Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gail Dines Raises The Bar Of Mount St. BS To New Heights: The #2257 Issue

[Originally posted at Anthony's Red Garter Club blog]

[Updated....scroll to bottom.] 

Did you really, really think that Gail Dines would not parlay her recent alliance with the US Department of Justice into more publicity for her antiporn efforts? And, did you really, really think that her "friends" over at CounterPunch would not aid and abet her efforts by giving her their bandwidth to spout her crackpot junk science about porn and "corporate profiteering"?

WRONG...and WRONG.

For those of you not in the know...Gail was summoned by the US DoJ to be one of their key witnesses in defense of the 2257/2257A regulations, which require porn performers and producers to provide federal authorities with detailed information about performers in order to verify that they are of legal age to shoot sexually explicit material. Last week, federal district Judge Michael Baylson ruled that the regulations were mostly legal and justified, throwing out a challenge by a group of performers and producers through a lawsuit that had been filed by the Free Speech Coalition, one of the main legal support groups for the adult industry. (An appeal to the Third US Appelate Court is enniment.)

As we all know, Gail Dines is not known to be silent when things go her way....and yesterday [8/1] she used her usual perch over at CounterPunch to strut and squawk about the ruling and how it marks a significant victory against the "corporate lobbying" efforts of "Porn, Inc."

Basically, it's the typical Dines boilerplate...except with the volume of bullshit jacked up to, shall we say, a thousand.

Hate to do this -- AGAIN -- but her latest essay deserves another run through the Great Red Garter Fisk Machine.

Before we begin, though...you will notice that for this essay, Gail saw fit to include her husband, Daniel Levy, in this broadside. That's new for her, since she mostly owns her broadsides by herself (when Robert Jensen's not sharing the byline). He's credited in the CP piece as an "expert consultant", and the director for an org called "Center For Sustainable Enterprises And Regional Competitiveness", based at the Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston. Wait, screech, hold up a damn minute...isn't Gail supposed to be such a Marxist that she rejects corporate enterprise as tainted by the "patriarchy"/"porniarchy"? But, since this is CounterPunch, I guess for this case that including her hubby would upgrade her "leftist" anticorporate cred a tad.

So much for the prelims...here we go.

Corporate lobbyists suffered a major defeat recently when Philadelphia-based US District Court Judge Michael Baylson upheld federal regulation 2257, which requires pornography producers to maintain documentation that performers are at least 18 years old. The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the porn industry lobbying group, had challenged 2257 on First Amendment grounds claiming that the law is overly burdensome and chills free speech.

This case highlights how porn has become big business, flexing its political muscles to fight regulation it sees as costly with wanton disregard for the consequences. At the same time, like other industries confronting controversial issues, the porn industry has tried to burnish its public image by promoting itself as a good corporate citizen that can be trusted to self-regulate.

Note from the start how Gail totally objectifies (irony in that) the individual performers and producers who launched the lawsuit against 2257 in the first place, reducing them to the level of eunuchs for the Free Speech Coalition, whom has always been elevated in the cracked head of Dines to be the porn equivalent of Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, and Apple. Never mind that even the FSC's lobbying budget wouldn't pay a day's salary of George Zimmerman's lawyers, or that not even the porn performers themselves see the FSC as the sole representative ageny for defending the industry. Most of the legal work is done by independent unattached lawyers to begin with; and since there is no true organization of porn performers or Adult Performers Guild where performers can pool their resources in defense of their profession, much of the legal status of porn is more of a crap shoot based on the local attitudes and the willingness of the authorities to lay off the whip. In short, the FSC will not be comparable to Porn Harms or the Family Research Council, let alone the Business Roundtable or ALEC, anytime soon.

Nowhere is this cynical behavior more blatant than in the case of the porn industry-backed non-profit group Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP). ASACP was founded in 1996 by the porn industry and claims that it “battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline” and is “dedicated to online child protection.” Yet the same industry has spent many years trying to undo the very regulations that attempt to shield children from being exploited.

