Land of the Free: Pornography and What We Are Really Fighting For

Diane Duke

Legions of rightwing moral activists – both groups and individuals, religiously and politically motivated –  believe that if they can eliminate the adult entertainment industry, the world will be a better place.

There are already many countries in the world where “porn” is prohibited; China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Vietnam and Pakistan, just to name a few. News broke this morning that Iran has sentenced two webmasters to DEATH for operating adult sites (one of these webmasters was operating in Canada, but was arrested when he traveled to Iran to visit his sick father). Perhaps anti-pornography activists should relocate to these countries and see if they like it better than the United States.

Because in the U.S., we have individual civil rights and one of these is free speech – that said, moralists are relentless in spreading their message of fear and “porn” is an easy target. Especially at a time when people are uneasy about the economy, the global political climate and many other everyday concerns; the “holier than thou” fear mongers are ready to build communities against an enemy. For people that are uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, their anxiety is easily provoked with misinformation about “porn addiction,” “epidemics,” “STDs,” “child pornography” and the spin around every other negative sex-related trending topic.

In just the last two months, several public figures have jumped on the anti-adult bandwagon, ready to  push their moral agenda. And very quietly, people are listening to their message without realizing they are at risk of losing their civil rights, bit by explicit bit.

Anti-pornography organization XXX Church will sponsor “Porn Sunday,” to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6. Participating churches will hold discussions on “porn addiction” and show a 30-minute video featuring, among other NFL players, Dallas Cowboys QB Jon Kitna.

In the original version of a promotional “Porn Sunday” video trailer, Kitna said when he entered college, he discovered the world of online porn and, at the same time, he began “drinking to blackout,” “cheating,” “stealing” and “womanizing.”

What is the point that Kitna is trying to make here? That “porn” caused him to act out compulsively? Well, there are plenty of people that enjoy adult entertainment that aren’t alcoholic and don’t steal or cheat their way through school. Why isn’t Kitna participating in “Alcoholic Sunday” or “Compulsive Behavior Sunday?” Maybe because those titles don’t draw attention (or flocks to churches) like the buzzword “porn?”

It should be noted that XXX Church has recently pulled the original version of the trailer and now has a more uplifting version available for distribution on its website. It also should be noted that there is NO official designation for “porn addiction” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) as of right now – but there sure seem to be a lot of therapists out there treating it. And a lot of those therapists seem to have a connection to some underlying religious/moral ideology.

In fact, a “porn addiction” center recently opened in the state of Utah, which, coincidentally, is also the state ranked No. 1 for viewing pornography online.  A recent article in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News explained corporate brands that have recently taken an anti-sexually explicit stance (in this case, pulling advertising from MTV reality show, “Skins,” which – by the way – is NOT adult entertainment). The article seems to suggest that the time has come for corporations to overlook the rights of Americans and move forward with anti-pornography policies, in order to save society.

The unnamed author said, “Without addressing the question of rights, companies must face the mounting evidence that pornography is costly to individuals and society.”

What evidence? There wasn’t a shred of evidence presented in this article. If Utah has the largest population of online adult viewers, where are the signs of moral corruption and societal decline? In Utah, more than 60 percent of the population is members of the Church of Later Day Saints – that sounds like the environment for a very pious, moral population.

Remember – no one holds a gun to your head and makes you watch pornography. You do not immediately receive porn on your computer monitor when you hit the “power” button – you have to go looking for it. No legitimate, legal pornographer wants children to be able to view pornography. No adult entertainment business wants to be involved in illegal activities in order to produce adult entertainment. The adult industry is already subject to a higher level of scrutiny than other industries.

And if you don’t like pornography, then don’t watch it. DON’T watch it – you have the choice and you should be thankful that you have the liberty of choice in this great country of ours.

But there are plenty of well-intended citizens that want to make that choice for you. They’ve already decided that adult entertainment is bad for you and they want to save you from yourself by taking away your ability to choose. That attitude is not only condescending, it’s dangerous. Because if they get to decide that porn is wrong and dangerous, then what’s next? Homosexuality? Controversial books? Provocative clothing? Profane words? Video games? Violent movies? “South Park?” Anything that THEY don’t like?

You know what they say about good intentions… the road to Iran, China and many other places is paved with them.

Anyway, here’s a laundry list of moralists that have targeted adult entertainment as the biggest point on the Devil’s pitchfork:

  • Republican politician Mitt Romney, who served on hotel chain Marriott’s Board of Directors until earlier this month, has been linked to Marriott’s recent decision to discontinue PPV adult entertainment in their hotels. Romney allegedly encouraged the decision after being criticized by conservative Republicans for his ties to a business profiting from adult entertainment. The AFL-CIO (the largest trade association in the U.S.) has criticized Romney for helping to eliminate a revenue stream that could provide higher wages for hotel union workers.
  • Media activist group Morality in Media recently appointed Patrick Trueman as its CEO. Trueman was former Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity at the Department of Justice under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is also founder of PornHarms.com, and anti-adult organization that researches the “harmful” effects of pornography.
  • Anti-pornography activist, feminist and professor Gail Dines recently penned this article about the big business of porn, and her experience at the AVN Adult Expo in January – except that she is describing her experiences at the 2008 AEE show, though this article was published earlier this month. She calls adult producers and directors “predatory capitalists,” and implies that they persuade and coerce the female performers in the industry to objectify themselves for profit – which implies that, unlike “feminists” like Dines, adult industry women are so weak and ignorant that they cannot make their own decisions. She also is the founder of anti-pornography organization Stop Porn Culture.
  • Anti-pornography evangelist Shelly Lubben and her Pink Cross Foundation actually did attend this year’s AEE, in order to “save porn stars,” as well as promote Lubben’s new book “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn” and her rap EP, produced by Christian music producer Fredrick “Ricky B” Burchell. Lubben has claimed, repeatedly, that her relatively short career in the adult industry caused her to suffer from mental and physical illness. Since becoming a born-again Christian, Lubben speaks at seminars hosted by churches and universities.
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) recently filed complaints with CalOSHA against adult producer Vivid Entertainment – the most recent action in their two-year campaign to force mandatory condom regulations on adult video productions.

And that’s just since December. These groups will always exist and because they have a right to free speech, they will continue to have a voice in public forums. But we members of the adult entertainment industry also have a right to voice our opinions. Since adult entertainment is a protected form of speech, we have a right to produce legal adult entertainment for adults, and citizens of the United States have a right to view it if they choose – and then they can decide for themselves, what is appropriate or inappropriate, right or wrong, bad or good. No one has the right to take that choice away from you, in the United States of America.

Free Speech Coalition serves as a pro-adult industry voice to the public, media and legislators. We do that on behalf of adult industry businesses and professionals – and on behalf of free citizens. – jc

(Graphic: Some rights reserved by Nuclear Vacuum – The red areas indicate countries where pornography is prohibited; yellow where there are restrictions; and green where pornography is legal.)

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