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The FSC: An Outside View

The FSC: An Outside View

August 21, 2009
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" What people don't realize is that lobbying is like playing a game of chess "

Disclaimer: I write this looking at the Free Speech Coalition from the outside. While I volunteer for the FSC, and help them in any way possible from time to time, this is in no way a view of their policy. It is simply my opinion.

Recently the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) has come under attack from some inside the industry as being an ineffective waste of time and money. If you didn't know, the FSC is the trade association of the adult entertainment industry. You join by paying a yearly fee, and the FSC uses that money to do two main things: to lobby in California and D.C. to block legislation (laws before they become laws) that could impact you, and to assist lawyers representing others in free speech related case matters.

What people don't realize is that lobbying is like playing a game of chess, and to understand it involves a small lesson in eighth-grade government class. Some jackass do-gooder politician decides he wants to ban lap dancing in the state of Alabama. He puts in a bill that has the specifics of this proposed law typed up. The bill then goes to a committee and a sub-committee. For the bill to get back out of those committees, it has to pass with a majority vote. So if you live in Alabama and have a financial interest in lap dancing, you find out who the members of these committees are and lobby them. You take them (or their staff) to dinner, buy them some booze (and a lap dance or two), educate them about your industry and in some cases, make a campaign contribution. You do this enough, and you will have the votes needed to block the new law from ever happening, thus protecting your financial interest in lap dances.

The other key thing that people fail to realize is that like all "coalitions," it is difficult to maintain and keep everyone on the same page when all of them keep doing their own thing. One of the reasons a group like the NRA (National Rifle Association) is so successful at advancing its goal (keeping guns legal) is that their members stick to the program all the time. When there is a shooting on a college campus, the NRA has gun-rights advocates lined up ready to give the party line of "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." They don't bash each other, and the NRA sends out "talking points" to its members, so that when they talk to the press they know what to say. I am sure there are some NRA members who don't agree with everything the NRA advances. Yet they stick to the program; as such, the NRA is a very powerful and politically feared organization. Few politicians go out of their way to purposely piss off the NRA.

Even in cases where the gun owner or seller is at fault, NRA members shamelessly stick to the party line of "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" because they know a conviction against one person diminishes the gun rights of everyone.

Compare that to the adult entertainment industry and the inner turmoil the conviction of Max Hardcore threw everyone into. Half the industry roots against him in his obscenity trial and makes themselves feel better about it by saying it could never happen to them since they don't make hardcore content. All it takes is one irate county prosecutor wanting to make a name for himself or herself in the middle of the Bible Belt nowhere, and you, too, could be prosecuted. In reality, everyone wants to blame Hardcore, or Rob Black, or internal cumshots or faceshots or bondage or watersports or anal sex (the list goes on and on) for the intense scrutiny on free speech and the industry. In reality, though, we all need to stick together and say the party line "Screw you – we are within our rights to do it, so we are going to do it."

What is the best way to deal with a bully? Punch the bully in the nose! I think eventually the FSC will be able to do that using lobbying (to circumvent problems before they become problems) and the courts (to kick out existing laws that cause problems). However, neither process is cheap.

It is here the FSC faces a battle between big studios and smaller studios. There is no doubt the big studios probably do pay a lot of the FSC's bills, meaning they want more influence over the direction of the FSC. Both want their interests to be at the forefront of what the FSC does. It's a common theme in politics; since I pay the bill (or most of it) you will listen to me first and last before making a decision. It's kind of like a kid saying, "I'm going home and taking my football with me."

Holding a coalition together made up of so many factions is like trying to fly a kite through a tornado: nearly impossible. Even the "godly saint" of modern-day politics, President Barack Obama, is learning this. During his presidential campaign he campaigned towards so many different groups, and was able to build a coalition and win an election, and now that he is president they all want him to adopt their positions and agenda (and they get pissed off when he doesn't).

Can the FSC be a more powerful organization? Yes. I would love to see it become the bulldozer that runs over opponents and the organization that sends chills down the spines of opponents and leaves politicians saying, "The FSC is here – we'd better back down." Will they eventually be an organization that sends out a "target list" of enemies of free speech to campaign against? I hope so. Better yet, will they be an organization that is capable of making a political endorsement and following through on it by motivating people to go the polls to vote? I hope so.

I would love to see the FSC engage in political warfare with opponents. I think a lot of adult industry members get frustrated when they see attacks made on the industry, or a member of the industry, and then see the FSC take no action. The FSC should be a press release machine, launching attacks and counter-attacks at anyone and everyone who threatens the industry. The biggest thing I think the FSC can improve upon is reaching out to the non-industry.

At the AEE show each year, the FSC has a booth in the B2B marketplace downstairs. It misses the army. Everyone who comes to an AEE show, a strip club or an adult store and buys anything has some interest in free speech.

That is the army of change. Those are the people who will go home, and if educated properly, will take their ass to the booth and vote for the free speech candidate in the next election. Getting the FSC to have power will take this.

That may be the internal battle of the FSC. Some may want to keep it the "Trade Association of the Adult Entertainment Industry" and fight targeted battles with lobbying and courts, while others may want to make it an organization that does things on a much bigger scale, such as the NRA.

FreeSpeechRevolution.com was founded by Mike Dickinson. If you want to be involved, offer ideas or exercise your right to free speech and tell him you hate his ideas, please email him at Mike@FreeSpeechRevolution.com.


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