Mother Jones Jumps The Antiporn Shark; Endorses The Lubben/Dines/Trueman Lunacy (So Much For “Principled Progressive Journalism”)

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Oh, swell.  Bad enough that AlterNet and several other outlets of “left” journalism have decided to go all-in on endorsing antiporn “feminist: ideology…but today we got the mother of all endorsements…this time from Mother Jones magazine.

Today, MJ released at their website an article by Stephanie Monciser claiming to be a reset of the events of last Tuesday’s “Pornography Harms” speakout in Washington, DC.

Unfortunately, it seems that the author must have either decided to impose her own antiporn biases on her coverage, or simply was reading off the talking points of the conference speakers.

The result was less of a rundown and more of a promo for all the tired cliches, anecdotes, and saw stories about the harms and “social costs” of porn, and a barely veiled endorsement of antiporn activism and policies.

All this, mind you, in a “leftist” magazine.

How deep is the suckage?? Let us fisk, my friends.

Have the Feds Gone Soft on Porn?

We all know how the Internet has changed the porn business. The video clips available for free to any pimply faced teen with a modem make Deep Throat look positively PG-rated. But might the Internet also change the anti-porn biz? Once the exclusive province of evangelical prudes like Phyllis Schlafly and furious feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, the evils of pornography are becoming more of a mainstream political issue—if only because most of us, at some point, have stumbled upon a site like while innocently searching for a fruit juice company.

OK, so porn’s availability on the Internet has made it more accessible. As if Playboy/Penthouse/HUSTLER pictorals and adult book stores and the Playboy Channel weren’t antagonizing the local censors during the last period of antiporn activism (the 1980’s) or that men and women didn’t have sex on the brain that often before VHS recorders and camcorders and digital cell phones??  And please…I watch plenty of porn as an adult all my life, and I never came upon I never mistreated any women or beat or raped anybody, either. I guess that I’m an anomoly??

On Tuesday, a group of anti-porn activists and scholars arrived on Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress and their staffs and to call for beefed-up federal enforcement of obscenity laws. They weren’t there to fret about the pornographers of old: the loveable chauvinist Hugh Hefner and his scantily clad bunnies, or even the not-so-loveable-but-occasionally-principled First Amendment crusader, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. No, they had come to alert Congress to websites like, whose teasers alone are way more graphic than anything Hefner ever published, and whose content doesn’t portend a spirited First Amendment defense.

Ahhhh…first off, even during Hef’s golden age of Playboy, there was HUSTLER publishing content just about as “graphic”. And Penthouse was showing full-on beaver shots long before the Internet was even born. Secondly, just how many people actually have even heard of (which is a site dealing with women gagging while performing fellation on overly well endowed men) before the antiporn crusaders decided to use them as scapegoats for their crusade against ALL forms of explicit sexual media??

And as for the lack of a “spirited First Amendment defense”: I’d think that a magazine purporting itself to be progressive would mention the fact that the basic reason for the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment is NOT to protect speech that is already popular, but to protect speech that is the most unpopular…because the unpopular speech is usually the greatest targets for punitive censors to attack. I mean, if GagFactor was nearly as popular as what the antiporn censors say, then it wouldn’t be quite the easy target, right??

But of course, unlike the right-wing potentates they mime, liberal and “progressive” sex censors and antiporn “feminists” have to rationalize their beliefs with their supposed principles of free expression…hence, the maze of confusing rhetoric and the ‘rope-a-dope” tactics.

“The days of women wearing a coy smile and not much else are long gone,” Gail Dines explained to the congressional crowd. A women’s studies professor at Boston’s Wheelock College and author of the upcoming book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality, Dines has perused Gag Factor, and she described some of its content to the crowd—including a video of a woman with her head in a vice during oral sex. “Porn is an industrial product,” said Dines, who has studied the industry for 20-plus years. “I cannot believe how brutal it has become so quickly.” Gag Factor and their ilk, she added, are now the main source of sex education for boys.

