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September 13, 2016

Politifact: ‘Adult’s Claims About Prop 60 Half-true’

CALIFORNIA – Politifact has performed what it calls an analysis of the adult entertainment industry’s claims about California’s Proposition 60, a November ballot measure seeking to mandate the use of condoms and other barrier protection when filming sexually explicit content. The right-leaning fact-checking outfit, used by media and politicos as a reference point, rated the industry’s position “half-true

Politifact’s analysis highlighted claims by Californians Against Worker Harassment, the political action committee founded by the Free Speech Coalition to oppose Prop 60. The organization’s pundits focused specifically on whether a passage in the ballot measure will open the door for California citizens to file lawsuits against producers, performers and anyone else with “financial interests” in the production of commercial adult content.

A No on Prop 60 YouTube ad, produced by the PAC, makes the argument that all adult performers and employees are in danger of being sued by the public, which ultimately will drive thousands of jobs and millions in tax money out of California.

According to Politifact, though, Prop 60 will allow “…those who witness violations of the proposed law — including performers, prosecutors or anyone who is a California resident — to file a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. If the agency declines to pursue the case within 21 days, the witness could then file a civil lawsuit against anyone with a financial interest in the film, which could include some performers.”

The Politifact item also points out the No on Prop 60 ad fails to explain to voters that lawsuits could be filed only after a complaint wasn’t resolved in a timely fashion. In addition, according to Politifact, only performers (or producers and other industry professionals) who have a “financial stake” in content are subject to lawsuits.

There is apparently no clear language in either Prop 60 itself or from Prop 60 proponents explaining exactly how “financial stake” is defined, although Yes on Prop 60’s Rick Taylor told Politifact “…the only people that can get sued are producers.” He clarified by adding that if performers also serve as producers, they “could potentially be sued.”

Both FSC Executive Director Eric Paul Leue and sociologist/author Chauntelle Tibbals, PhD, both pointed out to Politifact that a high percentage of performers in the adult industry are content producers in one way or another.

With media distribution platforms and production resources long since revolutionized by technology and the internet, it’s fair to say there’s a wide spectrum of industry professionals that financially benefit from the production and distribution of adult content, including performers, online professionals and retailers. How will the average Californian know who held a “financial stake” in the production of any particular piece of adult content?

Will California voters understand this highly nuanced issue? More importantly, is the FSC/No on Prop 60 employee-harassment argument clearly defined enough and presented strongly enough to defeat opponents who historically have used bombastic tactics to drive other (also largely ill-defined) agendas through the political system?

A Yes on Prop 60 ad also exists and its message is simple, even if its accuracy is open for debate. The ad has been airing in California, as well as on larger media outlets like CNN. Former performer Cameron Bay, who is HIV-positive and claims to have been infected while shooting an adult movie, sticks to the condom regulation argument that AIDS Healthcare Foundation has aggressively pushed for more than a decade. AHF is Prop 60’s designer and most vocal advocate.

Will voters even care? Of those who do find their way to the bottom of the ballot to vote on Prop 60, how many will understand an issue upon which California legislators seem to have given up? Or, is it more likely voters will skim Prop 60’s surface, where information like Politifact’s ratings can hold lots of influence?

In an election year like no other, few are making predictions on any major issues, like the economy, terrorism or the future of democracy. Ultra-conservative and anti-adult groups see opportunities in the chaos and increasingly pursue regulatory restrictions on behalf of public health and against adult entertainment.

Agenda-pushing and brutal campaign tactics seem to have overtaken the everyday interests of huge swathes of voters, and outrageous statements are made hourly on major issues. Will the interests of a few thousand pornographers matter to mainstream voters in California?

The industry had better hope so, because jobs and businesses are at stake.

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