Pornography

What the Porn Industry Thinks of the New War on Porn

GOP attacks on internet smut are heating up, but the porn industry has more practical threats to worry about.

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Republicans in Congress recently demanded that the Justice Department step up enforcement against online pornography, and their counterparts at conservative magazines and think tanks have been proclaiming porn's evils with renewed vigor, with right-wing intellectuals like Sohrab Ahmari and Terry Schilling writing anti-porn screeds.

But Republicans have often demonized porn during elections or scandals. (The 2016 election cycle saw Republicans declaring pornography a public health crisis.) So are the bad old days of obscenity prosecutions coming back? Or are the current calls for a crackdown just another tawdry political show?

Last week I attended the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegasan annual trade conference, fan meet-and-greet, and awards show in which much of the porn industry gathers to talk shop, show off their latest products, and assess the state of the business. The performers and producers I talked with told me they're intimately acquainted with how hypocritical politicians tease their base by performing disgust at porn.

"Politicians have always used the porn industry as a topic to be raised during election years," says Dee Siren, an adult performer and CEO of Siren XXX Studios, which brands itself as showcasing "only real women that love real sex!"

"In my experience, politicians enjoy porn in their personal lives as much as any other group of people—if not more," says actress Maitland Ward, who collected three AVN Awards this year. "You should ask them why they feel the need to stigmatize sex workers during election years if it goes against what they privately enjoy."

Amberly Rothfield, a clip creator, adult marketing consultant, and phone sex operator, suggests that progress on marijuana legalization "means that politicians need to show they are strong on other issues, leaving us." Rothfield thinks the level of anti-porn sentiment in this country has stayed the same but the anti-porn crowd is "getting louder. Meaning, same amount of people but they are doubling down on those policies as other ground is being taken."

While no one would say that renewed obscenity convictions are around the corner, prosecutions aren't unimaginable.

"I think it's unlikely that there would be a conviction for obscenity," attorney D. Gill Sperlein said in an AVN session on the legal issues facing adult entertainment. But prosecutions are often "done for political gain," he added, and in that case "they don't care if they get a conviction or not."

And political stigmas express themselves in many ways. Beyond the anti-porn culture war, adult entertainers and those advising them also have more immediate, practical concerns, like the effects of FOSTA, a 2018 law that's had a chilling effect on online content related to sex, and new labor laws like California's AB 5, which could upend porn economics.

Does Anyone Really Know What Obscenity Is?

The enduring legal problem for porn producers and performers comes down to a single word: obscenity. Obscenity is one of the few types of speech exempted from protection by the First Amendment. Yet it's never been clear precisely what it means. Federal statutes contain no explicit definition of obscenity, and guidance from courts has been maddeningly subjective.

The current legal standard was set in 1973 by Miller v. California: Obscenity is anything "the average person" using modern "community standards" would think appeals to "prurient interests," depict or describe sexual activity "offensively," and be without "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Some of the right-wing anti-porn jeremiads of the Trump era have called for ramping up the legal assault on porn, arguing that courts could take a much stronger line as to what constitutes obscenity.

"I don't think the obscenity law works today because it's based on 'I know porn when I see it' [and] that's so meaningless, especially in today's day and age," says John Stagliano, who has the distinction of being the last person to face a federal obscenity prosecution for mainstream, professional porn productions. A judge dismissed the charges against Stagliano and his company, Evil Angel, in 2010. (Stagliano has donated to the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.) Since then, federal obscenity units have kept to prosecuting sexual material featuring minors.

The two Bush presidencies were more aggressive about targeting porn that featured consenting adults. In 2005, the Department of Justice created an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force to go after "the distributors of hard-core pornography"defined as any visual depiction of uncovered genitals or of sexual activity. "The special challenges that obscenity cases pose in the computer age require an equally specialized response," said Christopher Wray, then assistant attorney general, on May 5, 2005.

Wray is now director of the FBI. And Bill Barr, now attorney general, oversaw aggressive obscenity prosecutions during the first Bush administration. That may help explain why some conservatives think it's time to have a go at it again.

"Change is constant, and the laws are going backwards and forwards," says porn director and star Steve Holmes, who has worked on adult film sets (and sometimes public streets) around the world. "You have to adapt. You have to adjust."

But adjusting can be hard with an administration as unpredictable as this one.

"Any time a conservative politician starts thinking they're going to lose" or needs "to rile up the basethey start thinking, 'Well, where can we go that isn't going to hurt our interests? And pornography is usually pretty high on that list," Sperlein saidduring the legal issues panel. But "there is a distinct difference this time: Our president owns a string of hotels, and those hotels offer pay-per-view porn. So it's probably less likely that [obscenity prosecutions are] going to be be an issue."

Co-panelist Allan Gelbard, a First Amendment, intellectual property, and entertainment attorney, disagreed. "I was on board with that whole analysis of Trump before he was elected," said Gelbard. "Seeing how he's governed, I don't think that idea holds water anymore," because Trump likes to rile up his base "and his base would love it" if Trump went after porn.

A film being shown in hotels owned by the president may be a pretty good sign it's not a violation of "community standards."

But "they're not going to prosecute the relatively softcore porn that's in his hotels," suggested Gelbard. "They're going to go after things that are believed to degrade women, or other things like that."

