Monday, October 8, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies, Goddess Damn Lies...And The Campaign For Measure B...Now Venturing Into "Rescue Mission" Territory?? (Part 1)

The Really Big Lie campaign by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to pass Measure B -- the condom mandate in porn ordinance -- is now kicking into high gear, with the release of the sample ballots for the November 6th election to citizens of Los Angeles County. The sample ballot for Measure B, shall we say, is very revealing of the means to which proponents will resort to distortion and evasion, if not outright lie their asses off, in order to get their measure passed.

Steven St. Croix, whom has been one of the principled activists in opposition to Measure B, got his sample ballot last week, and ripped off a brilliant refutation and smackdown of the arguments used in favor of the measure. His breakdown is worthy of its own read; but there are some elements that deserve special attention. First, here's St. Croix's annotated version of the "Impartial Analysis" segment of the sample ballot:

First off...."impartial"???  From the same counsel that is promoting the ordinance?? Yeah, right.

Right off the bat, we see the first distortion (which St. Croix has annotated brilliantly): the notion that the full costs of enforcement of the ordinance will come exclusively from the forced permits imposed on the "pornographers" (more on that anon). This corresponds with the assertions of Michael Weinstein that no taxpayer money will be needed to enforce Measure B if it is passed, because it will all come out of the producers' hides with the permits forced on them. Problem is, those permits will have to fund the salaries and the activities of the investigators and "inspectors" who will be ensuring that porn shoots be wrapped up...and if it's going to be only fees from the permits funding the enforcement, then chances are that those fees will be through the roof..of the LA Coliseum.

Or: to quote directly the fact sheet from the anti-Measure B group Citizens Against Government Waste:

Film LA, Inc., the county film permitting agency, cites the cost of an average film permit as $625, but early estimates for Measure B permits by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health puts the costs as high as thousands of dollars per permit. The department estimates the initial startup costs to hire new inspectors, implement an inspection program and pay benefits at $300,000 with no idea of the program’s eventual costs.  Many production companies will either leave the county or simply go underground to avoid paying the fees, thereby necessitating the costs needed to develop an enforcement program to track down these productions.
And remember, Clones, that this measure would cover not just the big porn companies who shoot regularly in LA County, but could potentially affect anyone who does camshows or even runs her own website out of her private home. If you shoot any form of explicit sex, then you would be required to have the permit to shoot legally..and you would have to use condoms. Would you like to pay out your life's savings to AHF just to shoot a free condom commercial??

Of course, if no company bites on buying a permit and simply decides to either go rogue and risk fines and jail, or simply move their ops out of LA County, then the latter have a BIG problem of where to find the money to enforce the law. Which makes AHF's pledge not to attempt to issue a RTP for using their money and personnel to help enforce the mandate ring pretty hollow....especially since they have already commited to paying both LA County and the city of LA for all legal fees incured in defending the condom mandate law in court.

This other note of the "impartial analysis" struck me:

The Board of Supervisors reserves the right to amend in order to further the purposes of the measure.

So...does that mean that the LA County BoS can simply, at the first sign of AHF/CalOSHA bitching about not punishing the "pornographers" enough (or, if AHF needs to shake down more porn companies for money), alter the ordinance even further?? ended of them.

But...that's the "impartial analysis". Far more fascinating and disturbing is the actual argument that AHF puts forth to promote Measure B. Again, I borrow from Stephen St. Croix's annotated reproduction.

Notice, if you will, among the signatories of this agitprop -- not including Mr. Weinstein, of course -- are some of the more schemier propagandists for enforcing condoms in porn. Mark McGrath, if you will remember, was the official who first came upon Derrick Burts after the latter soured on AIM, and who  basically presented his original "case" of getting infected in a gay male porn shoot to CalOSHA and the LA County Department of Public Health. Paula Tavrow is the UCLA professor whom has been the chief academic booster for the condom mandate, and whose department of Reproductive Health has been most responsible for those wonderful hearings where the likes of Shelley Lubben have been allowed free reign to bash about "Morals Clauses" and rampant HPV and HIV in porn and how young girls are being "forced" and "abused" by the "diseased" industry.

