Sunday, August 30, 2009

Now the Brits Get in the Act

The U.K.'s reliably anti-porn Guardian wants to blame Western porn for rape and, of course, unsafe sex and therefore the prevalence of AIDS in Africa on the basis of a few L.A.- made vids that find their way into the bush.

And speaking of bush, before blaming porn for the high incidence of HIV in Africa, perhaps the Bush gang's insistence on abstinence-only programs and withholding of condoms and information about them in Third World countries might be just a tad bit more of a problem than the "harms" of porn where that's concerned, but you won't read anything on this subject in the laughable-but-for-the-subject article I'm about to post.

The insanely retrogressive AIDS policies of the South African government and the influence of The Vatican in that part of the world might have come in for some scrutiny as well.

Rape, for that matter, truly is epidemic all over Africa as an instrument of war, most brutally in places like The Sudan, where porn is heavily suppressed under Sharia law. However, what are a few annoying, contrary facts when you have righteous opinion on your side?

No, it's all about porn, as always.

Here you go. Read it and let those folks at the ever-vigilant Guardian know what you think about this latest dose of stupidity:

Porn Turning African Villagers Into Rapists?

by Tim Samuels

I used to think porn was tremendously good fun. The adolescent thrill of sneaking a copy of Fiesta home inside the Manchester Evening News. Crowding around a PC at university as a smutty picture revealed itself pixel by pixel. Even the equine VHS shown during my first job at GQ gave everyone a good, if not queasy, lads-mag laugh. Any anti-porn voices felt like killjoy whines echoing from the outskirts of Greenham Common.

By the time I'd left the lads-mag cocoon, porn was almost part of the mainstream furniture. But the proliferation of free and utterly hardcore websites visited by kids in their global droves did spark an interest in investigating the industry. The moment porn truly stopped being fun came in a remote Ghanaian village – mud huts, barefoot kids, no electricity. The BBC series I was making about the impact of porn had led me via LA to Ghana.

One of the unforeseen consequences of globalisation is the shocking effect that western porn is having in parts of the developing world. The village has no electricity, but that doesn't stop a generator from being wheeled in, turning a mud hut into an impromptu porn cinema – and turning some young men into rapists, with villagers relating chilling stories of assaults taking place straight after the film's end. In the nearest city, other young men are buying bootlegs copies of the almost always condom-free LA-made porn – copying directly what they see and contracting HIV.

The head of the country's Aids commission says porn risks destroying all the achievements they've made. It's a timebomb, he says. The concerns aren't theoretical – I met young fathers with HIV whose only sex education came from LA, women living in the villages subject to post-screening abuse, and even a shy teenage virgin who has written to a porn outfit in California asking to star in their films (his return address was care of the local church in Accra).

The porn producers aren't deliberately pushing their products into Africa. But the tide of black market DVDs on sale at street markets and hardcore clips viewable at internet cafes is almost unstoppable. Surely this multibillion-dollar industry needs to take some responsibility for the human costs?

Since the only sex education some people in places such as Ghana are getting is via porn films, there is a decent argument for the porn industry to produce more films where performers use condoms. In LA, where the majority of the world's porn is still shot, only one company routinely makes such films.

The condom-only policy adopted following an industry HIV outbreak five years ago lasted just months. If the ambition is to put more condom-using porn into circulation, which will then more likely end up in those street markets or cafes, some serious multinationals could throw their corporate weight behind this. Hotel chains – among the biggest broadcasters of adult material – have not used their immense clout to insist on greater condom use – much to the dismay of the porn-star STD-testing clinic in LA. Mobile phone firms are also surreptitiously making jaw-dropping amounts of money from showing adult content on their handsets. Could their ideas of corporate responsibility take on a latex dimension? Might it actually be that ridiculous for the porn industry itself to adopt a spot of corporate responsibility? These are, after all, major businesses replete with HR departments and plush offices nestling next to mainstream film companies. Bankroll sex safe campaigns, harness the allure of their top stars, maybe even make bespoke films for the developing world which educate as well as titillate. Doing nothing, and leaving western porn to march untrammelled into Africa and other places, is a deeply unattractive prospect.

Oh yeah, let's not forget to retread all those lies and half-truths about the vast amounts of money being made by huge multi-national conglomerates operating out of luxurious offices in Porn Valley (as opposed to the warehouses and quonset huts where most porn companies really do operate). And BTW, the "dismay" of "of the porn-star STD-testing clinic in LA" over the failure of these vast porn cartels to use their videos as safe-sex PSAs? If, as I assume, the author refers to AIM, AIM has no stated position on any of these subjects, and the author must be telepathic to sense AIM's dismay in this matter, as AIM has never made any public statement supporting any of the nonsense above.

Porn performer health is AIM's concern. Porn content is not. That distinction is what enables AIM to get cooperation from the entire spectrum of performers and companies and preserves its non-profit status as a healthcare foundation, rather than a 527 PAC.

Nice reporting there. Guess they no longer teach journalism at the UK university where Samuels enjoyed his time in "the lad-mag cocoon."

Samuels' piece appears, by some odd coincidence, just before his new TV series "Hardcore Profits" airs on BBC 2.

While the entire article is stupid and offensive, its worst sin is the recycling of the myth that Africans belong to a lesser class of human, subject to instantaneous outbreaks of spontaneous sexual violence at the sight of a naked white woman. That's the underlying assumption of this piece, and oddly in line with the beliefs of David Duke on this issue.

Racist sex panic led to thousands of lynchings in this country. The insensitivity of suggesting that porn turns Africans into sex-crazed fiends is truly breathtaking, not to mention profoundly repellent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Smoke and Mirrors

Today the manufactured conflict between the publicity hounds at AHF and the bureaucratic Mandarins at County Health went another round, with the county issuing a dismissive press release in response to AHF's lawsuit supposedly intended to compel county agencies to enforce condom use on porn sets.

In turn, AHF sent forth a thundering missive accusing the county of not caring about the health of young performers.

Clearly, as both parties are using the whole performer health issue as a political football without regard to the actual consequences to performer health that might result from their carefully staged bickering, it could fairly be said that neither cares a flying fuck about what happens to porn performers and are putting on a show worthy of P.T. Barnum to keep public controversy regarding this topic on the boil.

You will note here that, while basically saying it's not their problem, the public sector offciials don't pass up the opportunity to recycle the same cherry-picked stats regarding the "epidemic" of STIs among porn performs, while generally minimizing the threat this represents to the public.

A little poison for everyone in this ginned up dispute: Especially like the unsourced editorial pitch for mandatory condoms packed into the final graph, which re-states AHF's position by carefully assembling bits of previous statements from DPF.

Where were these PR hacks previously employed, Pravda?

AIDS Healtcare Foundation: LA County Doesn't Care About Young People in Porn

LOS ANGELES -- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation issues a press release stating: "In Eye-popping Legal Demurrer, LA County Lawyers 'Stupid Enough' to Show Complete Disdain for Well-being of Young People Appearing in Porn as Well as Disregard for Health of the Public-at-Large"

The press release goes on to say: "AHF is requesting that the [LA] County take action within the adult film industry only. As set forth in the petition, the adult film industry employs approximately 1,200 adult film performers at any given time. (Paragraph 9 of the petition.)

