This White House spits nails and moral superiority no matter how many indictments come down the pike. Recently, we heard the Attorney General's office inaugurated a new FBI vice squad to rid the world of smut. Run-of-the-mill internet adult sites were told to run for their lives. But according to the Washington Post, even the rank and file G-men were disgusted.
But, in the last few weeks, some surprising sex arrests have been made. What is Bush up to now? Has he invented new definitions for obscenity the same way he made up phony rationales for the war?
In one case, the cops have targeted a porn site that pumps out its content from the American military in Iraq itself— cheap sex and cheap death in the same shot glass.
Let's look at the three new mystery "obscenity" cases. The one thing they have in common is the utter lack of traditional evidence.
Shortly after the A.G’s announcement, the Suicide Girls web site pulled down all their softcore bondage photos, blaming a new FBI witchhunt. After intense scrutiny by the blogosphere, SG confessed they were collaborating with the FBI in a criminal lawsuit to target one of their competitors who they accused of copyright infringement.
Still, their explanation remained mysterious. SG said that the feds advised them that in order to protect their own reputation in the legal fight, they should take down anything that might get them an obscenity slap.
But here's the thing... softcore has never been part of a contemporary obscenity prosecution. "Community standards" are what get analyzed in jury trials for obscenity, and the "community" has not (in recent decades) imprisoned people for running pictures of topless girls— no matter how cute or cunning their bondage outfits may be!
In the past GOP administrations, the feds tried to go after issues that they thought would frighten the horses. They chose locations like the Bible Belt to go after images of inter-racial sex, gay intercourse, and anal sex— preferably all three at the same time. And STILL, they lost! They lost more than they won. They lost so badly, that it became fruitless. Giant anti-porn campaigns like the Meese Commission won a relative teensy battle, but lost the war.
The only thing that the feds effectively prosecuted, that left no room for interpretation, was suggestive photographs of minors. Minors in the nude, minors in sexual situations. It’s cut and dried, with no aesthetic or educational exceptions, whatsoever, by law.
That is why you see pandemonium over models like Traci Lords who used a fake ID in her prime. Professionals would rather be burned alive than knowingly use a model a day under 18— because it is this issue, however cynical, that will shut them down, and send them to prison.
Don't think I'm callous about young people being sexually exploited. It's the adult adversaries that don't give a shit.
You can join the Army in high school. But you can't be in a porn movie. You can't drink ‘til you're 21. You can get a job in high school, but you can't have sex with your high school sweetheart. What are the statuetory rape laws in your state?
In many states (it's coming up for a vote in California on our next ballot) young women are prevented from arranging abortions without parental consent— even if it's one of their dear parents who have raped them. Yes, it's that fucked up.
Let's set aside the question of “age of consent” and just point to the fact that this is the angle used by the Attorney General to prosecute “child porn” whether the target is a real sociopath, or a mommy who naively developed pictures at Walgreens of her two-year-old naked in a plastic swimming pool.
So why would Gonzales’ new porno-squad go after stuff that falls so far from the prosecutorial tree? Some of us thought Suicide Girls had to be written off as a self-destructive bad example. But they weren't the last...
RED ROSE WHO?
"FBI raids webmaster of Red-Rose-Stories.com for obscenity"
This is a text site with some audio, but no photos or video whatsoever. If a text site, with nothing but typing, can be prosecuted for obscenity, then your whole public library and R-rated video store needs to be shuttered for good.
The owner of RedRose posted a puzzling and fearful goodbye:
“I am being charged with ‘obsenities,’ and face charges for having posted original fiction about bestiality, water sports, scat, bondage and domination, slavery, threesomes, orgies, and sex with children... It is considered obscene and is prosecutable. Trust me on this. I found out the hard way.”
She goes on to say, “When it comes to free speech, sex stories are not covered. The only legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman consenting to missionary position sex in a dark room.”
I'm afraid we cannot trust RedRose on this. She seems strangely unaware of the history of erotic literature and publishing. She sheds no light on why her site was singled out. Her impressive list of sex taboos is not legally enlightening.
Of course, a description of "sex with children" will make anyone’s hair stand on end, but we don’t know what she's talking about. Diaries of sexual memories as a teen or child? Cross-generational sex? Rape? What is the context, and what is she talking about?
Legally, if it’s a matter of speech, then of course, people are entitled to say all sorts of awful things, including, “I want to kill, I want to rape, all ‘X’ people should die, I’m going to eat your liver for supper, children should be barbecued, I feel like raping someone,” etc. This happens all the time in non-pornographic settings.
I hesitate to give a harangue about the diligence required for free speech— but it seems unavoidable because the RedRose webmistress seems so ignorant of first amendment basics. The police do not get to come shut down your web site because you say things that other people find disgusting. That’s preposterous!