However, you may not know about the "Senator Retired" Richard Palanco. I'll just let Michael Whiteacre fill in those blanks for you (comment to this post over at Michael Fattorosi's blog):

As for Richard G. Polanco, in 1991, AHF opened the “Richard Polanco HIV Clinic” in Hollywood. He has authored or sponsored pro-AHF legislation throughout his political career.

Back in 2001, he was seen as the presumptive front-runner to succeed termed-out Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez, but he abruptly dropped out of the race under the shadow of scandal. 

”He plays dirty politics — the Katz race,“ says one political insider, alluding to Polanco’s sponsorship of a last-minute 1998 primary-campaign mailer slandering Assemblyman Richard Katz as anti-Latino on wholly fictional grounds. 

Polanco was heard on a tape recording saying, “I’ll spend whatever it takes to beat that Jew,” according to a source close to the Katz camp who knows Polanco and heard the tape. Roughly a week and a half after that comment was made, Polanco poured $186,000 into (now scandal-plagued) Richard Alarcon’s competing campaign, money which funded the infamous mailer.

”He’s slimy,“ says another insider, citing Polanco‘s role in hardball City Council contests in Lynwood and Commerce, involving the contracting of city-attorney posts to Polanco allies.

Polanco now has a lucrative career as a lobbyist. Earlier this year he, along with LA City Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz, spoke at AHF’s 25th anniversary ceremony.
That would be the same Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz who got paid with direct contributions from AHF, and who just so happen to be on the very committee who is now charged with enforcing LA's new condom mandate law. (Though, they have said that if the county-wide ordinance passes, they would alter the city law to reflect the tougher language of the county ordinance.)

But, here's where the fascination begins: Let's go to one paragraph of Weinstein's defense of AHF that speaks wonders:
It isn't fair to ask the general public to pick up the tab for irresponsibility of this industry. It isn't fair that people, and the community as a whole, are contracting infections, some of them life threatening and lifelong, in order to make a living. Pornographers should not be exempt from the basic safety rules that protect everyone else. Public health should not be sacrificed on the false claim that this is a free speech issue; this is a public health and safety issue.
Riiiiiight. Except that "pornographers" are NOT exempt from "basic safety rules that protect everyone else", since they are required to report any and all cases of infection of HIV and certain other STI's to the LACDPH. And, no one but Weinstein (and Lubben, and probably Gail Dines and other antiporn "feminists") would even have the gall to argue that STI's begin in the porn industry and then make their way to the general public, and that only condoms are the solution to contain, if not roll back, the pandemic of STI's and HIV.

After all, we don't fight against influenza, which can potentially kill far more people than HIV/AIDS ever has in real life, by mandating that all food workers wear rubber aprons, goggles, face masks, and face shields, or that anyone suffering from the common cold be forced to work with "barrier protection"..or even be forced to gulp down loads of Dayquil or Advil. And, I don't see any cries for forcing NFL players to wear ankle or knee braces to protect themselves from career-killing knee injuries, or legislation forcing said players to wear neck braces to prevent against concussions.

And BTW, Mr. Weinstein, if porn performers are to become "employees" as part of your plan to impose condoms as a condition of employment, that would mean that they would potentially become eligible for workers' comp and medical benefits....meaning that the California taxpayer actually WOULD ultimately pick up at least a bit of the tab for their activities...especially if they become infected anyway with HIV because they had no idea that their screen partner was infected because you did away with the testing regime that protected them, and then the condom by some chance broke.

In addition..the old "public safety trumps freedom of speech" card is an old tried and true canard that has been used by authoritarians everywhere since the Age of Ever to suppress and beat down those who challenge their attempts to impose their fascist rule on others. Including, I might add, gay men. When you channel the likes of Jerry Falwell and Bryan Fischer to promote your initiatives, you can't call yourself "progressive".

