America's War On Sex

Marty Klein

Part 8

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Would I want my daughter stripping at the local Kit Kat Klub? Do I encourage other women to? These questions are irrelevant. I wouldn't want my daughter to be an oil company executive, professional gambler, or to ride a motorcycle, but I don't want anyone anyone to prevent her from doing so. Not even me. to prevent her from doing so. Not even me.

ETHICS?.

Since the ostensible goal of eliminating adult entertainment is improving the moral health of the community, it's appropriate to point out the unethical ways zealots pursue this goal.

They manipulate the public. They refer to danger that doesn't exist, making connections that aren't real. Religious and civic leaders acquire more power when citizens are frightened. They rely on anecdote or so-called common sense, pretending there's no science to guide public policy on adult entertainment. Ohio a.s.semblyman Jim Jordan said studies that look at police reports aren't relevant; he believes people frequenting adult establishments are involved in criminal activity, use drugs, and have illicit s.e.x.

When New York City tried to virtually eliminate adult entertainment in 2003, it relied on the secondary effects argument. When police department figures showed there was virtually no crime attributable to adult businesses, the city then shifted its position, claiming that such businesses nevertheless lead to seedy neighborhoods.

These civic leaders pretend to speak for the whole community when they d.a.m.n adult entertainment. They claim concern for exploited dancers, endangered kids, or the threatened marriages of customers, but rarely encourage or enact legislation to help any of these. Affordable day care?

Col ege tuition a.s.sistance? No, they'd rather put the money into busting strip clubs.

Battleground: Adult Entertainment 91 Adult Entertainment 91 In fact, police departments and prosecutors often know that their cases won't stand up. They pursue them anyway, knowing that the costs of defending themselves will devastate many adult businesses. This is dishonest, and the federal courts have frowned on this,22 but federal court is a long way from a Mormon county in Idaho or a small town in Indiana where morally indignant neighbors can destroy someone holding the wrong opinion.

The final ingredient in this discouragingly antidemocratic scene is raw political opportunism. For example, Donna Hughes Rice went from forgotten bimbo punch line to a star in the antip.o.r.n world; Ralph Reed found his financial calling first in antichoice politics, then used his contacts to become a political lobbyist.23 Phil Burress is another example of political ambition masquerading as moral concern. Calling himself a reformed p.o.r.n addict, he founded Citizens for Community Values (CCV) in Cincinnati in 1983 to fight the existence of strip clubs and other adult businesses. He claimed they were all mob-affiliated and hotbeds of drug use, prost.i.tution, and disease. He gradually attracted money and attention with his call to restore "Judeo-Christian values" to the area, and added more products to his organization's charter.

Like virtually all people who demonize s.e.x, Burress went after gays, helping put the state's antigay movement on the map. In fact, he claimed Karl Rove urged him to get an antigay marriage referendum on the 2004 ballot, which Rove said would help mobilize the state's evangelicals to vote. He was right.

While Issue 1 Issue 1 ("no special rights for h.o.m.os.e.xuals") was pa.s.sing statewide, 76 percent of Ohio's evangelicals turned out for Bush, whose two-point win in the state reelected him. ("no special rights for h.o.m.os.e.xuals") was pa.s.sing statewide, 76 percent of Ohio's evangelicals turned out for Bush, whose two-point win in the state reelected him.

But soon enough, the high-minded Burress got caught looking like just another slick political operator. A local group, including Cincinnati's former mayor, has filed suit, investigating the clandestine fundraising operations of the antigay campaigns. And after Burress threatened any Republican a.s.semblyman who didn't support a bil criminalizing nude dancing, 31 clergy from across the state asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate if Burress's blatant political maneuvering should disqualify his tax-exempt status.24 ISN'T THIS WHOLE THING TRIVIAL?

Is the right to watch a bored 24-year-old gyrate topless really that important? Is a club's right to stay in business where powerful people don't want it really worth the litigation, the personal attacks, the possible jail time?

Yes.

Adult entertainment sits atop a steep and slippery slope.

