Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Obama War On Porn Begins: CCBill Bans "Extreme Porn" Sites

Apparently, in sexual expression matters as much as in everything else of late, the new boss isn't quite that different from the old boss.

Everyone who thought that the Obama Administration would launch a new, less repressive era in erotic expression and reverse the smash-mouth tactics of his predecessors in the Bush Administration got a huge shock last week...and the repercussions are beginning to filter down with rapid suddenness.

This article appearing in today's AVN Live talks about the move by the adult billing provider CCBill to restrict future sponsoring and signing of sexually explicit sites:

Payment processor CCBill will update its acceptable use policy (AUP), excluding sites that feature watersports and violent content.

A company representative said that sites within said niches that have already been approved will be able to process “for the time being.”

Official word is that “CCBill is no longer accepting new sites which contain or market person-to-person exchanges of bodily fluids. This mainly pertains to urine/urination, blood, or overall violent scenes or depictions.”

Several employees of the company refused to comment on the matter; however, the new AUP is said to be available this week.

Would that also include the kind of "rough sex", slapping, rough talk, and even perhaps "squirting" would also fall afoul of CCBill's regulations, too??

But it's the motivations for CCBill's change of policy that should be front page news, because it reflects directly on the new/old policies of the Department of Justice regarding "obscenity". Apparently Eric Holder's old antiporn instincts have won out, or the Morality in Media folks have still lots of influence, because.....

While CCBill is being tight-lipped about their reasoning behind the move, it comes on the heels of the May 5 announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice of the formation of its Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. Also of questionable consequence is a March 23 subpoena obtained by AVNOnline.com filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Missouri, which reveals that the government is looking for similar content, which includes fisting, urination and torture.

“In the current political environment, they probably see a high risk in this type of content and they probably see that as a risk they’re not willing to bear,” says Chicago-based First Amendment attorney Joe Obenberger of J.D. Obenberger and Associates.

Now...wasn't "torture porn" the main foundation of the attack on Kink.com's reciept of a California state grant for their photographers?? Doesn't Belladonna, Kylie Irleand, and some other porn performers include fisting in their scenes?? And while there are some who might consider watersports pretty gross, it's still only urine....why would that in a private website sold only to paying consensual adults be such a target for the Feds??

Maybe it's the same reason why Mary Beth Buchanan, who was the main prosecutor in the Max Hardcore case, is still employed as a US District Attorney and not an expert on FOX News Network: Antiporn sentiment is as powerful in the Obama/Holder circles as it ever was in the Bush/Gonzales/Ashcroft regime...though with a more radicalfeminist rhetorical "tinge" about "degradation of women" replacing the old "immoral filth" meme so favored by the Christian Right.

Of course, Obama's been tacking heavily rightward in any amount of political issues of late, in everything from health care (forget single-payer or even universal, let's make everyone buy crappy private health care) to extending the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan to make up for leaving Iraq, to the reversal on military tribunals from "Ban them!!" to "Let's keep them, but control them to UCMJ standards", among other issues. Maybe that tinge of liberalism and "change" that he presented in his campaign was just a ruse to cover a continuation of Bush policies, with a nice smiley face and a better syntax.

At this rate, even Stormy Daniels is looking better than the Democrats. At least, when she gets screwed, she gets something out of it...wish I could say the same for sexual/political Progressives/Liberals.




9 comments:

  1. Apparently, AVN's byline-less blogger isn't much when it comes to sourcing. The Obscenity Prosecution Task Force was established May 5, 2005.

    Hope this helps.

    -- Aaron (aaron@acephalo.us)

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  2. As some close to me already know, I've pretty much decided to drop my blogging activities altogether, as I've come to see them as wasted time - preaching to the choir or bickering with those who have already made up their minds against any position I'm likely to support. Activism requires action, and griping on the Internet doesn't count as such.

    However, I will take this last opportunity to say that what is happening now is exactly what I predicted in this forum. Obama and his pals are cozy with Catherine MacKinnon's crew and I don't think we're going to see any let up on porn from this administration.