The population of Los Angeles County is approximately 9,850,000. Thus,
AHF is seeking that the County be compelled to take certain actions in regard to less than .01% of the population.... Plainly, the public need here is minimal."

In response to AIDS Healthcare Foundation's (AHF) legal petition for a writ of mandate to compel Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health to fight the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry, County attorneys have filed an eye-popping demurrer that shows the County's complete disregard for young people working as performers in the $13 billion porn industry as well as revealing a strikingly blase attitude by County officials toward potential County-wide general public health ramifications of serious infectious diseases, including transmission of several debilitating sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

The County's legal motion was filed last week in response to AHF's July 16th legal petition for a writ of mandate against the County's Public Health Department on the 'condoms in porn' issue. (NOTE: AHF separately filed workplace safety complaints late last week with Cal/OSHA--California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health--the state's health and safety regulatory and watchdog organization, asserting that 16 production companies endangered its workers in nearly 60 condom-less adult films they produced, shot and distributed. Those complaints remain under review by state health and safety officials.).

"We knew that Los Angeles County didn't care about young people who appear in porn, we just didn't think they were actually stupid enough to say so in print, as they did in their legal response to our petition for a writ of mandate to require the County's Department of Public Health to enforce condom use in the production of porn," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

"The County should be ashamed of its actions--and the attitude represented in its legal response--to the industry-specific and general public health concerns raised in our legal petition."

"In its petition, AHF is requesting that the County take action within the adult film industry only. As set forth in the petition, the adult film industry employs approximately 1,200 adult film performers at any given time. (Paragraph 9 of the petition.)

The population of Los Angeles County is approximately 9,850,000. Thus,
AHF is seeking that the County be compelled to take certain actions in regard to less than .01% of the population.... Plainly, the public need here is minimal."

Andrea E. Ross
Senior Deputy County Counsel
Case #BS 121665
For the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

"To County health officials, I simply ask what rises to the level of a public health concern, either for these individual at-risk actors working in the industry or for the greater Los Angeles public-at-large?" asked Weinstein, adding, "There is no firewall between porn performers and the general public."

"We are asking that Los Angles County lawyers and public health officials enforce various laws regarding public health and that they take concrete action to combat an outbreak of communicable diseases within a known population--which County officials could do by requiring condom use on adult film sets," said Brian Chase, Assistant General Counsel for AHF.

The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles (Case No.: BS121665), Thursday, July 16th and seeks a Writ of Mandate "compelling the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to discharge its ministerial and non-discretionary statutory duty to combat an acknowledged epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases stemming from production of hardcore pornography in Los Angeles County."

AHF filed the lawsuit after exhausting all other methods to compel the County to fulfill its obligation to protect the public's health in the wake of the mid-June revelation that an actress working in the adult film business had tested positive for HIV. At that time, AHF had urged the County to better monitor HIV and STD prevention in the region's adult film industry--and require condom use--or to shut down porn sets.

Since the June 17th reporting of the latest HIV outbreak--and the subsequent report by the LA Times that as many as 22 porn performers may have tested positive in the last five years--no action has been taken by the County to halt the spread of STDs on LA porn sets or to conduct the proper and legally-required public health follow-up with those thought to be infected.

At the time of the filing of the lawsuit in July, AHF's Weinstein noted, "The Department of Public Health has a responsibility to try and control the spread of STDs in LA County--particularly in a commercial venue--yet the County has not taken a single step to address this serious public health threat. As an HIV and STD medical provider, it is our obligation to pursue County action on this issue."

According to figures cited by DPH, there were 2,013 documented cases of Chlamydia among LA porn performers between 2003 and 2007. In the same period, 965 cases of gonorrhea were documented. Many performers suffer multiple infections. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the hardcore industry in LA County.

DPH attributes the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms. The agency recommends condoms be used during production, but has never taken steps to ensure their use, or to protect the performers who are essentially required to endanger their health in order to remain employed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How Does Bullshit get Started?

Just like this. MSM pick up some sensational and totally inaccurate claim about anything porn-related, run with it, never bothering to verfiy its accuracy, and it becomes gospel truth to porn-haters everywhere, including those who are otherwise contemptuous of MSM coverage of porn-related issues.

When the operation that reported the false information eventually issues a retraction, it sinks without a bubble while the sensational crap lives on.

Case in point:

AP Corrects Story About Vivid's Health Safety Record

LOS ANGELES—Vivid Entertainment co-chairman Steven Hirsch said today that he was relieved that the Associated Press had distributed a correction to an erroneous story that falsely reported on the leading adult studio's health safety record.

"The Associated Press is one of the most highly regarded news gathering organizations in the world, but on August 20 the news agency failed to check its facts for a story with the headline 'Porn Makers Challenged for not Mandating Condoms' by Shaya Tayefe Mohajer," Hirsch said. "Her story incorrectly stated that five performers in Vivid films tested positive for HIV in 2004. This erroneous statement was damaging to our company and demonstrates that you can never be too careful in sex and in journalism.

"The truth is that throughout 2004 Vivid had a mandatory condom policy and every performer was, and is today, tested before he or she acts in one of our productions. None of our performers had or has HIV. We are pleased that AP sent out a correction on Saturday, August 22 and only wish they had done so immediately after we called the error to their attention rather than waiting more than 24 hours."

Hirsch pointed out that since 2004 performers have acted in several hundred thousand-sex scenes shot by adult studios in the San Fernando Valley and there has only been one reported case of HIV.

"It is far more dangerous for a person to have sex with someone they meet casually in a bar than it is for people who act in a carefully policed adult film setting. We are confident that we are taking all precautions and the results to date demonstrate that this is the case," he said.


What do you want to bet that for months, even years, ahead we'll be reading about those five Vivid performers who got HIV on every anti-porn blog on earth?

What's that old saying about how a lie travels half way around the world before truth can get its boots on?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

STIs in Porn: Round 232

Well, this was unavoidable, so we might as well bring it.

I really do look forward to the day when I will never again have to rebut the same tired lies from the same wearisome liars and push back against the haters and fear-mongers posing as do-gooders who make their lives and their livings out of exploiting porn by opposing it, and opposing anyone who tries to do anything constructive regarding it, but by now I’ve come despair of seeing that day any time soon.

So, on we go to the burial of the latest load of crap to be dumped by the usual crowd of fertilizer spreaders.

The L.A. Times, which is rapidly become to local porn-bashers what Fox News is to tea-baggers, gave plenty of ink to the latest grandstanding performance by Michael Weinstein from Aids Healthcare Foundation and his new best pal, anti-porn evangelist Shelley Lubben, who can tell more lies in one minute than Karl Rove in a solid hour. Seems they’ve teamed up to “pressure” Cal-OSHA by filing complaints against a clutch of porn production companies for shooting non-condom sex scenes. This is hot on the heals of Weinstein’s outfit’s similar attempts to put “pressure” on the L.A. County Department of Health Services to do likewise.

I use the word “pressure” in quotes because all the parties involved in this circus are playing out their act together with the same objective – destroying the California-based porn industry altogether or at the very least, driving it out of the state. Any apparent discord among these groups and individuals is entirely staged for the benefit of the press and the public.

Take them all down? Yes I will. Prevent them from succeeding? That will not be up to me, but at least I can counter some of their more preposterous claims and call attention to the most obvious contradictions and inconsistencies in their words and deeds thus far.

