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Overall, About Two Thirds of U.S. Adults Disagree that Viewing Hardcore Adult Pornography on the Internet is 'Morally Acceptable'

by Staff
October 29, 2009
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NEW YORK, ( -- Overall, 76% of U.S. adults disagree that "viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable" and 74% disagree that "viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet provides, generally, harmless entertainment," according to a survey commissioned by Morality in Media and conducted by Harris Interactive. This compares with 15% who agree that such viewing is "morally acceptable" and 18% who agree that such viewing "provides generally, harmless entertainment." Combining the results of both questions, about two thirds (67%) disagree both that viewing hardcore pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable and that such viewing provides, generally, harmless entertainment. Only 10% agree with both statements.

The questions and overall breakdown of responses are as follows:

"Please tell me whether you agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with each of the following statements? Do you agree or disagree. And is that strongly or just somewhat."

1. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable

6%--Strongly agree 9%--Somewhat agree 13%--Somewhat disagree 63%--Strongly disagree 9%--Don't know

2. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is, generally, harmless entertainment

7%--Strongly agree 11%--Somewhat agree 11%--Somewhat disagree 63%--Strongly disagree 8%--Don't know

Overall, women are more likely than men to disagree with each statement (morally acceptable - 85% women vs. 66% men; harmless entertainment - 82% women vs. 64% men) and to disagree with both statements (77% of women disagree, compared to 56% of men). For females ages 18 to 34, 73% disagree with both statements; for males ages 18 to 34, 47% disagree with both statements.

Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans, as well as 64% of Independents and 59% of Democrats, disagree with both statements. Sixty-nine percent of whites, as well as 74% of Hispanics and 53% of African Americans, disagree with both statements. Sixty-nine percent of married adults disagree with both statements, as do three-fifths (61%) of single adults. Adults who have children in the home (68%) are more likely to disagree with both statements than those who do not have children (56%).

Morality in Media president Robert Peters had the following comments:

"There is a perception held by many that hardcore adult pornography has become acceptable in American society. But the perception is false. This is not to say that there isn't a market for hardcore adult pornography. There is. But what primarily fuels the market is sexual addiction, not casual viewing. Furthermore, just because a person experiments with this material or on occasion succumbs to the temptation to view it does not mean he approves of what is viewed or of all pornography, especially when online hardcore adult pornographers often promote their products aggressively and deceptively.

"In Hamling v. United States, the Supreme Court recognized that the mere fact that hardcore adult pornographic materials are available in the nation or in a community does not 'make them witnesses of virtue' or prove that similar materials at issue in a criminal obscenity trial are acceptable under community standards and therefore legal to disseminate.

"In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court also stated: 'This much has been categorically settled by the Court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.' The Miller Court went on to define 'obscene' in a manner intended to restrict the reach of obscenity laws to 'hard-core' pornography. Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially is 'hardcore.'

"It is unfortunate that so little has been done at the Federal level to curb distribution of hardcore adult pornography. Under President Clinton, the Justice Department turned its back to the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet. Under President Bush, the Justice Department said the right things but failed to implement policies to get the job done. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will enforce federal obscenity laws.

"It is also unfortunate that there is a growing gap between men and women when it comes to the subject of hardcore adult pornography. But for whatever reasons, males of all ages appear to be more vulnerable to hardcore adult pornography's siren-like allure and corrupting influences than are females.

"Those harmed by the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography include women (many of whom are still in their teens) who 'perform' in this material, individuals of all ages who become addicted to this material, women whose husbands are addicted to this material, women who are raped, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by males addicted to this material, children sexually abused by men who use this material to arouse themselves and to groom their victims, children sexually assaulted by other children who act out what they have viewed in this material, and females trafficked into prostitution to gratify the sexual desires of men who act out what they have viewed in this material."

Methodology: This study was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Morality in Media between October 21 and October 25, 2009 among 1,005 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older). For full results, please contact Robert Peters.

About Harris Interactive: Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit

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