Pornography

The War on Porn Continues

Three decades after the Reagan administration crackdown, the crusade against pornography is waged online and overseas.

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War on porn

Even before the Internet, Americans loved porn. In 1983, the three most popular nudie magazines—Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler—then ranked as the 14th, 17th, and 57th largest magazines in America, distributing a combined 9 million copies each month. The Playboy Channel, a pay-cable network devoted to the finer things in life, was in more than 700,000 homes. The Adult Film Association of America boasted that some 65 million X-rated movies-back when that's what they were called-were rented or purchased in 1984. All without a single connection to the World Wide Web.

But while millions of Americans appreciated pornography, their government didn't. The Reagan administration pursued a relentless crusade against exposed flesh throughout the 1980s. As Martin Morse Wooster chronicled in "Reagan's Smutstompers," an article in the April 1986 issue of reason, the effort was headed up by an odd alliance of socially conservative "veterans of right-wing trench warfare" and "radical feminists whose views are normally abhorred by the hard right." Reagan officials requested more than $5 million for a study they said would "scientifically identify and define 'pornography' and its variable effects on adults and juveniles."

The Reagan White House's anti-porn push was an outgrowth of a legal crackdown that began a decade prior. "Between September 1978 and March 1985," Wooster wrote, "the FBI launched 2,484 investigations into pornography, resulting in 118 convictions and $7.1 million in fines and confiscated property."

Three decades later, the crusade against pornography continues online and overseas. In the United Kingdom, Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron has long backed the creation of an opt-in system in which users must affirmatively choose to avoid government censorship. The program, first announced more than two years ago, went into full effect in January. The 20 million British households with Internet connections now must decide whether to opt out of a government-filtered Internet.

The optional content filter grew out of a government report on the "commercialization and sexualization" of children, and it was sold as a way of stopping kids from accessing pornographic content. But it blocks far more than explicit whoopee-making. An early version gated access to non-graphic "gay and lesbian" sites and to sex education materials. And the filter continues to restrict access to file sharing sites, regardless of what content is being shared, labeling them as "obscene content."

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  1. OT: (Alternate segue: Speaking of offensive material)

    Prof. David Bernstein admits that “because Ms. [Ayaan Hirsi] Ali engages in blanket condemnation of Islam, and has expressed the desire to suppress it by force, I think she was a poor choice for an honorary degree [from Brandeis] (though a fine choice as a campus speaker or honoree in other contexts).”

    Then he hastens back to the reservation by arguing that, once offered, the honorary doctorate should not have been revoked, citing in part the
    “precedent” where they gave an honorary degree to Tony Kushner.

    So, once they’ve made the admittedly wrong decision to grant a degree to Ali, they should have doubled down on the stupid and refused to revoke it, because they gave a degree to an unsuitable person in the past.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ntroversy/

    1. It should be noted that Kushner’s unsuitability is not due to his rather confusing public statements on Israel, but due to the fact that he’s a pretentious, one-note (you’re gay, we get it, Kushner!) hack of a playwright.

    2. How can you have an article about porn and go OT on the first post?

      1. Yeah, how about a link to some teenage Japanese girls playing “enema Twister”?

        1. That’s a genre I hadn’t considered….be back in 45 minutes.

            1. There is no way in hell I would click on that link.

  2. “Between September 1978 and March 1985,” Wooster wrote, “the FBI launched 2,484 investigations into pornography, resulting in 118 convictions and $7.1 million in fines and confiscated property.”

    What crime, I wonder, were those convictions generally for.

    1. Does the FBI even bother to disaggregate porn statistics or do they just lump child pornography in with the rest to justify their ever-increasing budgets?

      That was a rhetorical question.

      1. I was in college during the 80’s porn scare. I remember a study from American University cited by the Meese Commission that claimed to catalog all of the instances of sexualization of children in the mainstream ‘porn’ magazines. The author claimed an average of some ridiculous number of images sexualizing children in each issue of Playboy – something like a dozen.

        At the time I was tasked with writing a paper on the subject in Sociology class, so I did my own limited counter-study. Using the sample size of “whatever magazines happened to be on the coffee table in my suitemate’s room” I determined that in 5 issues of Playboy I could only find 2 images that were even arguably children, and those were in the non-sexualized position of “smart-aleck kid at a cocktail party” in a political cartoon.