Let’s get started.

First of all, let’s examine the odd alliance of the groups behind these efforts. Weinstein and the AHF have deep roots in the gay community’s battle against the spread of HIV and for greater popular support for funding for HIV prevention and treatment in that community. Shelley Lubben is a proud member of the religious right who believes homosexuality is an abomination, whose site links to “exodus” ministries that claim to be able to “heal” gay people through prayer into becoming heterosexual, who is anti-choice and whose Pink Cross Foundation (which earns her a better living than her brief stint in porn ever did) offers “post-abortion counseling” to help women recover from the traumatic sin of terminating pregnancies. Lubben also supports abstinence-only programs for young people and generally opposes the free distribution of condoms, except in the present instance, which concerns her number one priority: causing trouble for pornographers.

In short, the front groups and talking heads for this latest spot of nonsense are an alliance of anti-choice, anti-gay religious fundamentalists and pro-condom, gay-rights advocates.

Suspicious yet? You should be.

And it gets worse. Cal-OSHA’s spokesperson Dean Fryer, who was one of those responsible for circulating the later-retracted lie that there had been – take your pick – 12, 18 or 22 undisclosed cases of HIV in the het porn industry since 2004, not surprisingly pre-judges these uninvestigated complaints by telling The Times that “They have a valid point here," Fyer told the Associated Press. "The blood-borne pathogens standard is designed to protect workers where there is risk of transmission of diseases through bodily excretions that occur as part of adult film activity.”

Only what Fryer doesn’t say is that the blood-borne pathogens standard to which he refers was “designed” for the health care industry. There is NO Cal-OSHA standard specifically tailored to the adult entertainment industry. After five years of failed attempts to strong-arm the state legislature into passing enabling statutes that would allow Cal-OSHA to negotiate such an industry-specific standard with leaders of the industry to be regulated as state law requires, the small group of porn-hating fanatics concentrated in the bureaucracy there and at L.A. County Health have simply decided to apply a standard from another, utterly unrelated, industry to porn by administrative decree.

Since Cal-OSHA’s investigative process is primarily complaint-driven and there was a shortage of complainants, outsiders AHF and PC ginned up some complaints for the agency to go after. And how did they do this?

By buying some porn vids from companies whose products they claim to have picked at random out of the racks at local video stores and judging by viewing the condoms were not used in the production of said vids, thereby generating grounds for complaint. Of course, the fact that Hustler Video, a frequent Weinstein target and Vivid Video, the industry’s largest producer, were among those chosen was purely coincidental, just like the appearance of black clouds before a thunderstorm.

Anyone who still argues that this controversy is not about the content of porn or about free speech rights needs to examine the methodology in this filing and think again. Even County Health’s most ideologically driven clap-chaser, Dr. Peter Kerndt, has fervently argued in his PLoS monograph of last spring that it would be perfectly possible to use technical means to make condoms invisible in porn. Earth to Dr. Kerndt: those of us who do shoot with condoms already do that. We don’t use digital post-production effects as he suggests (knowing this would be ruinously expensive) but rather rely on lighting gels, pink latex and good camera work to make condoms less obvious to the viewer. In short, there is no way to tell with a certitude that would meet any standard of legal proof whether condoms were used or not in a given scene in a given video simply by looking at the resulting commercial DVD.

As this controversy unfolds, much the way I predicted in a previous post, it turns out to be not at all about performer safety and very much about what shows in the pictures. Try to keep that in mind as we wade into the thicket of disinformation spun around the efforts of our dauntless protectors of poor, endangered performers to conceal the real agenda at work here.

Kerndt made that agenda pretty clear to me when he told me to my face that “if we can get a couple of expensive fines to stick against a few of the major companies, the rest will have to fall in line.” Or else.

Meanwhile, in the background to all of this, Cal-OSHA continues to sue AIM for access to confidential patient records with the clear intent of establishing at least a tenuous causality between reported cases of STIs and work on specific porn sets. Though the information it seeks is protected by medical privacy laws, Cal-OSHA argues that an urgent workplace safety issue takes precedence over state and federal laws governing medical confidentiality. What they really want to do, of course, is see if they can tie the AIM clinic’s detection and treatment of STIs in certain individuals by timing to those individuals’ performances for certain companies with the intention of generating yet more complaints.

Meantime, absent any actual complaints from active performers, AHF and PC trotted out a short-time performer named Jan Meza, who worked in a few plumper vids, to file on the basis that she was infected with herpes and Chlamydia on porn sets during her one-year stint in the industry. That Meza, in her supporting statement, makes no specific reference to any scenes she claims to have done and names no companies for which she claims to have worked would seem to weaken her standing as a complainant, but I guess when you’re mainly looking for sensational headlines and political gains, and you know the long-term results of any real investigation of these claims will be buried in the back pages of any MSM outlet that even bothers to cover it, who cares whether they’re true or not?

While it’s certainly possible that Ms. Meza contracted these illnesses on porn sets, she could also, despite her insistence to the contrary, have been infected with them previously, or subsequent to her leaving porn altogether. At such a remove from the time of her actual performing career, it seems highly unlikely that her assertions are legally supportable. But then again, Cal-OSHA’s attempt to unilaterally impose an inappropriate safety standard on an industry with which it has had no direct contact and of which it has no knowledge or experience and over which no jurisdiction for it has been established is equally unsupportable. There are already plenty of lawyers involved in this game, and everybody around the table pretty much has the same set of facts. It’s the public that doesn’t, and it’s the public to whom this whole cabal of private and public sector crusaders is attempting to make its appeal.

It would seem, contrary to the oft-repeated assertions of a previous visitor here, that the issue of whether or not porn performers are even employees of producers and therefore fall under Cal-OSHA’s jurisdiction may turn out to be the deal-breaker that sends this rogue agency right out of the room. The judge currently supervising the case involving the Cal-OSHA’s subpoena attempt targeting AIM has raised that very issue with some pointed questioning from the bench, but with that case still being litigated, I’m not at liberty to say more.

The real purpose of this whole exercise is to inspire fear in the porn producing community and indignation in the uninformed public, and in that battle, I’d say the other side is doing pretty well. Using strident rhetoric, cooked statistics and unverifiable horror stories, they’re digging away at what the foundations of what they realize to be the main obstacle to their cherished goal of making porn so arduous and genuinely unsafe to make that it will just have to go away.

That obstacle is AIM, and the extraordinary success AIM has demonstrated in limiting (which is not the same thing as eliminating altogether) the STI risk in the het porn talent pool.

It is a fact that since 1993 there has not been a single clinical death from HIV-related causes in the het porn community, where we test for HIV using the PCR-DNA method every month. In gay porn, where condom-use has been all but universal but there has been no testing, there have been 166 HIV-related deaths. These stats come courtesy of ( and have actual names and dates attached to them. Contrary to what Dr. Kerndt and Mr. Weinstein would have you believe, we don’t just make them up.

This would suggest that our existing system is working pretty well, which is the very reason that those seeking to abolish the porn industry need that system to fail, and are willing to go to any lengths, including bankrupting it with nuisance litigation and intimidating performers into not using it with calls to their homes and families claiming to be “investigating” STI cases, to destroy it.