Powerful people and inst.i.tutions are saying out loud saying out loud that regulating adult entertainment is that regulating adult entertainment is not not their end goal; they have further plans. Businessman Richard Enrico, whose group Citizens Against p.o.r.nography takes credit their end goal; they have further plans. Businessman Richard Enrico, whose group Citizens Against p.o.r.nography takes credit 92 92 for eliminating the sale of Playboy Playboy magazine in al 1,800 7Eleven stores in 1986, explained this to me clearly: "First we get magazine in al 1,800 7Eleven stores in 1986, explained this to me clearly: "First we get Playboy Playboy out of stores, and soon it wil be out of people's homes. Then we'l go on to other kinds of filth."25 out of stores, and soon it wil be out of people's homes. Then we'l go on to other kinds of filth."25 The legal tools they are developing and using against adult entertainment are also being applied against other forms of s.e.xual expression, such as the Internet and "indecency" on television and cell phones. As these groups win victories in adult entertainment cases, they acquire power, prestige, and funding for other battles over s.e.xual rights.

It's crucial to see the connection between the battle over strip clubs and more "serious" issues like abortion, s.e.x education, and the Internet. It's the same people, same philosophy, same money, same coalitions-backed by the same political/religious machine. The Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America do not limit themselves to single issues; their goal is a broad transformation of American society.

Is this a conspiracy?

No.

It's worse-it's a war. They are straightforward about their goals and strategy. They said said they would go after the Internet ten years ago-and the federal government has tried to censor what you can see there four different times. they would go after the Internet ten years ago-and the federal government has tried to censor what you can see there four different times.

They said said 20 years ago they would go after p.o.r.n-and the federal government has empowered a multi-million dollar obscenity task force that, among other things, recently shut down the largest erotic video arcade network (over 60 20 years ago they would go after p.o.r.n-and the federal government has empowered a multi-million dollar obscenity task force that, among other things, recently shut down the largest erotic video arcade network (over 60 stores, over 1,000 booths) in Texas. They said said they would clean up radio and TV, and they chased Howard Stern off of free, they would clean up radio and TV, and they chased Howard Stern off of free, public public radio. They radio. They said said they'd cleanse every state and city of t.i.ttie bars, and they are in the process of doing so. There is no conspiracy-just a war. they'd cleanse every state and city of t.i.ttie bars, and they are in the process of doing so. There is no conspiracy-just a war.

In 2000, Justice Stevens, dissenting in City of Erie v. Pap City of Erie v. Pap' s A.M., s A.M., wrote, wrote, "Far more important than the question of whether nude dancing is ent.i.tled to the protection of the First Amendment, are the dramatic changes in legal doctrine that the Court endorses today. Until now the secondary effects of commercial enterprises featuring indecent entertainment have justified only the regulation of their location. For the first time the Court has now held that such effects may justify the total suppression of protected speech."

Further, "The Court's use of the secondary effects rationale to permit a total ban has grave implications for basic free-speech principles."26 And there's a meta-slippery slope.

It's not just s.e.xuality the antis.e.x forces want to control. According to them, According to them, it's every aspect of American life. It's all part of a plan, as Dr. Judith Hanna says, to destroy the wall between church and state. For example, the mission statement for Citizens for Community Values is "to promote Judeo-Christian moral values, and to reduce destructive behaviors contrary to those values."27 it's every aspect of American life. It's all part of a plan, as Dr. Judith Hanna says, to destroy the wall between church and state. For example, the mission statement for Citizens for Community Values is "to promote Judeo-Christian moral values, and to reduce destructive behaviors contrary to those values."27 In addition to a $2,000,000 campaign to close every nude club in Ohio, CCV Battleground: Adult Entertainment 93 Adult Entertainment 93 has proudly created political campaigns to oppose gay marriage, reproductive rights, and effective s.e.x education.

When groups like CCV win battles around adult entertainment, they get stronger for further battles. According to U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, CCV CCV "has become one of the largest local gra.s.sroots organizations of its type in the nation."28 Every victory validates the horrifying idea that morality can be the basis of American law.

