FSC’s Douglas, Duke Attend the Dirty, Sexy Policy Conference

February 20, 2014

DirtySexyPolicy-UCSB-santabarbara-internetpolicy-media-missionandstateFree Speech Coalition Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas and CEO Diane Duke will attend and speak at the Sexy, Dirty Policy Conference, held by the Carsey-Wolfe Center at University of California, Santa Barbara, on Feb 20 – 21.

The conference will bring together prominent scholars, attorneys, activists, regulators, and journalists to analyze and discuss current challenges to media policy. Panelists will tackle such topics as content regulation of obscenity and indecency; structural regulation of broadband technologies; and the broader stakes that policy critics share.

Keynote speakers include former Federal Communications Commissioner Nicholas Johnson, who will give a keynote speech on Thursday. Des Freedman, a professor of media and communication studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, will speak on Friday.

Professors Constance Penley and Karen Petruska, as well as Associate Professor Jennifer Holt organized the conference.

Conference sponsors include the Department of Communication, the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of Feminist Studies, the Rick Rosen Television Studies Fund, the Center for Information Technology and Society, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and the College of Letters and Science.


No On Government Waste Committee Condems Last Minute Negative Robocalls By Yes On B As ‘Futile Last Gasp’

November 5, 2012

Barrage of Attack Calls to Voters Indicative of Voter Sentiment Swinging Against Measure B

In a decidedly negative and nasty turn in the campaign being waged on behalf of Measure B, the so-called “Safer Sex” initiative on the Los Angeles County ballot, the No on Government Waste Committee condemned a slew of robocall attack ads being unleashed by the Yes on B campaign this past weekend in response to an effective new television and radio campaign launched by the No on Measure B campaign that has swayed voters against the job-killing and tax-dollar hungry measure.

“Our recently launched television and radio ads are having a significant impact in informing voters of what a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars Measure B is and the devastating impact it will have in chasing away 10,000 entertainment industry production jobs out of the county,” said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. “In response the Yes on B campaign and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have launched a terribly cynical round of robocalls designed to scare voters into believing they and their families are all at risk from some sort of Larry Flynt boogeyman.”

The robocalls warn voters that adult film companies don’t care about voter health and implies broad-based support from state health organizations when in fact only two such organizations have endorsed Measure B in comparison to virtually every newspaper in the county, almost every chamber of commerce and business organization, ethnic and minority community groups, healthcare service providers and major political parties who have all urged a no vote against Measure B, according to the No on Government Waste Committee.

“The irony of AHF and Yes on B warning voters about who cares about their interests would humorous if it wasn’t so serious when you consider that AHF has already been cited by L.A. County auditors for overbilling taxpayers $1.7 million and is now foisting Measure B on taxpayers which is going to stick them with the bill to hire government inspectors to watch porn sets all day,” Lee said. “Voters are going to see through this charade and recognize the enormous cost to them at a time when L.A. County is threatened by budget cuts because of the recession and state budget crisis.”

The No on Government Waste Committee launched its ad campaign with a new television ad describing the increased costs to taxpayers and potential for deep cuts in county services such as fire and police protection and public health services should Measure B pass. It also released companion radio ads aimed at refuting the Yes on B’s misinformation about the lack of infections in the adult film community.

News media wishing to obtain a copy of the ad for use in coverage, can obtain downloads at Vimeo.

Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and create an unworkable system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges that regardless of the level of compliance by the adult film industry, there would be significant cost to the Department of Public Health.

According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers who did not contract the disease on-set. Since 2004, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set.  In fact, with the industry’s strict testing protocols – requiring testing at least every 14 and 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation.

No on Government Waste Committee

The Committee is comprised of entertainment companies, local business organizations, community activists, adult entertainment performers and healthcare advocates who oppose Measure B’s plan for creating an underfunded government inspection program diverting badly needed resources from local community clinics and underserved minority communities. For more information, please visit the campaign website.


No On Government Waste Committee Denounces Last Minute STD Study By Yes On B Campaign As ‘Desperation Tactics’

November 1, 2012

Poor Data Analysis Does Not Accurately Reflect Lack of STDs in Adult Film Industry

In another sign of how desperate the proponents of Measure B, the so-called “Safer Sex” initiative, have become, a purportedly “new” study of sexually transmitted disease data was released today which was quickly denounced by the No on Government Waste Committee as a rehash of old 2010 data previously released and discredited in a desperate attempt to win back voters already committed to voting no against the ill-conceived ballot initiative.

“This study uses old data gathered in 2010 whose previous work was discredited by noted epidemiologist Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer who noted how poorly the data used by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was collected and analyzed,” said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. “It’s a cynical attempt at a last-ditch effort to influence voters who have already decided to vote against Measure B due in large part to the overwhelming endorsements of newspapers, political parties, business groups, healthcare organizations and community advocates.”

The study in question which ran in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, purports to have reviewed the disease status of 168 “performers” from a Los Angeles-clinic treating them in 2010. Although the name of the clinic was not disclosed, Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which was closed after a flurry of frivolous lawsuits by AHF, was the industry supported clinic treating performers at the time, according to the No on Government Waste Committee.

