Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The kids are just the excuse: you are the target.

One of the last legacies of the disastrous Bush Administration is an attempt to close down most adult web sites through new regulations that fly in the face of the First Amendment. But considering this man hasn't respected any of the other amendments, why should he worry about this one?

Let us look at some changes pushed through previously by the odious Attorney General Ed Meece in the 1980s. First, the age of consent for adult material, at that time, was 16 years of age, which is consistent with the dominant age of consent for sexual activity throughout the US and consistent with the ages set in Europe as well. Meece argued that some 16-year-olds looked younger making it difficult to prevent 15-year-olds from engaging in sexual performances. To stop individuals under 16-years-of-age from doing this he proposed the federal government raise the limit to 18.

It was long after that they were arguing that some 17-year-olds look 18 so the limit should be raised to 21. That time the argument didn’t fly as easily. One result of this new age limit is that some erotica, that was previously legal, became illegal quite literally over night. Most people were unaware of the change in the law and millions of new criminals were created instantly and unknowingly (to them). In addition a lot of publications from Europe, that were legal when they were ordered became illegal in transit.

The Meece police announced there was a spike in child pornography offenses and that the feds had to increase their powers to deal with it. In fact the spike was the creation of the redefinition of the offense. If you redefine speeding to driving faster than 10 miles an hour you will quite easily find that there is more speeding.

One way of dealing with the definitional problem was U.S.C. 18 Section 2257. This law required the producers of erotica to keep detailed records regarding the names, addresses, pseudonyms, etc of anyone who performs in, or poses for, erotic material. This included copies of two forms of photo ID. And this information was to be kept in one location, that is announced, and open to public inspection.

Now Section 2257 has been changed under the “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act” -- which was pushed by John Walsh, the authoritarian who is reacting to the murder of his son 25 years ago. That abduction had nothing to do with pornography or any of the issues that Walsh campaigns about and has built a lucrative career over.

The new legislation drastically expands the burdensome regulations that are mandatory. And remember, that while this is all allegedly to stop child pornography, the actual target of 99.99% of the regulations is legal, adult erotica. Nor would the absence of these regulations open the door to child porn which would remain illegal regardless.

The purpose of this sort of legislation is to regulate erotica to death. This tactic is used by moralistic politicians frequently. For instance, it is a violation of the First Amendment to ban adult shops entirely. So petty politicians pass zoning regulations which regulate where they can be located. With a few provisions they can then accomplish the ban they wish to impose without calling it a ban. One can first forbid them within 1,000 feet of any church, school, park, or playground -- to protect the children. Next you can forbid them from being within the same distance of any residential area. Just those regulations alone would accomplish the ban in most places. And many towns have done this. If that isn’t sufficient you can forbid any adult business from being within 1,000 feet of any other adult business including bars. You can toss in bus stops as well. With a few minutes of careful planning you can find zoning restrictions that accomplishes an act, which in its raw form, would be illegal. Welcome to backdoor censorship.

The same thing is happening in the U.S. with erotica. The Theopublicans, and no small number of Democrats I should add, are pushing for an intricate web of regulations that make it difficult, if not impossible, for someone to engage in publishing erotic material.

The main target of this new regulation is the internet. Let us say that you operate a blog or web site of some kind. Let us say that this includes some sort of erotic visual depiction on the site. Since it can included “simulated sex” it need not be explicit. Most such web sites or blogs copy photos from other sites. You can now be jailed for doing this, and knowing the morons in the Bush Administration it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide they can torture you in the process. (Sarcasm for the brain dead Bushites who will take that literally.)

If a photographer takes erotic photos he must have forms filled out and filed regarding each model. These are open to warrantless inspections by government agents anytime they wish and must be available without notice. This law only applied to the primary producer. Under the new law “secondary producers” are required to keep the same records and make them available to federal agents and police the same way -- without a warrant and without notice.

So let us say that you post an image from one of your favorite erotic publications on a blog -- again it need not be explicit sex just simulated sex. The producer of that magazine would have the records which federal agents may inspect whenever they wish but you wouldn’t have them. Under the new legislation you are deemed a criminal (perhaps a child pornographer) because you don’t have copies of those records on your premises. If you don’t have these files, and you won’t have them, you can go to prison.

If you are one of millions of adults who has posted an erotic image of yourself onto a site, like a dating site or XTube, then you must keep these records, regarding yourself, on your premises.

You may not think this is difficult or problematic. But remember those records are open to inspection, on the premises, by federal agents, anytime they wish, as often as they wish. There is no need for probable cause or a warrant to conduct such searches. In essence this means that everyone who has posted an adult image or video of himself on the net has forfeited his constitutional rights to avoid unreasonable search.

The only way around this, that I see, is if you maintain a separate office to conduct you “erotic” business. You would have to maintain an office, with staff to admit federal agents, in order to post your own images online. If you don’t have said office then you will be required to keep these records in your home. If you keep them in your home (or fail to do so) the feds have the right to demand immediate access to your home anytime they wish. They would have no need for those pesky search warrants and won’t need to have a reasons to search your premises.

There are some things here which I’m unclear about. While the law covers digital images what does it mean to distribute them? If you send an erotic photo of yourself to another person is that distribution? Does that require you to keep these records and forfeit your Constitutional rights? I suspect if it doesn’t explicitly require this, that it is implied and power hungry prosecutors will make this claim at some point.

There is no doubt that child porn is a real problem but it is only a tiny part of the erotica industry. But child porn is not the real target here. Child porn is the bin Laden of erotica -- it is the excuse used to launch a war that targets more than the excuse. As noted these regulations don’t make child porn any more illegal than it already is. The target is all erotica of any kind. These regulations are an end run around the Bill of Rights by an administration that has proven, over and over, that it has utter contempt for the Constitution or any limitation on its powers. The great tragedy of politicians is that they use real problems as excuses for power grabs. This happens both on the Left and the Right. And rarely do these power grabs actually solve the problem that was was used to justify them. The kids are just the excuse -- you are the target.

You can take action (which I suppose will be ignored). You have until September 10 to protest the expansion of Section 2257. Send those protests to and say it regards Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104. I suggest you keep it brief and to the point -- simply tell them you oppose the revisions of section 2257.

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