“President” Romney Would Crack Down On Porn

The Obscenity Police Are Coming

By Susannah Breslin From Forbes.com

They want to put me in jail, basically.”
That’s how porn director John Stagliano responds when I ask him what he thinks of the 2012 GOP platform, in particular one newly added sentence:
“Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.”

Two years ago, Stagliano was sitting in a Washington, D.C., courtroom, charged with seven counts of distributing obscenity. Today, he’s a free man, after federal court judge Richard J. Leon “dismissed with prejudice” several of the counts and for the remaining counts “granted the defendants’ motion for judgment of acquittal under Rule 29.”

But an anti-porn crusader says Mitt Romney has vowed if he’s elected president, he’ll ramp up obscenity prosecutions, a task President Obama has shown little interest in pursuing.
According to Patrick Trueman, who ran the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section at the Department of Justice under President Reagan and President George H. W. Bush and who now runs Morality in Media, an anti-porn organization, Romney intends to launch a war on porn. In a meeting with Alex Wong, Romney’s foreign and legal policy director, Trueman says Wong told him, “Romney is sincere about this. He’s convinced this has now had a terrible effect on society, and he will enforce the law.”

And that means pornographers like Stagliano could become targets once again. “I don’t really want to go to jail,” Stagliano says. “I’ve got a two-year-old son. And I have a daughter, as well. I don’t think she’d like that either.”

In 2007, Romney swore that if he were elected president, he would put a porn filter on every computer. As Stagliano, a Libertarian who plans to vote for Gary Johnson, sees it, an administration that seeks to legislate its constituents’ morality is the real threat. “My morality would be based on, as long as you don’t harm somebody, anything should be permitted,” Stagliano tells me. “The government can’t solve our problems.” As Trueman sees it, porn is a scourge, and the current status is “pandemic.” “When I was at the Department of Justice, we were vigorously prosecuting this, and the reason why is because people were demanding it,” he recalls. Today, porn is ubiquitous, and “The nature of today’s pornographers have changed,” Trueman says. “What you’ve got are the white collar pornographers. These companies know there’s hundreds of millions to be made.”

X-rated content has proved lucrative for big businesses like hotel chains not typically associated with porn. In his bid for the presidential seat, Romney resigned from the board of the Marriott hotel chain, with which he has close ties, and Marriott has announced its intention to phase out adult content. Trueman believes porn is eroding the very fiber that holds America together: ruining marriages, altering brains, breaking down inhibitions. “You’ll never do away with all of it, but we have an untreated pandemic of harm, and you have to do something about it,” he pronounces.

Ask Santa Monica-based Roger Diamond what he thinks of devoting more government dollars to obscenity prosecutions, and he’ll tell you, “Oh, that’s really a waste of money.”
For the last five years, Diamond has represented Ira Isaacs, a Los Angeles-based pornographer the Bush administration’s now-disbanded Obscenity Prosecution Task Force at the DoJ indicted for distributing and producing scat and bestiality videos.  Earlier this year, Isaacs was convicted, despite his arguments, through multiple trials, that his eye-popping videos were not obscene, but art. What it obscene? Potter Stewart said, “I know it when I see it“; the Miller Test sought to locate it. To be found obscene, and therefore not protected by the First Amendment, a work must appeal to prurient interests according to community standards, depict sexual activity in an offensive way, and be wholly lacking in scientific, artistic, political or literary value.
Some may say Isaacs’ oeuvre is beyond the pale, but that doesn’t mean he should be imprisoned for it, Diamond argues. “I find it personally offensive,” Diamond confesses when I ask him what he thinks of Isaacs’ movies, “but I think people have the right to produce it and watch it. I think that’s essential to our freedom.” Not only do obscenity prosecutions squander resources, “It would also put a chill in Southern California,” Diamond says. “The economy in Southern California is based in a large part on the adult film industry. They employ a lot of people.”