The Committee noted that AIM treated not only performers, but any citizen who wished to be tested for STDs. It is these additional patient loads of non-performers, or people wishing to perform in the industry, but were not allowed to after testing positive, that were previously included in research work conducted by Dr. Peter R. Kerndt, who also participated in this study, demonstrating the erroneous nature of data analysis.

“AHF knows for a fact that its original argument for Measure B, to prevent HIV infection, has fallen flat on its face after we have demonstrated that no performer has contracted HIV on-set since 2004 so now it has shifted the attack to focus on STDs by using faulty data analysis to try and make Measure B more palatable to voters,” Lee said. “It won’t work because voters are now well acquainted with the desperate campaign tactics of Michael Weinstein and vitriolic hyperbole of AHF.”

The STD Journal study is not a scientifically valid survey sample since there is no representative control baseline sample, nor any differentiation on how the sample was culled, or the prevalence of STD rates for all patients seeking treatment at the clinic in question as a whole, Lee said.

“This study is akin to someone standing outside of a coffee house and asking people coming out with coffee if they like coffee and then ascribing that small survey sample to the entire population of a city,” Lee added. “It’s noteworthy that in a previous study by Dr. Kerndt that was analyzed in 2011 by Dr. Mayer, it was found to be not only ‘inaccurate, but also misleading and inflammatory toward the risk of contracting an STD in the adult film industry.’”

Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and create an unworkable system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges that regardless of the level of compliance by the adult film industry, there would be significant cost to the Department of Public Health.

According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers who did not contract the disease on-set. Since 2004, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set.  In fact, with the industry’s strict testing protocols – requiring testing at least every 14 and 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation.

No on Government Waste Committee

The Committee is comprised of entertainment companies, local business organizations, community activists, adult entertainment performers and healthcare advocates who oppose Measure B’s plan for creating an underfunded government inspection program diverting badly needed resources from local community clinics and underserved minority communities. For more information, please visit the campaign website.


No On Government Waste Committee Calls AIDS Healthcare Foundation Campaign Claims Baseless And Laughable

October 30, 2012

AHF Has Long Record of Billing Improprieties Affecting Taxpayers

The No On Government Waste Committee, a broad coalition of healthcare, business, entertainment and community groups, responded forcefully to allegations by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation regarding a single contribution coming from Manwin USA, the U.S.-based subsidiary of a global entertainment firm, by calling the charge “baseless” and “idiotic” and a shallow attempt to divert attention from the overwhelming community support building against Measure B, the so-called “Safer Sex” initiative on the Nov. 6th ballot.

“Once again, AHF has ably demonstrated they have no idea what they are talking about with this ridiculous allegation. They are so clueless, they even filed their complaint with the wrong government agency,” said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. “They know the polling as well as we do as voter sentiment throughout the county has turned against them and against Measure B and now they are trying desperately to do anything to save what is arguably the dumbest initiative ever to make a ballot.”

In the beginning of the campaign, a clerical error resulted in a contribution being misidentified as coming from Froytal Services LTD, when in fact it came from Manwin, USA, a U.S.-based firm registered in Delaware, RI. The error was corrected and all campaign disclosures were updated, said Lee. Federal and state election law clearly allows for contributions from overseas corporate entities so long as it comes from a subsidiary based and registered in the U.S. As an example, both the Romney and Obama presidential campaigns and related Super PACS have taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from U.S.-based subsidiaries of foreign companies.

“The irony in AHF citing a campaign violation when it has willfully violated disclosure requirements in not telling voters that former porn actors Darren James and Derrick James were both paid by Yes on B for their endorsements is almost laughable, if it wasn’t so serious,” Lee said. “It’s even more pathetic when you consider how AHF has conducted its bookkeeping operations in its own business at the expense of taxpayers.”

The No on Government Waste Committee revealed government audits which showed a long pattern of double-billing and over-charging by AHF that potentially cost taxpayers millions of dollars, including:

  • August 16, 2012 audit by the Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller showed that AHF overbilled the Department of Public Health by $1.7 million for contracts worth $8.5 million from January 2008 to March 2009. The audit also found about $20,000 in undocumented and unallowable expenditures. The Auditor-Controller has asked AHF to determine the amount of overbilling for subsequent years;
  • Two separate audits by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on February 16, 2010, and August 29, 2006, showed AHF billed Medicaid for pharmaceutical drugs that were not purchased or dispensed to patients. The 2010 audit showed Medicaid overpaid AHF by $8,117.42 and the 2006 audit showed the overpayment was $73,595.80. The agency also fined AHF $3,435.22 in 2010 and $5,000 in 2006;
  • In a June 3, 2010, examination by the California Department of Managed Care of 59 claims paid by AHF, auditors found problems with AHF’s accounting and billing practices that resulted in AHF underpaying claims submitted to them for medical services provided to policyholders of Positive Healthcare, AHF’s privately-owned insurance plan; and
  • In May 13, 2005, the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller found AHF was double-billing L.A. County and Medi-Cal for the same patients receiving hospice service at the Carl Bean House over an eight-month period from March 2004 through December 2004. AHF kept $348,000 in overpayments and refused to repay it to the county and argued that it had been double-billing since 1992 and were entitled to the additional funds due to the low-reimbursement rate from Medi-Cal.

