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November 17, 2015

It's Not Too Soon Before the 2016 Election to Talk About Porn, Is It?

JESUSLAND—For those of you who've watched the Republican presidential debates so far, didn't you get the sinking feeling that something was missing? Sure, things like cutting Social Security benefits, repealing the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), keeping the minimum wage at $7.25/hour, abolishing the IRS, making sure everybody can get (and keep) as many guns as they want, making abortion illegal again, defunding Planned Parenthood and figuring out how to make same-sex marriage illegal again are all important topics—but how about porn?!?!? Fortunately, the "good" folks at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) (formerly Morality in Media) are on top of that issue. In fact, they've composed a cute little questionaire that they'd like all the presidential candidates—even Democrats!—to answer so the Right-Wing NutJob (RWNJ) segment of the public can get a better idea of the most censorship-minded candidate to support in the primaries, and even the national election a year from now. There are only ten questions, so it's pretty simple—but they probably actually only need one: "Will you promise to scrub (with lye) every bookstore, video store, 'love boutique,' magazine rack and the World Wide Web of its pornography, and imprison anyone who's ever created, sold, posted, owned or looked at a sexually explicit (including simple nudity) DVD, book, magazine, photo or Web page?" (That should decrease the size of the electorate pretty significantly!) (Including some of the candidates themselves!) But for some reason, NCOSE has decided it needs to parse its request for information a little bit more, so here's the full list, with commentary, of the questions they'd undoubtedly like the moderators of the next Republican debate to ask each candidate—and which NCOSE themselves will be asking through e- and snail-mail: 1) "If elected president will your administration redirect research resources to determine all factors contributing to sex trafficking, as well as allocate the law enforcement resources necessary to aggressively combat the demand for commercial sex?" Comment: Hopefully, those "factors" to be "determined" will include America's insane prostitution laws, which prevent women (and men) who choose prostitution from reporting abusive pimps and clients to police; laws which make certain addictive drugs illegal and therefore so expensive that people will rent (not "sell"!) their bodies for sex to support their habits; outdated religious ideas of "staying pure until marriage" that cause teens (and younger!) to sneak around to have sex, often with no protection against STIs and/or pregnancy, because their parents would disown them if they found out; and comprehensive sex education classes in public schools that show kids that sex can be fun and pleasurable if they choose the right partner and take the proper precautions? (And of course, as we all know, thanks to NCOSE, one of the prime causes of a "demand for commercial sex" is pornography—which, of course, is in itself a form of "commercial sex"!) 2) "If elected president will you ensure the continuation of National Security Presidential Directive-22 preserving the federal government’s abolitionist approach to combating sex trafficking?" Comment: Gosh, we'd forgotten about that relic from the early W era, the full text of which can be found here. We mean, who even remembers a "Cabinet-level Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons"? Was it ever even created? (Let's face it: if Cheney and Rumsfeld weren't on board with it, it probably never happened during W's tenure—but apparently has since.) And as for, "According to some estimates, each year at least 700,000 and possibly as many as 4 million people, primarily women and children, are trafficked around the world, including thousands into the United States," estimates from people who actually know something about human trafficking put the numbers at far less. For example, the Federation of American Scientists, in a 2013 report, found that a total of 17,500 people were trafficked in the U.S. in 2004, the year after Directive 22 was published, and that the vast majority of those people were trafficked for "domestic servitude, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care, [and] hair and nail salons"—and none in the adult movie business, though some were caught dancing at strip clubs. 3) "If elected president will you nominate to the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Trafficking in Persons at the U. S. Department of State an individual who is committed to combating all forms of human trafficking (sex and labor trafficking), who will emphasize the role of demand for commercial sex in the sex trafficking phenomenon, and who will vigorously support National Security Presidential Directive-22?" Comment: As we noted above, sex trafficking in the U.S. is practically non-existent, though there are undoubtedly some underage boys and girls who begin hooking on their own to earn extra money—but we can't help but suspect that when MiM NCOSE talks about "demand for commercial sex in the sex trafficking phenomenon," they're really talking about trafficked men and women in porn—which, in the U.S. adult movie (and likely also the Web content) industry is non-existent. Also, seems that the current "Ambassador-at-Large for Trafficking in Persons" is former Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Coppedge of Georgia, appointed by President Obama last month(!)