    In fact, rather than going for random prosecutions that often backfire (although I'm sure we'll see a few of those) I think we'll be subjected to various iterations of "The Swedish Solution" instead. They'll still be plenty of porn around, but the atmosphere of hostility toward it is only likely to get worse as various "second wavers" take up positions in the new administration.

    My last words: I told you so.

    Bye-bye - for a long time.

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  3. My last words: I told you so.Can't quibble with those words, Ernest. These are times that I actually hate being right.

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  4. A person does not have to be on the front line waving a sword to fight. Writing letters to Schools,their Alumni and the Dept. of Education that are in Second Life that recieve Federal money complaining about our tax dollars being spent to promote porn sites with pictures with chat logs attached can really raise eyebrows. Here Obama is try to cut spending and promote education it looks like someone took notice. We can't have our tax dollars spent on porn. get it off the grid it don't belong here.

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  5. OK, so why did the President go out of his way to hire David Ogden as Holder's #2? What was the point?

    It's not like anyone was holding a gun to Obama's head to hire Ogden.

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  6. Sheldon,

    I've been waiting for you to show up with that.

    Ogden is a lawyer. In the same way that a lot of ex D.A.s become defense attorneys after leaving public service, Ogden is now a prosecutor and will prosecute whoever he's ordered to.

    Mr. Holder, you may recall, has previously advanced a plan for eliminating porn on the Internet. He's the prosecutor over Ogden's head.

    More important than the current employement statuses of these two gentlemen at the moment are those of Bruce Taylor and Mary Beth Buchanan. Thery're still working for the D.O.J., in the latter case in direct defiance of long-standing tradition. She refused, unlike all other U.S. attorneys, to give Obama her pro forma resignation and Obama hasn't directed Holder to demand it.

    There are bigger things at stake than porn. I didn't vote for Obama believing for one minute he'd be any friend of ours. No politician can be, except maybe in Nevada. I voted for him because I thought and still think he was the better of the probable choices. The lesser of two evils. You remember him, I'm sure. Not meaning to be rude, as I would be if I were, I really don't see him as much different from any other professional politician. He's already done a few things I liiked, said a number of others I liked hearing and then didn't do them, and done some things I outright dislike. That's about the record I expected thus far and I expect it to be pretty consistently this way from here on out.

    He ran as a man of the middle, and I take him at his word. I think a lot of liberals read into what he quite directly told them what they wished he was actually thinking at the time.

    The real question now is how will he actually run things? Better than the alternative would have? I'm sure. Better than the guy before him? Hardly possible to do otherwise. The way i'd like him to? Fat chance.

    So, as concerns porn, he won't be Bush, but he won't be much help to us. For instance, his D.O.J. clearly did offer some kind of deal in the Zicari case, and I'll bet it isn't that bad of a deal when we finally find out the details.

    OTOH, I suspect the EA prosecution will go forward, at least long enough to make it hard for John to stay in business. That one may even end up in front of a jury, though I'm sure both sides will do their best to prevent it from happening. This would be a bad outcome, because a likely conviction followed by a likely appeal, might well put your friend Mr. Ogden in the awkward position of arguing in favor of adult obscenity laws in front of a conservative Supreme Court with at least one Obama appointee on it.

    At the very least, I expect the Obama administration to take a pretty hard line on the Internet, as they're already signalling they will. They understand its reach a lot better than the last team, and how much its presence in the house unsettles parents. I'd be surprised if they didn't get around to addressing that.

    And there is that MacKinnon endorsement and Obama is from Chicago.

    This whole country is getting a lesson in political realism taught by a master instructor, and Porn Valley is going to take that class right along with the rest of the nation.

    Want to know which way this administration is going to jump on any given issue, just ask yourself what FDR's would have done.

    Don't worry. I'll probably vote for him next time, and though I'm sure he has no idea who I am, he probably knows that much about me already.

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  7. My nickel's worth:

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that the DoJ's move is more based on inertia and the strategic positioning of some of the more activist Bush officials who were allowed by Obama and Holder (probably due to not wanting to rock the boat with other battles with the old guard conservatives) than of any grand vision of Obama or Holder. Still, it is troubling that Bruce Taylor and Mary Beth Buchanan are still holding jobs within the DoJ, and that their Obscenity Task Force is still in operation...and time will tell whether it really signals Obama's true colors as an antiporn activist, or just someone engaging in the usual triangulation.