When I reach Isaacs, he’s awaiting sentencing. I interviewed him several years ago. Back then, he was nearly elated at the prospect of a courtroom battle over his right to create what he called “shock art” and which he compared to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. Now he sounds defeated, almost broken. “They wore me down,” he admits.I ask him how he felt when he was convicted this spring. “It was very, very surreal obviously,” Isaacs says. “I’ve always likened myself to Josef K. from [Kafka’s] The Trial, and his fate at the end wasn’t so good either. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t shocked. It’s almost not about you anymore. It’s, like, outside you. It’s like a surreal view of myself.” Guilty on five counts, Isaacs speculates he could be sentenced to five to seven years for each count. How does he feel about going to prison at 61? “It’s a big adventure when you do big political things like I did,” he says. “These are the risks you have to take. I have to do the time. I accept the responsibility. And if that means going to prison, I do it. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t scare me.” As for regrets, “I regret not putting enough Bach music behind the movies,” he announces. “My only regrets are artistic regrets.” Stagliano estimates he spent around $900,000 defending himself. And Isaacs? “I’m totally broke,” he laments. “I’m convicted. I’m being evicted. I’ve pretty much run out of money. I have no income, and I can’t seem to get past that. And that’s what’s frustrating. Who’s going to hire a felon who’s going to be in prison in two months?” Despite the fact that his “2 Girls 1 Cup” defense didn’t work, he’s trying to focus on the bright side. “Who knows how it turns out,” he says. “I might be writing a book and become the darling of late night TV. I think if I’m in prison, I’ll have plenty of time to write it. I think it would make a good story. There’s sex in it. The media’s in it. I think it has all the things for at least a TV movie.” Isaacs has spoken with Max Hardcore — real name: Paul Little — who spent two years in prison for distributing his notoriously provocative brand of pornographic content that a Tampa, Florida, jury deemed obscene. “He was very encouraging,” Isaacs relates. “‘Prison’s not so bad.’ Max is a great guy.”
Isaacs mentions Martha Stewart. “If all these people can get through it,” he decides. “I think I’ll get through it just fine.” I ask Isaacs if he thinks he went too far.
“I don’t think I went far enough,” he declares. Until his sentencing, he has plenty of time to ponder an art installation he’d like to do. Visitors to a gallery enter a room, where his explicit videos are playing on the walls. A video camera records the observers’ reactions as they watch, and the footage of their responses is streamed live on the internet and projected onto the front exterior wall of the gallery.

Meanwhile, the industry’s performers are considering their votes carefully. Lisa Ann is best known for portraying Sarah Palin in an adult video titled “Who’s Nailin’ Palin?”
During the Republican National Convention, she performed her Palin routine at a Tampa, Florida, strip club called Thee DollHouse. “It was a perfect weekend,” she says. “It’s a very simple costume, but it’s something that everyone enjoys, whether they find it funny or really liked Palin.” I ask if she’s considered performing as Ann Romney. “The only two people I’ve done are Sarah Palin and Tina Fey,” she says. “After that point, I was like, I want to leave my parodies right here. I don’t want to beat a dead horse.” Come November, she’ll be casting her vote for Obama. “I think Romney wants to take us back about 125 years,” she says. She has faith her audience will prevail at the polls. “That voter who votes also watches porn, and that voter doesn’t want to lose their right watch porn.”

Porn star Sovereign Syre, who’s been in the business about a year and only does girl-girl scenes, is more philosophical about the matter. I ask if she’s familiar with the 2012 GOP platform.
“Their Mein Kampf?” she asks. In recent years, the definition of pornographer has changed, and the porn star who used to go to the San Fernando Valley to find XXX fame can become a sex star on the internet from the privacy of her own home with the right web cam girl handle. Now producing adult content herself, Syre is aware a new regime could make her a target for federal prosecutors. As part of Darling House, a collective that produces adult content and bills itself as “The Other American Dream,” Syre is part of a new generation of digital pornographers who “find themselves having to navigate” this new porn world. “When someone like Romney says they’re going to tackle obscenity, that scares me,” Syre confesses. “People go to jail for years. The consequences are very real.” In her view, the porn industry regulates itself. “We’ve created our own system of checks and balances,” she says. “There’s already self-regulation in place.”
That said, not all is well in Porn Valley. The proliferation of free, pirated adult content on the web, the recession, and a series of debates over condom usage and STDs in the industry have hurt porn’s bottom line. “Porn is an industry that’s seriously in trouble,” she says. “It’s going through a massive restructuring. A new business model has to emerge, but no one knows what that’s going to be.” Syre is convinced that “trying to legislate porn when [people are] posting naked photos of themselves on Twitter” is a waste of time and resources that’s woefully out of sync with our times. “Caligula would blush at what you can download for free on your computer.” In the end, she says, porn people are like everyone else and working in porn is just another job.
“We’re not alien mutant creatures,” she tells me. “We’re normal people, and this is a job. As much as people want to rally against porn, nearly everyone I’ve met in my life has consumed it at least once.” Prosecutions, she says, could drive porn underground, and the outcome would be dire. “If it all goes underground, performers are putting their health at risk, and, just like any industry, you’re going to have outlaws there,” she warns. “The product is going to get more degrading and weird because no one will self-regulate.”

Porn will never die, Syre says, “it’s just going to become increasingly dangerous” if Romney gets elected and his administration heads to the Valley and starts hunting pornographers.



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124 comments

  1. jeremysteele11

    I like these two “bitch-ass” candidates’ slogans…

    Obummer: “Forward”… Wow. No more hope or change… forward march through a formerly great nation.