“AHF has a long history of shoddy bookkeeping that has costs taxpayers and with Measure B it has once again put forth another taxpayer-funded debacle. For a non-profit organization that receives the bulk of its funding from taxpayer-supported Medicare and Medicaid insurance payments, the question should be at the top of every regulator and elected official’s mind ‘Just what the heck is AHF doing with scarce taxpayer dollars?’” Lee said. “If nothing else comes out of this election, a thorough investigation of AHF’s books, especially its use of potential taxpayer dollars to fund political activity, should be at the top of every investigators to-do list.”

Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and create an unworkable system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges that regardless of the level of compliance by the adult film industry, there would be significant cost to the Department of Public Health.

According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers who did not contract the disease on-set. Since 2004, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set.  In fact, with the industry’s strict testing protocols – requiring testing at least every 14 and 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation.

No on Government Waste Committee

The Committee is comprised of entertainment companies, local business organizations, community activists, adult entertainment performers and healthcare advocates who oppose Measure B’s plan for creating an underfunded government inspection program diverting badly needed resources from local community clinics and underserved minority communities. For more information, please visit the campaign website.

 


AIM Closure, PornWikileaks – What Happened?

July 26, 2011

(This article is a timeline of developments and summary of the events around the closure of the AIM clinic, and how AIM’s demise was affected by the rise and fall of the PornWikileaks hate site. Written by FSC Executive Director Diane Duke, this story has appeared on major adult industry trade publications including AVN, XBIZ and YNOT.

FSC would like to take this opportunity to commend all those that took it upon themselves to help in taking down the PWL website. The safety and privacy of anyone that is attacked and bullied online is very important – even more so for performers in the adult industry that already experience the stigma and judgment of the public at large. Unfortunately, sometimes the worse attacks come from enemies within our own community. 

As FSC prepares to launch the Adult Production Health & Safety Services program (APHSS.org), we would like to say that we have worked with legal experts, technology consultants, industry members and healthcare providers to develop this system. Our first priority is the protection, safety and privacy of the performers. The best interests of everyone involved in production will be served by setting policies and standards that uphold these values.

If any good comes from AIM’s closure and the PWL debacle, let it be a lesson that positive actions can result when the adult industry community is united, and is pro-active in protecting itself from its enemies. United we stand, divided we fall. – jc)

PornWikileaks (PWL) Emerges

The first part of April, FSC began to receive calls from worried industry members about the existence of Porn Wikileaks.  At that point, it was still unclear from where the information came, as there was what looked like medical information as well as 2257 information. Soon we learned that it was likely that AIM’s database had been hacked and that some 2257 records may have also been compromised.

AIM in Trouble

Almost simultaneously, I learned, from a conversation I had with AIM CEO Sharon Mitchell, that AIM’s clinic “temporarily” was closed due to a “paper work issue.” Apparently, L.A. County had closed the clinic based on a filing technicality. I was assured by Sharon that the paperwork issue would soon be resolved, that the database was still up and the draw stations were still active. Sharon assured me that the AIM clinic would reopen.

Almost immediately thereafter, AIM was sued by two individuals for breach of medical records. I learned that the litigation expenses for individuals suing AIM were covered by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). AHF has been attacking the adult industry with frivolous lawsuits, CalOSHA and labor complaints as well as protests and misleading inflammatory press conferences for the past two years. AHF has been especially relentless in their attack on AIM.

Fighting PWL

Meanwhile, FSC staff met with producers, agents, talent and attorneys to discuss industry options for combating PornWikileaks. We discussed what channels we could go through to get it taken down and if there were criminal implications for those directly involved in procuring and posting federally protected data. We agreed that we would need additional information for any action and sent an announcement out to the industry asking anyone who was impacted by PornWikileaks (PWL) to contact us and give us the information. We contacted the FBI and began working with them with two goals in mind. The first goal was to get the site taken down and to ensure that it was down permanently. The second goal was to prosecute the monsters who launched these personal and illegal attacks on adult industry professionals.

AIM “Closed for Remodeling”…or Just CLOSED?

The next information that I received—just as everyone else in the industry did—was that AIM was closed for “remodeling.” This did not make any sense to me; if the clinic had been closed by the county, why AIM would extend that closure for “remodeling?” Sharon had also confided in me during our last conversation that AIM was in financial trouble so I doubted that it had the money to remodel anything. I tried to contact Sharon Mitchell to find out what was happening but she didn’t return my calls.

I knew that FSC’s Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas had been working pro-bono for AIM for the past two years and I called him to ask him if he would ask Sharon to call me. I knew he couldn’t and wouldn’t discuss any AIM issues with me because he was bound by attorney-client privilege. I think it important at this time to note that Jeffrey’s involvement with AIM was around First Amendment and patient privacy issues only and that Jeffrey had nothing to do with AIM moving into a “for-profit” business model nor any of AIM’s bankruptcy dealings. Jeffrey’s time was strictly voluntary and did not involve the business operations of AIM.