When I talk to him later, Stagliano agrees, suggesting that who winds up prosecuted is "more related to the disgust emotion" than rational analysis or public safety priorities.

Stagliano mentions director Max Hardcore, who was indicted on obscenity charges in 2007 for five films that featured fisting, pee, and vomit. The films got him three years and 10 months in federal prison. "Max Hardcore got put in jail because what he was doing looked disgusting to a lot of people, because it's not normal sex," says Stagliano. "Not that many people are going to stand up and defend any sex that's viewed as being abnormal or not part of the mainstream."

How FOSTA Paved the Way For Online Censorship

"The biggest fight is against stigma, the idea in people's heads that sexually empowered women who choose to do sex work and porn are somehow 'tainted' for other social roles," says Ward, who has appeared in a mix of mainstream television and adult entertainment. It's this stigma that fuels destructive laws and agendas.

That includes laws like FOSTA (short for the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act). This 2018 law gives the government a new way to go after online content related to sex, by making it a federal crime to host web content that promotes or facilitates prostitution.

"FOSTA most definitely is designed to target, among other things, adult entertainment," Ward says. "It's censorship legislation," making digital platforms legally liable "for having content that is very vaguely defined and subject to the random whims and attitudes of officials."

Vagueness is one of FOSTA's big problems. It fails to differentiate between sex trafficking and prostitution. It fails to distinguish between conduct and speech. And it wraps the whole package in language so muddled and penalties so severe that web platforms have an incentive to crack down on all sorts of sexually-themed content.

"Even though I am not a full-service sex worker"that is, someone who engages in sexual activity directly with private clients"I have had to deal with the censorship that came along with FOSTA," says Allie Even Knox, a fetish performer who also works as vice president of sales at the Ethereum-based payment processor SpankChain. It's "limited me [in] services that I need to have for my business," such as email list management and photo storage, because many popular sites won't accept accounts related to sex.

Knox tells me her Instagram account has been shut down three times, even though she doesn't post nudes, and so has "every single cash app that you could imagine, and even a crypto wallet."

FOSTA sign at AVN

"Even though I was just accepting tips or tributes through the system, or selling panties or content, whatever, the platforms have taken a much tighter stance and will shut you down merrily for existing," she adds. "This bill has made it much harder for me to accept payment for my legal work."

On the night of the AVN Awards, as the guests of honor walked the red carpet, someone circled the periphery holding a sign that said "I want sex workers rights! Not awards" and, under that, "Fuck FOSTA. Fuck SESTA." (SESTA is the acronym for a similar bill that started in the Senate, and the bill that passed is often called SESTA-FOSTA.)

Porn performers and workers in other legal sex industries sometimes strive to distance themselves from criminalized sex work such as prostitution. But Kaytlin Bailey of the group Decriminalize Sex Work, which is pushing to remove criminal penalties for prostitution in several states, says the group's booth got a good reception at the AVN Expo.

"We are all stigmatized as sex workers," says Bailey. "There are a lot of people here that told me that SESTA-FOSTA was the thing that got them to contact their senator or the first time, or got them to vote or pay attention to politics."

On the legal issue panel, Sperlein said he hopes prostitution decriminalization will follow the path of cannabis in the U.S. "People really do believe that the government shouldn't get involved in what people do in their personal lives," he says. "It may not be that easy, but I'm hoping that it follows that trend."

He's been working with a group of advocates and a California lawmaker to get a decriminalization billand research to back it upready for 2021.

"Officials are often lobbied by religiously motivated groups that consider all sex work to be 'human trafficking' and all porn to be 'exploitation,'" says Ward, commenting on FOSTA. "But I'm not worried too much because Americans love freedom and hopefully they can see censorship for what it is."

Will California's Gig Economy Law Be Porn's 'Armageddon'?

Porn faces another legal threat. A.B. 5—California's new law regulating the gig economy—is "armageddon in some ways" for the state's porn industry, said longtime AVN writer Mark Kernes on the legal issues panel.

Many adult entertainment companies rely on talent and crew employed as independent contractors, not full-fledged employees. And for porn performers these days, it's the norm not just to contract with one or more studios but to make money via webcamming, video clip sales, and other online platforms. Having multiple income streams that don't depend on a few big gatekeepers makes the work safer and puts performers in more control.

A.B. 5, and the copycat legislation it's spawning in other states, threatens that.

These laws are presented as ways to protect workers from being taken advantage of by companies who get a significant number of hours out of them without classifying them as full employees. But in practice, they take options away from freelancers, consultants, gig workers, and independent contractors, who are now limited in their options, while giving companies no incentive to suddenly hire all their contractors and incur huge additional costs.

A.B. 5 "could reclassify any performer working for a studio as that studio's employee, no matter how many different studios you shoot for," warned the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee and the Free Speech Coalition in pamphlets handed out at the AVN Expo.

Because A.B. 5 contains exemptions for business-to-business relationships, the groups suggest performers form their own corporations in order to continue to be allowed to be paid as an independent contractors. "Your employer would now have a contract with your corporation instead of with you as an individual," they explain.