        A quick google search turns up Judith Reisman. The argument at the time was weird – that having a picture or drawing of a kid anywhere in a magazine that has naked women in it is child pornography. Very weird.

    2. For anyone making or publishing ‘porn’ the requirements for record keeping are pretty strict. You must have on file and available at any time birth certificates, driver’s licenses etc. to prove your models are all of age.

      I am gonna guess they get some people on technicalities related to that.

      1. The porn equivalent of ATF raids on lawful dealers, then.

        1. Quite literally. It was very popular in the 80’s for some local prosecutor to try to make a name for himself by “investigating” mail order houses such as Adam and Eve. They would prosecute using local “community standards”, even though the company might be located a thousand miles away.

      2. You don’t need to ban something when it is so easy to simple regulate it out of existence.

    3. Probably ‘obscenity’ (and the production/distribution thereof). It’s the sneak around of the First Amendment when it comes to porn.

  3. The TSA wants to wish Jewish travelers a happy Passover, and in honor of the holiday, they will try not to be dicks to the observant, including trying not to damage passenger’s “thin and fragila” matzoh: “Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzoh, may request a hand inspection by the TSO of the items at the security checkpoint.”

    So are they admitting to manhandling the matzoh during other parts of the year?

    http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-in…..y-passover

  4. In honor of Passover, here’s Metallic performing “Creeping Death” in Israel:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=draPGbwdtzM

  5. Why doesn’t the government just mind its own damn business?

    1. Because the government knows better than you what’s best for you. And how can they make sure you’re living your life right if they’re minding their own business?

    2. Because our government thinks that its business is minding our business.

    3. Because if the government only did “its own damn business” it would have to downsize 95% of government workers.

  6. Apologies for OT, but I was, to my regret, awake enough to click on this.

    This woman baldly states that the plural of anecdote is data. She’s not being facetious. She actually thinks that oft-repeated statement of caution, used as a defense against fallacious arguments, is a truism.

    Also, it sure is a good thing that disturbed kid used a knife instead of a gun. Because guns are bad. No, I’m not badly paraphrasing her to be funny. That is her actual argument.

    The desperate depravity of this piece is just awful. The gun-grabbers latch on, like parasites, to every instance of hurt or wounded people, especially children, and use it as an opportunity to make ever dumber statements.

    I’m swearing off the series of tubes for the rest of the day. Fucking hell.

    1. I honestly don’t find it that objectionable. I think she is trying to be cute in constructing her opening paragraph. The rest of the article is data driven. And it’s not even saying anything that surprising or controversial. Guns are deadlier than knives are deadlier than fists. That is sort of the point of a weapon.

      1. Heh…point of a weapon…heh….

      2. I agree with the overall sentiment of guns being deadlier, but the whole 6th, 7th, and 8th paragraphs are tremendously flawed. Or, at least, portray hazy data and spurious conclusions as some sort of proof or definitive result.

        Larger caliber bullets aren’t inherently more destructive, focusing on guns doesn’t really control for intent in any way, and suggesting similar numbers across different reporting schemes is a relatively biased way to present the data.

        Even an imbecile could see that guilty pleas would be a better indication of intent and a very modestly brighter imbecile could see huge flaws with that assumption. The plural of anecdotes may be data, but collecting anecdotes and stringing them together in paragraph form does not make the data proof or the author a scientist or authority.

    2. In fact, “data” IS merely a plurality of anecdotes. So that’s not objectionable at all. Like, it’s just plain true, and anyone saying otherwise is the badly mistaken one.

  7. Shouldn’t this article have been accompanied by an illustration of actual porn, and not just a reason cover?

    1. How about this photo of a woman at a Catholic college? Yowza!

      http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr…..-president

      1. You do realize you just doubled her clicks, right?

  8. I only watch porn for the articles.

  9. I cast my one and only GOP vote for Reagan in 1984 then he banned MDMA and set up the Meese Commission. Voted LP until the Bushpigs forced me to become strictly anti-GOP.

    1. Voted LP until the Bushpigs forced me to become strictly anti-GOP.

      Wha?