I told Jeffrey that I was concerned about AIM’s struggle and that I thought it would be a good idea to hold an industry-wide meeting to discuss “what-if” AIM did not survive scenarios.  He agreed and FSC held meetings with performers, agents and producers on Friday, April 29 at the Skirball Center. We asked these industry professionals if they would want FSC to step in and find replacements for AIM’s services should AIM close. There was a clear consensus from the group that they would like FSC to spearhead the program if need be and everyone gave input to potential program components.

The following Monday I received a call from Sharon Mitchell stating that AIM was closing and filing for bankruptcy. She asked me not to mention anything about the bankruptcy for legal reasons. AIM did not announce that they were closing and the “closed for remodeling” statement was still up on their website Tuesday. Because of the tremendous implications to the industry, FSC announced AIM’s closure in a press release Tuesday, May 3. Clearly, FSC was and is a completely separate entity from AIM and under normal circumstances would not consider it appropriate to make announcements for another organization but, due to the extraordinary circumstances and lack of communication from AIM, we announced the closure.

The FBI, AIM and PWL

When a bankruptcy occurs, everything in the organization is seized by the courts. However, in order for the FBI to compile the information it needed, it would have to spend significant time going through the database to look for signs of breaches. Because Jeffrey Douglas had worked pro-bono for AIM he was able to volunteer his time to gather information critical in reaching the goals of taking down PWL and prosecuting those involved. Time was of the essence and the information had to be gathered before the bankruptcy proceedings began. Jeffrey spent a full day with the FBI at AIM, collecting data and helping agents shore up their case.

Since that time, FSC has continued to work with the FBI—investigators from both the cyber-crimes division and the medical privacy division. FSC also provided the FBI with information it had gathered from industry professionals and we introduced them to Michael Whiteacre who had been working on getting PWL down and was able to provide them with additional information.

FBI agents asked that we not disclose that we were working with them until they were able to gather the information needed for the successful prosecution of anyone who committed a crime. Deciding, temporarily, to withhold information was a difficult decision to make. Ultimately, it came down to the simple truth that stopping the website will not stop the people, but stopping the people will not only stop the website, but also stop the potential for future attacks by these same individuals.

Once the information was gathered, a letter could be sent from AIM’s bankruptcy trustee asking the hosting company to shut the PornWikileaks site down, stating that PWL is under federal investigation. If the hosting company did not comply, the FBI was ready to send a follow-up letter requesting the site be taken down. They said that hosting companies always comply with such requests. The FBI had gathered the information it required and the letter was to be sent out last week. But due to the work of a group of creative hackers, the site already had been taken down.

The FSC will continue to work with the FBI to make sure the monsters that illegally and brutally violated the privacy and rights of adult industry performers, and other adult industry professionals, are brought to justice. Special thanks to Jeffrey Douglas for the days and weeks devoted to this work and to the folks who got the site taken down.

Life After AIM—Now What?

AIM is closed and gone, but there is a great deal to learn from the AIM experience, both good and bad. First, despite its shortcomings, AIM provided a valuable service to this industry for a number of years and it is important to acknowledge its accomplishments.

At this point, I would like to clarify a few points. First, neither FSC nor Jeffrey Douglas has any connection, power, control or input on anything that has to do AIM. I have heard that part of AIM’s database is still active. It is my understanding that if you had a test done at AIM and the link to that test was sent to you electronically, that link will still work and give you the results for that specific test taken at that point in time. I have no idea why AIM’s trustee would still have that portion of the database active—perhaps to allow patients access to their records. Concerns about this issue or any other issue that has to do with AIM can be taken up with their Trustee at the Law Office of David Hagen 16830 Ventura Blvd., Suite 500,  Encino, CA  91436-1795; phone: 818-990-4416; email: brian@forbankruptcy.com.

Lessons Learned

This week, FSC will launch the Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS) designed to fill in the gaps left by the closure of AIM.

Adult Industry – Always a Target

Rather than providing one clinic or site, APHSS will use existing testing facilities and doctors to provide quality testing and treatment to performers at a reduced rate. Performers will have the variety they want, and the industry will not have to worry about the AHF’s of the world closing down our services.

PWL – Anything Can Be Hacked – Don’t Put Performers at Risk

The program will provide a database for producers, agents, and performers to check performer availability. However the database will not contain medical information or personal information. The database will contain only the performer’s legal name and “available until,” so that producers can see if the performer has a current test and that he/she is clean and available to work. This will provide the producers/performers with the back-up they need to confirm that tests brought to the set are legitimate. Performers will still be able to have access to their test results directly from the testing site, and producers and agents will not have the liability associated with keeping performer medical records.

Listen to Adult Industry Members

APHSS must be responsive to the industry it serves or it is destined to fail from the beginning. We have created an Advisory Board consisting of performers, producers, agents, a medical consultant and a workplace safety attorney. We have selected the initial board to get the program off the ground but once in place the program participants will elect their own representatives. This group will review and revise the program on an ongoing basis to make sure that it meets the needs of the adult production industry.