Rothfield points out that "exceptions are being written in for cam performers and the like," but A.B. 5 "has made many adult sites feel they have to hire cam girls as employees to be compliant," which "leaves many part time cammers scared about their income."

Bascially, laws like this make it harder for porn performers to work as independent contractors for multiple platforms, giving them less leverage and fewer options and creating greater risk for exploitation.

AVN Awards Show

The Right to Look at Stronger, Crazier Stuff

Despite the current climate of panic and fear surrounding "sex trafficking" and, by extension, all forms of sex work, we've come a long way on this front from just a few decades ago.

As an example: When Good Vibrations founder Joani Blank first tried to place ads for the company in the 1980s, she could "not buy ads in most places," author and educator Carol Queen told a crowd at an AVN panel on sex tech. "She couldn't even in PlayboyPlayboy rejected her ad. And then the same year, Ms. Magazine, the magazine of record for modern feminism, rejected it." Just "getting the word out" about anything related to sex was difficult, Queen said.

Some people say we've come too far.

As a father, Stagliano says, "I understand why the public is concerned and wants the government to step in and make it somewhat harder" to access porn online. But he also believes "it's my responsibility to control what my children look at."

Adults should have "the right to choose to look at stronger, crazy stuff" if they wish, he adds.

Whether these rights persist depends on breaking down stigma, Rothfield argues. She hopes to see more people "come out of the 'new closet' and admit to being sex workers in the past and show politicians just how many of us are. Adding them to our numbers, I believe is the only way to ensure our rights do not get trampled on."

The advent of accessible, low-budget ways to create adult content, combined with the proliferation of ways to distribute that content, has revolutionized the porn industry for performers in a way that's only starting to be realized. And according to those in the industry, it stands to bring even more positive changes—if government can get out of the way.

"The far rightjust like in the '80swants a war on everything, including a war on porn," Siren says. "But we will not go away and will fight for our freedoms."

NEXT: In Trump Subpoena Fight, the Supreme Court Weighs Executive vs. Congressional Power

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  1. “Republicans in Congress recently demanded that the Justice Department step up enforcement against online pornography, and their counterparts at conservative magazines and think tanks have been proclaiming porn’s evils with renewed vigor, with right-wing intellectuals like Sohrab Ahmari and Terry Schilling writing anti-porn screeds.”

    Who??
    ENB desperately wants “right wing war on porn” to be a thing, but I don’t think it’s really a thing.
    Of course, ENB is pure trash

    1. Neo feminists are far greater threats to the adult film industry. ENB is full of shit.

    2. There is no longer a logical, common sense differentiation between “private and public.” Until Congress and the Supreme Court agree that porn and prostitution are mental diseases, there is no “constitutional” basis to prohibit any activity of consenting adults that is done in absolute privacy and undetectable by citizens simply walking past the private structure that surrounds the private structure and that doesn’t harm 3rd parties with no “legal” interest in the privately contracted activity.

      Violating marriage vows is a civil, not a criminal activity and can be resolved in a civil suit. If the activity involves a “private” exchange of currency and/or is a gift not involving a third party, the government has no “constitutional” interest.

  2. Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals, and incels hate porn — except when they don’t:

    Top 20 Porniest States
    1. Mississippi
    2. West Virginia
    3. New Mexico
    4. Oklahoma
    5. Arkansas
    6. Louisiana
    7. Kentucky
    8. Texas
    9. Alabama
    10. Indiana

    That is essentially the clingerverse.

    1. Top 20 title, 10 point list

      Lol

    2. Kindof puts you in a tough spot, do you denounce the war on porn thus saving something conservatives apparently like, or do you join it and fight alongside conservatives

      1. No tough spot. First, freedom. Second, conservatives are on both sides of the porn issue.

    3. They fantasize about progressives opening wider to take a big fat piece of conservative man meat, while winning the culture wars.

    4. Hey. Conservatives like to get their fuck on too Arty. Maybe you should peep on some. Learn how real men fuck. Hint: unlike you it doesn’t involve attending a glory hole at the bus station or getting the Hunter Biden from she males.

    5. New Mexico’s a blue state.

    6. You numbers are bullsh*t:
      Top ten consumers of porn per capita:

      Number 10:
      California: 144 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 9:
      Georgia: 145 pageviews per capita
      Red

      Number 8:
      Virginia: 146 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 7:
      New York: 148 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 6:
      Hawaii: 149 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 5:
      Massachusetts: 153 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 4:
      Colorado: 159 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 3:
      Illinois: 161 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 2:
      Nevada: 166 pageviews per capita
      Blue

      Number 1:
      Kansas: 194 pageviews per capita
      Red

      https://www.westword.com/news/photos-us-states-that-watch-the-most-porn-per-capita-and-colorados-top-ten-finish-5903977

    7. I don’t expect leftists to do 6th grade arithmetic, but I learned to count to 20 in kindergarten.

  3. politician fund-raises for idea he doesn’t believe in personally. film @11.

    1. also danke for the redhead.

      1. Maitland Ward, FWIW. One of the very few actresses to have a mainstream career, then decide to dive into porn at 37. Per her wikipedia page, she’s still married to to her husband even after deciding to jump into porn ~ 7 years into the marriage.

        It’s a free country.

        1. yeah i wouldn’t have a problem with it either.

