Even if you don’t watch porn—even if you think porn should be illegal—you still get the benefits of the porn industry’s fight to safeguard your freedoms as an American. And this goes way beyond your right to watch porn, to areas of privacy, capricious taxation, and elsewhere.
Here’s the latest.
Say you produce adult porn films for a living (go with me on this). You, the government, and society all agree that only adults should act in such films. And in fact, the adult film industry has an amazing record of accidentally employing almost no underage actors/actresses girls in the last 30 years—a far better record than the number of oil spills, crashes, or explosions in any other industry.
So it’s illegal for underage people to act in adult films. No problem. The government goes a step further, and requires age documentation of every participant in adult films. You must prove you’re an adult. No problem.
One day you decide to make a film featuring only 50-year-olds. All participants must prove they’re adults, and they do. But the government has this law (called “2257”) about record-keeping, unique to the adult film industry. They can come into your office unannounced, with no warrant or even probable cause, asking for the IDs of the 50-year-olds in the film; if you don’t have them handy right there, you can be prosecuted and sent to jail. You can go to jail not because you have underage actors in your film, but because you can’t prove that three 50-year-olds are over 18.
This law isn’t keeping underage talent out of films—because they haven’t been in commercial films to begin with. It’s simple harassment of a legal industry, which no other industry has to suffer. It’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy—government agents coming into your premises unannounced not because they have a reasonable cause, but because the law allows them.
So here’s the big news—the porn industry has challenged this law, the government asked the case to be dismissed, and a federal judge refused.
In this case, the porn industry is protecting all Americans’ rights—to be, as the Fourth Amendment says, “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Here are just three other ways (there are many others) the porn industry protects your rights, whether you watch porn or not:
* Fighting arbitrary zoning: Cities and counties around the country try to prevent adult bookstores from opening by inventing discriminatory zoning rules—which are also used to prevent swing clubs, education centers, and religious centers from opening.
* Fighting taxes based on content: Several states now tax strip clubs more than other forms of live entertainment. If they can do this, they can levy extra taxes on any form of communication they want to discourage (such as violent video games or religious newspapers).
* Fighting government agencies advancing a moral agenda: Even though there is no HIV problem in the adult film industry (you’re safer sleeping with a porn actress/actor than a stranger you meet in a bar), Los Angeles County plans to require condoms and dental dams on all porn shoots. If they can do this, they can supervise any legal activity of which they disapprove, such as fashion shows, church bake sales, and campus protests.
So whether you watch porn or not, whether you think porn is evil or not—this holiday season, give thanks that, in addition to making films, porn producers are protecting your rights.
Dr. Marty Klein is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Sex Therapist, and sociologist with a special interest in public policy and sexuality. He has written 6 books and over 100 articles about sexuality. Each year he trains thousands of professionals in North America and abroad in clinical skills, human sexuality, and policy issues.
Marty sees men, women, and couples in his Palo Alto office for psychotherapy, couples counseling, and sex therapy. For an appointment, write Klein AT SexEd.org or call 650/773-2425.
Each month Marty publishes the electronic newsletter Sexual Intelligence,TMwhich examines the sexual implications of current events, politics, technology, popular culture, and the media.
For an archive of his original articles, lots of Q/A about sexuality, and other material, see www.SexEd.org.
Marty’s current award-winning book is America’s War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, & Liberty.