      How is voting LP pro-GOP?

      You are a fucking moron.

      1. It is not.

        Like many of the Reason contributors I felt the need to vote (D) in 2008 as a punitive vote against the GOP and not FOR Team Blue.

        1. Then, like I said, you are a fucking moron.

          1. A moron? Because he thinks a vote for Team Blue wasn’t a vote for Team Blue?

            Surely moron is too generous when describing the thing that named itself a buttplug.

            1. “named itself a buttplug”

              I think it likes the aroma.

      2. Re: Francisco d’Anconia,

        How is voting LP pro-GOP?

        You have to recognize that the LP ticket in 2008 was not precisely filled with principled libertarians, so I will have to give this one to Shriek.

        1. If this anecdote of his is true, then shriek is MUCH older than I thought.

        2. Yeah, I wish I’d just stayed home. That’s the one LP vote I really regret.

          1. ’08 was the Bob Barr ticket, right? I wrote in something. I don’t remember who or what.

        3. So write in a vote over a vote for a prog.

  10. NPR is interviewing an author – one of her autobiographical stories is about a woman who gets a wonderful dress, but can’t wear it to the ceremony where she gets honored for her work as a documentary filmmaker.

    1. Which begs the question, *why* are you listening to NPR? Are you being physically restrained or something?

    2. Because…..?

  11. I don’t see how reason has any better credentials than Reagan on this. They, after all , censored pornbot while allowing anonbot to roam free.

    1. Wow, that guy knows that it’s time to jsut roll with the beautiful bean footage

      http://www.theyllnevercatchmealive.com

      1. I actually saw a TV commercial the other day while on a business trip where they say “Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage.” So that’s where anonbot got it. I never knew before now, we don’t get many ads for baked beans where I live.

        The phrase has grown other meanings, apparently — Urban Dictionary says it means tongue-on-clitoris action.

        1. I imagine a baked bean commercial would mean the words more literally.

    2. Depending on their hosting provider, allowing a pornbot to run loose might get them kicked off the internet by violation of the content agreement. So they could very well be abiding by a contract they signed whose clauses mainly stem from the hosting company not wanting the hassle that comes from the content. Such as extra government scrutiny of the content of their datacenter which takes their staff away from say, providing service.

  12. OT: New Gallup poll – Obamacare numbers climb.

    http://content.gallup.com/orig…..ptkt2g.png

    The “make worse” delta is -8. It was previously -19.

    1. “How do you think the healthcare law” versus the reality of the disaster that is price controls, government intervention, and corporatism is totally different. All that poll shows is that many of those folks ignore history, and have no deductive logic skills.

      You can put a poll out there that says “how much more money should the central bank create out of thin air?”That would highlight a percentage of individuals who are advocating robbery through currency debauchery, and are ignoring how detrimental it is to individuals in an economy. Those folks just might go on to later banter about how bad individuals who earn very little income, and individuals who earn fixed incomes are doing, and how the wealth disparity is ever growing while ignoring what they advocate leads to what they are “concerned” about.

      1. You’re trying to glean too much from the poll.

        I am looking at simple base voter reaction for the midterms. Many commentors here are predicting DOOM! in November due to the ACA. I say the ACA won’t be a measurable factor.

        1. Buttplug
          “I say the ACA won’t be a measurable factor.”

          Buttplug the truth is that Obamacare has even lost HuffPo. For the HuffPo to post such an article means that O’care and the Dems who can be associated with it are toast.

          http://www.breitbart.com/Big-J…..s-Are-Real

          Good luck with your “won’t be a measurable factor” mental masturbation.

        2. Many commentors here are predicting DOOM! in November due to the ACA. I say the ACA won’t be a measurable factor.

          Which totally fits with your claim above that you ONLY voted for Obama to punish the evul Boooosh. Well, against Boooosh and for Socialized medicine?

          “Doom”? For the Leftards in our government? Wouldn’t a “classic liberal” rejoice at the defeat of a bunch of scum-bag Statists? How in the fuck could you call it “doom”? A classic liberal would be thinking more like Nirvana.

          Hard keeping that mask in place, eh, sock-puppet?