  4. Yeah, I’m not seeing a ‘right-wing’ war on porn.

    There’s the usual leftist one, where they pretend to be all about saving women–but are actually vehemently against anything that distracts from the total worship of the State, total activism for the State, and total devotion to the State.

    And the Christian one, which is, quite frankly, all over the board.

    But a right wing one? No. People on the right don’t think they have the right to tell people to do anything but leave them the hell alone.

    1. Yeah, I’m not seeing a ‘right-wing’ war on porn.

      I see a pretty clear attack on Republicans being conducted under the banner of a war on porn.

      As you point out, there’s plenty of anti-porn sentiment in any given direction but ENB, not so mysteriously, chooses to point in precisely one.

    2. “People on the right don’t think they have the right to tell people to do anything but leave them the hell alone.”

      A spectacularly stupid assertion.

      1. Yes, you make particularly stupid assertions Arty. As you are in fact, particularly stupid.

    3. Good luck winning a ‘porn’ case with a Trump social conservative judge. That’s what the courts are stacked with now.

    4. Agree! Some right wing fanatics proclaim “I own myself” but then deny that “you own yourself.”

  5. “only real women that love real sex!”

    So… fake.

  6. Fucking garbage. Absolute. Fucking. Garbage of an article.

    Some highlights:
    A keyword search for ‘republicans’: 3 hits.
    A keyword search for ‘democrats’: 0 hits.
    A keyword search for ‘Bush’: 2 hits.
    A keyword search for ‘Obama’: 0 hits.
    A keyword search for ‘Chokepoint’: 0 hits.
    A keyword search for ‘230’: 0 hits.

    In 2005, the Department of Justice created an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force

    Wray is now director of the FBI. And Bill Barr, now attorney general, oversaw aggressive obscenity prosecutions during the first Bush administration. That may help explain why some conservatives think it’s time to have a go at it again.

    Tell us again how their is no such thing as a ‘Deep State’.

    Go choke on a fat one you brainless twit.

    1. FFS, ‘bipartisan’: 0 hits.

      The success of FOSTA-SESTA has had ‘bipartisan-support’ at the top of the banner pretty much everywhere and Reason is has such a hard on for democrats that they can’t even pretend, even a little bit, that Team D is part of the problem.

      Either leave the bastard or shut the hell up ENB.

      1. Losing the culture war has made you cranky, but that’s doesn’t explain your evident inability to understand a straightforward report.

        1. ‘Losing the culture war’

          Yeah…….. Arty, you’re the kind of punk that starts a fight, gets the ,iivng shit beat out of him, and then makes bizarre claims about having won said fight.

          You’re an idiot, and apparently Reason has become your village after after Volokh was annexed.

          1. You forgot the part where he calls the cops.

    2. Not a single mention of coprophagia, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, or any of the other exciting avenues of porn that the internet has opened up for us.

  7. The porn industry is more necessary than ever. Now that everything is defined as rape and sans consent forms signed in triplicate and fully notarized, anything but virtual sex is way too risky.

    1. The porn industry is more necessary than ever. Now that everything is defined as rape and sans consent forms signed in triplicate and fully notarized

      In more ways than one; save some trees and digitally record the whole transaction.

    2. You make a valid point, and you also highlight a major concern:

      If I were to attempt most of what I see in porn I’d go to jail and be indicted on any number of sex-related charges.

      1. Seems that most porn is amateur or pretends to be nowadays that ends up getting sold to a few big distributors or aggregators like Pornhub. They provide it free because of the ads but seriously, how many wankers ever click on them? I guess enough to pay for it.

          1. That’s actually kinda the business model. Imagine selling a product that made you forget that you had paid for it. Drugs and porn are about the closest thing I can imagine.

    3. “anything but virtual sex is way too risky.”

      Try telling that to the next praying mantis you meet.

  8. I’m generally a huge ENB supporter, but you dropped the ball on this one, Liz. I get that the adult actrixes tend in the lefty direction, and that your reporting of their opinions should reflect that, but it’s also on you as a journalist to include clarifying details which might serve to contradict or mitigate their narrative, and that includes emphasizing how truly bipartisan the war on sex work is (FOSTA was incredibly bipartisan, as you know).

    To atone, you must hang with Maggie McNeill for several days, and write a new article with clarifications from her. 🙂

    1. Wrong. Like the drug war, the attacks on pornography (and contraception, and dancing) are conducted mostly by hypocritical right-wing prudes.

      1. Wrong-any hardcore lefty worth xi’s womyns studies degree defines all sex as rape, so that would make the sex industry the rape industry for them. As for the drug war, Hoe Biden and little Mike Bloomberg are big fans and the latter is eager to add nicotine to the class I schedule.

      2. This may have been the case at one time, but you’re blind if you think it’s still true.

      3. Tipper Gore and Phil Donohue drove the train in the 80s. Totes Reaganites.

        1. Tipper led the war against the record industry
          Said she saw the devil on MTV…

      4. It’s a good thing Republicans believe in limited government and keeping government out of our lives.

    2. but it’s also on you as a journalist

      Notably absent: Obligation as a libertarian to deride the government in all forms.

      Notably notably absent: Not even the most remote pretense of ‘both sides’ on bill that notably and widely lauded as being supported by both sides.

