Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And For An Added Pile-On.....

....I reset an earlier debate involving myself and Nina Hartley to add to the piling on of discussion on Sam Berg and her latest treachery:

The SmackDog Chronicles: Sam Berg: Stalker of Women (Especially Women Who Don't Share Her Sex Fascist Vision)

1 comment:

  1. Well, since we're dredging all this back up, there's an important point that needs making one more time, as certain government officials are once again attempting to conduct a grisly science project at the potential expense of sex workers' health. These officials are counting on the political support of people like Sam Berg and whatever guilt-stricken liberals she may be able to dragoon into assisting her.

    In the cross post, Sam quotes some testimony given to the California State Assembly's investigative commission concerning STD protection in porn during the spring of 2004. The individual whose comments she cites, BTW, was not a performer but rather an "agent" out to sell the legislature on a state-sanctioned, for-profit testing and tracing system that would have replaced the sex-worker-initiated-and-operated service AIM provides now as it has for the past decade.
    Said agent, finding no support in the performer community for her scheme, has since grazed on to greener pastures.

    In fact, not a single performer testified in favor of government-enforced condom use in porn production, which both Nina and AIM's co-founder Dr. Sharon Mitchell, testified against, and for a variety of very good reasons.

    The testimony is public record and I'd suggest anybody interested in who actually said what to give it a read. It's quite enlightening as to the potential risks of the the type of governmental "safety"regulation under discussion at the time.

    The salient point of resistance to what might at first glance appear a reasonable enough application of governmental scrutiny lies in the structure of California law.

    Cal-OSHA, the agency charged with enforcing workplace hazard mitigation, has direct jurisdiction only over those workers formally classified as employees. Right now, most porn performers work as independent contractors and aren't subject to Cal-OSHA's supervision.

    In order for them to become eligible for that supervision and whatever protections it might afford, they would have to be re-classified as employees of all producers for whom they may work, even for as little as a few hours in their entire careers.

    For a number of years, California law has forbidden employers to require HIV testing or the disclosure of an individual's immune status as a condition of emloyment. In other words, if such a mass reclassification were to occur, producers would be forbidden to require HIV tests before allowing performers to work, as is now the universal voluntary standard in the industry. An employer's refusal to knowingly allow an HIV infected performer to work with an uninfected partner would constitute job descrimination and subject said producer to substantial penalties.

    A fellow performer refusing to work with a partner whose HIV status was unknown, in questioin or sero-positive, would be the one fired while the sero-positive performer would be allowed to work.

    At the hearing in question, a representative from the California branch of the ACLU made it very clear her organization would vigorously oppose any effort to exempt the porn business from the existing anti-discrimination standards applied in all other industries, and cautioned that it had successfully resisted such circumstantial challenges in the past.

    Much as I would like to see increased condom use in porn and have fought for that goal for years, I can say with absolute cetainty that no HIV- performer would choose to work with an HIV+ performer, condoms or no. Barrier protection, at its most rigorous, is still far riskier than working with an uninfected partner. I don't think you'll find any qualified physician who will say otherwise.

    And yet, absurd as it seems, under the statutes of the state of California, it comes down to this brutal choice: universal testing or universal condom use. We cannot legally require both.

    That's why everyone connected with AIM, and the overwhelming majority of the performing community opposed and continues to oppose legislated condom use that would require the reclassification of performers as employees. It's a very, very dangerous idea that a few public health officials with hidden prohibitionist agendas have foisted on some gullible civiliians who have no idea of the eventual cost that would certainly be paid in the health of sex workers.

    I am a co-founder of AIM and served seven terms as chairman of its board of directors. We have never claimed to provide absolute protection against HIV or any other STD to the community we serve. However, in our ten years of operation we have performed nearly 100,000 tests and there have been a total of three industry-related cases of HIV transmission during that period. This is a safety record no government-sponsored STD prevention program can match.

    Those who favor a grand scheme to restructure our existing hazard mitigation protocols by government fiat are gambling with the lives sex workers. I oppose this. Nina opposes this. We will always oppose a forced choice between condoms and testing when we believe the optimal solution is clearly both.