The FSC, a non-profit that is “the trade association for the adult entertainment industry,” is actually in bed with the ASACP. Both organizations have similar membership and funding from porn industry players across the value chain from producers to online distributors and webmasters. For example, Manwin, the largest multinational porn conglomerate in the world, was the FSC Benefactor of the Year in 2012 and the only diamond donor to ASACP. XBIZ, a major porn industry association, held a joint fundraiser for FSC and ASACP at its awards ceremony in January 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City. FSC itself is a member of ASACP.

Because, you see, only an antiporn authoritarian like Dines would consider it "cynical" that people who have been legally burned and destroyed by trumped up fake charges of "child pornography" would form an organization dedicated to the reduction of illegal underage exploitation, and even offer their services to aid law enforcement in aggressively tracking and eliminating whatever illegal underage exploitation actually exists. Also, the fact that FSC contributes to ASACP, and that Manwin contributes to both FSC and ASACP, only proves that the industry is pretty deeply concerned with fighting against illegal use of the underaged in sexually explicit media...but why let that truth get in the way of a good slanderous smear?

So....where's the hypocrisy of this? Here's where Gail gets real.

Why is the overturning of 2257 such a priority for the porn industry? To answer this, we need to go back to 2002 when the Free Speech Coalition had its first major victory, in the Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition decision. Arguing that the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act -  which prohibited any image that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” – limited the pornography industry’s free speech, the FSC succeeded in narrowing the law to cover only images of actual minors. The path was cleared for the porn industry to use legal-age performers but make them look much younger.

A great etology of fiction, I'd say. Someone might want to remind Gail that the original challenge to the 1996 act passed by Congress was not only from the FSC, but also from a cacphony of artists, performers, and civil libertarians who shared the FSC's core belief that the original law was woefully overbroad in covering not only actual children, but also "virtual" images which could have been interpreted by some authorities as encompassing "kiddie porn". Also, the original decision by the SCOTUS only struck down the two provisions of the 1996 law that specifically dealt with "virtual" images of "kiddie porn"; it did not challenge any of the existing laws concerning actual exploitation of real underage folk.

But, all that is inmaterial to Gail, since she wants to exploit this bit of successful "corporate lobbying" as a hook to her main thesis as to why porn should be banished....errrrrrrr, why 2257 is still desperately needed to reign in those nasty porn lobbyists.

Following the Ashcroft decision, Internet porn sites featuring young (and very young-looking females) exploded, and the industry realized that it had hit upon a very lucrative market segment. Our research demonstrates that “teen porn” has grown rapidly and is now the largest single genre, whether measured in terms of search term frequency or proportion of web sites. A Google Trends analysis indicates that searches for “Teen Porn” have more than tripled between 2005-2013, and teen porn was the fastest-growing genre over this period. Total searches for teen-related porn reached an estimated 500,000 daily in March 2013, far larger than other genres, representing approximately one-third of total daily searches for pornographic web sites. We also analyzed the content of the three most popular “porntubes,” the portals that serve as gateways to online porn, and found that they contained about 18 million teen-related pages – again, the largest single genre and about one-third of the total content.

Let us ignore for now the research fallacy of using a 1996 SCOTUS decision as a direct cause of events occuring nearly 10-20 years later, and focus on the "teen porn" phenonemon that so disturbs Dines to the point of apoplexy.

First off....hate to break this to you, Gail, but the law states that intent does not matter when it comes to legal adults consuming legal adult porn featuring legally-aged men and women; you can dress a 50 year old man in Pampers and that will still not make him 17 years old. The fact that some adult women may "look" like they are underage matters about as much as the crackpot theory that since some performers "look" like they are in pain when they are in the state of orgasm in their sex scenes, that proves that they are really being raped and abused.

And this nonsense about "teen porn" being the #1 profit leader for porn?? Really?? You mean that the MILF/Cougar phenonemon, the "Sex Teacher" craze, the Hollywood porn spoof factory, and the rise of the Internet and free amateur porn has no juice whatsoever in driving the profits of adult media??