      NB: Please don’t mistake my criticism of ENB’s utter lack of principles as a criticism of your omission in considering the principles she doesn’t have.

      She’s not a libertarian and, at this point, she doesn’t even really want to play one on the internet.

      1. Skenazy’s not a libertarian (or doesn’t claim to be one), but the issues she writes on have a libertarian slant because we generally agree with her on them, so I’m fine with her articles. Nat Hentoff of Cato was similar, when he was alive– great on freedom of speech, but godawful on almost everything else.

        I don’t mind seeing a diversity of people publishing in a libertarian magazine as long as they stay away from slants which oppose the fundamentals. And even if she is not a libertarian– I don’t actually know, having not had an extended conversation with her– her articles on sex work are pretty great.

        In this case, in giving air to the anti-conservative rhetoric without providing a corrective factor, she was probably trying to make her work more accessible to her progressive friends without offending them by calling out their blind spots, and that’s where she erred. I think it’s a common mistake, and one Reason has been making a lot in the last few years as they try to mainstream the libertarian viewpoint. I just don’t think it’s a winning strategy, just like allying with conservatives in the 80s… they may be your allies this week, but eventually their goals will diverge from yours and you’ll be left with a bunch of associations you’d rather not acknowledge.

  9. The far right — just like in the ’80s — wants a war on everything, including a war on porn,” Siren says.

    This is why she’s getting fucked: she seriously believes that it is only the ‘far right’ which is gunning for her.

  10. “Rothfield thinks the level of anti-porn sentiment in this country has stayed the same but the anti-porn crowd is “getting louder.””

    That’s very true.

    Here’s the thing.

    The Republican Party stands on three legs: the money conservatives (Conservatism Inc.), the social conservatives (heirs of the Moral Majority), and the foreign policy conservatives (NeoCons).

    Broadly speaking, the majority of the members of each of the three legs tend to agree with the others’ policies, but just aren’t as hot about them or dedicated to them as the others. So the Money will let the Social do their thing, even vote with them; same for the NeoCons vis-a-vis to the two others, and so on. “You back me on my stuff, and I’ll back you on yours” is the general, tacit agreement.

    Of course, there also other ideological factions like the populists, the libertarians, the nativists, and the paleoconservatives who are willing to back any of the three major pillars on policies they deem worth backing. I am of those libertarians, so I vote Republican mostly for the Money stuff.

    Social conservatives had their fun during the ’80s through the early 2000s, at intermittent phases. They had their DOMA, they had abortion restricted throughout the states, their prayer in school, their creationism, their defunding of stem cell research, Bush’s AG going after porn obscenity, and more recently the crackdown on prostitution under the guise of fighting sex trafficking.

    But the problem for them is that the public has grown more socially liberal in the last twenty years. Socially conservative issues, with the exception of abortion, became increasingly a policial loser for Republicans. And as a result, those issues have gradually been shunned.

    And that’s how social conservatives have been feeling. They’re like, “Yeah, tax cuts and deregulation are great. But what about OUR stuff?” And in fairness, Trump did throw a bone here and there to the evangelical faction of social conservatives. And you could also consider immigration as part of that, though it’s mostly geared towards the nativist, paleoconservative, and populist kind of social conservatives.

    And that’s the thing with all this tough talk on pornography. They’re trying to make the more puritanical Republicans feel like they’re NOT giving them the shaft, that they’re not being shortchanged. And I don’t doubt the sincerity of many of those representatives in truly wanting to restrict expressions of sexuality they deem distasteful.

    But again, the increasingly socially liberal populace they’re representing won’t disappear. And trends just aren’t going in their favor. For example, according to Gallup, 30% of Americans considered pornography to be morally acceptable in 2011; in 2019, 37% did. So chances are, the social conservatives (the puritanical kind especially) will keep losing, and will keep growing more resentful. And their Republican representatives will keep throwing them a bone every now and then to appease them. And I think this latest anti-pornography rhetoric is just part of that.

    1. “… and new labor laws like California’s AB 5, which could upend porn economics.”

      MOVE! Leave that God-forsaken state! Move to Florida. Republicans aren’t gaining majorities in California any time soon, and there’s no end in sight to the anti-business labor laws Democrats are willing to pile on for as long as enough wealth producers are willing to stay there and take it.

      So for the love of God, consider moving! Plenty of states have nice weather and are more business friendly: Tennessee and Texas, to name a couple. And if you want economically conservative AND socially liberal, then Florida’s your destination.

      1. Was the entertainment industry exempted from AB 5? It is mostly a gig economy. The only actors paid a regular salary are the main characters in TV series – and even those shows need a lot of unfamiliar faces for the main characters to interact with, so hire many actors by the day. For movies, the entire cast and much of the production crew are hired for one movie, if not for just one scene.

        So did the CA government demonstrate their favoritism, or did they accidentally kill Hollywood?

  11. Might sound like the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, but IMHO to true Libertarians, the morality of sex work is “beyond the scope”? But the State’s prohibition of independent contracting in California is a terrible assault on personal liberty

  12. Love to see an attorney argue, “If it’s so popular, how can it be ‘against community standards’?”

    Ref: “Definition of porn:”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw3ORTzer68&t=3s
    “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.