Communication is KEY

If we have learned nothing from what happened with AIM we have learned the problems that come with poor communication. AIM sorely fell short in this respect and frankly, it has not been my strongest attribute either. The FBI asked us to hold off talking about PWL and to tell you the truth, I waited too long to tell this story. Looking forward, I will commit to writing more of these communication pieces as issues arise. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to contact me directly, I can be reached at diane@freespeechcoalition.com.

(Graphic: Some rights reserved by blakeemrys)


How MUCH is AHF’s ‘Epidemic’ Going to Cost Taxpayers?

June 24, 2011

Well, AIDS Healthcare Foundation is at it again, and what we would like to know is:

WHY are California taxpayers expected to throw more money at an appeal to the State Supreme Court over a non-issue that AHF has blown up to “epidemic” proportions? Especially at a time when the state budget is being slashed for much-needed programs, including state and local STI programs?

Yesterday, taxpayer supported “nonprofit” AHF announced that it will “vigorously pursue” an appeal on a recently dismissed lawsuit; filed in 2009, the suit seeks to have the courts compel Los Angeles County Public Health (LACPH) officials to take action against the “spread” of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the adult performer population. AHF claims it feels STI rates for adult performers represent a public health threat and they are willing to go to the State Supreme Court to prove it.

The action by AHF follows last week’s judgment by California Appeals Court Justices Richard D. Aldrich, Joan D. Klein and Patti S. Kitching. In his written opinion, Justice Aldrich said specifically that AHF’s claims that LA County is obligated to take action in order to stop AHF’s purported “epidemic” are patently false. Moreover, it is unlikely that any court can grant AHF’s demands because, as it says in the current ruling, the court “cannot compel another branch of government to exercise its discretion in any manner” nor “compel [LA County] to implement [AHF’s] agenda.”

Of course, AHF’s agenda is enforcing mandatory condoms and other barrier protection in the adult industry – because apparently there are not enough legitimate issues facing those affected with HIV/AIDS or populations at risk for HIV infection. Apparently, all of AHF’s attention can now be focused on policing the adult performer population numbering, perhaps, 1,500 people.

Never mind that the adult production industry has successfully self-regulated the safety of its performers with monthly STI testing since 1998. The testing protocol instated by the now-defunct Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) clinic efficiently prevented HIV-positive individuals from entering the business, and also effectively limited the spread of infection when active performers tested positive in 2004, 2009 and 2010. AIM also served the sexual health needs of other high-risk populations not involved in adult production.

Never mind that another lawsuit, and numerous complaints filed by AHF were instrumental in contributing to the “financial hardships” that finally destroyed AIM.

Never mind that statistical information on STI rates for adult performers, presented by public health officials, has been described as inaccurate and “without basis in science” in a report commissioned by FSC, written by prominent epidemiologist and biostatistician Dr. Lawrence Mayer. That report was entered into record at the June 7 Cal/OSHA meeting, attended by scores of adult performers that wanted their voices heard in a regulatory process that will impact them the most. And never mind that AHF – not performers – has filed workplace safety violation complaints against adult production companies and agents, forcing Cal/OSHA into action.

Never mind that AHF keeps on quoting what they now must know to be inaccurate information; as in its press release, that “as many as 22 porn performers have tested positive in the last five years,” when in fact, the LA Times published that health officials retracted their findings concerning the number of performers that tested positive for HIV. And according to Dr. Mayer’s report, the stats that AHF quotes (as analyzed by LA County Public Health) on Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the performer population ALSO are wildly inaccurate.

And while AHF is busy playing nanny to adult industry performers and the public at large, did you know that a recent study shows that the highest rate of increase in HIV infection in the nation is affecting Asians and Pacific Islanders? When was the last time that we saw an Asian on an AHF billboard, or AHF launching media outreach to that community?

Did you know that HIV rates for gay and bisexual men in California may have been dropping steadily since the mid-2000s, and this may be due to improved treatments for HIV? AHF provides valuable resources for those living with HIV and should continue to do so – at the same time, taking responsibility for the education of at-risk populations about safe sex.  But adult performers – who test 12 times a year or more – are making an informed choice about their health and the work they do; how many average citizens are tested for STIs, even just once?

Citizens of Sacramento – where legislators work every day to try and serve the public’s interests while dealing with never-ending debates over how to fix the budget – did you know that funding cuts to local STI programs in Sacramento have resulted in the capitol now having the fifth largest incidence of syphilis in the state? That’s up from NO reported cases of syphilis in the early 2000s, and due to lack of funding for outreach staffing.

Look, we all know that California is facing a budget shortfall of up to $23 BILLION dollars for 2012. So far, state funding has been slashed to important programs for firefighters, courts, prisons, schools, state parks and the elderly, just to name a few.

Do the state of California, Los Angeles County or even AHF’s contributors need to spend one more red cent on funding or defending against AHF’s  impractical campaign to enforce condom use on adult production sets? For that matter, do state officials (at the behest of AHF) want to encourage the legal, revenue-generating adult production industry to pull up stakes and move out of California, to places where production safety and standards will be virtually impossible to enforce?