And also...maybe Gail would benefit from actually analyzing who actually does the searching for "teen porn", since she would probably find that the overwhelming majority of the searchees are...surprise!!!....TEEN ADULT BOYS who get off on sexy girls of their similar age group. Not Lolita seeking dirty old men, Gail...young adult boys who probably want girls who don't fit into the old porny stereotype of fake boobs, fake hair, and fully shaven hoohas.

Naaaahhhhh....Gail's right; it's just evil men seeking their potential rape and abuse targets to jerk off to in their basement dungeons.

And speaking of stereotyping....get a load of how Dines describes "How Porn Uses 'Underaged Girls' To Pander To Pedophiles And Make Lots Of MONEY!!"

The pornographers use a variety of methods to make female performers look much younger than 18. In place of the usually large-breasted, heavily made-up women that populate much of Internet porn, teen porn sites are filled with young-looking females with petite bodies, small breasts, makeup-free faces with hair in braids or pony tails, surrounded by such childhood props as stuffed animals, bed sheets with flowers, and backpacks with cartoon-character motifs. It is not uncommon for the females to wear school uniforms, have braces on their teeth, and knee-high socks as they engage in hardcore sex.

First..."the pornographers", Gail?? You mean, porn producers and performers are of only one mindset, not actual individuals with diversity of sexual desires and tastes? Unlike, say, radical antiporn "feminists"??

But this is the true hilarity of Gail not only jumping the shark (actually, she passed that marker a long time ago with the "porn makes men force women to wax their pubes" smack), but now actively riding the EF6 Sharknado. So, if you happen to have a small body and real, small breasts and actively perform in porn, you must be underaged. Right, Professor....I'll forward your concerns to Rebecca Lord and Michelle Lay and Jayla Diamond and Carmen Valentina. If you wear braces or braids or ponytails and perform in porn, then you must also be underaged, too. Is that clear, Dana deArmond?? Melissa Dawson?? I mean, we all know that only pedophiles watch porn where the girls play schoolmates going after the hot teacher, right?? And, of course, we just can't have the pure and innocent Hello Kitty enterprise tainted and corrupted one bit by nasty slutty porn girls getting DP'd or 69'ed while flashing their Kitty nails on cam..amirite??

Even I, one of the staunchest Gail Dines critics this side of Jordan Owen, would not assume that Gail would degenerate this far to think that the only people who consumed porn were either old trenchcoat-wearing wannabe pedophiles or 15-year-old pubescent boys...or that such a thing justified forcing 35 year old porn performers to "show their papers" under threat of heavy fine or jail. But, absolute power can absolutely corrupt.

So, how does all this relate back to Judge Baylson's ruling?? Here's how Dines concludes her "essay":

The age documentation requirements of 2257 represent a key component of a legal struggle to prevent child pornography, especially in an age of fragmented and globalized production. Even though enforcement has been lax and software packages to manage 2257 compliance are available, the industry claims that it’s all too expensive and burdensome. Like the garment industry facing outrage over sweatshops, the porn industry wants to self-police. This “just trust us” approach helps resolve the paradox of the good cop–bad cop strategy of the industry’s twin non-profits, ASACP and FSC. If the industry wants to self-police, it needs to win the public’s trust that it can act with social responsibility AND challenge governmental regulation. But as Judge Baylson ruled, when a powerful industry is willing to do whatever it takes to maximize profits, self policing is not enough.

Once again, Gail attempts to seduce her logic to the CounterPunch audience by comparing the porn industry to "sweatshops"....something she actually attempted to do in her testimony before Judge Baylson intervened against it. And how interesting that Gail quotes the fact that "enforcement has been lax", especially since one of the principal pillars of Baylson's ruling is that porn performers and producers should have nothing to worry about enforcement of 2257, since it hasn't been enforced through inspections since 2008, and no inspections are planned in the future by the DoJ!!
Now, there have been some who have made a case that the approach of the FSC using "excessive and burdensome" regulation would be better served with a broader approach focusing on the potential impact of 2257 on a far broader range of free speech and expression. See here and here.