    Ramthee: “For A Better Middle Class”… yeah sure.
    Better middle class, my ass! Middle and lower class are the same as far as he’s concerned.

    This Noveember, Fascism and Flatulent Fat Cats will win. The rest of us will lose.

  2. alex96

    I can’t wait for November 6th to be over with and all the rich two face lairs go home, but we still have the conservatives assholes in congress. It amazes me how some people believe their bullshit!

  3. TravisW

    you 2 are whats wrong with this country . its a 2 party system and its GOING TO BE A 2 PARTY SYSTEM, just because its not the way you think it should be is an ignorant reason to not participate “taking my ball and going/staying home”
    If you cant see the difference between the 2 candidates , I weep for the future. If you cant see that bama has bad intentions for this country then i weep for you.

  4. Jeremy, Michael Moore has made some entertaining films but they are filled with his own creations of reality. He doesn’t refuse the millions of dollars from box office and rentals and I’m told he is a hard ass when it comes to negotiating his income from his projects.

    Alex, seriously? Ron Paul was REQUIRED to pay into social security under the law so as much as he may disagree with it he was required to pay in to it. So is he supposed to refuse to collect that money back now at 79 years old to prove a point? If he had not paid in to it I would bet he wouldn’t accept it. But 60 years of investment is far different.

    And I’m sorry to inform you that Joe Biden is NOT poor by any means and even though he’s been a politician never making more than $200k a year he is a millionaire.

  5. jeremysteele11

    I’m aware of elements of Moore’s hypocrisy, Mariah. I forget which stocks he’s got shares in, and there’s a lot “Moore” to the story than what he’s provided about 9/11. And Biden’s a phony piece of shit, too. I just said BOTH parties are OWNED! Moore still’s made a lot of good points.

  6. alex96

    Mariah Milano I never said Joe Biden is poor and he is not rich either, compared to a lot of assholes in congress. So he and his wife make a nice living, but I would not call it rich!! When you live and work in the northeast the cost of living is a lot higher.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/joe-biden-tax-returns-2011_n_1423681.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-502163_162-4445194-502163.html

    Also Ron Paul paying into social security for 60 years is right and I have the right to do the same too. I don’t want some asshole taking that right from me, especially when he had the option of doing it for himself. So that is why he is a hypocrite, just like the rest of the conservatives! I do respect his views on war and foreign aid.

  7. alex96

    Jeremy I though you would have like Joe Biden?? He seems to talk a lot, just like you do (lol). I like it, when people say what they mean and call out bullshit like JB does in public.

  8. alex96

    Michael Moore has every right to be a hard ass, when it comes to negotiating his income from his projects. Also why would he refuse the millions of dollars from box office and rentals?? Who in their right mind would do that Mariah?? He did the work and earned it. I don’t agree with everything he says, but fat ass projects are more honest then the corporate America assholes!!!

  9. jeremysteele11

    Self-proclaimed Zionist (aka right-wing Judeo-fascist- that’s what Zionism is) Joe Biden, speaking to an international assembly of 1,600 conservative rabbis in Atlanta in May 2012, said that Israel could attack Iran if it so chooses. Said Joe, “Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination — if they make a determination — that they’re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.” Yet, at the same time, Biden declared, “We will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuke by whatever means necessary, period.” Gee, how come an Arab country, like one we’ve bombed repeatedly, such as Iraq, doesn’t have the right to defend itself from the likes of us? Of course, Biden’s statement, ass-licking of Israel’s dirty rectum, as it is, is just as silly, considering that according to the United States, the IAEA, and Israel – Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons. Any Rabbi or Jewish religious person who supports Zionist is the ultimate hypocrite. That’s why Orthodox Rabbis carry signs saying “Zionism and Judaism are diametrically opposed”.

    U.S.A…. still Israel’s bitch… and of course, Ramthee too wants war… war… WAR!!!… Both sides are sick, evil whores.

  10. come on alex, Obama has been 2 faced every bit as often. he was adimantly against gay marriage until re-election time was rolling around suddenly he says “I’m evolving in regards to it” yeah, in his 50s and attending a very extreme baptist church for the last 20 years and suddenly he’s evolving? Puh-lease. black churches are VERY anti-gay marriage. If you look at the California vote a few years ago the black vote was nearly 90% against it and many blame not having their support the reason it failed.

    Joe Biden is a moron. He mis-speaks more than George Bush did. He has said more stupid shit than just about anyone running for office. Remember when he told the story how just the day before he stopped into Katie’s Diner where he has eaten breakfast for 25 years to talk with his friends…but he forgot to check that Katie’s diner closed in 2007. He is full of shit.