Oh, but that's just the's the paragraph that precedes that last one:

Porn producers claim that requiring condoms will be a financial hardship on their industry. However, the lifetime cost of treating an HIV infection is more than $567,000. Since these performers are not provided health insurance by porn producers, this cost is most likely to be borne by taxpayers of Los Angeles County, as health care provider of last resort. The taxpayers are subsidizing the porn business. On the other hand, 100% of all costs of the permits and inspections required by this initiative are covered by the pornographers.

No, Mr. Weinstein...requiring condoms is not the financial hardship here. Having the county force a condom mandate that would require them to produce video content that has been thoroughly rejected by the consuming public time and time again, and forcing them to pay what amounts to shakedown money to AHF for free condom placement ads, and turning performers into guniea pigs for "safer sex" at the expense of their creative autonomy and their ability to make a living?? THAT would be the hardship.

And, that $567K figure for a lifetime of treatment for HIV?? (Which Weinstein really isn't complaining about in the first place, since most of that is money in his pocket and more scare tactics and fear he can use to shame people into submission.) Using the true stats about how many straight performers (4 in the 2004 outbreak, NONE since then) have actually been infected from HIV from porn shoots, that figure would amout to a whopping.....<gasp>....$2,448,000 of taxpayer expense. In 2004. (And, in the years following to the present time. That's a whopping $306,000 per person.

Not cheap, buuuuuttttttt...

By contrast, in 2004 ALONE, according to stats from the California Dept. of Public Health, during the period from January 2004 to January 2005 there were 4,646 confirmed cases of HIV in LA County...which, if multiplied by the supposed average cost of treating one single HIV infected person quoted by Weinstein, would come out to...$2.63+ BILLION!! In Los Angeles County ALONE. For people infected with HIV IN A SINGLE YEAR....ALONE.

Yeah, that's some bit of subsidy....for AHF. For the porn industry, which has not seen even ONE single HIV infection since Darren James/Lara Roxx et. al.?? Meh. Not so much.

(BTW..I got the numbers for confirmed HIV cases by surfing the CA Dept. of Public Health statistics and subtracting the cumulative numbers of confirmed HIV infections  in LA County for the period ending January 2004 (chart here-pdf) from the cumulative numbers from January 2005 (chart here). Unlike Weinstein, I back up my numbers.)

BTW, as well...please note that I am NOT making any case against having public funding of treatment of HIV-infected people; in fact, as a single payer radical, I find it to be the moral and right thing to do. But, to use public funding of HIV treatment as a cash cow for your organization and oppose so rabidly vaccines and other alternatives of HIV/AIDS treatment, while simultaneously clucking about how "the pornographers" are using the taxpayers' dime to infect the society at large.....that is what you call real hubris. Or...just plain gall.

There is more to the Lies of the Measure B proponents, though...and that will be for my next post.

Vote NO on Measure B!!

1 comment:

  1. The measure is supposedly to protect performer's health, but from reading this, it's obvious this isn't the real intention. First of all, they're only requiring condoms for vaginal & anal intercourse. If they were such a threat of HIV & other STDS, wouldn't they acknowledge STDs can be transmitted orally? You would think the AHF president Michael Weinstein would realize this.

    Also, how does the porn industry endanger the large community? Performers are the most highly tested individuals around, they are probably the safest people to have sex with. And even if a performer had an STD, isn't it the individual's responsibility to take precautions in their sex life? People are responsible for themselves.

    Those for Measure B argue that it's alright that the porn industry will loose money because the cost of treating HIV is over $500,000. But there hasn't been a single case of HIV since 2004. So they are basically making the industry pay for something that doesn't even happen. It is obvious this Measure is about getting money, & bankrupting the porn industry. Greedy people like this should not win, vote no on Measure B.