—so of course, MiM NCOSE will want a change, because how could anyone appointed by Obama really want to fight trafficking? 4) "If elected president will you support the efforts of the National Association of Attorneys General in their call for Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which, as some courts interpret, allows companies such as Backpage.com to profit from the child and adult sex trade?" Comment: Oh, yeah; we forgot: Republicans are all about supporting U.S. businesses—unless, of course, they have anything at all to do with sex! Trouble is, the vast majority of people placing ads for "adult services" on Backpage.com, Craig's List and similar spaces are people who, in just about any other business, would be considered entrepreneurs: People who create their own business models and then apply their own intellect and sweat to make a success of them. There'd be no problem if NCOSE had limited their call to investigation of minors selling sex, but being incredibly reliigously hung up on anything to do with sex (as was Congress when it passed the CDA), NCOSE wants to target even adults who know exactly what services they're advertising and are doing it of their own free will. 5) "If elected president will you direct the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to undertake a major effort to abate the effects of pornography addiction?" Comment: Ah, now we get to the good stuff: PORNOGRAPHY!!! And after all, why would NCOSE let a little thing like the fact that there is no such thing as pornography addiction get in the way of its politicking? Now, there is "obsessive compulsive disorder" (OCD), which causes the sufferer to obsess over some specific person or thing. For some, it's compulsive hand-washing; for others, it's the inability to walk on a sidewalk without stepping on each crack (or on no cracks at all)—and for others, it's surfing the internet for sexual content. Psychology Today defines OCD as "an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety. A person's level of OCD can be anywhere from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, it can destroy a person's capacity to function at work, at school or even to lead a comfortable existence in the home." (Gee; sort of like how NCOSE spends so much of its time trying to get rid of porn!) 6) "If elected president will you direct the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously enforce federal obscenity laws, which prohibit distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, and by common carrier[?]" Comment: Morality in Media was formed in 1962, and it's pretty clear that time moves a lot slower for them than it does for most of the rest of the population. See, over the past 40+ years, most people have come to realize that even if they themselves may not want to look at people having sex, other people do, and Americans generally being "live and let live" types (except, of course, religious fundamentalists like NCOSE supporters), the number of obscenity prosecutions over the past decade or so have nose-dived. There have been few local obscenity prosecutions, mostly in conservative areas—Polk County, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and a couple of others made the grade there; the vast majority have been based on FBI stings—of Max Hardcore, Evil Angel, Rob Black, Barry Goldman (who?), James Schaeffer and Jeffrey Killbride, JM Productions, Adult DVD Empire... even Ira Isaacs, whose material was substantially different than that released by those other defendants. The point is, the vast majority of Americans now understand that wanting to see how other people have sex is pretty natural, and they don't want to see the people who make that sexually explicit content thrown in the hoosegow. Crazy religionists and RWNJs do. 7) "Internet service providers in the United Kingdom block pornography to user accounts unless users specifically opt in to receive pornography. If elected president will you use your leadership position to encourage U. S. Internet service providers to adopt the UK “opt in” model and thus protect children and families from unwanted pornography?" Comment: Oooh; sorry to report, NCOSE, but the European Parliament has ruled that UK Prime Minister David Cameron's edict that ISPs have to block porn automatically until the user decides to "opt in" is illegal (though Cameron has announced that he intends to try to thwart that edict and keep forcing Britains to make that embarrassing phone call). Of course, in the United States of America, we have this thing called the "First Amendment," and since "pornography" is one of the categories of speech that the Supreme Court is willing to defend, an edict from a Republican U.S. president (because, of course, no Democrat would be that stupid) would run afoul of that First Amendment pretty quickly. Beyond that, there are plenty of religiously-based ISPs and filtering programs out there that if a person really wants to avoid all porn showing up on his/her computer, it's pretty easy to subscribe and voilà: No more porn! 8) "If elected president will you insist that the FCC vigorously enforce the federal indecency law designed to protect children from damaging sexual