FSC has been working with Cal/OSHA, industry stakeholders, compliance experts and attorneys to develop industry-appropriate regulations. As the industry trade association in the U.S., our agenda is to promote and protect the well-being of the adult industry community and businesses.

We’ll leave it to you to figure out what AHF’s agenda is, and how much it’s costing taxpayers. – jc


Press Conference at ICANN 40: Adult Industry Leaders Voice their Opposition to .XXX

March 21, 2011

In San Francisco, at last week’s ICANN 40 Conference, FSC staged a “No to .XXX” protest outside the Westin-St. Francis Hotel, which was followed by a press conference at the nearby Chancellor Hotel. Industry leaders including Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, Pink Visual’s Allison Vivas, Kink.com’s Peter Acworth, Girlfriends Films’ Dan O’Connell, Wasteland.com’s Colin Rowntree, YNOT’s Connor Young, Adult Webmaster Empire’s Douglas Richter, attorneys Paul Cambria and Allan Gelbard, and FSC Board members and attorneys Jeffrey Douglas and Reed Lee, all spoke to media in attendance.

In this video (part one of two), each speaker makes clear their complete opposition to the .XXX sTLD proposed by ICM Registry. These same industry leaders stood before the ICANN Board of Directors later that day, and repeated their objections to approval of the new domain. Listen, as they explain in their own words, why they DO NOT support the .XXX online ghetto for adult online businesses.

Unfortunately, the next morning, the ICANN Board decided to ignore their objections, the advice of the GAC committee and the Dept of Commerce, as well as objections from several of its own members – and .XXX was given approval on a 9-3 vote, with four abstentions.

Special thanks to director Michael Whiteacre, for generously donating his time to shoot and edit this video. (Mr. Whiteacre also is the director of FSC’s anti-piracy PSAs, which are now over 750,000 views on YouTube. Visit our YouTube page at FSC APAP). – jc


John Stagliano Issues Statement on Pornography Harms, Moralists That Want to Restrict Your First Amendment Rights

February 24, 2011

Legendary Adult Director & Free Speech Advocate John Stagliano

This letter was sent out via PRNewswire today:

Today, noted adult film pioneer and first amendment activist John Stagliano decried the recent attacks on personal liberties by self-styled moral crusaders who are taking their own liberties with the truth about pornography’s impact on society.

This week, the group “Pornography Harms” continued its campaign to ban free speech and adult entertainment through a letter circulated around Capitol Hill with the goal of spurring elected officials into enacting the group’s dangerous agenda. The letter cites worn-out and debunked claims that viewing adult entertainment increases violence towards women and leads to more violent sexual behavior.

Recent statistics show those claims simply are not true. A study from a Clemson University economist showed that violent and sexual crimes have actually decreased as Internet usages have increased. The study’s author found that states whose Internet access expanded the fastest saw rapes and sexual crimes decline the most.

Stagliano said: “We are tired of being slandered. It is apparent that if people are left free to consume pornography, if they so choose, the world is a healthier, less violent place.”

In 2008, the Department of Justice’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force brought charges against Stagliano in a trial which gained national attention over its free speech implications. In July of 2010, the trial ended in a Judicial Acquittal after the Judge ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to convict. Groups such as Pornography Harms have lobbied government agencies and elected officials to continue to stifle first amendment/free speech rights through similar prosecutions.

The recent Pornography Harms letter urges readers to donate to Morality in Media, an organization with a long history of First Amendment suppression tactics and alignment with other censorship driven groups. They have frequently used similar outlandish claims and factual distortions as part of their extremist agenda, such as claiming there’s a link between gay marriage and mass killings. If these anti-speech activists are initially successful with their censorship agenda, they won’t stop until they have turned all broadcasts and publications in line with their narrow worldview.

Stagliano concluded, “The only real violence involved is prosecuting someone like me with an obscenity law, a law that you can’t know in advance when you are breaking it.”

About John Stagliano:

John Stagliano is an American entrepreneur, producer, director, and writer who founded and owns the Evil Angel film studio. He received critical acclaim for his self produced Las Vegas stage show “Fashionistas” and is well known for his contributions and work with the non-partisan libertarian public policy advocate think tank The Reason Foundation. John is widely recognized as having revolutionized the adult film industry. In addition to the many awards for his work, John has been the recipient of numerous awards for his lifelong First Amendment protection efforts, including the Free Speech Coalition Man of the Year and The Reason Foundation’s Flame of Freedom Award.

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Glenn Francis)


Land of the Free: Pornography and What We Are Really Fighting

January 30, 2011

 

Legions of rightwing moral activists – both groups and individuals, religiously and politically motivated –  believe that if they can eliminate the adult entertainment industry, the world will be a better place.

There are already many countries in the world where “porn” is prohibited; China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Vietnam and Pakistan, just to name a few. News broke this morning that Iran has sentenced two webmasters to DEATH for operating adult sites (one of these webmasters was operating in Canada, but was arrested when he traveled to Iran to visit his sick father). Perhaps anti-pornography activists should relocate to these countries and see if they like it better than the United States.

