The Baltimore Sun explains:
Nothing is off limits, they warn, even soft-core cable programs such as HBO's long-running Real Sex or the adult movies widely offered in guestrooms of major hotel chains. Department officials say they will send "ripples" through an industry that has proliferated on the Internet and grown into an estimated $10 billion-a-year colossus profiting Fortune 500 corporations such as Comcast, which offers hard-core movies on a pay-per-view channel. ... It is unclear, though, just how the American public and major corporations that make money from pornography will accept the perspective of the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Ashcroft, a religious man who does not drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke, gamble or dance, and has fought unrelenting criticism that he has trod roughshod on civil liberties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, is taking on the porn industry at a time when many experts say Americans are wary about government intrusion into their lives. The Bush administration is eager to shore up its conservative base with this issue. Ashcroft held private meetings with conservative groups a year and a half ago to assure them that anti-porn efforts are a priority.
The Justice Department pursued obscenity cases vigorously in the 1970s and '80s, prosecuting not necessarily the worst offenders in terms of extreme material, but those it viewed as most responsible for pornography's proliferation. Oosterbaan said the department is employing much the same strategy this time, targeting not only some of the most egregious hard-core porn but also more conventional material, in an effort "to be as effective as possible." ... Obscenity cases came to a standstill under Janet Reno, President Bill Clinton's attorney general, who focused on child pornography, which is considered child abuse and comes under different criminal statutes.
According to one FBI agent tasked with tracking pornography, "I think we're going after the bad guys and we're making a difference." You see, according to Republican administrations (notice that these prosecutions mostly stopped under Clinton), people who sell sex are the "bad guys." It doesn't matter if they sell really hard-core stuff or light fluff - what counts is whether their activities contribute to the pervasiveness of pornography in society.
What does that mean? It means that pornography per se is what is evil. There is no distinction between "acceptable" material and material that goes "over the line." Anything sexually explicit is unacceptable. Anything sexually explicit must be stopped - for our own good. We need to be protected from the imminent threat of pornography just like we needed to be protected from the imminent threat of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Who knows, maybe pornography is the new Al Queda weapon to undermine a godless America!