Of course, the idea that gagging or getting off on a depiction of a woman porn actress doing a BJ while attached to a vise might not be the most arousing for the majority of male viewers or consumers of porn, or that depictions of eccentric porn scenes are really no indication of how the viewers really feel about women in general (or even the actress agreeing to do the dreaded “hummer in a vise” scene), gets somehow lost in the ether that Dines breathes continuously. In her mind and that of her associates, this is what ALL porn, even supposedly harmless nekkid women inserts, ultimately leads to, and this is how ALL men not cured by “radical feminist” or Christian fundamentalist principles get their sexual joneses off. And, of course, how porn helps capitalism make a shitload of cash, too. It’s as if Dines never heard of snuff films during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

If someone over their at that briefing had the ovaries to explain to Dines that the overwhelming majority of porn out there still consisted of the usual vanilla style sucking, licking, and fucking (mostly consisting of single girls masturbating or playing with toys, or married couples engaging in sex, or women playing with each other, would that change her view about all porn leading to scat, gag, and Max Hardcore?? Or that one of the prime producers of what she describes as the horrific, most misogynic porn happened to be a woman (Janet Zicaro/”Lizzie Borden”)??

But let us not digress too far…for Ms.Monsicer’s just warming up the orchestra.

Government prosecutors, the speakers said, haven’t kept pace with the industry’s rapid expansion. (In 1988, for instance, the adult entertainment industry released 1,300 porn videos. In 2005, it released more than 10 times as many.) Indeed, Patrick Trueman, a chief obscenity prosecutor at the Department of Justice under the first President Bush, stopped short of bashing Attorney General Eric Holder for going soft on porn. But he came mighty close, suggesting that the multibillion-dollar porn industry is a low priority for the Obama administration, even though the government typically prevails when it aims to shut down porn providers. Prosecuting the biggest fish, rather than the occasional small-fry consumer, Trueman suggested, would make a huge dent in the volume of online smut.

Obviously, this magnitudal increase in porn consumption  in nearly 20 years must be the work of organized crime or the Porn Mafia or the Great Male Mass Rape and Degradation Conspiracy…because technological advances such as HTML and portable camcorders and digital cameras and cheap personal desktop and laptop computers, plus revolutionary data storage and lightning fast broadband service, combined with plain old human curiosity and horniness, just couldn’t be responsible on its own…’ya think?

Also, it should be noted that most of the “successful” obscenity prosecutions that were delivered by the Justice Department’s Obscenity Task Force under Trueman were mostly cases involving either extreme acts that were already fundamentally unpopular due to their content approaching the line between consent and violence (such as the Max Hardcore and Lizzie Borden cases), or cases where they were able to forum shop for jurisdictions more fundamentalist and more likely to see their way (the John Stagliano case).Perhaps it was also because for Trueman, as it probably was for others in the former Bush Administration, busting porn was a hell of a lot easier fry and a greater emphasis than , say, environmental protection or civil rights enforcement; so much so that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was working day and night to expel regional attorneys who didn’t tow the antiporn line (and the “bust the liberals” line as well).

But all that doesn’t matter, since Trueman’s main goal isn’t to analyze porn viewer’s habits; it is to put them away for life and wipe any form of sexual expression not endorsed by the Religious Right off the face of the earth. Why Mother freakin’ Jones is quoting him as a valuable source is the real issue. I’m guessing, though, that like most antiporn liberals, the MJ editorial staffers decided that having Dines and Shelley Lubben over overrode any concerns about promoting the direct polar opposite of their belief system, and just let it slide in favor of peddling the antiporn “Left” position.

Christian-right groups have been complaining about porn forever, of course, and Trueman, a lawyer with the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund, falls within that camp. But technology has made the right’s argument far more compelling, as the Internet has brought pornography to a far bigger and more vulnerable audience than ever before. The adult entertainment industry has fought to protect its burgeoning business by invoking the Constitution and arguing that its work is an expression of free speech. Its lobbying group, in fact, is called the Free Speech Coalition. And it’s true that the courts have found soft-core porn like Playboy, and the bookstores selling such wares, to be constitutionally protected. (For adults, that is. Legally, soft-core porn is labeled as harmful to minors.)