In one sense, it doesn't matter in what what context zealots are trying to loosen our rights-we must protect ourselves. If the battleground is s.e.xuality, and some desultory t.i.ttie bar on the wrong side of the tracks where more people frown than smile, so be it. Those who find this battleground distasteful, or don't believe it's worth fighting over, aren't looking at the bigger picture. You don't have to have a child in school to oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design. You don't have to watch Howard Stern to oppose chasing him off the air. context zealots are trying to loosen our rights-we must protect ourselves. If the battleground is s.e.xuality, and some desultory t.i.ttie bar on the wrong side of the tracks where more people frown than smile, so be it. Those who find this battleground distasteful, or don't believe it's worth fighting over, aren't looking at the bigger picture. You don't have to have a child in school to oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design. You don't have to watch Howard Stern to oppose chasing him off the air.

You stand up for the rights of sad people to watch other sad people gyrate-so you you can watch, read, download, write, and listen to whatever can watch, read, download, write, and listen to whatever you you want. want. That That' s s the American way. the American way.

UNDERMINING AMERICA.

The wil ingness of these activists to behave unethical y is bad enough.

What is truly disturbing is their wil ingness to attack fundamental American rights to achieve their personal ends, typical y the reduction of their personal anxiety, affirmation of their ident.i.ty as pious, and acc.u.mulation of political power or money. Individual rights that no one would dream of attacking in any other (nons.e.xual) context are treated as an inconvenience, a simple challenge to the creativity of law enforcement, elected officials, and civic watchdogs. Communities object to many things, but it is only the patrons and purveyors of adult entertainment whose rights are so systematical y limited and violated.

As insane as racial segregation was, at least blacks had their own drinking fountains. But communities are not trying to establish restricted places where people can watch a stripper or buy a whip-they are trying to eliminate such options altogether.

And while some observers smirk, wondering who would stand up for something as trivial as a lap dance, no one seems to be commenting on the amount of energy some people are putting into eliminating eliminating lap dances. In fact, anyone who put as much time into lap dances. In fact, anyone who put as much time into preserving preserving the option of getting a lap dance as people are putting into eliminating it would be derided as an obsessive pervert. the option of getting a lap dance as people are putting into eliminating it would be derided as an obsessive pervert.

Half a world away, America is spending mountains of money and buckets of blood to ease its fear about a group of faceless people trying to destroy the American way of life. But from Maine to California, Americans are doing it to 94 94 America right here. The Taliban would take away the right of a woman to wear short sleeves; Daytona Beach has taken away the right to wear thong bikinis.

The Taliban would prevent men and women from watching each other dance; Alabama prevents men from having a beer and watching women dance if they show their nipples.29 And the governments of Daytona Beach and Alabama have enacted their bans for the exact same reason that the Taliban enacted theirs: they know what's right and wrong, and have seized the power to make people live accordingly. It's for everyone's everyone's good, you know. good, you know.

Chapter Nine.

How They Do It: Ammunition in the War on s.e.x Those who war on s.e.x have an extraordinary a.r.s.enal of weapons at their disposal. It includes: * willingness to promote fear, anger, hatred, and anxiety * ability to dismiss fact and focus on feelings * huge circular flow of cash between government and religious groups * lack of media scrutiny combined with extra media access * establishment of so-cal ed morality groups as legitimate spokespersons * marginalization of moderate religious voices * linguistic and category domination * explicit policy collusion between government and religion-with the President himself straddling both worlds How could any any social movement with these advantages fail to accomplish its agenda? Let's look at some of the specific strategies of antis.e.x forces. Enhancing our literacy about media, statistics, and oratory may not stop the War on s.e.x, but it will enable us to see it more clearly, and therefore make it visible to others. social movement with these advantages fail to accomplish its agenda? Let's look at some of the specific strategies of antis.e.x forces. Enhancing our literacy about media, statistics, and oratory may not stop the War on s.e.x, but it will enable us to see it more clearly, and therefore make it visible to others.

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

The very framing of phenomena is the first step toward controlling the conversation about it. Americans hear about "the problem of indecency" and "the problem of p.o.r.nography" constantly. This means that anyone who isn't concerned about indecency is for for indecency, doesn't care about children, and so forth. It's far less common to hear about "the problem of censorship" or indecency, doesn't care about children, and so forth. It's far less common to hear about "the problem of censorship" or "the problem of others' discomfort with s.e.xuality," which would make it easier for anticensorship people to appear in a positive light. Similarly, we hear a lot more about "the problem of gay marriage" than about "the problem of intolerance and discrimination."

