Declaring that hard-core pornography should be ``pursued with a vengeance and prosecuted to the hilt,'' Attorney General Edwin Meese yesterday announced a nationwide crackdown on the $8 billion smut industry. Mr. Meese told a news conference that the targets of the campaign, which will get under way within the next 30 days, will be child pornography, and movies, magazines, or other pornographic depictions of sado-masochism and violent or degrading sexually explicit conduct.
``To a large extent, the explosion of obscenity throughout our nation is the work of organized criminal enterprises that have taken over the large-scale production and distribution of obscenity on an interstate, multi-state and even international level,'' Meese said.
The Justice Department program includes creation of a task force of federal prosecutors in Washington and establishment of an information center to assist state and local authorities in obscenity prosecutions.
Meese said legislation to be introduced next year would attack cable television programming found to be legally obscene and would seek to outlaw Dial-A-Porn telephone services that are found to be obscene. Under the legislation, anyone under age 21 would be prohibited from performing in pornographic movies.
``Victims of these crimes are plentiful -- from the children exploited and molested to the families destroyed by the sexual abuse of children and women, to the people intimidated by gangsters who line their pockets with profits from the manufacture and distribution of illegal obscenity,'' Meese said.
The Justice Department's program implements many of the recommendations issued last summer by Meese's Commission on Pornography, which found links between criminal sexual behavior and pornography depicting violence or degrading behavior toward women.