GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum both signed a candidate pledge by the influential social conservative group THE FAMiLY LEADER which ThinkProgress, ABC, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, Slate, and numerous other news outlets read to call for a blanket ban on all pornography.
The pledge’s language lumps “all forms of pornography” in with a list of items that a candidate is asked to oppose. Specifically, here’s what the language commits a candidate to:
Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy — our next generation of American children — from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.
THE FAMiLY LEADER’s head Bob Vander Plaats has reacted to the growing controversy about his pledge by backing away from its plain meaning. Today, he claimed, “We are not calling for a nationwide band [sic] on pornography,” and that the pledge is really intended “to imply opposition to women being forced into pornography or prostitution.”
Although Mr. Vander Plaats’ interpretation of his pledge’s language is not consistent with the text as written, we accept that Vander Plaats now believes that his organization was merely calling for a ban on forced participation in pornography and not a ban on all pornography. It is unclear whether Bachmann and Santorum share Vander Plaats’ idiosyncratic reading of this language, or if they believed they were endorsing a ban on all pornography.