Anyone doubting the primacy of this goal in the current disinformation campaign need only read Ms. Meza’s semi-literate statement to see just who is in the crosshairs. Two of the three pages of that statement are devoted to attacking AIM. Ms. Meza’s claims in that regard are risible at best. While admitting that, upon taking her first test, she was given both written and video-taped information about the risks involved in making porn, she complains that she was “never educated” about the industry or “the extreme risks I was about to put my body through,” because nobody sat her down and verbally explained these things to her.

Folks, we call it the adult entertainment industry for two reasons. One is that the consumers of its products are adults. The other is that those engaged in making it are adults. If information is, as Ms. Meza concedes, made available and performers choose not to read or view it, I hardly see how a further verbal explanation of the contents of that information would be of much value to them. We tell them to read the paperwork and watch the tape. We even provide time and a viewing area for them to do so on the spot. We do not put a gun to their heads and make them educate themselves. That would be a bit outside our mandate.

Ms. Meza also complains that AIM does not test for herpes. That test is available by request but not routinely required of performers because, essentially, there is no practical risk reduction strategy short of moon suits yet devised that is effective against its transmission. Since it’s transmitted skin to skin rather than by blood or serum, condoms are ineffective against it, thus the current debate about condoms is largely irrelevant to this topic. Both Type 1 (largely oral) and Type 2 (largely genital) strains are so widespread that 45 million adult Americans would test positive for it, according to the CDC.

When Ms. Meza and her friends claim that 65% of the talent pool in porn is infected with herpes (after angrily asserting that we don’t test for it, it seems a bit suspicious that she would lead off her denunciation with this unsourced claim), they leave out the fact that this statistic, which has never been established specifically re porn, would likely apply to a similar percentage of the entire population of this country over the age of 18 with both strains of the virus taken into account.

Chlamydia presents a similar problem. Though it is fluid-borne, it can be transmitted through a variety of bodily contacts outside the genital region, making condoms ineffectual in its prevention. L.A. County Health’s alarmist numbers about repeated cases of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in numbers vastly higher than those found in the population at large fail to take into account the fact that when AIM detects and treats performers for these diseases, we recall them for testing after treatment, which will often turn up some residual evidence of infection, even though the performer is no longer contagious, thus requiring a third test for confirmation. Each test that comes up anything other than negative has to be reported separately to County, so what they’re really doing is counting the same cases two and three times when they spew their propaganda at the lay public. The actual unique incidence of these diseases is far lower than their numbers indicate.

She goes on to take AIM to task for not informing her of worker protections to which she now feels she was entitled under Cal-OSHA regulations, though as I’ve already said, those regulations have never been written for this industry and would not, in any case, fall under AIM’s mandate to clarify beyond any specifically related to medical issues.

Meza further dismisses AIM’s statement that it offers counseling with the assertion that she wasn’t counseled. Of course, she doesn’t bother to tell us whether or not she ever requested counseling from AIM. In fact, AIM has provided tens of thousands of hours of counseling to hundreds of performers on request. However, AIM enjoys no right, and wouldn’t seek such a right, to impose counseling on those who do not want it. It is not up to clinic staff to decide for themselves that this or that performer is a troubled soul who needs to be counseled, voluntarily or not. I’d say that would be more the jurisdiction of Ms. Lubben and her crew.

Meza is certainly right about one thing. When she says AIM can’t claim to regulate the health of all performers in the industry, she’s absolutely correct. In fact, if she’d bothered to read those papers she was given before her first test, or watched the Porn 101 tape that came with them, she would have known that AIM says and has always says exactly the opposite. AIM has no regulatory powers of any kind and doesn’t want them. Ultimately, staying healthy in any career, in any life, depends on responsible behavior by individuals.

Cry about it all you like. It’s a fact that cannot be altered by any act of legislation or administration. If people are careless and foolish, no matter what protections are put in place, they will get hurt and/or sick. This does not relieve those they work for of all responsibility for preventable medical misfortunes, but the reality of it is that primary responsibility, in practical terms, will always rest with those whose health and wellbeing is at stake.

Every single piece of literature, all AV materials and all counseling available through AIM makes this point repeatedly, yet we continue to get the blame for the actions of individuals over whom we have no control whatsoever.

But whenever I have demanded, as I invariably do when confronted by AIM’s loud-mouthed trashers as I so often am, what they would, realistically propose to replace the current system, they have no answers. Though some like to rant about mandatory condom use as the solution to all these problems, there is no evidence at all that such a system, which as I’ve explained before would likely result in the end universal testing in porn, would be safer.

Even so, if I really believed that those pushing this bullshit were well intentioned if misguided souls accidentally making the perfect the enemy of the good, I might be less vitriolic in my approach to them. But I don’t believe that for one minute.

It’s not AIM that doesn’t care about the health of performers. Those of us associated with the organization have worked endless hours for little or no pay and put up with every kind of abuse and harassment, official and otherwise, precisely because we do care.

It’s those who want to make the porn industry as dangerous as possible in order to create a justification for destroying it who care nothing about the health of performers.

Michael Weinstein and AHF sued Pfizer for selling Viagra because it allegedly encouraged unsafe sexual behavior. Shelly Lubben has made the rounds of every talk show and been interviewed on every religious right Web site in the Western Hemisphere. These are professional self-promoters whose main cause is getting money and attention for themselves and their organizations.

Cal-OSHA and L.A.D.O.H.S are bureaucracies currently dominated by a prohibitionist mentality that will never be content while porn can be made legally in their jurisdictions, and they’re willing to lie and break the law with hesitation toward that purpose.

Worst of all, these corrupt individuals and institutions have a pretty good chance of getting what they want. The porn industry has been very slow to respond to this political threat, being still preoccupied with the fading issues of content-based prosecution (though as I’ve already said, content is very much what this whole controversy is about, as our new batch of opponents regard our content as socially irresponsible). It has not mounted an aggressive campaign to counter the disinformation slung at it or taken seriously the impact of multiple fines and constant inspections and complaints through administrative processes on their ability to stay in business.

The people who can afford to wage this new fight better wake up, and fast. They need to open their eyes and their checkbooks and start paying for legal action and assertive public relations campaigns if they want to remain in existence, because they face a sophisticated new alliance of foes bent on using every means to deny them that right.

As a coda to this discussion, I’d like to make note of the fact that a stuntman named Anislav Varbanov was killed in an accident at Disney World last week. Deaths in mainstream entertainment are far from uncommon. I pressed Peter Kerndt hard to come up with a single clinical death attributable directly to het porn during the four decades since it became legal.

He couldn’t do it. But he did admit that there had been plenty in the gay porn community. You know, where they don’t do AIM testing but rely on condoms. While no doubt many of those infections happened off camera, we’ll never know because of the lack of testing.

Hardly a month goes by without AIM preventing an HIV+ aspiring performer from entering this industry by detecting his or her status on the initial test. We’ve saved countless lives this way.

Mr. Weinstein, Ms. Lubben, Dr. Kerndt, Dr. Fielding, Ms. Martin, Mr. Fryer, I have a question for you.

How many porn performer’s lives have you saved?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Great HIV-in-Porn Fracus Continues:The Weinstein/Lubben Alliance Bites Back

So now, the folks who want to impose condoms on the mainstream sex media have now put their chips (and their lawsuits) on the table. And as is the usual with such matters, strange alliances (well, not quite so strange considering the issues) have been created on the fly.