Because in the U.S., we have individual civil rights and one of these is free speech – that said, moralists are relentless in spreading their message of fear and “porn” is an easy target. Especially at a time when people are uneasy about the economy, the global political climate and many other everyday concerns; the “holier than thou” fear mongers are ready to build communities against an enemy. For people that are uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, their anxiety is easily provoked with misinformation about “porn addiction,” “epidemics,” “STDs,” “child pornography” and the spin around every other negative sex-related trending topic.

In just the last two months, several public figures have jumped on the anti-adult bandwagon, ready to  push their moral agenda. And very quietly, people are listening to their message without realizing they are at risk of losing their civil rights, bit by explicit bit.

Anti-pornography organization XXX Church will sponsor “Porn Sunday,” to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6. Participating churches will hold discussions on “porn addiction” and show a 30-minute video featuring, among other NFL players, Dallas Cowboys QB Jon Kitna.

In the original version of a promotional “Porn Sunday” video trailer, Kitna said when he entered college, he discovered the world of online porn and, at the same time, he began “drinking to blackout,” “cheating,” “stealing” and “womanizing.”

What is the point that Kitna is trying to make here? That “porn” caused him to act out compulsively? Well, there are plenty of people that enjoy adult entertainment that aren’t alcoholic and don’t steal or cheat their way through school. Why isn’t Kitna participating in “Alcoholic Sunday” or “Compulsive Behavior Sunday?” Maybe because those titles don’t draw attention (or flocks to churches) like the buzzword “porn?”

It should be noted that XXX Church has recently pulled the original version of the trailer and now has a more uplifting version available for distribution on its website. It also should be noted that there is NO official designation for “porn addiction” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) as of right now – but there sure seem to be a lot of therapists out there treating it. And a lot of those therapists seem to have a connection to some underlying religious/moral ideology.

In fact, a “porn addiction” center recently opened in the state of Utah, which, coincidentally, is also the state ranked No. 1 for viewing pornography online.  A recent article in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News explained corporate brands that have recently taken an anti-sexually explicit stance (in this case, pulling advertising from MTV reality show, “Skins,” which – by the way – is NOT adult entertainment). The article seems to suggest that the time has come for corporations to overlook the rights of Americans and move forward with anti-pornography policies, in order to save society.

The unnamed author said, “Without addressing the question of rights, companies must face the mounting evidence that pornography is costly to individuals and society.”

What evidence? There wasn’t a shred of evidence presented in this article. If Utah has the largest population of online adult viewers, where are the signs of moral corruption and societal decline? In Utah, more than 60 percent of the population is members of the Church of Later Day Saints – that sounds like the environment for a very pious, moral population.

Remember – no one holds a gun to your head and makes you watch pornography. You do not immediately receive porn on your computer monitor when you hit the “power” button – you have to go looking for it. No legitimate, legal pornographer wants children to be able to view pornography. No adult entertainment business wants to be involved in illegal activities in order to produce adult entertainment. The adult industry is already subject to a higher level of scrutiny than other industries.

And if you don’t like pornography, then don’t watch it. DON’T watch it – you have the choice and you should be thankful that you have the liberty of choice in this great country of ours.

But there are plenty of well-intended citizens that want to make that choice for you. They’ve already decided that adult entertainment is bad for you and they want to save you from yourself by taking away your ability to choose. That attitude is not only condescending, it’s dangerous. Because if they get to decide that porn is wrong and dangerous, then what’s next? Homosexuality? Controversial books? Provocative clothing? Profane words? Video games? Violent movies? “South Park?” Anything that THEY don’t like?

You know what they say about good intentions… the road to Iran, China and many other places is paved with them.

Anyway, here’s a laundry list of moralists that have targeted adult entertainment as the biggest point on the Devil’s pitchfork:

  • Republican politician Mitt Romney, who served on hotel chain Marriott’s Board of Directors until earlier this month, has been linked to Marriott’s recent decision to discontinue PPV adult entertainment in their hotels. Romney allegedly encouraged the decision after being criticized by conservative Republicans for his ties to a business profiting from adult entertainment. The AFL-CIO (the largest trade association in the U.S.) has criticized Romney for helping to eliminate a revenue stream that could provide higher wages for hotel union workers.
  • Media activist group Morality in Media recently appointed Patrick Trueman as its CEO. Trueman was former Chief of Child Exploitation and Obscenity at the Department of Justice under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is also founder of PornHarms.com, and anti-adult organization that researches the “harmful” effects of pornography.
  • Anti-pornography activist, feminist and professor Gail Dines recently penned this article about the big business of porn, and her experience at the AVN Adult Expo in January – except that she is describing her experiences at the 2008 AEE show, though this article was published earlier this month. She calls adult producers and directors “predatory capitalists,” and implies that they persuade and coerce the female performers in the industry to objectify themselves for profit – which implies that, unlike “feminists” like Dines, adult industry women are so weak and ignorant that they cannot make their own decisions. She also is the founder of anti-pornography organization Stop Porn Culture.
  • Anti-pornography evangelist Shelly Lubben and her Pink Cross Foundation actually did attend this year’s AEE, in order to “save porn stars,” as well as promote Lubben’s new book “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn” and her rap EP, produced by Christian music producer Fredrick “Ricky B” Burchell. Lubben has claimed, repeatedly, that her relatively short career in the adult industry caused her to suffer from mental and physical illness. Since becoming a born-again Christian, Lubben speaks at seminars hosted by churches and universities.
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) recently filed complaints with CalOSHA against adult producer Vivid Entertainment – the most recent action in their two-year campaign to force mandatory condom regulations on adult video productions.

