Sunday, December 21, 2008

His Vorpal Sword Rakes New 2257 Rules

In case you haven't heard (and you probably haven't due to all the fire being thrown over those OTHER set of regulations that the Bushies just released concerning the "conscience" rights of fundie health care workers to deny reproductive and sexual health services based upon their religious "objections"), the Bushies have also managed to release finally their revisions of the 2257 regulations regarding age notification of persons performing in sexually oriented media.

Needless to say, from a sexually progressive standpoint, these new rules are, if anything, worse than the original....and serve the basic purpose of essentually using paperwork to drive the porn industry out of existence.

I'm sure that there will be more info out on the reaction to these new rules (and I'm guessing that Ernest will have a word or ten thousand to say on this, too....but I discovered this morning an online essay posted to a blog called his vorpal sword that pretty much nails the motivations behind both the 2257 and the "medical conscience" regulations to the point: as the latest bomb in the antisex/morality wars.

It's such an awesome essay that to merely quote snippets would do it no I'll just offer the link and ask you to go there and read it for yourself.

his vorpal sword: Death-O-Rama, or, Porn Free

The essayist even mines the recent passing of the original "Deep Throat", the Linda Lovelace movie of the same name, Traci Lords, and the passing of Bettie Page, and some history of the Sex Wars. All in all, a complete and thorough dissection of the antisex morality.


  1. Actually, I'm still wading through the labyrinthine provisions of this lastest version of the ever more bizarre 2257 regs, trying to figure out what they really mean. If you really want to know how not of this world they are, check out the public comments apendices for some truly Orwellian thinking.

    For example, one commenter dared to raise the question of "sadistic or masochistic abuse" as stated in the language of the document to be among the acts depicted that require the work as a whole to be 2257 compliant by suggesting that BDSM wasn't synonymous with abuse could all depictions of it therefore require full compliance. The government rejected the comment on the grounds that allowing producers to determine what constituted "abuse" would open the way to exploitation of children, which is what this law is ostensibly meant to prevent.

    Huh? What has BDSM between consenting adults got to do with child exploitation?

    The entire document is full of murky logic of this type and frankly, I don't think it's anything more than a last ditch attempt by Bush and his pals to annoy us on more time before leaving.

    I suspect these regs, like a lot of other junk his regime has tried to jam through at the last minute, will be undone, at least to some extent, by the incoming administration. I'm pretty sure there will be a negoitated settlement of the F.S.C..' s litigation that resulted in the injunction agains the enforcement of the last set of whack-o standards the D.O.J. attempted to impose and that what will remain will be something much like the original standards set by the legislation Contress actually passed in creating 2257. Of course, some new restrictions wil be written in for the Internet, which didn't exist when the law was passed, but by then everyone on both sides will be so relieved to have this charade over they'll agree to whatever out of sheer exhaustion.

    This is not the worst outcome, but it isn't the best. The fundamental problem with 2257, as Sword make plain, is that it alone among all federal laws presumes guilt even before an arrest has been made and places the burden of proof on a potential offender to prove his innocence in order to prevent such arrest. That is not due process and it never was. Bush and his buddies made it worse, but it was wrong from its inception in this regard.

    No other licit industry in this country is required to maintain detailed records rising to the standard of criminal court evidence to demonstrate that it is not committing a crime.

    And though I'm sure a lot of folks who voted for Obama hope this kind of nonsense would go away under his presidency, they clearly weren't paying attention. As the Rick Warren affair underscores, Obama is somewhat liberal on economic issues and foreign policy, but he is a social conservative and he'll be, as I've been saying for many months now, no friend to people like us. He may not be for throwing us all in jail tomorrow, but he's not going to be supportive of our rights in any visible manner. He's a DLC Democrat much like the Clintonites with whom he's surrounded himself and it was under Clinton that 2257 was enacted.

    I'll have more to say when I'm finally done figuring out what this thing says, but in the end, as these rules will be further amended before long, this latest batch of legalese is only as meanignful as whatever will to enforce does or does not exist on the part of the executive branch.

    That's what I'm really waiting to see, and I don't expect to to be pleased when I do.

    Of one thing I am sure. Whatever the new regs end up being, they stil won't exempt exploitative uses of sexually explicit material outside the record-keeping requirements by self-styled "documentarians" pushing a specific political line in regard to porn, whether for or against.

    In other words, however this thing goes down, TPoP and the SPC slide show will still be violations of federal law, allowed to be distributed only because of the political risk entailed in confronting anyone who claims to be crusading against smut, however vile the methods by which that message is delivered.

  2. Much as I'd love to do justice (if you'll pardon the expression in this context) to the full, Kafkaesque breadth of the latest iteration of 2257 myself, AVN's Mark Kernes proves himself a more determined analyst of the micro-details involved than I could aspire to be.

    Please do not fail to read his excellent commentary here:

    You'll still be confused when you've waded through it, but at least you'll know what you're confused about, along the those of us who have to try and make some sense where there is none regarding these bizarre regulations in order to stay in business.

    Since my friend Mr. Kernes was kind enough to quote me regarding the 2257 specifications concerning BDSM depictions, I'll lift the my contribution and post it here just to give readers a little taste of the kind of logic that pervades the government's entire thinking, if you care to call it that, when it comes to differentiating one kind of sexual depiction from another:

    "One comment requests that the Department define 'sadistic or masochistic abuse' because some people believe that safe and consensual bondage is not abuse, and requests that the Department distinguish between actual and simulated sadistic or masochistic abuse," the DOJ writes in the comments section. "The Department declines to adopt this comment. That term is not a subject of this rulemaking. Moreover, actual sexually explicit conduct depends on the content of what is being displayed, not on whether the content is subjectively considered to be abusive. If belief as to abuse were to control, a producer who determined that nothing was abusive would be able to avoid compliance with the regulations in their entirety, creating massive opportunity for child exploitation."
    In other words, the Department's position seems to be that the term "abuse" as used in 18 U.S.C. §2256(2)(b)(ii)(III) is meaningless; that if any content depicts what might be viewed as "sadistic" or "masochistic" behavior, it triggers the 2257 recordkeeping and labeling requirements.
    Producer/director and BDSM aficionado Ernest Greene agreed.
    "What they're saying is, 'We decide what's abuse and what isn't,'" Greene assessed, "and the fact that some people might not consider it abuse - I guess the leap of logic here is, 'If we allow them [producers] to define anything one way or another and alter the statute based on the object of the statute's definition of a thing, the first thing they're going to do is run out and put kids in it and say that that doesn't constitute a violation,' but I fail to see what one thing has to do with the other, because child pornography remains illegal, whatever form it takes."
    "This particular argument goes all the way back to 1956 and Irving Klaw," he continued, "when the Kefauver Committee struggled mightily, with the help of the typical kind of shrinks that come in to do this kind of thing, to determine what might be pornographic even though nobody had their clothes off or was having any sex. They were engaging in bondage and other kinds of activities of that sort that might have a sexual connotation to them but might not. In any case, in that context, they wished to classify it as pornographic, and of course, by writing postal regulations without bothering to go to Congress, which this is somewhat of a throwback to, they did do exactly that, and that's what led to Irving Klaw ultimately pleading out to the postal obscenity charges and agreeing to destroy all his stuff and go out of business. So the argument they seem to be making here is, we're the ones who decide what constitutes abuse, and the fact that a producer decides or the people involved decide it's not abuse doesn't matter."

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.