Without hesitation, Maura Sweeney will tell you her opinion that Pinellas County is the "porno capital of the South."
People in New Orleans, or even Hillsborough County, might disagree. But it's a serious enough problem, Sweeney said, that the local chapter of Concerned Women for America, Citizens Opposed to Pornography, is starting a black-ribbon campaign for National Pornography Awareness Week from Sunday through Nov. 5. Sweeney is a spokeswoman for the local group.
A staple of the event nationwide is its white ribbon campaign. But members of Citizens Opposed to Pornography are breaking the mold and encouraging people to wearing black ribbons because, "it seemed kind of silly to wear white ribbons for such a serious problem. We chose black because of the proliferation of these businesses in Pinellas County," Sweeney said.
Pornography Awareness Week has been recognized since 1988. It is the brainchild of the New York-based Morality in Media organization. Over the years, other conservative Christian organizations like the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America have become co-sponsors.
In addition to wearing the symbolic black ribbons, members are also asking people to write to the Pinellas County Commission and urge them to strengthen and enforce the county's ordinances regarding sexually oriented businesses. Members are asking county commissioners and other elected officials to wear black ribbons as well.
"We are asking people to understand and protest the deleterious effects of pornography," Sweeney said.