Posts Tagged ‘porn

18
Mar
13

Feminism or Fascism: Iceland’s Stunning Ban on Pornography May Be Spreading

Iceland recently made headlines with the latest project on its allegedly progressive agenda: a nation-wide ban on pornography.  No stranger to proscribing activities related to commercializing sex, Iceland has already passed laws banning printed pornography, prostitution and stripping, and has done so all in the name of feminism.  Rattling off the standard laundry list of the evils of porn, the Icelandic Parliament noticeably lingered on the “damaging effects” adult material has on the children who view it and the women who participate in it.  Iceland’s Office of the Interior Minister defended the ban by stating that Icelandic citizens deserve to live and develop in a non-violent environment, therefore, the resulting law is “not anti-sex, but anti-violence.”  What’s potentially more concerning is that this feminist backlash against commercial sexualization is gaining serious momentum throughout Europe, as evidenced by the European Union’s recent parliamentary vote on a blanket pornography ban.  Taking a page from the Nordic view on feminism, the EU claims the ban will foster gender equality and combat sexual stereotypes by sanctioning individuals and businesses “promoting the sexualization of girls.”  With Parliament disclosing very little about the potential ban, most Europeans are looking to the recent path blazed by Iceland for some guidance on what’s to come.*  So what is the likelihood of Iceland being the first democratic state to successfully ban pornography?  The answer to that question probably depends on your definition of success…

Given that Iceland is expected to implement similar blocking filters to those used in China and Iran, it stands to reason that Iceland would enjoy comparable success in restricting online content.  However, the environmental and temporal differences between Iceland’s efforts and that of middle and far east authoritarian regimes, shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.  Countries like China and North Korea limited citizens’ access to online content, but such restrictions have been in effect practically since the Internet’s inception.  Any armchair psychologist will tell you – and any parent of a toddler will confirm – it’s human nature to want what you can’t have.  And if whatever you can’t have, is something that was in your possession but was taken from you, well that ups the ante even more.  Like most citizens across the globe, Iceland’s people have had unfettered access to online adult material.  To put it bluntly, it doesn’t matter how inherently progressive a country is, when you confiscate a piece of personal autonomy, there’s bound to be consequences.

Even if the Icelandic government seamlessly weathers whatever discontent that’s thrown its way, there’s still the matter of enforcement.  Logistically speaking, Iceland will employ filters barring citizens from accessing flagged websites, and fire walls prohibiting Icelandic credit cards from purchasing adult content.  But what about the tangible transport of digital pornography?  Streaming, downloading and cloud access aren’t the only ways to retrieve digital content.  What’s stopping someone located in another jurisdiction from entering Iceland’s borders with a pornographic DVD?  With so many vehicles capable of transporting digital content, common sense says that it would be impossible to inspect each and every tablet, flash drive, laptop, and Smartphone that crosses Iceland’s borders.  As long as there’s been contraband, people have been smuggling contraband – the digitization of such contraband has only made it that much easier.

The ability to control infiltration of the banned content leads directly to the next hurdle – the black market.  We live in the Internet Age; every technological restriction is met with a response circumventing that restriction.  Whether it’s a scrubbing tool used to mask IP address identification or software that scrambles collected geo-location location, there are countless techniques enabling the average Internet user to evade government-imposed limitations.

Without getting too high up on the First Amendment soap-box, this type of regulation tends to invoke the constitutional scholar in all of us.  If Iceland wants to completely ban pornography, exactly what kind of material is considered “pornography”?  Without careful and meticulous drafting, any such law will inevitably encompass content as innocuous as the mere display of genitals.  Some reports say that the ban would only include “violent or degrading content.”  As admirable as that is, we’re still left with the subjectivity surrounding the definitions of “violent” or “degrading.”  Another variable to throw into the mix in determining what would constitute pornography is the intended purpose of the material in question.  Specifically, was the content created for private consumption or commercial use?  If Iceland’s chief concern is to prevent the commercialized sexualization of women and children, logically, only material disseminated commercially would violate the ban and any application of the law beyond that specific scope would be a flagrant infringement on privacy rights.  Given the widespread creation and sharing of private erotica, a substantial amount of pornographic material would presumably be unaffected by the legislation.

In a very short time, Iceland will undoubtedly find itself at the age-old prohibition impasse, asking which holds more clout: a government imposed ban or the tenacity of those looking to circumvent that ban?  As shown with most government-sanctioned goods or services, a black market develops; those participating eventually monopolize the marketplace; a consistent profit is generated; and ultimately standard supply and demand principles are used to exploit and perpetuate a marketplace devoid of legislative supervision.  Government-imposed prohibitions might change behavior, but a behavioral change does not prove that the problem was solved; only that it has been forced underground.  On that note, one must question whether the “problem” existed in the first place.  One person’s degrading porn, is another’s…you know the rest.  Ultimately, Iceland is unlikely to become a porn free zone irrespective of the pending legislation.  If history has taught us anything, it’s if there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

*As this post went to press, the EU Parliament voted against the anti-porn proposal due to censorship concerns: “Language that would ban online pornography has been dropped from a report approved by the European Parliament.”