Gram Pomante gives the entire story in his blog:

Cal/OSHA plaintiffs save adult DVD industry

The solution to the dying adult DVD market? Large-scale purchases for the purpose of registering complaints.

Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) yesterday filed complaints against 16 porn companies with Cal/OSHA, stating that the adult industry's "blacklist" of condoms contributes to unsafe workplaces.

AHF president Michael Weinstein and his staff collected 58 DVDs from companies like Hustler, Anarchy, All Media Play ("This Ain't the Partridge Family XXX"), Mayhem, Backend Productions, and Vivid ("Drenched in Cum") featuring several scenes of condomless double-penetration and less strenuous activities that an AHF press release calls "potentially life-threatening."

An additional complaint was filed by former performer Jan Meza, who performed as Elizabeth Rollings for two years in such films as "Hot Sexy Plumpers 14" and "Thick 'n' Chunky Fat Freakz."

[original snapshot of Rollings' complaint redacted, can be seen here.]

AHF associate director of communications Lori Yeghiayan said that the choice of DVDs cited in the complaint was random, but that the purchases were made at traditional brick and mortar outlets.

"The collection process (of the DVDs) was not particularly scientific," Yeghiayan said. "We wanted to get a cross-section of what was available, and picked up movies from what seemed like the most prolific companies at places like (West Hollywood's) Pleasure Chest and a couple of places in the Valley."

Yeghiayan said the decision to file a complaint based on unsafe practices depicted in the movies was consonant with AHF's mission statement, "Cutting-Edge Medicine and Advocacy Regardless of Ability to Pay."

While the adult industry does not have a formal blacklist against condom use - it rarely has a formal anything - both the market and working performers tend to agree that condoms don't lend themselves to short-term profit.

"Condoms just don’t feel good to suck on, or to take in the ass, hard and fast," said performer Belladonna. "If I were required to use condoms, my performance would most likely suffer, and in the end I would suffer."

Not only that, but organizations like AIM Healthcare, the de facto STD testing facility for Porn Valley's performers, also maintain standards that AIM is fond of saying makes porn performers less-STD-ridden than the general population of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) disputes this.
According to figures cited by DPH, there were 2,013 documented cases of Chlamydia among LA porn performers between 2003 and 2007. In the same period, 965 cases of gonorrhea were documented. Many performers suffer multiple infections. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the hardcore industry in LA County. DPH attributes the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms.
But, AHF's Weinstein says, the DPH does not or cannot enforce its own suggestion, hence the need to file complaints over its head.

"Los Angeles County Public Health officials cannot keep passing the buck on this by playing ping pong on this with the state and the industry itself," he said. "That is why we are filing these complaints with Cal/OSHA today."

That by itself would be news...but guess who Weinstein decided to bring forth to butress his case for mandatory condom use. Some one we all know and love, do we???

AIM's safety claims were also disputed by members of an organization called the Pink Cross Foundation, which joined AHF yesterday in its caravan to Cal/OSHA's office in downtown Los Angeles.

The Pink Cross Foundation was founded in 2008 by former prostitute and porn performer Shelly Lubben, who "conquered the horrible effects of her past and became a Champion in life through the power of Jesus Christ." Other members of Pink Cross include Jan Meza and Michelle Avanti, whose experience in more than 100 adult scenes resulted in
"catching STDs all the time. My lower body hurt so badly and at times my private area felt like it was a blazing fire. I could no longer work because I caught so many STDs and infections. I believe that if condoms had been allowed to be used in my own films, I would not have suffered so many physical ailments and infections."
Lubben says that consumers should be aware that porn stars are diseased.

"We want the fans to know what they're contributing to," Lubben told the LA Times. "They're demanding harder and grosser porn. We want to educate them to exactly what they're watching -- diseased people [emphasis added]. It's illegal for bodily fluids to touch skin, and yet it happens every single day in the porn industry."

Cal/OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said the agency would investigate the combined claims.

"They have a valid point here," Fyer told the Associated Press. "The blood-borne pathogens standard is designed to protect workers where there is risk of transmission of diseases through bodily excretions that occur as part of adult film activity."

Yeghiayan said that AIDS Healthcare was "not ruling out" additional complaints against larger studios or adult Internet companies.

If Cal/OSHA succeeds in making condom use mandatory and if both fans and performers won't tolerate it, Vivid co-founder Steve Hirsch suggests a third option.

"If Los Angeles County chooses to enforce mandatory condoms," he said, "what you'll see is all adult production leave California. It will move to other places."

Hirsch did not say where. but I hear Detroit could use some help. "Hotown" has a nice ring to it

Ahhhhh, that's real nice.
So, Weinstein, in his zeal to protect porn performers from themselves and "save" their industry, uses an antiporn fundamentalist Christian whackjob along with her ex-slut/ex-porn ministry as a foil for his public attempts to impose his agenda on them. What's next...getting Donna Hughes and Samantha Berg as support witnesses?

And yeah....kinda hard to say that you are saving people when you call them "diseased". Kinda like calling sex workers "prostituted women", ehhh??

Once this case gets flipped out of court without cause, I hope that Weinstein gets sued for libel and slander.

I'm thinking that AIM and Porn Valley is already organizing a response to this nonsense. And I'm guessing that our man on the case has a trick or two of five in store for these fools as well.

But...I'll save that for Ernest's ultimate response to this news. Anytime you're ready, Counselor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When Right-Wing Feminists Attack

The fight in Rhode Island over keeping indoor prostitution legal has descended into some decidedly muddier territory recently. First, a couple months ago, arch-prostitution foe Donna Hughes weighed in with an editorial in the Providence Journal basically calling the pro-sex work people who testified against the legislation a bunch of stinky tattooed freaks. Next, the ever-charming Judith Reisman weighed in a couple of weeks ago calling academics supporting prostitution decriminalization "The Academic Pedophiles and Perverts Party". (This was followed by another lovely missive a few days later.)

Not to be outdone, Hughes recently added a blog post to the Citizens Against Trafficking website, in which she launches into a McCarthyist tirade against the "sex radical" cabal (notably Ronald Weitzer and Elizabeth Wood) opposed to criminalizing legislation, even going so far as to use out-of-context statements to paint Elizabeth Wood as a "sex offender". The title says it all – "International Sex Radicals Campaign to Keep Prostitution Decriminalized in Rhode Island". Subtitled "Part 1", which I guess means one tirade won't be enough.

Renegade Evolution reposts Hughes rant and adds her own commentary here. Snowdrop Explodes gives Hughes a good fisking and says pretty much everything I'd have to say about it. Michael Goodyear gives a more formal response, taking down Hughes with a simple dose of facts and a clear appeal to ethics. Elizabeth Wood councils staying on the high road and focusing on opposing criminalizing legislation rather than mudslinging with Hughes. I second that and those of who are motivated to action by this incident would be well advised to take Woods advice and focus on joining the fight against the Rhode Island legislation rather than getting sidetracked into a pissing contest with Hughes.

