Watching laws being made is a similar experience. Long gone are the patriotic illusions I held as a girl when, in elementary school, I read “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”
Often, when I go on a lobbying trip or testify at a legislative hearing, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I witness the carcass of some cause, an industry or citizen’s dream, get tossed into the grinder. My last visit to the California state Capital, to fight a 25 percent California tax on the adult industry, was no different.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon brought a long list of people to testify. The first, a representative from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, spoke of the proposed cutbacks to law enforcement. He then mentioned a gentlemen’s club in Los Angeles that had more than the average number of police calls. He kept mentioning what seemed to be the same club throughout his testimony, pointing out how much that club — and therefore the entire adult industry — cost the state of California. I couldn’t seem to lose the notion that what he was really saying was, “Save cops - kill porn.” The officer seemed sound in his belief that no one has the courage to dispute him.
Next a gentleman who worked with “sex addicts” stated that pornography broke up families and ruined people’s lives. He failed to mention that people are compulsive about a number of behaviors — shopping, eating, running — and that it is the compulsive behavior that is the problem, not the medium through which it is manifested.
In a society rife with failed relationships and individuals unwilling to take responsibility for bad behavior it is so much easier to blame the adult entertainment industry than to face personal and societal shortcomings. Was he really saying, “Save families — kill porn.?” Who would have the courage to dispute him?
Then he introduced an “ex-porn star” who said that she was in the industry in the early ‘90s and remained in the industry for 12 years. As far as anyone in the industry can determine, her tenure was, at the most, just a few months. She spoke of rampant drug use in the industry, that all performers have sexually transmitted infections, and most are prostitutes without skills who end up addicted and dependent on state programs. Was she really saying, “Stop drug use, sex crimes, suicide and state poverty — kill porn?” Who is going to challenge her?
Calderon stood in front of the Taxation and Revenue Committee, a panel that he chairs, and lied about our industry counting on previously promulgated stereotypes and falsehoods to carry the bill. But the telling statement came when, after spending a good time speaking of the perils of adult entertainment, Calderon admitted, “Look, I don’t know anything about the adult entertainment industry.” Even with Calderon’s admission of ignorance, who has the courage to stand up and dispute him?
But, think of the damage that has been inflicted upon our industry. Calderon is getting national media coverage and, although we have produced reputable studies, expert testimony and witnesses disproving Calderon’s claims, those negative stereotypes about our industry are being repeated and reinforced.
When it comes to hot dogs and lawmakers, the one thing I know is garbage in, garbage out. If we want to have the truth told about adult entertainment and receive fair and balanced industry legislation, then we must get rid of the Calderon-like garbage in our state and federal government. Let’s not forget that these folks work for us, that we elect them.
It is time we all gather the courage and dedication to stand up for our industry with pride and say enough is enough, “Save California — support porn!”