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2257 (from the “Let’s Think About This for More than 30 Seconds” file)

Posted by A birch tree on July 20, 2008

It has come to my attention that certain parties are attempting to silence Stop Porn Culture‘s new slideshow (which I will not link to, as I have been informed it contains explicit images) by using US Code Title 18, Section 2257 to declare it and other such anti-porn information and demonstrations by activists such as Gail Dines (who has a great non-pornographic presentation viewable here) illegal.

2257 says:

(a) Whoever produces any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter which—
(1) contains one or more visual depictions made after November 1, 1990 of actual sexually explicit conduct; and
(2) is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce;
shall create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed in such a visual depiction.

It goes on to talk about specifics and penalties. In a nutshell, this means that anyone who produces pornographic shit needs to have records verifying who the victims are and how old they are (because remember, porn magically becomes a safe industry after a woman turns 18).

The parties opposed to antipornography activism, in a full-out defensive breath-holding temper tantrum, are claiming, with much mock indignance on the part of pornography victims performers, that people who put together such slideshows that include pornography for demonstrative purposes are in violation of 2257 in that they don’t have the aforementioned identification documents on site.

I smell Male Logic(tm)* at work. Taking a clear, valid law and messing around with the meanings of words and the original spirit in which the law was intended in order to punish the people that they are opposed to, but whose goals the law was intended to help along, while at the same time not insisting on the same application for industries and activities they favor, is pretty classic. They use a process I like to call “I couldn’t find a flaw in the first thirty seconds on thinking about this idea, so it must hold water”. It’s the same kind of thinking that gives us “Men are hardwired by evolution to love big breasts” and “Women are underrepresented in science and engineering and other high-prestige, high-paying fields because they just don’t like math.” It scratches the surface of an issue, creates a soundbite, and sends the soundbite around the world to make it gospel.

To wit: I imagine said parties would not insist that x-rated movie theatres, so-called “adult” bookstores, or pornographic video stores are noncompliant with 2257 because they don’t have the requisite identification documents on-hand. Furthermore, if 2257 were as strictly applied as some with a porn addiction and/or a financial stake in the sex industry claim they would like it to be, it would subject a dude who gets his buddies together to watch his latest porno to criminal charges and fines, since he doesn’t have the documentation in his bedside table, and would therefore be liable for presenting it to his pornsick friends.

I might accept that trade-off. Anti-porn radical feminists and radical pro-feminists are no longer allowed to show an audience an informative slideshow or video as long as individual dudes are not allowed to show an audience a titillative slideshow or video, and “adult” bookstores are no longer allowed to include peep booths, and X-rated movie theatres and video stories must get copies of all the relevant documentation for every movie they show or carry.

Of course, the pro-porn crowd (including the odd male pro-porn feminist) doesn’t promote that particular set of stringent applications because (A) those consequences only show up in the brain at around 32+ seconds of thinking and (B) they only want to use the law to protect their interests, not thwart them.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have not seen Stop Porn Culture’s slideshow, nor any of the pornographic ones Gail Dines is reputed to be responsible for, nor do I necessarily agree with that particular method of education. The efficacy telling people to stop using pornography via showing them lots of pornography is, to my mind, rather arguable; at least in that most people (men especially) who profess ignorance of the content of modern pornography are probably liars, seeing as our society is pretty much being pickled in a barrel of porn-brine. Having said that, a number of activists, including some I personally respect, consider it to be a viable and effective method of education and communication, and it appears the pro-porn lobby agrees with them, elsewise they wouldn’t be going to the trouble of trying to selectively misapply parts of US law to lever said tactic out of Stop Porn Culture’s hands.

I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue.

-a birch tree

*[Male Logic(tm) is merely a reference to the skewed and often idiotic twisting of actual logic that is often used by men trying to justify the un-justifyable, but its use is no longer constrained by gender. I mention this so that nobody gets the idea that the subjects of this post are exclusively male.]

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3 Responses to “2257 (from the “Let’s Think About This for More than 30 Seconds” file)”

  1. You know you may disagree with them… but “the parties” has a name.

  2. I don’t advertise for people I strongly disagree with.

  3. senseoftheimpossible said

    I don’t think that the porn slideshows are intended primarily to change the minds of porn-users – though they do (if I remember the Stop Porn Culture slideshow rightly – it’s offline) present the images with a feminist critique, pointing out the aggression and hatred in the images. The slideshows are also a way for women & other activists who don’t use porn and have had little exposure to it to get an idea of the reality of porn. It’s all too easy to assume that porn is just images of people having sex and to take an “anti-censorship” stance (e.g. in this transcript of a talk by Prof. Allison Assiter, author of three pro-porn/anti-censorship books, at one point says she’s never seen any porn).

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