At the risk of mudslinging myself, I think some background on Hughes and Reisman is called for, for those who may not be familiar with them –

Donna Hughes is a University of Rhode Island women's studies prof and "anti-trafficking" activist who pretty much erases the line between the radfem section of the anti-porn and prostitution movement and the far-right, religiously-based one. She has the dubious distinction of probably being the only person who has been published in both Rain and Thunder and National Review. Unlike other radfems, who hold to some pretense of being more or less leftists or progressives, she quite openly professes her alignment with conservatism and the Republican Party. (Albeit, the recent PUMA/New Agenda movement has raised the visibility of openly right-wing feminists.) She's was a big fan of GW Bush, and goes so far as to state, "by supporting the abolitionist work against the global sex trade, he has done more for women and girls than any one other president I can think of." Along with fellow right-wing radfem Phyllis Chesler, Hughes wrote a Washington Post editorial calling on feminists to realign with conservatives, including the Christian Right, against the sex industry and Islamism. (Which I guess amount to some kind of twin patriarchal hydra in their estimation.)

Judith Reisman is a right-wing sex researcher who's relationship with mainstream scientific sex research is analogous to the relationship of "creation science" to evolutionary biology. She has a special obsession with Alfred Kinsey, who she accuses of being, of course, a pervert and a pedophile, and father to a vast sexologist/pervert/queer/pedophile conspiracy to destroy America's moral fiber. Alternet published a good expose on her 5 years back. (This being in the days before Alternet started publishing articles that were actively praised by Reisman.) Reisman is one of the main proponents of the fringe idea that pornography stimulates the brain to produce "erototoxins" that lead to addiction and general degeneracy. Although Reisman has spent the last 25 years working the far-right side of the political street, in her early years she did outreach to feminist anti-porn groups (under her pre-married name, Judith Bat-Ada), and was well-received in spite of using many of the same "family values" and domesticity arguments she uses today. She occasionally is still positively cited by that crowd.

The interesting thing is, Hughes and Reisman go out of their way to paint their opponents as sexual extremists and beyond the pale of normal behavior, stooping to out-of-context statements to cast aspersions on their sexual practices. The saying about glass houses and throwing stones comes to mind, however, because a lot of the attitudes about sex coming from their side of the "sex wars" battle lines looks pretty extreme from where I'm standing. I've already noted where Judith Reisman is coming from. Another big name in the "prostitution abolitionist" movement is Sheila Jeffreys, who holds what can only be describes as some very anti-male and anti-sex views. I just recently came across a BBC program on Jeffreys ideological roots, which for the most part are motivations that largely drive her to this day. I've been meaning to post a pointer to it as its a very interesting and informative program, and since the topic of "extremism" has come up, the timing is perfect. (The video is divided into 6 parts – part 1 is here, the rest can be found here.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another Day, Another Liberal Porn-Bashing Article From Alter-Net

Apparently Don Hazen must be on the job again, because AlterNet just released another one of their classic porn-bashing articles...this time from Chris Hedges, writer for the liberal weekly The Nation.

Hedges, whom is described as a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, recently penned a book titled Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, which attempted a pithy criticism of modern American consumer culture for allegedly selling the illusion of unlimited desires and masking the reality of social, economic, political, and cultural disaster. Two paragraphs from his AlterNet article should suffice to understand his drift:

The cultural embrace of illusion, and the celebrity culture that has risen up around it, have accompanied the awful hollowing out of the state. We have shifted from a culture of production to a culture of consumption. We have been sold a system of casino capitalism, with its complicated and unregulated deals of turning debt into magical assets, to create fictional wealth for us and vast wealth for our elite. We have internalized the awful ethic of corporatism -- one built around the cult of the self and consumption as an inner compulsion -- to believe that living is about our own advancement and our own happiness at the expense of others. Corporations, behind the smoke screen, have ruthlessly dismantled and destroyed our manufacturing base and impoverished our working class. The free market became our god and government was taken hostage by corporations, the same corporations that entice us daily with illusions though the mass media, the entertainment industry and popular culture.

The more we sever ourselves from a literate, print-based world, a world of complexity and nuance, a world of ideas, for one informed by comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans and a celebration of violence the more we implode. We ask, like the wrestling fans or those who confuse love with pornography, to be fed lies. We demand lies. The skillfully manufactured images and slogans that flood the airwaves and infect our political discourse mask reality. And we do not protest. The lonely Cassandras who speak the truth about our misguided imperial wars, the global economic meltdown and the imminent danger of multiple pollutions that are destroying the eco-system that sustains the human species, are drowned out by arenas full of fans chanting "Slut! Slut! Slut!" or television audiences chanting "Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!" The worse reality becomes, the less a beleaguered population wants to hear about it and the more it distracts itself with squalid pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip and trivia.
Of course, what Jerry Springer groupies, pro wrestling fans, and gonzo porn have to do with the economic inequality and political cataclysm is a mystery to all but Hedges...especially since he tends to color his words with the usual amount of older generation hubris and moral scolding about how wonderful things were in the past, when books reigned supreme rather than the Internet.

And of course, porn is seen by Hedges as a particularly corrosive and toxic influence on American culture...the selling of "lies" over "love".

Right off the bat, Hedges plays the classic antiporn liberal cards of "pedophilia" and "child corruption" and "corporate profiteering", using stats he must have borrowed from Chyng Sun or Maggie Hays.
The largest users of internet porn, which is slowly draining away profits from magazines and DVD sales because so much of it is free, are between the ages of 12 and 17. And porn producers know their market is increasingly underage. "The age demographic has moved downwards, especially in the UK and Europe," explained Steve Honest, the European director of production for Bluebird Films. "Porn is the new rock and roll. Young people and women are embracing porn and making purchases. Porn targets the mid-teens to the mid-twenties and up." There are some 13,000 porn films made in the United States a year. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs and the ever-expanding E-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That's more than the revenues of the leading technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $ 10 billion or higher. There is no agency that does precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation's largest corporations. General Motors, for example, owns DirectTV, which distributes over forty million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are the currently biggest American companies accommodating porn users with The Hot Network, Adult Pay-Per-View and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers.
Now, conflating the main audience of porn consumers with the media companies who make money on them (as if Yahoo!, EarthLink, Google, and Microsoft ONLY get their profits from adult consumers of porn, or that the major media conglomerates are so dependent on explicit sexual media that they absolutely would be bankrupted without them) is bad enough....but reducing the entire demographic of porn consumers to teenagers??? Really, Mr. Hedges??? Are there really that many teens stealing their parents credit cards to get into those adult websites?? And what about the most recent surveys that have shown that the largest base of users of porn tend to come out of the most right-wing religious sectors...the very folk who are the loudest against porn's corrosive effects on society?? I guess that proves his theory that porn is the capitalist's way of desensitizing people??

Now, you would think that this would be followed up by a in-depth analysis of what "gonzo porn" really is, and an analysis of why it is supposedly so corrupting. You would be wrong, in this case....what we get from Mr. Hedges is an elongated profile of...a gonzo porn starlet. In this case, we have Ariana Jollee talking up a gang bang shoot.

