1983 December 30

Minneapolis Mayor Vetoes Anti-pornography Ordinance


Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser on this day vetoed an ordinance establishing pornography as a civil rights violation. (He would veto a similar ordinance in 1984). The idea for such an ordinance was developed and promoted by anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. On May 1, 1984, Indianapolis would pass such an ordinance. The law allowed people who believed they were victims of pornography to file civil suits against the producers and sellers of pornography.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Indianapolis law an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, in American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut, on August 27, 1985. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, leaving the Seventh Circuit Court decision standing.

Read: Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981)

Read the civil liberties perspective: Nadine Strossen, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights (1995)

Learn more about the feminist anti-pornography movement: Leigh Ann Wheeler, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2013)

Read the Media Coalition report on MacKinnon:  http://mediacoalition.org/files/Catharine-MacKinnon-report.pdf

Learn more about the myths and facts about pornography: Marcia Pally, Sense and Censorship: The Vanity of the Bonfires (1991), http://mediacoalition.org/files/Sense-and-Censorship.pdf

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