    As for Sheldon's point about David Ogden: well, perhaps he was a bone that was tossed to civil libertarians for the expressed purpose of assuging liberals and progressives, while being placed in a position where he will not be as able to enduce policy nearly as much as Holder will. It wouldn't be the first time that Obama has engaged such a strategy...and probably won't be the last.

    Now, I didn't vote for Obama, even though I do still find him to be far, far superior to the alternative of the GOP...as a choice between a Eisenhower/George H. W. Bush Democrat and a Reaganite/Jessie Helms/Sarah Palin Republican. I wish that I wouldn't be so surprised that he has turned out so far to be just another conservative Democrat in cheap Clintonesque clothing, but with a better turn of phrase than Bubba had....but given the history of the Democrats over the years, it was all too expected.

    Just another example of how "lesser evil" choices will always perpetuate evil.

    As for CCBill's change of policy: certainly it will hurt those websites who entertain such content, but I'm sure that they will find means to reach to those consumers wanting such content. All this does is place CCBill in the same level as other billing companies such as DHD Media, Paycom, Vivid, and Hughes, whom have already placed similar content restrictions on their websites. Most mainstream sites will probably not feel any effect...and I'm sure that most of the major artists and performers whose sites may skirt the line of such content will probably find a way to sell their product anyway.

    Plus...it's one thing to say they are going to prosecute; it's quite another to do so, and to select their particular targets. Given that the DoJ will have their hands occupied with plenty of other things, I don't see how they will have either the time or the funds to up the ante and go after that many more adult producers, or risk a trial where they will get their butts cleaned by any intelligent jury who understands the basic concept of legal consent. Having Belladonna or Kylie Irleand on the stand explaining what "fisting" really is would be quite....interesting.

    Finally, to Ernest: I guess that even the best of people get burnt out over shouting to the crowd or talking to the brick wall; yet it will be a bit sad not to read or hear your voice on issues such as this. Some of us, though, are willing to dive head-first into the muck to speak the truth and challenge the nonsense; and while you will be missed, your spirit will live on in those of us who aren't so willing to back away from a fair (or even not-so-fair) fight. I don't consider anything you post (or anything I or anyone else here post, for that matter) to by anywhere near "griping"; and while outright activism is far preferable, having a space to vent is just as important..if only to know that we are here.

    Either way, whereever you ge, Ernest, may the Goddess be with you always. And I'm not merely talking about Nina this time, either.


    Anthony

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  8. I guess I didn't follow the comment thread here, so I'm late in posting this. But anyway, sorry to see you go, Ernest.

    I sympathize with your frustration vis-a-vis blogging. I've cut back on it myself, especially on the debating and commentariat part, which I really feel is pretty unproductive unless there's a neutral venue and strong, even-handed moderation to keep things under control. It can lead to burnout and way too much interpersonal animosity way too quickly.

    Still, as far as writing on the internet goes, I think its a good pulpit, and I do think political writing is an important phase of activism, even if not the whole picture. Admittedly, its also easy to become ghettoized and question whether you're actually reaching anybody outside of a small circle of sympathizers.

    In any case, I know you at least have a hard copy magazine to publish in, so looking forward to seeing more of your always-insightful writing there.

    All the best to you and Nina – IACB.

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  9. In googling "Sonia Sotomayor" and "porn", I came across her involvement with the Spencer Tunick case in NYC.

    Tunick is a photographer who regularly uses dozens, if not hundreds of nude models in public settings to create provocative art.

    He first drew attention during the Giuliani administration, which tried to shut down his work. After the NY State Court of Appeals ruled in Tunick's favor on First Amendment grounds, Giuliani had the city's lawyers go after him again on the grounds that, (after boiling away the legal rhetoric), his gatherings of nude folks constituted a public nuisance.

    A 3-judge panel, which included now-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, backed the Giuliani position.

    How this will play out in the long run, assuming Sotomayor is confirmed, is anyone's guess. But I suspect Tunick is having the last laugh, as he is currently south of the border photographing hundreds of naked Mexicans.

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