Well, if there was ever an answer to the question, "Why defend porn? Why does it need defending?", it certainly came in the form of reports on the Somebody Think Of The Children blog and XBiz of a police raid on the offices of GMedia (owner of AbbyWinters.com) and the arrest of owner Garion Hall. Thankfully, the raid ultimately didn't amount to much, with Garion Hall being released without charges, no other arrests, and with no seizure of equipment. But one has to ask, given the generally high regard for AbbyWinters and related sites as progressive porn, as well as the supposedly more enlightened attitude toward sex work in Australia, how did it ever get to the point where this company was raided?
While AbbyWinters is highly regarded for its progressive and ethical stance in porn production, its has for several years been a target of the likes of Gail Dines and Robert Jensen who seek to fundamentally attack the idea that there could ever be a such thing as "feminist porn". Based on rumors I've seen posted, GMedia and related companies are also the site of fair amount behind-the-scenes squabbling and dirty laundry among the producers and staff, several of whom have left after conflicts with Garion Hall. There has also been ongoing controversy over shadowy founder and chief photographer "Abby Winters", who is probably not a real figure, but is presented as such by G Media, leading to accusations that this is once again an alt-porn company falsely creating a "woman-owned" image. And most notably, there was the very public break by GMedia model Liandra Dahl, who came to see AbbyWinters and the other Aussie alt sites (such as IFeelMyself) as not meeting her ideals of what a feminist porn site should be.
Unfortunately, what should have remained an argument in the porn, sex-positive, and feminist communities found its way into the the Australian right-wing tabloid The Herald-Sun, which in late 2007 published a sensationalist pair of hit pieces against G Media in late 2007. (Liandra Dahl, for her part, turned up most recently in the comments at the Somebody Think Of The Children post, rebuking the Herald-Sun for its coverage and the police for their raid.)
After that minor tempest, AbbyWinters largely stayed out of the spotlight, except as part of the lager controversy around proposed internet censorship in Australia (thankfully defeated). However, Keith Moor, the Herald-Sun yellow journalist responsible for the earlier hit pieces, was not about to let the story go and went to the Victoria Police with "evidence" of that Garion Hall was luring naive teenage girls into pornography and shooting illegal content. Apparently, there is some case for the latter "legal" claim, in that Victoria, Australia has the exact inverse situation to California and other US states, in that brothel prostitution is legal, but apparently producing porn isn't, though the latter laws against porn are rarely if ever enforced. (Example #999 of how arbitrary and random laws regulating the sex industry are.)
This was enough for the Victoria Police to launch an "Operation Refuge" against GMedia, which in the end netted – exactly nothing. I'd say Garion Hall should take a tip from Sharon Mitchell and sue this Keith Moor idiot, but perhaps its best to let sleeping dogs lie. However, this does serve as a prime example of how those of us on the anti-anti-porn side are not just a bunch of paranoids defending a "powerful" industry – anti-porn ideology still has the backing of law enforcement and the state and can be unleashed against anybody creating sexually explicit media, whether its Max Hardcore or Abby Winters. Its also far too easy for one overzealous activist or yellow journalist to get a witch hunt like this going. All of which is why so many of us pointy-headed sex-pozzies continue to agitate for an end to remaining laws censoring porn or prohibiting its production.
One more note – while researching this post, I found the Victoria Police actually have a feedback page that says: "What are your thoughts on current Victoria Police initiatives? Let us know - Leave a comment"