That debate, though, is irrelevant to what Dines is attempting in her slander of both FSC and ASACP as co-conspirators in keeping the dirty profits of "Porn, Inc." going at the expense of its "victims". As usual, Gail is appropriating Left populist anticorporate rhetoric as a crutch to sell her program of ultimately banning porn off the face of the earth...but if she can't get an outright ban like she favors in Iceland or Ireland, or David Cameron's porn filtering scam in Great Britain (which, BTW, Gail has been notoriously silent on staking a position for or against), then I supposed she's willing to settle for censorship by paperwork asphyxiation via 2257 until her radfem antiporn crusade gets a more stable political footing in the US.

It would be laughable it not for the stakes for freedom of expression here in the United States. And it would be farcical, were it not for "left" journals like CounterPunch enabling the fascist tomfoolery of Gail Dines while denying actual voices within the adult media who are far more worthy of their legacy any voice of rebuttal. It's past time for pro-porn voices from the Left to actively respond to this, before Dines' mountain of bullshit consumes them into irrelevancy.


UPDATE (8-5-13):

Heh...didn't take long for ASACP and the FSC to respond to Dines' smears, didn't it? Just posted today over at XBiz.com:

The Free Speech Coalition and ASACP both have come out in staunch opposition to an article published last week by political news website CounterPunch.com that says that the porn industry has tried to burnish its public image by promoting itself as a good corporate citizen that can be trusted to self-regulate.

The article, written by Gail Dines, who testified for the government in the FSC's challenge over 18 U.S.C. §§ 2257 and 2257(a), and professor David Levy, who chairs the University of Massachusetts' Department of Management and Marketing, focuses on the supposed might of the adult entertainment industry and the behavior by the two trade groups, specifically when it comes to prioritizing efforts to overturn the federal record-keeping law for producers.

[....]

 
Dines' and Levy's CounterPunch article has run afoul with leaders, as well as supporters, of the FSC and ASACP.

ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning told XBIZ that the authors' hit piece has "unfairly characterized" the ASACP, the FSC and the online adult entertainment industry in general.

"Dines’ campaign of misinformation misses the fact that legitimate adult entertainment producers do not object to verifying the age of their performers at the time of production, but in the case of 2257, may have objections over details that are unworkable in the digital era, even if they were suited to yesteryear’s world of print-based publishing," he said.
 
"Disturbingly, Dines considers ASACP to be an example of blatantly cynical behavior, mistakenly tying the association to what she calls efforts 'to undo the very regulations that attempt to shield children from being exploited,'" he said.

"ASACP has never sought to fight regulation, but rather seeks to shape it in realistic and workable ways that serve to protect at-risk youth, without imposing unrealistic burdens on publishers due to legislator’s misunderstanding of today’s digital media ecosystems."

Diane Duke, who leads the FSC as its CEO, echoed Henning's take on contents of the CounterPunch article and said that Dines' "extremism will work in our favor in the long run."

"Gail Dines is, and always has been, anti-adult entertainment," Duke told XBIZ. "We knew going into this trial that Judge Baylson would likely rule against us as he had previously ruled.

"Our goal was to build a solid case for appeal. Dines dismisses the good work of ASACP and the FSC around industry self-regulation in an attempt to support her pro-censorship agenda."

Dines, of course, has been active through the years trying to set an agenda to decrease the "pornification of the culture." The professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in Boston also is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.

Calling the CounterPunch piece article "biased," Henning noted that the ASACP, formally known as the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, is not about providing lip service to stakeholders but about providing concrete solutions that help digital media publishers, institutions and parents work together to keep children out of and away from age-restricted materials.

"[C]ountless consumers view the ASACP logo as a sign that a site does not contain content depicting underage performers, shielding the viewer from inadvertent exposure to this material and providing trust in the product," he said. "This symbol is widely sought out by consumers as a sign of assurance, representing businesses that are committed to doing the right thing when it comes to protecting children."
 I wonder if CounterPunch has some good libel lawyers??

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