    1. Never specified: Which community and how big it is.

      1. Oh, it’s big! But you can take it.

  13. says actress Maitland Ward

    Formerly of Boy Meets World.

    I’d love to see her do a scene with Topanga.

  14. ENB isn’t entirely wrong on the conservative thing, Welch has been talking about it for the last week or so. She is off base, not about prosecutions, but overall impact to what degree, and how recent. I would say that the postzracial perfection’s Operation Choke Point did more damage those his group considered undesirables than the Bush year’s war on porn.

  15. Pornography is Terrorism!

  16. Anyone else notice that Reason only jumps up and screeches these days about the most distasteful and self-destructive of rights? Like the right to get railed by a bunch of dudes on Pornhub for the enjoyment of voyeurs, the right to sell your body for sex, and the right for drag queens to pitch their lifestyle and sexual kinks to little kids? Or even better, the “right” to violate laws of countries by illegally crossing the border because something-something-global brotherhood of all mankind.

    But when it comes to the rights to practice your religion free of state control, the right to bear arms, the right to due process in our university system, the right to free speech in public forums, or the rights of facing your accuser (particularly when it comes to the current President) those rights are often negotiable and/or come with ample caveats.

    1. And how about the right to keep ones hard earned income?

    2. A comment reply of mine awaiting moderation: Includes links to Reason articles by topics showing that those related to free speech, gun rights, religious freedom and other liberties are far more frequent than articles about sexual freedom.

      1. Far more frequent over what timeframe? I’m talking about the last couple of years. The last spurt of religious freedom articles I recall were about the cake bakers, but that was more about Reason’s gripes with attacks on freedom of association and licensing laws (both good issues, but religious freedom was kind of incidental in their reasoning).

        Their coverage of gun control by leftist state governments in the last two years is extremely sparse, despite the leftists going on an all-out assault against the 2nd Amendment, and the tone of their coverage seems to attack more of the “stereotyping'” of gun owners rather than the fact that these laws are unconstitutional and a pure power play by leftists. It’s like they want to complain about the identity politics aspects of the issues, not the legal ones or the obvious aggression of leftists towards everyone else.

        1. Okay, the mods are have been asleep obviously. So I’ll just recopy the comment without the links entirely.

          —————————

          Not true at all. I had to check, and the frequency of porn/sex rights is nowhere close that of the more fundamental freedoms.

          Free speech: About three articles per week: (reason dot com) /tag/free-speech/

          Second Amendment: About a couple per week (reason dot com) /tag/second-amendment/

          Religious freedom: An average of one a week (reason dot com) /tag/freedom-of-religion/

          Sex rights, on the other hand:

          Pornography: An average of 2-3 a month (reason dot com) /tag/pornography/

          Prostitution: Even less, as many of them are one with pornography pieces (reason dot com) /tag/sex-work/

          1. You must be new here.

            First, Eugene Volokh is not part of the Reason staff. He started his blog indpendently of Reason and, unless things have changed, wasn’t paid by Reason to write. I didn’t check all your tags, but the ‘Religious freedom’ tag was 90+% Volokh.

            Second, Reason does a fantastically underhanded job of writing articles that absolutely defend freedom of religion. To be sure, they present both sides of the religious argument by citing LGBTQ and abortion right advocates zealously but rest assured that even if they overtly state that they support even late term abortion and even murderous felons, as ENB has on multiple occasions, they really do defend more fundamental human rights like religious liberty. So, while the counts aren’t absolutely void, there are plenty of articles where (e.g.) Nick hyperventilates about what would happen if Christians got control of the economy, which instead of counting as a -1 hit for economic liberty, a -1 hit for religious freedom, and a -1 hit for reason, can get chalked up as a +1 for religious freedom.

            Third, moderators are thin on the ground. I’m not 100% sure what motivates them to their keyboards, but it’s somewhere between lawsuits and death threats.

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    1. You won’t be able to do that if California passes A.B. 5

  18. I don’t see any inconsistency between

    1. enjoying porn
    2. believing that it is potentially harmful
    3. stigmatizing porn performers

    1. Well, it is a little retarded. Because ultimately you’re working to cut off that very source of your enjoyment.

      And it also speak well of one’s self-discipline, because you won’t/can’t do it yourself, you want society to do it for you, and take other people’s freedoms in the process. Kind of like those who want smoking banned because they can’t quit doing it (that source of enjoyment).

      It’s schizophrenic. It’d be more mature to just recognize that everything comes with trade-offs, instead of jerking off one moment, and slut-shaming pornstars the next.

      1. Nowhere did I say I wanted porn outlawed. But having sexual intercourse with hundreds of partners while being filmed carries a stigma. It’s schizophrenic and delusional to think that it doesn’t.

        1. It only carries a stigma if people (yourself included) want it to, just like homosexuality used to carry a stigma because people wanted it to. Obviously you do in this case. Well, what can I say, you do you. These things are hard to argue anyway.