        3. I say the ACA won’t be a measurable factor.

          Pay no attention to the sound metal sliding through flesh and bone. That’s just Kathleen Sebelius falling on her sword.

        4. The best part will be watching you try to backtrack when the ACA most definitely is a measurable factor.

    2. Re: Peter Caca,

      OT: New Gallup poll – Obamacare numbers climb.

      Only a little. The percentage of those indifferent to it actually climbed, making the spread between optimists and the pessimists/indifferent pretty much the same. And you of all people should know that what kills love is indifference.

      1. “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in this world is for enough good men to do nothing.”

        — Brooke Burke

  13. There is a silent war in matzoh during the rest if the year, the TSS agents smile from ear to ear as they molest the fragile bread while others cheer. All the while they harbor great fear, and steer clear of the folks in big hats and heavy black outer gear.

    So as the agents hands begin to fumble, the bread begins to crumble, and grandma starts to stumble as her heart begins to rumble, until she takes a tumble, while the onlookers start to cry and grumble.

  14. So they bring up Reagan, and David Cameron. Didn’t W have some kind of antiporn task force? I thought Ashcroft was big on that.

  15. …In 1983, …Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler…distributing a combined 9 million copies each month. The Playboy Channel…was in more than 700,000 homes. The Adult Film Association of America boasted that some 65 million X-rated movies…were rented or purchased in 1984.

    But porn needs banning because it “violates community standards.” Right?

  16. I’m trying to get my outrage going, but I don’t see much here. The article claims the war on porn continues abroad and here but gives only a British law that is opt in. While I don’t support wasting money on programs that are redundant and available in the market I don’t much care if someone opts to ban porn in their house or on their own computer and I don’t know why anyone else would. Some will always want to ban porn for others I suppose but it’s certainly a fringe element. Nobody has called for that in any mainstream sense in my lifetime.

    I suppose you could argue public displays should be completely unregulated. If I had the money I could pay to have a billboard with two people screwing in Times Square. The laws basically seem to be that unless someone asks for porn you can’t give it to them, and if you’re going to make porn the actors must be adults. Those two stipulations don’t seem very puritanical to me. While those laws could be misused like any other I am not convinced the laws themselves are bad.

    1. The article claims the war on porn continues abroad and here but gives only a British law that is opt in.

      If all Cameron was after was an “opt-in” content filter, there are myriads of ways to do that in the private sector. The market is the epitome of “opt-in”.

      What’s going to happen is that “not enough” people will opt-in to make Cameron and the statists happy. So then it will become opt-out. And if “too many” people opt-out it will just become mandatory. Basically the same process as “voluntary self-regulation” on this side of the pond. Big Brother prefers that you love him before the end.

  17. A new award-winning documentary, “Risky Business: A Look Inside America’s Adult Film Industry,” examines many of the current issues surrounding the adult film industry, including many of the items addressed in this article. The film’s website is RiskyBusinessTheMovie dot com

  18. The War On Porn will always continue, but the anti-porn forces are losing — at least right now.

  19. I cast my one and only GOP vote for Reagan in 1984 then he banned MDMA and set up the Meese Commission.

  20. but, but, reagan was a great man!

    yea, he threw non violent people into prison for doing something he didnt agree w/ and he gave his wife the ability to indoctrinate children w/ D.A.R.E. and left the office w/ a massive deficit, higher taxes & less freedom.

    GOD DAMN REAGAN WAS AMAZING.

    oh wait, he was just a neocon scum bag like the rest of them.

    -FFM

  21. Pornography should be a genre that requires authenticated adults for “online” consumption like FB and reason each try to require.

    The rights of adults to produce and consume pornography should require no less than here or FB even though this would not prohibit children who will lie and risk being caught by a parent, teacher, “FCC adult ‘identification verification’ agent“, or other.

    I do not ask for this type responsibility requirement but ONLY seek enforcing clear U.S. law in Neeley v 5 Federal Communications Commissioners, et al, (5:14-cv-5135).
    I may be dismissed after the recent “show cause” hearing but my docket 14 supplement should result in the beginning of the end of the porn-ter-net.

    This will not outlaw online porn but end unauthenticated access to pornography as should spur the U.S. economy a great deal.

  22. administration pursued a relentless crusade against exposed

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