content and appoint commissioners committed to fulfilling this mission?" Comment: "Damaging sexual content"—that's pretty funny! They say that as if it were actually possible for a person to be "damaged" by seeing a bare tit or cock, hearing someone say "shit" or "fuck," or watching "reality show" contestants walking around naked except for their genitals being obscured by computer masking. Apparently, NCOSE still has a problem with the fact that real people use real vulgarity (and occasionally profanity) in their personal lives—even sometimes when they're interviewed on TV. So whether it's Nicole Richie asking exasperatedly/rhetorically, "Does anybody know how hard it is to get cowshit out of a Prada purse? It's not so fucking simple," or Cher saying "Fuck 'em" to critics of her music, or Bono exclaiming, "Fucking brilliant!" after receiving a Billboard Music award, NCOSE is against it—"it" being "human nature." And rest assured, NCOSE definitely wants a candidate who will target human nature through his (we're pretty sure they can't imagine a woman president) appointments, just like all the other conservative politicians have done. 9) "A federal statute (18 U.S.C. §2259) requires that, in child sexual exploitation cases, a defendant must pay restitution for 'the full amount of the victim's losses.' That works for crimes in which a defendant directly causes specific harm to a victim, but child pornography crimes are different. 'Amy' and 'Vicky' are the victims in two of the most widely-distributed child pornography series in the world. On April 23, 2014, in Paroline v. United States, which reviewed Amy's case, the Supreme Court found that the existing restitution statute is not suited for cases like theirs. The Amy and Vicky Act creates a restitution process for victims of child pornography. If elected president will your administration encourage Congress to pass this bill as quickly as possible so that you can sign it into law?" Comment: This might seem like one of the more innocuous questions NCOSE would ask, since it wouldn't have any significant impact on the adult entertainment industry, but generally speaking, this whole concept of "child porn victim restitution" is a major can of worms. For instance, kid porn victim "Amy Unknown" (as she's usually referred to) has already received about $1.8 million from 182 child porn defendants, one of whom contributed $1.2 million but most of whom were assessed figures between $1,000 and $530,000—and her uncle, who made the porn in the first place, put in $6,000 and had to spend a decade in the clink. It's not known how much Vicky Unknown, a similar victim, has received. Interestingly, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015, which would clarify that child porn victims can collect every penny they can squeeze out of anybody who's ever downloaded one of their photos, passed the U.S. Senate in January, but as of March, the House had done nothing with it, preferring to spend its time demonizing Obamacare, blasting the IRS for doing its job in denying tax-exempt status to activist political groups, harassing Hillary Clinton on Benghazi and her emails, and other valuable endeavors. 10) "If elected president will your Departments of Justice and State give guidance to the U.S. states and foreign governments advising against the full decriminalization of prostitution and against the normalization of prostitution as 'sex work'?" Comment: Understanding that most people don't give a fuck about porn, Morality in Media changed its name to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, at least in part because fighting prostitution and "sex trafficking" is where the Big Money is these days—so of course, they were a little upset that Amnesty International, the international human rights group, voted to support decriminalization of that sort of employment, recognizing that "sex work" is work—something that post-worldwide-recession populations are more and more turning to. Understand, in 2003, the W administration put a rule in place that any agency or group receiving federal funding for international HIV/AIDS prevention or similar sex-related services was required to affirm that it would oppose both prostitution and sex trafficking. Calling "bullshit" on that, several organizations sued the federal government, charging that the requirement violated their First Amendment speech rights—and in June of 2013, the Supreme Court agreed. NCOSE would dearly love to try to reverse that decision through legislation or even presidential edict. The simple fact is, prostitution is a job like most others, and the people who practice (or have practiced) that art come from pretty much all walks of life: actresses, attorneys, housewives, clergy, musicians, clerks, secretaries, court reporters... the list goes on. But NCOSE would like to throw all those folks in prison simply for bringing a little pleasure into their clients' otherwise all-too-often drab lives. "Killjoy" barely begins to cover it. Anyway, the full list of questions NCOSE intends to pose can be found here. And rest assured, since Republicans have nothing else of substance to run on in the coming year, expect to see a lot more anti-porn/anti-sex work pandering to groups like NCOSE as the right-wing "pretenders to the throne" see the general public rejecting more and more of their heartless ideology.

 
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