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October 24, 2016

Editorial: #NoProp60

This article ran in AVN magazine's October 2016 issue as part of a cover package exploring the war on porn. See the digital edition here. Hi, fellow adult industry members, and especially those company owners that I’ve been pleased to know during my 33 years in the business. I recently returned from the Values Voter Summit, perhaps the largest gathering in the United States of right-wing movers and shakers, and the poor schmucks who hang on their every word. And guess what? After hearing conservative politician after conservative preacher after conservative lawyer talk about how important the November election will be, I became more and more convinced that if these voters have their way and Donald Trump wins the presidency, you’ll be able to kiss representative democracy goodbye—and, of course, the adult industry along with it. But in California we can kiss the adult industry goodbye even more easily by passing Proposition 60, turning Michael Weinstein into the porn overlord and making it possible for this state’s own poor schmucks to sue all of your industry asses into the poor house. And all you have to do for this to happen is ... DO NOTHING!!! In other words, don’t donate one red cent to Californians Against Worker Harassment’s “No On 60” campaign, especially if it means cutting a day or two off your vacation, having fewer drinks with dinner, or forgoing the heated seat option in your new car. You want to know the exact moment when that all was made clear to me? It was when I heard Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the conservative/religious law firm First Liberty Institute, tell the crowd of about 2,000 that, “For every $10,000 we spend [on legal cases], we get $60,000 donated.” Now, first of all, understand what First Liberty does: They go around the country, and whenever some baker or florist or photographer decides he (or she) is too Fundamentally Christian to bake a special cake, arrange flowers or take pictures at a same-sex wedding, and therefore gets sued for sexual discrimination, First Liberty is there to take their case—for free! Compare that to the fact that if Prop 60 were to pass, every asshole in California who has a hissy fit about porn and every money-grubber looking for an easy buck will be able, if Cal/OSHA doesn’t act (or doesn’t act quickly enough), to sue anyone who makes even one dollar from a XXX production, be it DVD, webcast, camgirl or whatever. And it’s taxpayers (that’s you!) who will be paying ALL of the court costs associated with those lawsuits. The VVS also gave me new appreciation for the political skills of Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Aside from sharing certain personality traits that some have characterized as megalomaniacal, Trump and Weinstein also share the ability to sway voters with arguments that are based in emotion rather than fact. And like First Liberty and other right-wing organizations, AIDS Healthcare Foundation has plenty of money to spend—and Weinstein is more than willing to use these funds as a weapon to bully his opponents. Trump’s campaign is filled with religious wingers, starting at the top with his VP pick, Mike Pence, who as governor of Indiana has made it his mission to stamp out abortion access and LGBT rights in that state—and rest assured, when he says “Jump,” all the fundamentalist voters say, “How high?” Those voters won’t be reading critical coverage in the media of Trump’s policies, his past and even his basic character. Instead, they’ll vote the party line. Weinstein, on the other hand, relies on his own “basket of deplorables” to manipulate California voters into thinking that a vote for Proposition 60 will somehow benefit adult performers and safeguard public health. Among these are his staff—one of whom, Whitney Engeran-Cordova, recently filed a false complaint claiming that the ‘No on 60’ Committee had accepted foreign donations—as well as his cronies in academia and government (Peter Kerndt, Paula Tavrow, Jeffrey Klausner among them), plus all the former porn stars he trots out at press conferences. As with the coverage of the Trump campaign nationally, many newspapers and non-profit organizations have been critical of Proposition 60, and their voices are vital to helping sway voters. In addition to the leadership of both the California Republican Party and the California Democratic party, other high-profile entities have voiced opposition to Proposition 60, among them Equality California, the L.A. Commission on HIV, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, ESPLERP, and AIDS Project Los Angeles. Major papers have editorialized against the proposition, including the Sacramento Bee and Fresno Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and San Diego Union-Tribune. But this opposition to a ballot measure that would drive the adult industry from the state, while heartening, will not help the outcome if voters do not hear about it. As we were going to press with this issue, an online poll conducted by the University of California and the Los Angeles Times found that 55 percent of the people surveyed were in favor of Proposition 60, while 32 percent said they opposed it (13 percent had no answer). For the adult industry to turn those numbers around, it’s time to throw our full weight behind defeating this proposition. Fortunately, the industry has an excellent leader in the fight against Prop. 60. Under the leadership of Executive Director Eric Paul Leue, the Free Speech Coalition has worked hard to influence thought leaders and the media. But they also need to reach out to individual voters—and for that they need the help of everyone in the industry. Here are just a few of the suggestions you’ll find at FreeSpeechCoalition.com. (What? You’re not a member? That’s the first step.) Some of these actions take time, some take money—but they’re all things that you can do, right now, to help keep the adult industry alive in California. • Register to vote by October 24, and VOTE NO on November 8. • Use the #NoProp60 tag on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. • Follow and RT @VoteNoProp60, @APACsocial, @FSCArmy • Utilize your websites to spread the word. (We’re talking to you, xHamster and Pornhub.) • Talk about Prop 60 with your friends, family and allies. • Volunteer your time. • Find out more at StopProp60.com. • Donate to the campaign and get others to do the same. This battle can be won, but Free Speech Coalition can’t do it alone. It’s time to put our money (and our time) where our Twitter accounts are. It’s time to stand up and be counted on.

 
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