Tilting at Windmills: My Fight Against Email Pornography

I have been making it a point to do my part to stamp out pornographic spam for the past year. About a year ago was when my own mailbox suddenly began to manifest a rather shocking onslaught of incredibly graphic sexual images, as well as some pornographic stories obviously intended for children, such as an X-rated version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

As a single Christian woman, I am the sole user of my computer. I do not surf, I do not visit chat rooms, and I do not sign up for “free vacations” or other giveaways. However, somehow I have ended up on the receiving end of hundreds of pornographic spams. These run the gamut of perversions and often include very graphic images of the sex act.

I understand some email servers like AOL allow you to check off and delete emails before you open them, but on many servers such as Netscape, each email opens when you highlight it, and the next in que opens automatically when you delete the one you have finished. In addition, 99.9% of pornographic spams come in with headers such as: Call Me, Happy New Year, Dinner Tonight, I Haven’t Seen You Lately, From Wendy, From Pam, etc. You have to open them to see the message and then discover to your dismay it is something filthy.

My Fight Against Email Pornography

Recently I reached out to several politicians. I have both forwarded some of the email I receive and called the offices of Senator Douglas Henry, Councilman Marsha Blackburn, Jeff Miller and others to try to raise awareness and support to stop the spread of pornographic spam. While some councilmen like Jeff Miller expressed sympathy, my email was eventually blocked by the legislature because they were offended by what I was forwarding.

The Legislative Runaround

Both the receptionist and Senator Henry’s assistant Nancy were apparently somewhat shocked I would forward pornographic emails to Senator Henry. “He has nothing to do with this,” I was told by both women. The receptionist referred me to Nancy when I told her my email had been blocked from the legislature. Nancy told me that no one could remove my name from the database. She connected me to Steve, the Director of Legislative Services, who first acted like he agreed with Nancy that that a taxpayer’s name would not be removed, but when I read the message I received said he would check into it. He later called me back and told me my name HAD been removed. He said his office must have received several complaints to have removed my name. He said he would add my name back but if he got one more complaint, he would remove my name permanently.

I asked Steve what recourse I had as a taxpayer to send information on to my elected officials that was of great concern to me. He said the legislature was “sensitive” about receiving pornographic spam. I said I was “sensitive” about receiving it, too, and that I always included a personal note with my name and address before the email and that no one had to scroll further down than my note. He would only say that if he got one more complaint that he would remove my name permanently. He did say he doubted my local officials could do anything since most of the emails originated in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Then I told him that I would like a statement from him about this to run in an article about the problems I was facing keeping this problem in front of my representatives. He refused to make a statement and refused to give me his last name. He concluded with, “I do not have a solution for your problem. I would refer you back to Senator Henry’s office.”

Senator Henry’s office told me, the while Senator Henry is violently opposed to pornography and has worked against children’s pornography in the past, they have no jurisdiction over the legislative gov. “The legislature is not going to ask that man to take the block off pornography. I think your best bet is to contact Bob Clement and talk to Miss Bland or John Wood.” She told me anyone who could afford a computer could afford to have a chip installed to block pornography.

David Jennings, Assistant Director for Executive Services (744-4200), who is over professional legal, policies, internal, affairs, told me, “I think certainly its an issue especially for those who are offended by it and I think our courts have defined it as ‘I may not be able to define it but I know it when I see it.’ You may walk away and your child walks in and flips on and boom there you. People are savvy enough to slip through those screens.”

Marcia Blackburn’s office reacted much like Senator Henry’s office in their shock I would forward material to them. I was informed Marsha was not in a position to do anything as a councilperson, but I asked her office to remember my fight against pornography should she ever run for a higher office.

Bobby Petray at Eagle Forum (360-8810), stated that “Pornography helped build the internet.” She informed me that a law was passed 2 years ago to cut down on access to pornography to minors. However, she stated that if it is offshore, you can’t control it here. She said one problem those fighting against unsolicited and unwanted pornography face is, “People out there who want to wrap themselves in the Constitution and claim it is free speech and a victimless crime.” She referred me to two national organizations:

  • America Family organization in Tupelo Mississippi afa.net
  • Focus on the Family

Others I corresponded with about the issue of unsolicited and unwanted pornography in my inbox:

  • Bart Gordon 896-1986
  • Bob Clements 736-5295
  • Senator Steve Cohen from Memphis has introduced some legislation to make any type of spamming illegal. 741-4108
  • Connie Frederick – personnel issues
  • Ann Lovell ORI state policies and procedures 532-0244

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