritual solutions or maybe they do. I mean, you’ve been interacting on a bipartisan basis. What do we need to know about bringing the coalition together?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 42:53 With respect to the spiritual side or?
Bill Walton: 42:55 Yeah.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 42:56 Well, I would say, first of all, we need to go back to the very basics which is-
Colby May: 43:01 By the way, that was a very complex question.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 43:03 Thank you. I’m just going to take it.
Bill Walton: 43:05 It had four parts. Maybe our lawyer here could break it down. You go first.
Colby May: 43:10 Well, I can say this-
Bill Walton: 43:10 That was an unfair question.
Colby May: 43:13 I’ve said before that the human condition is somewhat complicated. Every issue has to be addressed at multiple levels.
Bill Walton: 43:19 Yeah.
Colby May: 43:20 Certainly, we care a lot about the policy side, the legal side of it, as we’ve described here today. We care about the social spiritual side of it which is very real. Unless people really begin to engage on this and care about this kind of issue, it’s just going to limp along. As I say, grow in the shadows, this is basically done. But ultimately, it is a matter of the human heart.
I think, as I said at the outset, the thing that drove my engagement on this issue is the idea of empathy. Once you stop and say, what is really going on here? And you project yourself to be there, everything I believe will change because you don’t want to be that, right?
The golden rule do unto others is I don’t want that done unto me. I’ve got to do something about that. Whether or not it’s my own personal behavior whether or not it’s some more larger corporate behaviors, societal behavior. But those are the kinds of things that I think, honestly, the human heart will answer for us. We don’t really have to struggle very hard about how to get an answer for that. But it’s multilayered and it’s definitely going to have to be something that’s engaged all the time.
Donna Rice Hugh…: 44:22 I think it’s going to turn when God’s people say, enough is enough. There’s the first in the Bible, 2 Chronicles 7:14. God is talking to his people, Israel there. But He says, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them, I will forgive them and I’ll heal their land. I really believe that this is going to turn on the Body of Christ. To repent from either being engaged in this or from being a passive bystander and just not caring or not even doing enough to protect their own children and repenting.
Then, I believe this is going to begin to shift. Because it’s such a big evil cesspool of a problem worldwide. I believe that’s the answer. We’ve seen God turn around cultures all the time when His people get together on something. That is, to shine the light, light the candle. Jesus said, I’ve come to set the captives free. The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy but I come to set them free. I believe that that is going to be the turning point to lead us into a breakthrough on this issue. Then hopefully, Lord willing, even a revival in our land.
Bill Walton: 45:44 Great last words, Donna Rice Hughes, thank you. Colby May, thank you.
Colby May: 45:49 Thanks, Bill.
Bill Walton: 45:51 I’m sure we’d like to have you back. Talk some more about things as this evolves. Colby, American Center for Law and Justice has got a great website with a lot of these issues also on there. I’d encourage, how do we find your website?
Colby May: 46:06 aclj.org.
Bill Walton: 46:06 Okay.
Colby May: 46:08 Use it to find, www.aclj.org. You can go online and you can go there for internet material, pornography the issues, any issue you want. We deal, of course, with a lot more than just this particular issue. But definitely, any kind of information you want there it’s available on our website. Enough.org, as we mentioned before, also where this resource material is.
Bill Walton: 46:29 Donna, anything else that we can talk about where we can find your ideas and help support your causes?
Donna Rice Hugh…: 46:34 Thank you. Yes. Enough.org. We are a nonprofit. We rely on financial support from individuals and not the government. We can’t fight these battles without people partnering with us. We also have the internetsafety101.org website where all the information about what you need to know as a parent or grandparent to protect your kid it’s all there. We break it down from trafficking to predation, protecting them from pornography and cyber bullying. It’s all right there at internetsafety101.org.
Bill Walton: 47:03 Great. Well, Donna, Colby, thanks. Thanks for joining me to the Bill Walton Show. You can learn more about this topic on our new website. Has a section called Interesting People and both Colby and Donna will have their own page on Interesting People where you can also find links to the things they’re working on. Also, if you’d give me your comments about this show and ideas about future guests and future topics, it is much appreciated. We pay a lot of attention to the issues that people think are important. Thanks for joining and we’ll see you next time.
Speaker 1: 47:39 Thanks for listening. Want more? Be sure to subscribe at thebillwaltonshow.com or on iTunes.
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