Courts have also struck down as unconstitutional previous attempts by Congress to curb Internet smut with restrictions like age-verification screens and bans on teaser photos. In one case, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that parents need only put filters on their computers if they wanted to protect their kids—apparently unaware of data showing that many parents are also downloading porn.

Note the term “vulnerable” if people are simply incapable of making their own decisions and passing their own judgment on what they see and hear and watch. Mostly, because if people see that porn is relatively harmless and only induces people to play with their genitals or even maybe have sex with other people, then they might question all the nonsense about sexual prudery and “modesty” that they have been impaled with since all eternity.

The crack about “softcore porn is labeled as harmful to minors” is simply disingeneousness to the ultimate…since surely they know that everything from “parental advisory” labeled  CD’s to softcore late night skin flicks are readily available to people simply by getting their legal adult friends to purchase the stuff. And how can they tell that simply being “exposed” to full on erections, naked nipples, bare asses, bared midriffs and split beaveer shots will automatically turn “regular” humans into bezerk, stark-raving animals ready to attack every woman they see?? Because the Bible or Saint Andrea Dworkin said so??

Also, the fact that “parents” are downloading porn means….what?? That they are incapable of setting boundaries and limiting their young children from doing the same?? Or are only fundie Christains and/or radical feminists the only ones that can be treusted to control their baser instincts and run away from the dreaded Porn Demon??

But according to Trueman, much of the explicit material found on the Internet these days isn’t protected speech but obscenity, which is prosecutable. That means there’s likely no First Amendment protection for Gag Factor and other sites that trade in close-ups of graphic acts, lewd genital displays, sexual violence, and all the gross stuff—bestiality, incest, excretory functions—that meets the legal definition of obscenity.

Thankfully, for now at least, Trueman’s opinions on obscenity law remain just that: his opinion. As of today, the Miller Standard still exists regarding local interpretation of obscenity laws, in spite of the best efforts of the Religious Right and the Radfems to tweak the law to their own ends. But the question remains, again: why is a progressive magazine like MJ uncritically promoting his position as the default liberal position as well??

Next raving lunatic, please.

Making the point with blurry PowerPoint skin shots was Donna Rice Hughes, an “Internet safety expert” better known as the woman photographed sitting in Gary Hart’s lap as the then-presidential candidate sailed his boat, the Monkey Business, en route to the Bahamas. Hughes has since reinvented herself as an anti-porn activist. “For 15 years, children have been spoon-fed a steady diet of pornography,” she noted.

Hughes wasn’t just pushing the standard hysteria. Studies, she explained, have found that more than 40 percent of kids age 10 to 17 have checked out porn online, and many are checking out child porn, too. More compelling were her slides, used to illustrate just how easy it is to find porn simply by accident: Searching a generic term like “watersports” can turn up a host of sites featuring pictures and videos of women getting peed on. Then there’s the mix-up, which sends kids looking for a primer on teen fashion (the former) to a site offering an unfiltered view of graphic anal sex (the latter). According to Hughes, research suggests that the age of first exposure to this sort of visual is 11.

Hughes suggested that the porn industry is intentionally designing websites to lure in young users, too, in much the same way that the tobacco industry has: with cartoons. Consider “DisneyPornLand,” a site where kids can see Disney characters having sex, and freebies—graphic teaser clips available to anyone, regardless of age.

I guess that it would have been a really bad time for someone to interrupt and say that antiporn propaganda is as much responsible for promoting “watersports” as a gateway for…well, watersports, since it’s pretty likely that the people who are into golden showers probably didn’t get there merely by badly planted Google or Yahoo! searches. Not to mention the basic fact that in order to actually get into the really explicit sites, you need a credit card and serious ID…and someone will ultimately discover the credit statement down the line. I know of few 13 year olds who have credit cards not given them by their parents, you know.