          1. It only carries a stigma if people (yourself included) want it to

            A “stigma” isn’t something we decide together, it’s something everybody decides for themselves. If you like to hang out socially with people who engage in athletic sexual acts for money on camera, that’s your business.

            just like homosexuality used to carry a stigma because people wanted it to

            People stigmatized homosexuality because they associated homosexuality with promiscuity, child molestation, gender-inappropriate behavior, STDs, and infidelity, because those were the contexts they mostly heard about it. Now they know better and separate these issues.

            You can have a functioning society either on an authoritarian basis (=rules are imposed by the government) or a libertarian basis (=rules are imposed through private behavior). But you need to pick one or the other.

      2. I should add that I don’t care about port involving women to begin with. So if feminists want to outlaw that, I couldn’t care less.

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  20. Not sure I understand how the right is being defined in this article. You might come away thinking that everyone who is against porn is necessarily on the right. The real threat from porn still seems to me to be on the left. The right may be prone to arguments that protect children from seeing things like porn, but the left is all about saving porn performers from themselves, just like they do with everything else. The real threat to women, from my eye, is from the same kind of logic you see from #MeToo. If Weinstein had recorded the sexual encounters he had with women that he pressured and bribed into having sex with him and offered them for sale, would that have made it okay in the eyes of #MeToo?

    I don’t think that’s the way their minds work.

    1. “Not sure I understand how the right is being defined in this article.”

      It’s not defined. The porn opponents in the article are Christians and/or Republicans. I’m not sure how Metoo and their persecution of sexual predators like Weinstein is a ‘threat to women.’

      1. Yeah, there’s no harm in irony-deprived faux outrage groups #WAHMeToo issuing false accusations against people like Kavanaugh for political purposes while giving the eternal free pass to scumbags like Bill Clinton.

        False rape accusations HELP victims.

        1. Weinstein, Kavanaugh and Clinton are all men with a history of sexual predation. Ken Shultz seems to think that Metoo hurts women. I don’t see it.

          1. It’s funny how little it takes to be dumped into the Weinstein/Clinton category of sexual predator. For instance, a politically convenient 40 year-old cloud-engulfed memory of a college party by a neurotic, suddenly remembered in psychotherapy, and zero substantiation by any friend or acquaintance…. well, that and being a Trump appointment to SCOTUS. But mostly being a Trump appointment for SCOTUS.

            Instant “predator”! #saidinmyscaryvoice

            1. “It’s funny how little it takes to be dumped into the Weinstein/Clinton category of sexual predator”

              It’s not funny at all. Trump deemed Kavanaugh’s chief accuser ‘a very credible witness.’ And Trump had much more at stake in Kavanaugh’s appointment than we did.

              1. Yes, he did, when he heard about it at first. That was before her history came out, people had some time to reflect on the bogus content of her testimony, more background information came out, and nothing she said was verifiable.

                Now the woman simply looks like a left wing lunatic with mental problems.

                1. “Yes, he did, when he heard about it at first.”

                  That’s why it’s easy to lump Kavanaugh in with other sexual predators. His accuser was more believable than he was. You’ve managed to let others convince you otherwise.

                  “Now the woman simply looks like a left wing lunatic with mental problems.”

                  There’s no accounting for taste. Some perverts are drawn to exactly this kind of woman. I wouldn’t fault Kavanaugh for his choice in women, just the predatory way he conducted himself as a young man.

                  1. His accuser was more believable than he was. You’ve managed to let others convince you otherwise.

                    If you think that Blasey-Ford was “believable”, you’re a gullible fool.

                    But think about what you’re saying. You’re saying that this woman experienced a rape, but chose to let a sexual predator run around freely for decades; she only came forward when it conflicted with her political preferences. I would find that utterly detestable.

                    Blasey-Ford’s testimony bears all the hallmarks of false memories; she took several experiences and memories and conflated them. The only thing that distinguishes her is that most people have enough common sense to identify and reject such memories.

                    Even the one weak corroboration of her high school friend (“I was at the same party”) has been retracted by her friend, who added that she was pressured.

                    Blasey-Ford is a victim, not of Kavanaugh, but of the people who took advantage of her in order to push their political agenda. They destroyed her life, but as an adult, she bears moral responsibility for her actions and choices as well.

                    1. “If you think that Blasey-Ford was “believable”, you’re a gullible fool.”

                      It seems that you are the gullible fool. You’ve previously deemed Ford a very credible witness, then let yourself by convinced by others that (a) Ford suffers from a psychological impairment and (b) that the Clintons masterminded the whole affair.

                      I smell a partisan. You don’t have any trouble with the accusers of Weinstein or Clinton both democrats, yet when a republican is accused of misconduct you instinctively jump to the defense.

                    2. You’ve previously deemed Ford a very credible witness

                      I did nothing of the sort. Blasey-Ford struck me as an unstable woman likely suffering from false memories the moment I heard her testify.

                      that the Clintons masterminded the whole affair

                      Don’t project your penchant for conspiracy theories onto others.

                      You don’t have any trouble with the accusers of Weinstein or Clinton both democrats

                      I have condemned the accusers of Clinton and Weinstein even more than Blasey-Ford (see my other comments). Blasey-Ford is a sad case suffering from false memories; many of those other women made a deliberate choice to keep quiet for years while other women were being victimized.

                      It’s simple: if someone rapes you, you have a moral obligation to go to the police immediately. Choosing not to go to the police is morally reprehensible because it means that you don’t care whether other people get victimized.

