'On Monday of this week in the San Diego Schools, at Pershing Middle School, where my daughter attends, I had to go and file a sexual harassment complaint against children who were harassing my daughter, and for the first time in my life I felt absolutely helpless to deal with something that my daughter had been struggling with for almost four and a half months." The distraught father was talking to more than 300 hushed listeners. He went on to say that he had gone to the school and met with his 12-year-old daughter's teacher. The two started looking through textbooks used each day by the students.
"After about five minutes we found, written in a textbook, a very extensive statement pretending to be the handwriting of my daughter, in the name of my daughter, soliciting her own sexual assault," the father told the crowd gathered last May in the ballroom of the Paradise Point Resort in Mission Bay. "And yesterday, the vice principal informed us that they had identified the boy who had written that in the book and disciplinary proceedings were proceeding with the school police and that he had acknowledged that he had written what I would describe as one of the most graphic descriptions of a rape of a child that I could possibly imagine involving my 12-year-old daughter and I have absolutely no doubt at all that that boy, age 12, had to have been impacted profoundly by the impact of sexually explicit images in his life."
The speaker was San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn, and it was not the first time he had told a crowd about his personal life to sway them into action against pornography. On September 23 last year, at the Marriott Hotel in Mission Valley, Gwinn was the featured speaker for the first public meeting of Citizens for Community Values in San Diego (CCV), a year-and-a-half-old anti-pornography group. One-hundred twenty-five people paid $25 apiece to hear Gwinn's topic: "Why Pornography Isn't Harmless Entertainment: The Challenge Facing San Diego." Gwinn told the crowd about an unnamed friend who, after watching soft-core pornography on cable TV, ended up in a treacherous slide down a slippery slope that cost him his marriage.
"About two years ago I had a very dear friend that began to share with me the impact of pornography on his own marriage relationship as he and his wife were separated and were in counseling and he disclosed to me a number of sexual relations that he had outside his marriage relationship, and I initially didn't connect it to pornography because I was up here thinking, 'This is simply about sexual violence and a criminal issue; it is really not about the issue of relationship,'" Gwinn said. "And as he began to share with me, that the beginning of his fantasies about having a sexual relationship outside of marriage started with pornography, it started with watching cable-access channels at 11 o'clock at night.
"It started with fantasies about it and then ordering videotapes, going to adult bookstores and viewing videos in peep-show booths over a period of about a year and a half until finally he had the opportunity, and he chose to take the opportunity, to be unfaithful to his wife, and once he had done it once, it became easier the second time and the third time, and he literally destroyed his marriage relationship over a period of about three and a half years," Gwinn said.
He later talked about his own struggle.
"There is a great deal of repentance in this that is necessary for all of us, me included, because I, too, am subject to those images everywhere I go. Any businessman or businesswoman in this room knows that when you are in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere, halfway across America, you are subjected to all kinds of temptation of all kinds that can impact your life profoundly, and by the grace of God many of us have been delivered from it and others have succumbed to it."
Gwinn told the group that to fight pornography, they would need to raise money.
"The campaign that we are envisioning over the next five years in San Diego is $1.6 million," he said at the May 27 event.
"Irrespective of your faith, I believe you are here for a divine appointment. We stand together in that. I am a Christian, but I stand with the Nation of Islam tonight, I stand with the Roman-Catholic church tonight and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Presbyterians and St. Stephens and on and on. We stand together, not because people of all faiths will turn this around, in and of ourselves, but because in a society that has rejected absolutes, we as people of faith must redefine absolutes so that we can then go out to the entire community and say there is right and there is wrong, and there are consequences for choosing to ignore right and wrong, consequences that impact all of us profoundly."
The CCV is a spin-off of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (NCPCF), a Cincinnati, Ohio-based anti-pornography group. Founder Jerry Kirk, former chairman and current co-chair of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) and an ex-Presbyterian minister, established the national coalition in 1983.
According to the CCV's first newsletter, it "networks" with Focus on the Family, a conservative religious organization based in Colorado Springs famous for its battle with Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
The list of behavior deemed unacceptable by the national group and its local chapters are broad. Five years ago the Citizens for Community Values of Cincinnati started monitoring how schools teach AIDS awareness and watching for a "homosexual agenda" among members of its city council and school board, according to a February 15, 1994, story in the Columbus Dispatch.
The group gained a national reputation in 1990 when it asked the Hamilton County prosecutor to investigate obscenity: a Contemporary Arts Center's exhibit of 170 Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, many depicting homosexual or sadomasochistic acts. The prosecutor's investigation led to obscenity charges against the director of the center. The director was acquitted, but Phil Burress, president of the Cincinnati group, told the Columbia Dispatch the attack was a victory for families because "nothing like Mapplethorpe has dared come to town since," he said.