    I don’t want war any more than you do, but it’s coming. I have a member of my site who is in Iraq now working for a black water type security firm and they are gearing up for Iran. They have started training and already have their pre-emptive plans. he tells me it’s gonna happen as soon as November. It’s coming and it’s gonna be severe.

    And Michael Moore has every right to that money, except he is anti-capitalism and anti-free market which is exactly how his films make money. He also is a major stock holder in many companies, which he is also very much outspoken against to the point of making an anti-capitalism film yet stuff his pockets with the money earned from it. He’s yet another blow hard hypocrite “Do as I say not as I do”

    And if you think anything will be different with Romney than it is now you’re crazy.

  11. Jeremy, Iran has more than once stated that they are going to wipe Israel off the earth. That is as good a declaration of war as it gets. Hitler wasn’t taken seriously for years either and even pacifists like Paul McCartney have said that some things cannot be dealt with by anything more than force.

  12. Durandal

    Mariah, like most people in the US you are misinformed when it comes to middle-eastern issues. Here is what Israel Deputy Prime Minister admitted this year:

    “[Iran’s leaders] all come basically ideologically, religiously with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn’t say ‘we’ll wipe it out’, you are right, but [that] it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed;”

    Read the whole article, you’ll find out that things are not as black/white or good/evil as most people Americans believe.

    http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/middle-east/rare-admission-israel

  13. alex96

    Mariah let’s start with Joe Biden first, he is not president. So you are comparing him to a asshole that stole the election in 2000 and got us into wars that were not paid for with the wrong country. How the gas prices working out for us, I guess the war for oil work out right??? This was George Bush biggest scam job, on this country. Also giving tax breaks that were not paid for either?? Then people wonder why this country is almost broke?? So what is the easy way out, blame this President who has to clean up his mess.

    I will take Joe Biden as vice president, any day of the week!!! Mariah did you notice, I said vice president. He can say all the dumb shit he wants, because he is not president.

  14. alex96

    So I have to agree with Jeremy with some of his points about Israel and Iran. How the fuck can we get into another war???

    Mariah would you to open your eyes with this one. If Israel was really our friend, why don’t they start acting like it. We give them billions of dollars, then we have people complain if the government does anything for our own citizens?? Take a look at how much foreign this country is giving:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4101134,00.html

    So would you send your own son, to a war where again we were not attack?? How would you feel about a friend who you gave money too and supported, turn around and stab you in the back?? I don’t blame Obama one bit for not meeting with Israel prime minster last week. He acting like a asshole and everybody knows it. You don’t talk shit and then expect your so call friend to bail you out, when you can’t handle it yourself!

  15. alex96

    I don’t have anything against the Jewish people and they do have the right to defend themselves. Why is it the USA always has to be the one to get involve? When you watch CNN and other news last week, they always want to say something about not knowing where Obama stands with the Israel?? So are they fucking serious, what more do they want this country to do??

    Also I have family fighting right now in the army oversees. They are tried and want to come home. So I do not want to hear about some black water type security firm Mariah, who gets ten times the amount of a regular soldier talking about Iran. They have had enough of this shit!!!

  16. jeremysteele11

    Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that his remark was misinterpreted. And how the fuck is Iran gonna wipe Israel off the Earth? Israel is stocked piled high with Nikes and Iran’s got none. :p You can’t pull no Neo-Conjob on me!

    Whoops, ha, I mistyped that… stocked piled high with Nukes, not Nikes.

  17. jeremysteele11

    And since when do we need an alleged threat as an excuse to bomb civilians? All we needed to nuke Iraq were some falsified documents on WMD programs, a murdered British weapons inspector, and an American weapons inspector set up with a bogus underage date at McDonalds, who both indepenently declared Iraq had no capacity or materials to make nuke. How pathetic we continue to by the bullshit from these genocidal liars through their servant corporate media!

  18. alex96

    Mariah are you really serious trying to compare the asshole to Obama on one issue of gay marriage??? I will give you he changed his mind and the black churches were against it, but guess what so was the white churches down south!! I will say it again comparing Obama to asshole two face Mitt, is like comparing you to Mercedes Ashley saying both of you are latin pornstars. This is not true and neither is you saying there is no difference between the two of them!! If you open your eyes. It’s clear, who is working for some of us and all of us.

    So Mitt will be lying in the debates this month and some people will buy it. When you can see bullshit, you know when someone is a fraud!! I will give Mitt credit for one thing, he told the truth about how he really felt about most of the country. So now he is saying he cares about 100 percent of the country now WTF??? It’s like you saying you never did porn movies and we have you on porn sites fucking, come on Mariah!! You defending this asshole does not make sense baby.

  19. jeremysteele11

    Yes, Walter, although my beliefs/opinions mean nothing without the information I’ve come across which has lead me to them. The main problem with American children, both young n old, is that we are taught what to think, but not how to think.

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