96.Protecting our rights now requires standing up and saying, "We don't have an indecency problem, we have a censorship, intolerance, and hijacking of government problem." As George Lakoff says, "Framing defines the problem.

Framing limits what you can talk about. They have achieved the ability to frame public discourse their way."1 CREATIVE USE OF LEGAL TERMS.

The people who write our laws can make anything il egal. Al you have to do is create a category of thing that's il egal, and then put behavior into it. By criminalizing "public s.e.x acts," "mailing indecent substances," obscenity "in public view," material "harmful to minors," "contributing to immorality," and "undermining community morals," various communities have made an enormous range of activities il egal. These now include private swing clubs, lap dances, nude car washes, and, as 21-year-old Clemson University student Christine Vetter found out, mailing her worn, unwashed panties.2 CATEGORY MANIPULATION.

Control a society's vocabulary and you control the society.

Normal conversation depends on many words that lack objective meaning but have emotional resonance-that is, subjective meaning. We agree to use expressions like "intimacy," "frustrated," "overcrowded," "rude," and "on top of things," even though we each mean something different by these words. We're all against "s.e.x abuse," but exactly what const.i.tutes it? We all want people to feel "respected," but what do you and I each mean by that?

There are many words a.s.sociated with s.e.xual problems, and those who war on s.e.x keep expanding what those words mean. "s.e.x abuse" and "child molestation" used to mean the physical violation of children by adults. Now we hear that adults who go to strip clubs are molesting their kids "spiritually." And we have eight-year-olds busted for "s.e.xually abusing" a cla.s.smate by casually peeking under her dress.

"s.e.x offenders" used to only be violently intrusive. Now the category includes harmless exhibitionists and those who solicit prost.i.tutes. "Date rape" is a terrible thing, but at some colleges, if you change your mind the morning after s.e.x and can prove you'd had a few drinks, you can claim you're a victim. Everyone's language has gotten saltier since the 1970s and 80s, but Morality in Media urges people to pet.i.tion the Federal Communications Commission about "indecent" words like "b.u.t.t" and "b.o.o.b." And then there's the word "child."

The War on s.e.x loves to talk about the horrible stuff "children" are seeing and doing-without mentioning how many of those children are 16, not 6.

Then there are the phony categories used to scare us. It's easy. Take two separate things, one common and one unusual. Put them together and watch how many things fit in. Like, um, "Millions of wives scold or even hit their How They Do It 97 How They Do It 97 husbands on the honeymoon," or, "Tens of millions of people leave restaurants feeling too full or even sick." How about these actual categories: * "s.e.xual pressure or coercion" (one is subjective and part of dating; the other involves force) * "p.o.r.nography and kiddie p.o.r.n" (one is legal; the other isn't) * "Prost.i.tution and trafficking" (one is voluntary and common; the other is coerced and rare) * "Victims of early s.e.x(!) and molestation" (one is consensual, often with an age peer; the other is illegal, often forced, usually with someone much older) * "Sadomasochism and abuse" (one is consensual; the other isn't) * "Molestation and unwanted s.e.xual attention" (one is illegal and destructive; the other is a part of life to be negotiated) * "Missing and exploited children" (one is rare; the other terribly common) * "Indecent and obscene" (two radically different categories; in most circ.u.mstances, the first can be legal while the second isn't) A popular usage of this is attacking virtually anything anything by a.s.sociating it with something bad. So the F word shouldn't be allowed on late night cable TV by a.s.sociating it with something bad. So the F word shouldn't be allowed on late night cable TV because "p.o.r.n is bad for kids." No one No one is requesting p.o.r.n on "American Idol." is requesting p.o.r.n on "American Idol."

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Another popular tactic is setting up and attacking a pointless straw man: "s.e.x education shouldn't encourage b.e.s.t.i.a.lity." Yes, even I can agree with that totally inane statement.

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