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14
Feb
12

The Politics of Porn – 2012

By the close of 2011, the Republican presidential hopefuls had their work cut out for them. It was starting to look like the people had gotten their fill of Michele Bachmann’s eccentricities. Such a sentiment was confirmed at the Iowa Caucuses, when the Tea Party Chair, receiving only 5% of the votes, placed sixth among the other candidates, ultimately resulting in Bachmann’s withdrawal on January 4, 2012. Despite consistent double-digit polling numbers since early fall, January claimed another candidate in former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman. Withdrawing from the race on January 16, the former ambassador pledged to ”stay relevant” in the race, and has kept that promise by actively supporting Mitt Romney. Then, of course, there’s Herman Cain – once his luck ran out with the ladies, the voters soon followed. Despite suspending his candidacy back in December amidst allegations of sexual misconduct, Cain has done his best to remain in the spotlight, still lobbying for his 9-9-9 Plan and has yet to formally endorse one of his former competitors. And we can’t forget 2012’s latest casualty, Texas Governor, Rick Perry. After his promises to end “Obama’s war on religion” evolved into concerns of Perry’s War on the Establishment Clause, steam behind Team Perry was waning towards the end of 2011, and finally came to an end on January 19.

At this point, it’s almost mid-February and oh how the tides have turned. Deemed a misfit for most of his political career, Ron Paul has ridden the ‘rebel, nonconformist’ wave all the way to its peak. With that success, comes mainstream popularity and partial loss of Paul’s famous underdog status. Struggling to reconcile the Congressman’s political identities, voter support seems to be reaching a plateau, although not necessarily declining. The likely result: Paul is applauded for his valiant effort, but ultimately directed by the GOP powers-that-be to graciously keep the rebel rousing within the confines of the Texas state line.

Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was thought to be down and out this past summer after a series of questionable spending excursions and the infamous mass exodus of several high-ranking campaign officials. But ever the true politician, Newt has overcome the instability of his early campaign and gained enough momentum to be considered a genuine presidential hopeful.

Probably the biggest candidate surprise of the campaign thus far is former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum. Battling disheartening numbers since the day he threw his hat into the ring only to surge ahead in 2012 by winning four of the eight presidential primaries thus far, Santorum is the very definition of a ”comeback kid.” Making no apologies for his socially conservative politics, Santorum ready and willing to squeeze out the very last bit of libertarian influence that might be left in the GOP, and based on recent numbers, he might just be able to do that.

The one constant since the beginning of the campaign trail is Mitt Romney’s title as the election’s front-runner. Romney is currently blowing everyone out of the water with ninety-five pledged delegates; that’s more than the other three candidates combined. Maybe the American people think a business consultant as President is the only way to completely pull out of this economic tailspin, or maybe we all harbor deep-seeded respect for Mormon’s with good politician hair – either way, Mitt Romney isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

So what do the Republican Presidential candidates have to say about adult entertainment issues? Not that the Obama Administration has been the champion of personal freedoms that was originally hoped for, but at least the DOJ’s decision to focus on child pornography instead of filing any new obscenity cases allowed the industry a bit of momentary relief. However, it’s safe to say that if a Republican takes over the presidential seat, it’s going to be a different ballgame all together.

According to Morality in Media’s (“MIM”) President, and former DOJ official, Patrick Trueman, “Vigorous prosecution of those who violate our nation’s obscenity laws is critical now. Our nation is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography that is readily available – even to children on the Internet and in other venues.” Trueman has targeted Santorum, Romney and Gingrich for months, requesting that the candidates take a public stand in favor of his anti-porn efforts.

Heading straight for the newbie, Trueman successfully got Santorum to sign the Family Leader Pledge (made famous by former candidate Bachmann’s ”ban on porn”) all the way back in July of 2011. The pledge requires Santorum to uphold, among other things, the “Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy — our next generation of American children — from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”

Nothing if not persistent, Trueman continued MIM’s crusade this past October by demanding that the 2012 presidential candidates publicly disclose “their respective views on the enforcement of obscenity laws.” MIM officials eventually obtained statements by all three of the frontrunners after calling on MIM followers to continue the crusade through emails, calls, and meetings with the candidates urging them to respond to MIM’s request for disclosure.

In his response to MIM, Santorum wrote: “Federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced. If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so.”

In a one-on-one interview with MIM staffers, Gingrich was asked if he will enforce existing laws that make distribution of hard-core adult pornography illegal, he responded:”Yes, I will appoint an Attorney General who will enforce these laws.”

The only candidate to reference online content in his written reply to the MIM demand, Romney stated: “It is imperative that we cultivate the promotion of fundamental family values. This can be accomplished with increased parental involvement and enhanced supervision of our children. It includes strict enforcement of our nation’s obscenity laws, as well as the promotion of parental software controls that guard our children from Internet pornography.” Although, Mitt’s status as one of MIM’s golden boys of piety may have hit some rough terrain as it was revealed that everyone’s favorite squeaky-clean Mormon accepted a maximum amount campaign donation from Daniel Staton, chairman of the board of the company that owns Penthouse. While this may not be tantamount to accepting a donation from Max Hardcore or Extreme Associates, this minor campaign faux pas is going to raise more than a few eyebrows.

With MIM sparking GOP discussions of a resurrection of strict enforcement of obscenity laws, notions of MIM President’s Trueman staging a re-entry into politics seem unsettlingly attainable. So is the country in imminent danger of the DOJ turning into the “Trueman Show” come January, 2013? Hopefully not, but with polling data saying one thing, schizophrenic primary numbers saying another, and public opinion exhibiting an extreme of the two on any given day, it truly is anyone’s race. The stakes are high for the country and our Constitutional freedoms. And with the top three presidential candidates pledging to reinvigorate the ‘War on Porn,’ one can’t help but hope that the adult industry won’t be one of the losers in 2012.




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