Plus, unless you happen to believe in the “gateway/slippery slope” theory that ALL porn leads directly to the most graphic, horrorific, and vomit-inducing, itt’s far more likely that most adolescents who are exposed to porn during their developing years tend to find the same vanilla-style porn that most consenting adults regularly consume, not the “extreme gross-out” stuff so favored by Hughes and the like. That they tend as much to continue to act and live like nomal developing human beings seems not to reach the working synapes of our porn demonizers. Then again, letting reality get in the way of a good witch burning never was a feature of antiporn activist (un)thinking.

Oh..and if the former Donna Rice wants to believe that XXX spoofs and hardcore satire of popular Disney cartoon characters.are the basic equivalent of kiddie porn invented to corrupt the morals of impressionalble kids…..well, I guess you can’t please everybody.

She then played a short clip of interviews she has done with teenagers talking about the effect of porn on their lives and relationships. Hughes chats with “Justin, 16,” who freely admits to having a porn addiction problem. She asks whether the girls he eventually did have sex with were anything like the ones he saw in the videos. “No, ma’am. The girls in real life are nothing like in pornography,” Justin replies. “I’ve never had a girl want to do the same stuff those women did.” The bemused look on his face is worth a thousand words.

And this is a problem….how??? I thought that the principal knock on porn was that they portrayed women in real life as nothing more than “cumdumpsters” and “bi-hot sexeeee sluts” whose only purpose in life was to drop to her knees in front of every male erection they see and give up their rectums, vaginas, and mouths for the pleasure of men. In other words, porn is just an exaggerated fantasy that is not quite in touch with reality?? Of course, it’s just as if not more likely that the megative messages about women in porn and sexually assertive women can be spread just as often by people who are so threatened by women and men deliberatively breaking down the imposed restrictions and moral stopgaps that have regulated sexuality for millenia. People mosty like….antiporn activists??? No wonder why rightwingers and their radfem colleagues support sexual shaming and extreme guilttripping as acceptable policy in curing men and “slutty” women of their “sins” (or of the implanted myths of “the patriarchy”).

Oh, but I haven’t even gotten to the epic climax of the day’s business: Shelley Lubben’s turn at the mic. I will have to hold that for Part 2 of this essay; I have pressing business in order and have to go offline for a bit. But trust me, Clones, she is her typical off-the-chain whack.  I’ll be back, to paraphrase the Governator.

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3 thoughts on “Mother Jones Jumps The Antiporn Shark; Endorses The Lubben/Dines/Trueman Lunacy (So Much For “Principled Progressive Journalism”)

  1. Porn *is* more available since the advent of the internet. I'll admit that much. Gone are the days when you'd even have to go down to the neighborhood liquor or video store to get it. Or go through some really elaborate mail order to find specialty porn. And, yes, there are a lot fewer barriers to seeing it a wide variety of porn when you're underage than there once was. These days, parents do have to take a pretty active role if they don't want their kids viewing porn.

    But as for the rest of it, and the idea that its *harder stuff* now? Not by a long shot. Anybody who thinks that ought to watch "Deep Throat" or "Caligula" sometime.

  2. When I was eleven years old, guys my age were sneaking videos from their parent's porn collection, sneaking magazines from the racks of convenient stores. This is a parenting issue, as it has always been. It's an adult industry and only adults are supposed to be involved, but parents let their kids run wild, so what do they do? Instead of pushing for better parenting they propose to kill the industry, which isn't practical at all. Absolutists don't see anything but two sides. You can't be a compassionate humanist when you side with an impractical ideal that is impossible for everyone to adhere to.

    So many good points in this post! It definitely makes me more interested in all the parties conspiring in the witch hunt.

  3. All of this hollering about the porn of today is a bunch of hypocrites talking about the "kids of today." It is the exact same issue as with computer games, or for that matter Dungeons and Dragons, the New Puritans just can't seem to take the fact that for all they decry all of these "ills", statistics show on countries with high porn availability show a corrolation that goes in the exact opposite way to their hypothesis.