And that’s just since December. These groups will always exist and because they have a right to free speech, they will continue to have a voice in public forums. But we members of the adult entertainment industry also have a right to voice our opinions. Since adult entertainment is a protected form of speech, we have a right to produce legal adult entertainment for adults, and citizens of the United States have a right to view it if they choose – and then they can decide for themselves, what is appropriate or inappropriate, right or wrong, bad or good. No one has the right to take that choice away from you, in the United States of America.

Free Speech Coalition serves as a pro-adult industry voice to the public, media and legislators. We do that on behalf of adult industry businesses and professionals – and on behalf of free citizens. – jc

(Graphic: Some rights reserved by Nuclear Vacuum – The red areas indicate countries where pornography is prohibited; yellow where there are restrictions; and green where pornography is legal.)


Whether or Not You Hate Sarah Palin, She Has a Right to Free Speech

January 18, 2011

This is a layperson’s (my) opinion of how free speech is supposed to work: American citizens are allowed to express themselves using various protected forms of speech – speech that doesn’t incite violence or bodily harm (an example of illegal speech being, if someone were to falsely call out “Fire!” in a crowded theater at the risk of causing a stampede). In using protected speech, citizens are allowed to express their opinion, even if it appears to the majority to be repellent, obnoxious, disgusting or just plain wrong.

Other citizens, at that point, have the right to voice their opinion to the original speaker in open debate and tell them that they are repellent, obnoxious, disgusting or just plain stupid. As adults, we are encouraged by the Constitution to engage in public debate and even heated arguments – short of physical violence, resulting from that debate. And, in the end, the majority can decide which opinion they agree or disagree with. Consequently, if someone (like Ms. Palin) makes enough statements that go against broader opinion, then the public could choose to rightfully ignore her or even call her out as a crackpot.

Is Palin guilty of misguided public statements and a bloodthirsty pursuit of furthering her own political agenda? Should she have used better judgement? Maybe so. That’s for each individual to decide. That’s how free speech and democracy are supposed to work.

Because of the extremely tragic incident in Arizona where six lives were lost and several people wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a new uproar for limiting speech is being argued in the media. Parties are pointing fingers and several political pundits calling for “inflammatory speech and symbols” to be culled out of the public discourse.

Trouble is, as with “obscenity” – how do you clearly define what is “inflammatory?” And who’s in charge of defining it?

As Jeffrey Miron said in an article posted on CNN.com, there’s no guarantee that free speech will or needs to be “civil,”  but once you allow the government (or other entities) to start restricting speech, you’ve started a slow slide down a slippery slope.

“The argument for free speech holds simply that the harms from government restrictions on speech are worse than the harms from free speech itself. If government can determine what constitutes acceptable speech, it will use that power to restrict speech in inappropriate ways,” Miron said.

And while there has been an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families, there is no proof that’s been brought to light (yet) that accused shooter Jared Loughner was influenced by Palin’s press campaign featuring a “cross-hair map” targeting Democratic congressional seats, including Gabrielle Giffords’. Even if he was a sworn acolyte of the Church of the Mama Grizzly, it’s not like Palin went down to the gun shop and bought the ammo for him.

For all we know, Lougner may have been hearing voices or reacting to any number of perceived messages from media or elsewhere. The sad fact of the matter is that Loehner appears to be mentally unstable – and there will always be mentally unstable individuals that will act out violently. Restricting speech isn’t going to change that, the same way that outlawing adult material wouldn’t stop rapists or sex offenders from acting on their compulsions.

At the end of the day, you’ve got crazed gunman Loughner, muttering on a YouTube video about his “genocide school” and how “they are controlling the grammar.” You’ve got Palin spitting out sound bytes like “Don’t retreat – reload!” and “blood libel.” Censorship won’t eliminate the problems of mental illness or hate speech, but may actually make it harder to detect – much less find resolutions for these issues. Taking away each individual’s right to analyze what is being said so that they can make a well-informed choice opens the door for thought control, misinformation, agenda-pushing and propaganda.

If we allow speech to be limited because of the chance that there may be unstable individuals that will maim or kill, isn’t that basically the same as giving into terrorism? Why should sane, intelligent people have to watch what they say, in order not to ignite some lunatic’s fuse? And if others speak of lunacy, using rhetoric that the majority does not accept, then why should sane, intelligent people be restricted from arguing against that speech?

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

All men are created equal – for me, that presumes that all people are capable of deciding for themselves what is appropriate and inappropriate, what they agree with or don’t agree with. Once you allow someone else to decide what’s correct for you to say (or hear or see or think), you lose another little bit of your right to make that decision for yourself – you lose a little bit of your freedom.

We hold these truths to be self-evident… -jc


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