|Again, good porn regulation vs. bad porn regulation...|
Senator Blanche Lincoln, a democrat from Arkansas, plans to propose legislation that would - among other things - tax all sales stemming from adult sites at an additional 25%. As much as I’d like to say that the proposed bill is totally unconstitutional (showing preferential treatment against one form of Free Speech versus another) and would never go through, the way court decisions are going against the adult industry lately (see here), it wouldn’t surprise me if it did.
The first part of the bill would call for more stringent age-verification requirements before accessing adult website material. The additional 25% taxation constitutes Title II (the second part) of the bill. Evidently, the tax-generated revenue would be used for funding such activities as (not surprisingly) keeping kids away from porn in the future; which is in keeping with the spirit of Title I of the bill.
If this bill became law, it would be like all car insurance companies across the country raising your premiums and that of everyone solely in your demographic (whether you define yourself according to your race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, religion, or color) so that they can build safer cars in the future; vehicles that are less likely to wind up in a car accident. All of this because several people whom you can identify with on some level, have caused accidents in the past. Call it cutting "high-risk" profiles off at the knees.
Senator Lincoln is purported to have drawn the bill in the name of being a good parent, and not as a politician. But her political career cannot be totally taken out of the equation insofar as her motives are concerned, and here’s why. Parents of both sexes are busier now than it seems at anytime in history. I think it would be safe to say that Congressional members don’t have a lot of leisure time on their hands. On top of that (and I will throw her a bone here), the internet is an incredibly difficult realm to police. On some level it would make sense to invest money where time is at a premium.
In other words, while the busy parent should always find time to monitor his or her child’s activities (whether in real time or in cyberspace), a much more cost-effective program (in terms of time and money) that would help the parent do that is always welcome. But not a program that does so wrongfully on the law abider’s dime.
As much as the need exists to keep minors away from porn, we don’t need to rob Peter (and Andrew too, mind you) to pay Paul. In effect, the bill punishes both the legitimate adult businessman AND the porn consumer, who is only exercising his First Amendment rights, in its efforts to do the right thing. Four, five, or six percent seems like a surcharge meant to combat illicit activities. Twenty-five percent, on the other hand, sounds like disciplinary action to me; against folks who have not broken the law. And in the end, the bill just has the earmarks of the crusade to slowly grind down the adult industry at all costs.
If you really want to see law, punishment, and pornography shielding done right, examine Senator Hillary Clinton’s proposed bill. Fining unethical video game retailers who attempt to sell underage children adult-rated and mature-rated games actually makes sense. It rightfully places blame and due burden on guilty parties.
Now, if a kid is bound and determined to play a banned game (and isn't prohibiton just the way to generate juvenile interest?), he’ll somehow get his hands on the game. However, he doesn't have to be handed inappropriate material on a silver platter; along with a receipt, a "Come Again" card, and a gaming pamphlet all in one nylon shortbag.
Incidentally, as of the time that this article was being written, the Federal Trade Commission has taken 7 adult companies to court for unlawful marketing practices: not labeling sexually-laden content e-mail (speaking of Title I of the afore-mentioned legislative proposal) prior to dispersal. That is how you keep porn from minors.
I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that we, as a society, shouldn’t do as much as we can to protect the underage. But you can only do so much in the name of prevention. Anything much more than that is at the cost of a pound of First Amendment flesh, and is not equal to the pound of cure it was originally intended to be.
The author is affiliated with Sex-Toys-Videos.com, and writes regular porn and sex toy articles for his blog page Sex, Toys, and Videotape.
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