The Top Ten Lawmakers Influencing Online Adult Content

Jerald Citron
Although the adult webmaster can make a good living through entertaining online patrons with steamy content, it’s important to remember that there are lawmakers who make their living by fighting against the same. The movement to ban or tax online adult content has its roots in morality, greed and plain old political expediency. Politicians today find the adult battlefield a convenient ground to fight on — a good way to convince your voters that you care — without really doing anything controversial. The fight against immorality has been going on since this nation was founded. Things haven’t changed, but the backdrop now includes the Internet. This list represents a sample of the current forces that have sought to ban salacious content for ages. Among these 10 politicians are genuine moralists, hypocrites and pure politicians.

Some of these choices have had an amusing influence on this debate, yet imagine the havoc wreaked on the adult world if these 10 controlled the world’s Internet content. It is a good thing for the adult entertainer that our judiciary has undone a great deal of their restrictive laws.

1. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.
Because it’s a time of war and many young men and women are making the ultimate sacrifice, Paul Broun of Georgia shoots to the top of our list. In his selfless desire to support the troops, Broun has proposed the Military Honor and Decency Act, which would even ban adult content magazines on military bases. Ironically, when faced in the spring with the new GI Bill (HR 2642), which expands educational benefits to returning veterans, Broun voted a resounding nay. Thankfully, the new GI Bill passed, and the Military Honor and Decency Act didn’t.

2. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.
Mike Pence is famous for his successful championing of the Truth in Domain Names Act. Despite free speech concerns, the bill, which passed under the larger umbrella of the Amber Alert Bill, made it illegal for anyone to display unsuitable material using a domain name that is deemed as “misleading” and intended for children. The ACLU wrote to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., warning that “the term ‘misleading’ is inherently vague, which tends to chill protected speech on the Internet.”

3. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah
Despite the fact that you have constitutionally guaranteed free-speech rights, Chris Cannon seeks to limit your federal rights to exclusively how states define them. Under his bold, draconian legislation, the Pornography Jurisdiction Limitation Act, states would be able to limit the free speech rights of adult content without any chance for a federal appeal. This Guantanamo-like legislation declares that “the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction to hear or decide a question of whether a state pornography law imposes a constitutionally invalid restriction on the freedom of expression.” Although the bill has little chance of passing and is of dubious constitutionality, we can rest assured that Cannon won’t make our Top 10 list again. Thankfully, he is now a lame duck in Congress, having lost his own primary to Jason Chaffetz on June 25.

4. Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Without dispute, David Vitter ranks in the category of hypocrite. A supporter of abstinence teaching in schools and further restrictions on Internet content, he has been caught patronizing prostitution rings in both Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. Speaking about sex crimes after his own admissions, an unrepentant Vitter warned us, “In this Internet age, the fight against these predators has shifted to cyberspace.”

5. Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Calif.
Just when you thought it was safe to be a democrat, Charles Calderon of the 58th District in California, showed the true colors of his fellow revenue-hungry legislators. Although moral issues don’t play as well to the democratic base, spending programs do. To finance these programs, Calderon has proposed a staggering 25 percent tax on “gross revenues from the sale of pornographic magazines, photos, books, films and videotapes and on the gross earnings of live sexually explicit entertainment and pay-per-view pornography provided to hotel guests.”

6. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho
We don’t need Sigmund Freud to remind us that sometimes that which we seek to repress lurks within our own minds — Larry Craig is now a constant reminder. Being one of the most ardent moralists in Congress, Craig recently pleaded guilty to sending foot signals to an undercover cop in a bathroom stall in Minnesota. Undaunted by his own apparent hypocrisy, Craig still champions an Internet Security and Safety section of his website, warning children that “developing online friendships is fun, but avoid meeting for real.” All of this after allegations arose in 1982 that he had sexual encounters with underage male pages. In all fairness, Craig has been defended by the ACLU for his recent tryst in the men’s room.

7. Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah
Orrin Hatch has not only defended 18 U.S.C. 2257 to the peril of free speech and the online community, he wants to expand the spirit of this regulation by championing Rep. Pence’s bill (HR 3726) in the Senate. HR 3726 expands 2257 to R-rated movies, gives prosecutors unlimited subpoena powers and covers digitally manipulated images in which no real sex is occurring. Fortunately, Congress never voted for Pence’s law, knowing that most of it would not pass constitutional muster.

8. Assemblyman Kevin Joyce, D-Ill.
As a state legislator who felt federal attempts to restrict content in libraries weren’t going fast enough, Kevin Joyce launched the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act. Similar to the Children’s Internet Protection Act, the state bill, which is now law, again places the burden on individuals who wish to view adult content using library Internet access. Even the Illinois Library Assn. has condemned the law, asserting that “filters provide a false sense of security and block important information.”

9. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
During the 106th Congress, while seeking the republican nomination for president, John McCain moved to introduce the Children’s Internet Protection Act. This bill, though noble in intent, forced all libraries and schools that received federal funds to technologically block websites that were deemed to be “harmful to minors.” McCain’s legislation placed the burden on the citizen wishing to view adult content in a library or school. As the law was implemented, only “an authorized individual may disable the technology protection measures for adults in order to enable bona fide research or other lawful purposes.” Many of the provisions of this act have been found unconstitutional by the courts.

10. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
The liberal senator from California has long been seeking to restrict Internet file sharing under the guise of protecting copyright laws. Barbara Boxer has found a new angle to this, teaming up with republican lawmakers to limit file sharing of adult content. By marrying copyright enforcement to Internet decency laws, she pleases multiple bases within California. Boxer reasons that, “If you don’t move to protect copyright, if you don’t move to protect our children, it’s not going to sit well.”


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