Well, well. That didn't take long.
After the possible applicability of federal statute 18 U.S.C. 2257 to the vicious lies and callous exploitation of Stop Porn Culture!'s slide show, previously available at the click of a mouse to anyone with internet access regardless of age or identity, became widespread on various blogs, the fearless perpetrators of this agit-prop monstrosity appear to have discovered the importance of firewalls.
As we've previously pointed out here before, the presentation as offered on SPC's web site carried no age warning, disclaimer or keeper of records information as required by federal law for all publicly disseminated sexually explicit images, despite the fact that 38 of its 140 slides displayed such images, comprising a total of 88 instances of blatant non-compliance. Under the provisions of the statute, each instance of such non-compliance is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, for a total of 440 years accruing to the creators of this dog-and-pony show if convicted.
Since this issue was raised, Stop Porn Culture!'s noisy claque has been all over the web, including here, offering lame excuses for their illegal behavior, and predictably counter-attacking with accusations of censorship and silencing. Those of us who took the position that federal law should apply equally to all never suggested that Stop Porn Culture! cease offering its program or stating its opinions. We merely proposed that they either bring their presentation into conformity with the same standards imposed on lawful pornographers by obtaining documentation certifying that the images shown were of adults over the age of 18 who had given consent for the use of their likenesses, and disclosing where and by whom such records were kept, or remove only the non-compliant images in question, leaving two thirds of the existing presentation untouched.
Nevertheless, the Usual Suspects have insisted that Stop Porn Culture! enjoys some special dispensation to proffer the sexually explicit images of X-rated entertainers in a false and derogatory light, exploiting those performers for the grand purpose of helping, as SPC co-founder Gail Dines put it, "destroy the sex industry," and with it the livelihoods of all sex performers. They've tried, as always, to make it all about the actions of others while taking no responsibility for their own. As I've suggested elsewhere, if they had chosen to openly and admittedly defy federal law by making this show of which they are so proud available to one and all as an act of civil disobedience and accepted the legal consequences that might have ensued, they would at least have demonstrated the courage of their convictions, literally and figuratively. Instead, they've engaged in all manner of legalistic nit-picking and pettifoggery to get around the possible liabilities to which they have been exposing themselves.
Evidently, genuine civil disobedience requires a courage they lack. After whatever internal or external consultations among themselves or with their attorneys, the organizers of SPC have erected rudimentary firewalls around access to the stolen images still included in the presentation, which is now accessible by download only after the individual attempting to obtain it has contacted the site administrators and been issued a password. The shortened version previously offered in the clear with a simple tap of the mouse has been replaced by a short statement reading: "The slideshow has been temporarily taken offline. We apologize for any inconvenience."
They have a lot more to apologize for than that, including the libelous abuse of known performers who appear in the show and the small but not insignificant possibility that they may, by hijacking sexually explicit material of unknown origins for which they had no documentation, have displayed images of minors or images obtained by non-consensual means, and increased the likelihood of such images being shown to minors by posting the program without proper warnings on their web site and showing it on college campuses to audiences whose ages they have not bothered to verify on entry.
That these professional anti-porn activists, who make good livings off their writing, speaking and teaching activities toward the suppression of freedom of expression would choose to go underground with their despicable propaganda is hardly surprising. They have a lot to lose by risking the kinds of criminal sanctions pornographers must contemplate every day on the job. That, unlike lawful pornographers, Stop Porn Culture! can't comply with the the requirements of 2257 because they've stolen the copyrighted material they employ, has clearly put their own freedom in jeopardy, as opposed to merely jeopardizing the freedoms of consenting adults as they would prefer to do. That, it would seem, has given them some pause.
For this, every responsible citizen should be grateful. Not just those who believe sexually explicit entertainment made by and for consenting adults should remain available to those who may legally possess it, but everyone who cares that ONLY consenting adults should be involved in either the creation or consumption of such materials can feel some relief at the removal of this irresponsible display from a site readily viewed by minors. That is all well and good.
But it is no cause for celebration or complacency. Rest assured that the SPC slide show will continue to be distributed and shown wherever, whenever and to whomever its creators can put it on, so long as doing so exposes them to no possible repercussions. They will now go one propagating their falsehoods just as illegally in whatever situations seem adequately protected for their purposes.
Which is why the campaign to make Stop Porn Culture! obey the law must not end here. Those non-compliant images, and the individuals harmed by them, will remain in circulation until the presenters are called to account. They can and should be obliged to produce the required documentation by any group or institution where the presentation is offered before it is shown, and if that documentation cannot be produced, the images must either be removed or the presentation prevented.
The choice is stark and simple: make your case legally or accept the consequences. The show may have been temporarily concealed from casual viewing by the general public, but its continued circulation in its present form remains entirely illicit and should not be permitted until minimal legal standards are met. The task of holding anti-porn activists to the same legal restrictions imposed on pornographers falls to every citizen who believes in equal treatment under the law.
This isn't over yet. Not be a long shot. Still to be heard from are the known performers defamed in this vile spectacle, who have a unique, direct and personal interest in this misuse of their images, as do the legal producers and owners of the content that can be identified. And at future campus showings and other public offerings of this scurrilous and shameful example of hate speech, the organizers should be confronted and law enforcement officials made aware.
No one in this society, whatever justification is offered, stands above the law. Pornographers recognize this. Their opponents must be made to do the same.