FSC Concludes 2-Day Lobbying Push

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Free Speech Coalition concluded a two-day trip to the state's Capitol, making rounds to state legislators' offices and hosting a panel discussion that examined porn compulsion.

“We met with the staff or dropped off information at almost every office in the Capitol building,” FSC lobbyist Kat Sunlove told XBiz.

“The only office we didn’t get to was Gov. Schwarzenegger’s,” she said, “but we’re fine with him. He signed our legislation last year.”

Schwarzenegger approved an FSC-sponsored bill that allows businesses whose records are seized to continue operating with reasonable access to essential files.

Former Gov. Gray Davis had vetoed a similar bill, saying he did not want to give aid to pornographers.

Tuesday’s reception at Sacramento’s Sheraton Grand Hotel was well-attended, according to Sunlove, featuring appearances by adult actresses Nina Hartley, Sunny Leone, Stormy Daniels, Britney Andrews and Inari Vachs.

Monday’s panel discussion, which was also held in the Sheraton ballroom, drew a larger-than-expected crowd of 80.

The forum, titled “Today’s Porn: Entertainment or Addiction?” brought together several divergent viewpoints on the issue — an inclusiveness that was absent, Sunlove stated, from Sen. Sam Brownback’s recent hearings in Washington.

“To examine an issue of such importance to our industry and to society without allowing us to participate is tantamount to censorship,” FSC Executive Director Michelle Freridge said. No members of the adult industry were invited to speak at the Brownback hearings, she said.

The discussion featured panelists Carol Queen, director of San Francisco’s Center for Sex & Culture; Robert Lawrence, co-founder of the Center for Sex & Culture; George N. Collins, an expert of sexual compulsion; and Al Hernandez Santana, a political activist.

“There was an opportunity for the discussion to turn hostile,” Sunlove said. “And there were some fiery statements made, but the evening was always civil and polite.”

FSC board member and ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine agreed.

“There were no attacks, just questions,” Irvine told XBiz, characterizing the forum as “information sharing” rather than a debate. “It was very brave of the people on the opposing side to come out and talk.”

Irvine was particularly impressed with Collins, whose sexual compulsion involving Nina Hartley caused him physical pain when he finally burned her photos as part of his recovery. Hartley was sitting in the audience. Now happily married to his third wife, Collins proposed the dissemination of literature about porn compulsion, similar to casinos advocating services for gambling addicts.

“The adult industry is big enough and sophisticated enough that it can look at its own problems without closing ranks,” Freridge told XBiz.

Freridge supported Collins’ idea, saying “a proactive acknowledgment of the existence of porn compulsion can take the wind out of attacks” of the industry. Still, she stressed that a pornography compulsion, distinct from an addiction, is not about porn, but about compulsive behavior.

“A person who suffers from compulsive behavior would focus his compulsions on something else if porn were not available,” she said.

Freridge said that none of the evening’s panelists supported what she called the “junk science” aired at the Brownback hearings. Instead, the discussion focused on the role of porn in society and the lives of healthy adults.