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Today Show Scoop Sandbagged

Porn Valley- From what I hear, the Today Show had the “scoop” on Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s [D-Ark pictured] bill to seek a 25 percent tax on all adult entertainment revenues on the Internet. They had the scoop last Friday. But everything was supposed to have been kept hush-hush because the Today Show wanted to be the sole bearer of bad tidings and unfurl that puppy on national TV. Except I hear that the Free Speech Coalition was let in on some info and started passing it around the adult biz. I hear the Today Show ain’t too happy about the cat being out of the bag.

Last Friday The Today Show called Kick Ass president Mark Kulkis asking if he would like to come on the show to address the new porn tax thing. Kulkis is going what new porn tax thing and asked if they would send him the bill because he had no idea what they were talking to. “They sent the actual bill and the study it’s based on,” said Kulkis. What raised his eyebrows was the fact that he was prominently mentioned in the government study. “They had a thing about how big mainstream porn is getting and they had a paragraph about me being a member of the Republican Business Council. Basically I’m going to be part of The Congressional Record when she [Lincoln] submits the bill and the study to the Senate.”

The Today Show was trying to keep the information confidential because Lincoln had been scheduled to give a press conference today and was coming on The Today Show prior to the press conference. Kulkis was willing to honor that agreement and passed along that information to Free Speech with that advisory. However, the fact that the adult press then got wind of it suggests that there was a leak.

Lincoln’s press conference wound up getting scrubbed anyway when Bush decided to announce his choice for The Supreme Court. Regarding his possible appearance on The Today Show which now seems to have been scrubbed as well, Kulkis says they were either going to have taped him the day before; or do it live from the LA Studio which would have been 4 am PCT.

“But I think they were starting to back off,” said Kulkis. “They had the exclusive on the story and they would have been sandbagging her [Lincoln] by having someone like me on to be a counterpoint to her program. They’re probably thinking twice about that.”

Kulkis was also asked to review University of Michigan law professor Catharine MacKinnon’s book, Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws. MacKinnon’s is a book of essays which, in the last portion, charge that porn denigrates all women and causes sexual violence. Kulkis, himself a graduate of the Univesity of Michigan, wrote the following:

“I might be expected to have a bias against feminists because I make my living producing pornography. But nothing could be further from the truth. I’m all for equal rights for women in every aspect of society, and I’m a great admirer of real feminists such as Camille Paglia.

But University of Michigan law school professor Catharine MacKinnon is something different. Her idea of equal rights seems to be an Orwellian matriarchy in which men are punished for thoughts. In fact, this is exactly what she proposes in her new collection of essays, “Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws.”

In the book’s last section, “Pornography as Sex Inequality,” MacKinnon argues that porn harms not just the women who star in it, not just the women who see it, but every woman who comes into contact with any man who has seen it. In other words, all women everywhere. She feels that this “harm” (which she calls “civil denigration”) should be actionable through civil lawsuits against porn producers.

Oh, that got your attention, didn’t it? I know what you’re thinking: MacKinnon is a genius! Who could be a more unsympathetic yet deep-pocketed defendant than the porn industry, with annual revenues of more than $10 billion? But before you start salivating all over your power ties, you should know that MacKinnon’s shrill diatribe is a disaster for a number of reasons.

For starters, MacKinnon obviously has not done her homework. She makes blanket statements about porn that from my experience are patently untrue. For example, her contention that sexual violence increases when porn becomes more available in a society has never been supported by any reputable study. In fact, just the opposite seems to be true. The most misogynistic cultures (Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind) are those with the strictest censorship; while some of the least misogynistic, such as Sweden, were the first to lift restrictions on porn.

I have to wonder whether MacKinnon has ever seen a hardcore porn movie. Just listen to her describe them: ” … women are seen being bound, battered, tortured, humiliated and sometimes killed.”

Killed? What fantasy world is MacKinnon living in? “Snuff films” may be popular as urban legends or fodder for sensational Hollywood films, but no law enforcement agency in the world has ever found evidence of one. Similarly, no mainstream porn movie would ever feature a woman being bound or harmed. Fetish films, yes, but those don’t feature sex.

And if MacKinnon had done her research, she would have realized that “fem dom” fetish films, in which men are the subjects of the beatings, are just as popular if not more so than the reverse. But these are the kinds of outdated myths MacKinnon uses to bolster her arguments.

MacKinnon also dredges up the tired old argument that porn “objectifies” women. It’s high time to retire this hackneyed phrase. Our society is brimming with examples of humans being objectified. Look at boxing, for example. How could two people be more objectified than to be turned into human punching bags for the viewing pleasure of a paying audience? And yet, nobody ever complains about that, in terms of objectification. Is it because violent objectification is OK, but sexual objectification is not? Or because boxers, who are men for the most part, are assumed to be intelligent enough to consent to being objectified? Is that equality?

If being “objectified” means a young woman can get paid 100 times more than working behind the counter at McDonald’s, then shouldn’t she have that choice? Aren’t assembly-line workers in Detroit objectified by being turned into human drills and screwdrivers? Marxism tried to stir up people’s passions by using equally meaningless but emotionally charged expressions. MacKinnon appears headed down the same road to irrelevancy.

Tellingly, the anti-porn civil rights hearings that MacKinnon and her compatriot Andrea Dworkin held in the early 1980s bore only one short-lived fruit, when the city of Indianapolis passed a version of their model ordinance. It was promptly struck down by the federal courts in 1984 as a violation of freedom of speech. Many civil rights groups opposed it, including a group called the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force, which filed an amicus curiae brief ­- earning MacKinnon’s special wrath.

Discerning readers will recognize MacKinnon’s warped form of feminism as the backward-thinking censorship that it is. For the majority of Americans, porn is a form of escapist entertainment that can be enjoyed alone or with a partner, and can even be a learning tool to explore the vast universe of possibilities in the bedroom. What’s so wrong with that?

Gene sez: Actually Mary Carey was first approached about a month ago to write the review, but Kulkis took the project over because he would have written the piece for Carey anyway. Kulkis told them he would write it and it would have the punch needed from a pornographer. Albeit a portion of his review was struck because Kulkis went on to elaborate about how horrible a writer MacKinnon was. “Trying to slug your way through this- I can’t even tell you how long her sentences were,” said Kulkis. I ask Kulkis if MacKinnon’s style bears any ponderous resemblance to Henry James. Kulkis says he was never any fan of James’ either.

“It was like a book report- I read it and gave my two cents,” Kulkis laughs.

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