Ariana Jollee, 21, is sitting in a motel room, beside a particleboard desk and a bare white wall giving a pre-film interview for the DVD 65 Guy Cream Pie, a gangbang film produced in 2004 by Devil's Film. In the film she has sex with 65 men who stand in two lines, their pants unzipped, on either side of her. She is smiling at the camera. Jollee has sleek dark hair with bangs, a tribal armband tattoo around one bicep, and wears jeans and a loose black tank top. She has rounded arms, full cheeks and a slightly heavy chin. Jollee started doing porn in 2003 when she was 20 in a film called Nasty Girls 30. She has done hundreds of films and is one of the industry's premier "gonzo" girls, purportedly enjoying extreme abuse. Jollee tells her audience that she performed in a 21-man gangbang on her 21st birthday. She says she is looking forward to doing the same now with 50 men, although this number climbs to 65 on the set. "Cream pie" refers in the world of porn to men ejaculating on a woman's anus or vagina, rather than ejaculating into her mouth or on her body.

"I'll be banging fifty guys - fifty, fifty, fifty! Maybe more even. That'd be cool. So I'm like really excited."
Of course, it doesn't take very long for Hedges's real agenda to expose itself.

"If you're watching this before the scene, you're in for a fucking treat. Each one of those motherfuckers is gonna, you know, it's gonna be the ride of their lives." She nods thoughtfully. "But, who knows," she throws her hands in the air, "maybe they'll fuck me up. Maybe they'll really, like, teach me a lesson." She throws a small smile at the camera. She scratches her knee absently. "We'll just have to wait and see. Maybe I'm not as insatiable as I think I am. We'll see. I'm excited."

She concedes that when it is over she will "look like shit" but will be "well fucked." The interviewer asks what condition her vagina and anus will be after having sex with that many men. She speaks of her body parts in the third person: "They can take it. They want it. They like it. They go back to size after. Pussy's tight. She always goes back to size." The degradation she endures has turned her body into something she no longer consciously recognizes as herself.
[Emphasis added by me.]

Yup...because we all know that having sex with fifty people in a gangbang porn shoot and refering to your naughty bits in the third person is certainly degrading and defiling, since sex should only be used for the highest pursuits of love and intimacy and growth. Just as our media should only offer "good", "life-affirming" "progressive" politics that empower and enlighten the public into acting like "informed human beings" (and would do so were it not for the evil consolidation of capitalists selling cultural poisions like porn and pro wrestling and Jerry Springer reruns and "Judge Mathis"/"Judge Judy" pseudo-reality shows). Therefore, if we only would cast off "gonzo porn" (or porn of any kind) and reteach our youth the glorious powers of revolution through intellect rather than through their crotches, then we would have single payer health care, an end to war as we know it, and probably even a return to the glory days of the Liberal American Century.

Of course, Hedges has no intention of actually listening to and understanding what Ariana is actually saying and feeling, because he is so much in his own fantasy world of demonizing her profession and her personal sex life as inherently "degrading".....just like the antiporn feminist and the Christian fundamentalist he supposedly maligns for all kinds of social evil.

Anyone can tell me how this is any different from the core attitudes of the Right?? And why we shouldn't simply call out Chris Hedges as a modified liberal version of Shelley Lubben??

No...liberal elitism isn't always an oxymoron. Especially when it comes to sex....or imposing one's morality on others.

Update: Our Roman God Emperor Hostess now spaketh on Hedges: Two thumbs down, one loaded boot up. And I don't mean a computer booting up, either.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Curioser and Curioser ...

Following the bummer news that the Obama D.O.J. continues to prosecute pornographers, and that world-class anti-porn political hack Brent Ward remains safely ensconced as head honcho of the still-operational Obscenity Prosecution Task Force created under W., we get this odd follow up from

Barry Goldman Obscenity Case fuels debate on Venue Shopping

President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has quietly agreed to move a pornography prosecution out of socially conservative Montana to more urbane New Jersey – fueling perceptions by some attorneys that the new administration is stepping back from the aggressive approach the Bush administration took to prosecuting obscenity.

“This is a substantial change of position,” said Louis Sirkin, an attorney who has represented many in the pornography industry, including Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. “The new administration has come in there and made a new determination….It certainly is different than what we have seen in the past.”

“I think it has a lot to do with the change in administration,” said a former federal prosecutor, Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School. “It makes you wonder how far they were pushing the envelope before…..These cases are fraught with problems and are not a high priority.”

The Justice Department issued a press release Friday evening announcing that Barry Goldman, 58, of Jersey City was indicted by a New Jersey federal grand jury for shipping what prosecutors said were obscene DVDs to Virginia and Montana. Goldman allegedly operated a web-based business called the “Torture Portal.”

The press release didn’t mention that Goldman was indicted by a federal grand jury in Montana last August for some of the same shipments, which he unwittingly made to the FBI. Nor was it mentioned that Justice Department prosecutors challenged a federal judge’s ruling transferring the case to New Jersey—before abruptly dropping the fight in May and agreeing to the transfer.

Since a 1973 Supreme Court decision required juries to assess “contemporary community standards” in obscenity cases, the venue for such prosecutions has become a pivotal issue. Critics of Republican administrations have accused them of deliberately bringing such cases in conservative places like Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Venue “is everything in obscenity cases. It’s the whole ball of wax,” said Larry Walters, an adult-industry defense lawyer.

Social conservatives railed against the Clinton Administration for not prosecuting adult obscenity and were disappointed when few such cases were brought in the early years of the Bush Administration. Things perked up a bit in 2005 when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales set up an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which ultimately focused on prosecuting fetish, bestiality and so-called fringe porn.

Six months into the Obama Administration, the task force is still in business and is still headed by a former U.S. Attorney for Utah under President Ronald Reagan, Brent Ward.

“Ward is still around. This has been somewhat surprising to a lot of us,” Sirkin said.

Since Obama’s inauguration, prosecutors have pressed on with pending obscenity cases and accepted guilty pleas in one high-profile prosecution brought in Pittsburgh. However, there have been no announcements of new adult obscenity indictments, a trend that Justice Department officials declined to discuss, though they did note that federal prosecutions for child pornography have continued apace.

Earlier this year, Goldman’s public defender, David Merchant, asked Billings, Montana-based Judge Richard Cebull to transfer the case to New Jersey because there was no apparent connection to Montana aside from undercover FBI agents asking Goldman to send the DVDs there. “There is no doubt that this case…is the epitome of venue shopping,” Merchant wrote.

In March, Cebull, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, agreed to ship the case out to New Jersey. He noted that an undercover FBI agent from Virginia first met Goldman at an adult entertainment convention in Las Vegas in 2006. “This court is concerned with taking up Montana court time with out-of-state defendants who could potentially be prosecuted elsewhere,” the judge wrote.

Prosecutors quickly moved for a stay of Cebull’s order and then filed a rare mid-case appeal with the 9th Circuit, asking the court to expedite its consideration of the issue. After the judges agreed to hear arguments in early June, the Justice Department abruptly reversed course, saying that the indictment should never have been sought in Montana in the first place.

“The government has re-examined its charging decision,” prosecutors wrote on May 22. “After further internal deliberation and consultation, the government has now determined that initiation of this particular prosecution in the district of receipt, although legally appropriate, is not consistent with an internal Department of Justice policy,” the government said.

Prosecutors said that policy, dating to 1979 or earlier and included in the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, says postal obscenity cases “should not ordinarily” be filed in the district where an undercover agent had materials sent unless the defendant had some other contacts with that district.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, declined to discuss the internal deliberations that led to the government’s change in position. The department determined “that the most appropriate venue in which to charge the case is New Jersey, where the defendant resides and from where the material was allegedly mailed,” Schmaler said in an e-mail.