                    3. I can’t speak for NOYB2, but my first thought on hearing of Ford’s testimony was that it was carefully tailored to avoid any specific information that could be disproven. How would Kavanaugh provide an alibi for an unspecified place, sometime over 2 summers? And at first Ford could remember no one at the party except the two men she was accusing, and then she named a few, but none of them recalled that party.

                      But on hearing that she had developed this memory in therapy, 20 years after the event, it sounds much like a false memory: she doesn’t remember where or when or how she got there or got home, but she definitely remembers a guy that she despised for political reasons. That’s what happens when you take a memory so vague that it’s uncertain whether it’s based on a real incident or a nightmare, and concentrate on it for years – made-up stuff becomes engraved in your mind until you think it’s real.

      2. I’m not sure how Metoo and their persecution of sexual predators like Weinstein is a ‘threat to women.’

        When private individuals bribe government officials, both the private individuals and the government officials are culpable, because it takes a moral and legal choice by both sides to participate in such a corrupt transaction. It’s no different for women sleeping (or offering to sleep with, then withdrawing) powerful Hollywood moguls in return for career advancement: both sides are adults and made their choices.

        Alternatively, if there was actual physical coercion involved in the intercourse, then women who did not collect physical evidence and immediately went to the police also made a morally reprehensible and irresponsible choice, a choice that put other women at risk.

        The MeToo movement does to women what feminists usually accuse “the patriarchy” of: they infantilize women and rob them of self-determination and agency by denying the women’s free, adult choice and responsibility in a corrupt transaction.

        1. Weinstein stands accused of rape. Women don’t choose to be raped.

          “Alternatively, if there was actual physical coercion involved in the intercourse, then women who did not collect physical evidence and immediately went to the police ”

          Go to the cops? Are you joking? What are they going to do? Unrape her? Charge Weinstein? The victims did what victims do. They warn and seek comfort from their friends. That’s how Weinstein’s predatory behaviour became an ‘open secret.’ Then Metoo came along and turned the heat on the fucker. I still can’t understand how this is a ‘threat to women,’ as opposed to rape, for example.

          1. Weinstein stands accused of rape. Women don’t choose to be raped.

            These days, consensual sex frequently is called rape.

            Go to the cops? Are you joking? What are they going to do? Unrape her? Charge Weinstein?</blockquote.

            Yes, charge Weinstein so that he can't rape more women.

            I still can’t understand how this is a ‘threat to women,’ as opposed to rape, for example.

            Everybody needs to understand that the primary determinant of whether they are going to be a crime victim is their own choices and judgment. Furthermore, they need to understand that if they want to prevent others from being hurt, they need to help bring perpetrators to justice quickly. Telling people that somehow “social change” or the legal system will protect them is a lie, a lie that results in endless victimization and suffering.

            Furthermore, most women who had sex with Weinstein clearly were not raped; they made a corrupt choice of trading sex for career advancement. Such conduct hurts women who want to build a career on skill and talent. And the only way to end such conduct is to condemn both participants in such deals.

            1. “These days, consensual sex frequently is called rape.”

              Nonsense. These days rape is still rape. That’s what Weinstein is accused of.

              The women whom he raped did go to the cops. Nothing came of it until the Metoo movement came along. The movement you still haven’t explained to me how it ‘threatens women.’ Good lord, man the crap you parrot.

              1. The women whom he raped did go to the cops.

                Really? In which of the 18 accusations of rape that have been made against him did the women go to the police immediately, so that physical evidence could be collected and he could be stopped?

                The movement you still haven’t explained to me how it ‘threatens women.’

                I have explained it do you several times; you need to re-read it.

                Good lord, man the crap you parrot.

                Thank you very much, but I come up with my crap myself. I think the Weinstein, Clinton, and Kavanaugh accusers are, for the most part, privileged, entitled, selfish women who are using sex and sexuality for manipulating others and advancing their own interests, both in their initial interactions with powerful men and in their accusations decades later. These are all people who swim in the cesspool of Hollywood; their problems are not the problems of normal, decent people.

      3. I’m not sure how Metoo and their persecution of sexual predators like Weinstein is a ‘threat to women.’

        Ever seen a puritanical church advertising their history of witch burning? Do you think the burnings were about the witches or the power of the Church?

  21. Nice lines:
    “think tanks have been proclaiming porn’s evils with renewed vigor”
    “show off their latest products, and assess” (kinda misread that one)
    “told me they’re intimately acquainted”
    “Even though I was just accepting tips”
    “the public is concerned and wants the government to step in and make it somewhat harder”

  22. Gotta love it. Leftists doing California-shaming because SB5 makes victims out of sex-workers? That’s how it always works… Big Brother paternalism only works in theory, and is built on what sounds great so long as you leave out the specifics.

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  27. But “there is a distinct difference this time: Our president owns a string of hotels, and those hotels offer pay-per-view porn. So it’s probably less likely that [obscenity prosecutions are] going to be be an issue.”

    What are you, stupid? PPV porn is overpriced and lame. All those hotels also offer high speed internet access where guests can get better porn for free. That puts a huge incentive to crack down on PornHub, Xvideos, etc.

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