According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, John Ashcroft’s Justice Department is finally going to start going after porn. “Nothing is off limits,” it says, “even soft-core cable programs such as HBO’s long-running Real Sex or the adult movies widely offered in guestrooms of major hotel chains.” It’s a running joke that the President has picked eminently unsuitable cabinet appointments (for instance, his Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, previously made her paycheck lobbying for polluters), but when it comes to prosecuting pornography, John Ashcroft may well be the worst choice it was possible to make, as he is now required to pre-judge the opinions of average Americans. The obscenity statute we have today results from a 1973 Supreme Court decision which held that material is obscene if, “an average person applying contemporary community standards finds it patently offensive.” As Attorney General, it’s John Ashcroft’s job to look at (or more likely, read a summary of) a specific piece of porn and decide whether to prosecute, based on those criteria. How is a notorious prude supposed to do that? We’re talking about a man who thought “Footloose” had a tragic ending. So how exactly is he supposed to determine whether an “average person” finds (to pick a random example) anal fisting to be “patently offensive?” Gallup polls? Sure, trying to draw a line between the “obscene” and the merely tawdry is kind of silly, and not really possible; but that makes it doubly silly to ask a man like Ashcroft, who is as remote from modern notions of sexuality as he is from Mars, to make the same distinction. But thanks to Bush, that’s his job! Granted, he did promise upon appointment that his religion wouldn’t affect his job, but I’m pretty sure he meant to say, “…unless I am asked to rule on anal fisting, in which case God has the final word.” Well, it’s a moot point to argue about it now; we’re stuck with Ashcroft for the moment, and possibly for another four years. And just as putting Gale Norton in charge of the Interior has had the expected consequences (dozens of EPA enforcement lawsuits against major polluters being dropped), so will Ashcroft’s pornography crusade. The DoJ has already announced its intentions to go after, not the most extreme porn, but the most widespread and popular, in an effort to be “as effective as possible.” If they’re successful, mainstream companies (like the cable providers and hotels) will shy away from porn, and it will get more difficult, maybe impossible, to purchase legally-made porn. What happens then? What will we have when there’s no more legal porn? According to Ashcroft, one presumes we’ll have a porn-free America, moral and pure, with the re-emergence of soda-fountains and poodle-skirts just over the horizon. According to me, and history, and common sense, we’ll have a thriving market for illegal porn. Tens of millions of previously-law-abiding Americans will become criminals overnight, and will find that the rights to privacy that might once have protected their secret nudie-stash have disappeared in the battle against terrorism. Thousands of porno-producers, finding themselves suddenly on the wrong side of the law, will realize that they no longer have any particularly compelling business reasons to pay their actresses well, or to ensure that they’re over 18, or to require STD tests. For that matter, why pay the actresses at all? Getting them addicted to heroin would probably be more cost-effective. In short, porn will join prostitution and drugs on the black market; one more “War Against…” for us to fight. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe America will just give up on porn and go back to reading the Bible at night. I wouldn’t bet on it, but our Attorney General seems ready to – and he also hates gambling.
Mafia endorses Bush campaign, film at eleven
April 6th, 2004 by Weis · No Comments