Asked about the Justice Department’s official explanation for its change of heart, Merchant told POLITICO: “I’m afraid my government is not telling the truth in this case.”

However, the defense attorney said he doubted the move had to do with Obama appointees. “I’m still waiting for the audacity of hope to appear…It has nothing to do with this administration,” Merchant said. “Nobody can figure out why they took their ball and went home, except for the idea that they were going to make bad law” if they lost the appeal.

“I’m actually surprised to hear they re-indicted the case,” Merchant said. “In New Jersey, everybody’s going to shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Who cares?’”

A conservative anti-pornography crusader, Janice Crouse of the Concerned Women for America, said she was troubled by the move. “New Jersey is far more lenient on these kinds of matters than Montana,” Crouse said.

“So this represents a softening of the DOJ. Pornographers….are now finding circumstances where they can get a better deal than they have in the past.”

But Patrick Trueman, a former obscenity prosecutor pressing the new administration to do more to battle pornography, said critics were jumping the gun by blaming the Obama team for moving the Goldman case.

“I don’t think it’s any indication the Obama Administration is taking a dive,” he said, while adding, “If I was in the department, I’d be arguing against doing this.”

Obscenity cases are politically sensitive for the Obama Justice Department because the deputy attorney general, David Ogden, was criticized by Republicans during his confirmation for his past legal work for Playboy and other purveyors of sexually explicit material.

Analysts see other political factors at play as well. The U.S. Attorney who brought the first Goldman case last year, William Mercer, had close ties to the Bush administration and in an unusual arrangement served as the No. 3 official at the Justice Department. In addition, complaints from Ward about alleged resistance to bringing obscenity cases reportedly played a role in the firings of at least two of the U.S. Attorneys whose dismissals by Bush in 2006 sparked controversy and investigations.

Adding a new political dimension to the saga, the case filed against Goldman last week was assigned to Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr. of Newark, a Clinton appointee. In June, Obama nominated Greenaway to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. The Senate has not yet acted on the nomination.


So, now we have a case brought under Ward likely to be supervised by David Ogden (not the great hope to me that he is to some but clearly no friend of Ward's) and tried in a liberal state under a judge appointed by Bill Clinton. Patrick Truman may not think the Obamites are "taking a dive" on this case, but is sure looks like it to me.

And the methodology is so in keeping with the Obama approach, which is long on symbolic gestures and short on substantive actions, in this instance probably for the better.

He can certainly claim that his administration continues the battle against the "harms" of pornography to help keep Cat MacKinnon off his back, while at the same time fixing the fight so that his resolve in the matter is never really put to the test. The Goldman case will now probably result in a dismissal or a plea bargain to some very minor charge, making it easier for the D..O.J. to cop a plea of its own regarding future proceedings. These cases are hard to win. They cost a lot of money and use up valuable resources needed to prosecute Bernie Medoff. "Controlling" the dire menace of pornography is really more a problem for Congress and for regulatory agencies than it is for the cumbersome criminal justice system and blahblahblah.

Meantime, though no one will much care, Goldman will be put out of business, driven into bankruptcy by legal fees, publicly reviled in media far and wide and generally sent down into what an attorney friend of mine called "the hell of being a defendent in a federal prosecution." From that hell, he will never fully emerge. Even if he foreswears his evil ways now, short of joining up with Shelly Lubben, he will never be able to scrub off the stain of having peddled "torture porn." Worse, if he ends up pleading out to some lesser offense, he'll still have a criminal record that will live on in various government computers well past the end of his own natural life.

Thus, as appears to be the pattern, Mr. Obama and his crew will have offered up something to everyone without really giving much to anybody, save for his own political allies. At the end of the day, Goldman will be unemployed and Brent Ward won't be.

If this is the change for which voters in overwhelming numbers cast their ballots, I'd have to say what they've come away with so far, on this and many other issues, is chump change.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shelley Lubben, The Fundie "Ex-Porn Slut" Ministry, And How To Respond To Its Distortions

I recently discovered a blog entry over at the gossip site extolling the virtues of former porn performer turned born-again fundamentalist Christian Shelley Lubben, who was boasting about her latest converts away from porn and to "the light". Her particular ministry, the Pink Cross, specifically targets porn performers who may be more vulnerable due to their financial or personal situations, and feeds them the usual message of shame and humiliation and self-hatred and the usual stories of personal destruction due to the evils of porn, along with the promise of renewal if they would simply renew their faith in "the blood of Jesus" (or something similar thereof).

Similarly, most of you who frequent our hostess Renegade Evolution's regular blog know about Rebecca Mott, the former prostitute/sex worker turned antiporn/antiprostitution activist who makes a similar push, but from a more secular, radical feminist perspective. She is often used by similar antiporn feminist activists as the prototype of the typical sex worker/porn starlet who reflects the ultimate suffering and loathing redemmed through getting "saved" and "rescued" from the evils of "sin" (or, in the case of radical feminist converts, "male depravity").

Their own retelling of their own active experiences of violence and harm within the "sex industry" are personal and powerful enough to warrant respect and legitimacy, and can sometimes make a critique of their professed ideologies much harder, due to the stated and well practiced policy of not attacking female victims of violence. Indeed, antiporn advocates have made it a cottage industry to use people like Lubben and Mott as human shields and projectiles to prove the ultimate menacity of the "sex industry", and as a weapon against those within the industry who may not share their basic abolitionist beliefs.

However, there is now beginning to emerge an effective counter-response from women within the industry which do seek to defend both their own experiences and their chosen profession against the attempts of people like Lubben and Mott to exploit their personal experiences.

Over at my SmackDog Chronicles blog, I have compiled as seperate pages (as a means of seperating them from my regular blog) pieces, articles and essays from two porn performers -- Vicky Vette and Kayden Kross -- who both have been accosted and have aggressively responded to the harassment and propaganda of Lubben and her disciples. All the pieces are excerpted from their respective MySpace pages.

Kayden Kross Lays The Smack Down On Shelley Lubben

(Kayden's original response to Lubben's mythology about her profession.)

The Kayden Kross Smackdown Continues: Shelley Lubben's Stat Rape Exposed
(Rebukes an attempt by Lubben to used biased info to pass a "porn tax" in Callifornia last year.)

One More Whack Of The Lubben Loony Tree From Kayden (via MikeSouthdotcom)
(This essay dissects some Farley-esque statistical book cooking by Lubben regarding the profligacy of STI's within the porn industry.)

The Shelley Lubben Smackdown Continues: Vicky Vette Gets Her Vent On

(Vicky responds to a "witness" email sent to her by a Lubben disciple.)

Vicky Vette Smacks Down "Kyle", A Ludden Groupie

(Vicky encounters the "wrath" of a particularly pesty fundamentalist...and gives back in kind.)

Still More Vicky Vette Tit-Whacking of "Kyle" The Fundie (What Eleventh Commandment??)

(Vicky follows up with a response to a particularly aggressive fundie Lubben supporter.)

These articles say as much about Lubben and her supporters complete lack of respect for the women they allege to want to "save" as they do the strength of the women who vigorously defend their right to their profession and to their love of sex in general.

Besides...I could use the extra traffic....been a bit quiet there of late.