opinion

Law Beat: December, 2005: 2

Gregory A. Piccionelli
In part one, we began looking at reasons why you should be proud of working in the adult entertainment industry and beyond. The discussion continues now in this conclusion:

In 1986 the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (also known as the Meese Commission) reached the same conclusion and stated on page 337 of its final report:

"The fairest conclusion from the social science evidence is that there is no persuasive evidence to date supporting the connection between non-violent and non-degrading [sexually explicit] materials and acts of sexual violence." Simply put, there has never been a credible study that has found any causal link between the consumption of nonviolent adult content and crime of any kind.

The adult entertainment industry does not create, distribute or condone child pornography. For decades, some conservative politicians and religious extremists have tried to sell the American people "Big Lie #2": Adult entertainment producers are child pornographers. Industry foes' conflation of lawful, constitutionally protected adult entertainment and illegal child pornography into one generic category of pornography is both shameful and extremely insulting to the good people of this business.

To counter the claim that our business is in the business of child pornography, one only has to point to the 2257 compliance statement that is now on virtually every piece of adult content distributed in the U.S. by the adult entertainment industry. As virtually every participant in the industry well knows, such statements clearly indicate where the records can be found that prove that all the performers depicted in the content were adults at the time the material was created.

Despite recent propaganda from certain conservatives, consumption of typical adult material has not been linked to any harmful effects. Because industry foes have begun to realize that most reasonable people, when exposed to the facts, can quickly see right through Big Lies #1 and #2, many conservative politicians, such as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and some religious groups are now beta testing "Big Lie #3." A modern variation on the "masturbation will cause you to go blind" motif, this wishful theory concocted by religious extremists asserts that pornography is an addictive substance that destroys an individual's mental health and undermines the emotional foundations of the family. Of course, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to back up these claims. Consequently, if someone confronts you with this nonsense, I suggest that you tell the person you have equally valid arguments supporting the existence of cold fusion, Iraqi WMDs and The Great Pumpkin.

The adult entertainment industry has consistently been a front-line defender of free speech. No rights are more precious, more cherished or more critical to the health of our republic and the preservation of our freedom than our free speech rights. It is a credit to our industry that the adult entertainment business is without equal when it comes to defending those rights against governmental attack.

In the past 40 years, no industry has been forced to defend First Amendment rights more frequently or in as many venues as the adult entertainment industry. And while I'd like to think that the industry's successful defense of our freedom of expression is due to brilliant lawyering, every free speech attorney knows that the true heroes are the courageous adult entrepreneurs who have risked their liberty and the loss of everything they own to face down the mighty and formidable adversary of a government bent on breaking them and silencing their erotic message.

For example, one of the industry's true heroes, Phil Harvey (founder of Adam & Eve), successfully fought an eight-year David and Goliath battle against the federal government after it commenced multiple obscenity prosecutions against him in several states simultaneously in an unsuccessful effort to break his will and bankrupt his company. And of course, there is our industry's best-known freedom fighter, Larry Flynt, who took a bullet and became permanently disabled as a consequence of his courageous fight.

This list is, of course, not exhaustive. A comprehensive description of this extraordinary industry would easily fill the pages of a very thick book. But for some people, even the most comprehensive and laudatory description of the business would not change their opinion that the government should "clean up the pornography." Nevertheless, such a person confronted me, I would ask him or her to consider the following: The Department of Justice recently announced the formation of an "obscenity task force." Given that we are in the middle of a War on Terror and the government has not taken effective steps to prevent potential terrorists from crossing our virtually non-existent borders or attacking our unguarded nuclear facilities, harbors, rail system or information infrastructure; given the fact that Bin Laden has not been captured; given the government's horribly botched responses to several hurricanes; and given the government's utter lack of preparedness for an inexorably approaching influenza pandemic that could kill tens of millions, shouldn't the government be focusing on more urgent priorities?

It is hard not to believe that the Bush administration is motivated by something other than rationality to conclude that, at a time like this, consenting adults acquiring images of other consenting adults engaging in consensual sex is a matter of national urgency requiring the formation of a DOJ task force. But then again, I suppose it all comes back to that ignorance and intolerance that stigmatizes the good people of this industry.

Gregory A. Piccionelli, Esq. is one of the world's most experienced Internet and adult entertainment attorneys. He can be reached at Piccionelli & Sarno at (310) 553-3375 or www.piccionellisarno.com.

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