We should call this week, "Social conservative week" for John McCain.
You know how they have a dedicated week of shows on Wheel of Fortune? Well, McCain has devoted yesterday and today to issues near and dear to social conservatives. Today he spoke about religious freedom, human trafficking and child pornography. We don't normally post long quotes from speeches but because these issues are VERY important to social conservatives, we will post good portions below.
The question for McCain is whether he will really work hard on these issues and spend some political capital or is this just lip service? Is it just a "to do checklist"?
You know what I mean. Just give a speech and that's good enough. What social conservatives want to see from John McCain is PASSION on these issues, not words.
That's why that even those he has a solid pro-life voting record, he hasn't stood on his political soapbox and stuck his neck out there. There's something to be said for that, and it's part of the reason why some pro-lifers are not excited about him.
Parts of the speech are below:
There is no right more fundamental to a free society than the free practice of religion. Behind walls of prisons and persecuted before our very eyes in places like China, Iran, Burma, Sudan, North Korea and Saudi Arabia are tens-of-thousands of people whose only crime is to worship God in their own way.
No society that denies religious freedom can ever rightly claim to be good in some other way. And no person can ever be true to any faith that believes in the dignity of all human life if they do not act out of concern for those whose dignity is assailed because of their faith. As President, I intend to make religious freedom a subject of great importance for the United States in our relations with other nations.
I will work in close concert with democratic allies to raise the prominence of religious freedom in every available forum. Whether in bilateral negotiations, or in various multi-national organizations to which America belongs, I will make respect for the basic principle of religious freedom a priority in international relations.
There is another form of human oppression that persists in the world today that demands our urgent attention and should sting the conscience of every good person. Inexcusably, it is a crime that, while prevalent elsewhere, exists within our own borders as well. Human trafficking - slavery, by another name - exists not just in places like Thailand, Kuwait and Venezuela. It is a serious problem here in the United States. It is a tragic reality that, two hundred years after Wilberforce won his battle to end the slave trade between Britain and the United States, and nearly 150 years after our nation ended the institution here, the practice still thrives in the dark corners of our society.
Most of the victims of human trafficking in the United States and in most other places in the world are the most vulnerable among us, destitute women and children who are sold into bondage as sex slaves. A 2004 State Department report concludes that of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children transported across international borders each year, approximately 80 percent are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. The State Department estimates that between 15,000 and 18,000 human slaves are brought into the United States, many of whom are forced into the sex trade every year.
While the past few years have seen increased efforts on the part of the State and Justice Departments and the FBI to combat the human slave trade, we must do more. As President, I'll increase cooperation and communication between all agencies of the federal government by establishing an Inter-Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking, whose purpose will be to focus exclusively on the prosecution of human traffickers and the rescue of their victims.
The Task Force will strengthen cooperation between federal officials, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure that jurisdictional issues are not a barrier to success, and that we have a coordinated international response to this scourge. I will require the Task Force agencies to report directly to me on the status of the problem and the progress we are making to defeat this stain on the reputation and character of the United States. And we will take care to show compassion for victims of this despicable crime against humanity by making sure shelter, counseling and legal assistance is available and accessible to them.
We must also do more to ensure governments that tolerate human trafficking crack down on this modern form of slavery. We can support efforts to change the economic incentives and do more to aid the victims. But we must view this evil form of twenty-first century slavery every bit as important as drug trafficking. All too often the same criminal networks that trade in fourteen-year-old girls also trade in narcotics--and even in materials that can be used by terrorists. Identifying and destroying criminal networks that evade national boundaries is also a matter of our national security.
It is also the appropriate concern of a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are equal, to encourage and coax other cultures into abandoning practices that afflict the happiness and health of women and children, whether they be practices that mutilate their bodies or impose on them marriage before their maturity and without their informed consent. I would insist that our diplomacy actively raise and discourage in our relationships with other countries customs that so degrade and physically threaten people, and explain that the full benefits of friendship with the United States are predicated on a shared respect for the basic right of women and children not to suffer atrocities to their physical and emotional health to protect traditions that should have been ended long ago.
While the Internet has brought many benefits to our society in the form of economic and educational opportunities, political organization and the free exchange of ideas, information and knowledge, there are those who exploit the very pervasiveness and anonymity the medium provides to trade to prey upon our children. I respect those who are advocates for an unregulated Internet in defense of freedom of expression.
However, the Internet cannot be used as a safe haven for criminals and predators. The home has traditionally been a safe harbor for families, where children are safe from the dangers of a world that can sometimes threaten their innocence. But with the proliferation of Internet access, come those who would rob them of their innocence through the computers we provide them to learn, to socialize and to explore the world.
Recent years have seen an explosion both in the proliferation of child pornography and in child sexual exploitation cases involving the use of the Internet and email as a means for predators to stalk and lure children. I have worked aggressively over the years to promote the safe use of the Internet and to craft legislation designed to ensure that children are secure as they use this transformative technology. Child pornography is a terrible crime involving the abuse of children and the trafficking in images of this abuse. Child exploitation in any form must be stopped and those responsible must be punished to the maximum extent of the law.
The FBI and Justice Departments, as well as state and local law enforcement, have worked aggressively in recent years to arrest and prosecute those who traffic in child pornography over the Internet, and who prey upon our children on-line or by other means. Progress has been made.
Just last month, for example, South Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster announced that the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force had arrested its one hundred and twenty first child predator. Aided with funding from the Justice Department, the South Carolina task force has made significant progress in tracking down, arresting and prosecuting child predators in South Carolina.
Such federal, state and local cooperation is a model for success that we must build on because, sadly, across our nation crimes against our children continue to rise. This is an abomination, and I am firmly resolved to fighting these crimes with all the means at our country's disposal.
As President, I will move to clear obstacles to cooperation between federal agencies and their state and local counterparts to ensure maximum cooperation in the pursuit and prosecution of child predators. At the same time, I will elevate the importance of international cooperation in our relations with other countries to ensure that criminals who traffic in images of child abuse find no haven or quarter in other countries.