Nice people apparently never have to use the first amendment although they certainly do benefit from it! By its very definition, free speech concerns the offensive, the unpopular, the frightening, and the unknown. It’s everything that social pressure is against. It’s democracy’s most radical feature! We defend freedom of speech because it is essential for the discovery of truth— that’s the bottom line.
I will point to Wikipedia’s entry on the subject — and add my own addendum, that in the United States, we suppress sexual speech above all other forms of comment.
RedRose is a mystery. she could say they wanted to rape Tinkerbell, and it wouldn’t mean legal SQUAT, unless Alberto Gonzales has thrown out 200+ years of legal decisions. So why was this web site arrested and shut down with all their equipment confiscated?
1. Red Rose is making it up. She's nuts. Always a possibility in this day and age! But she's already hired excellent representation. I recognized the lawyers; they’re at the top of the food chain.
2. RedRose was involved in “underage” production, procurement, or photography that is not evident on the site, but which the feds believe they will find evidence of on their computers. No one has said that, though. No evidence so far.
3. The government knows they have no case, but they have been given financial carte blanche to go after any small porn operation (i.e. not owned by General Motors, AT&T or Marriot) that grosses out one of their detectives, and kill them with nuisance lawsuits, which they never plan to win in the first place. That’s a helluva blank check. I'm afraid this is the most probable explanation.
NOW THAT'S FUCKED UP
I spent quite a few hours on NowThatsFuckedup, before their webmaster, Chris Wilson, was hauled away. Not for his war dead photos— for the sex. The sheriff said that he’d never seen such vile, perverted material in his life— to which one must reply, even if it’s a cliché, “My god, you don’t get out much.”
What was the sheriff talking about? “Wilson's arrest,” says the Orlando Weekly, “is based on pictures of things of a man having anal sex with a woman, a woman fellating a man while another woman masturbates him, and a man ejaculating on a woman's face. Not family fare, but run-of-the-mill smut by Internet standards, available at thousands and thousands of websites.”
The national press has missed this. If you read the mainstream media, you’d get the impression Wilson’s fans were psychotics masturbating to pictures of Iraqi war dead.
Let’s talk about the reality of the soldiers' images. NTFU is the very epitome of wartime contradiction. They invite soldiers to publish amateur photos from their tour of duty, which are often as innocent as guys waving “Hi!” from their vehicle, the kind of thing you’d have seen in the old days of Life magazine.
But then there’s the grisly war trophies, photos in which butchered bodies are displayed alongside smirking victors. —Very Abu Garib, only with dead victims, not just tortured ones. Commenters to the "gore" sections of the site (who may or may not be in the service) often make remarks that need to be filed under "utter disregard for human life."
At first I didn’t want to look at these photos. The site, after all, is a reflection on the fact that THIS IS WHAT WE TRAIN SOLDIERS TO DO. Don’t blame the mirror. If you want to invade a country and treat its inhabitants like vermin, using your own children as cannon fodder, this is what you get. This is what a war is.
Soldiers are trained to lose all empathy. It's not a joke about perfecting the killing machine. Don’t we already know this? Why are people acting like Lynndie England, et. al., are an anomaly? This is how you are indoctrinated to perform in military service, on pain of death. This is how today's American soldiers are trained to “manage stress.”
Why did the mainstream media act like NTFU death photography is unprecedented? This same picture-taking happened in the Gulf War, and Vietnam, and every other bloody conflict.
It’s not just war, either. In the 1920s, you could buy picture postcards in the South that showed grinning white lynch mobs posing with dead black men they had just hung in a tree. There may not have been an Internet, but you could buy them at a dime store.
What’s disgusting about the NTFU trophy photos isn't that they exist, or that someone published them— but that the natural criticism and outcry that would normally arise when such things are published, is almost absent.
The few people who say something critical are mild, along the lines of "Dude, that's harsh."
Maybe the truly horrified leave without posting. Or does Wilson censor? I have no idea. It's strange to see these pictures without a respectful or outraged line of responses following them. It's as if there's some unspoken rule that you can't point out that the Emperor Has No Morals, Dignity, or Sanity.
NTFU doesn’t publish variety or dissent on the subject of killing, that's their crime. The mainstream media doesn't publish NTFU's address so that other voices could pile on. The military itself made a hurried and silent investigation, which they quickly dropped because they said they couldn’t prove anything was illegal! No one wanted to really log on and deal with the reality— they just wanted to create an apocryphal legend.
I don’t think soldiers’ documents of any kind should be suppressed. But neither should our reactions. There’s a lot of people, including those in the service right now, and veterans, who have a thing or two to say about the supposed glory of collecting scalps. If NTFU had promoted a real discussion, if the mainstream media had encouraged a genuine response, we would be saying very different things about this site.
However, as the Florida sheriff pointed out, the sex aspect of NTFU is the main pastime of the company, not the bloody notches. The sitemembers take run-of-the-mill, all-American photos of their ass, their tits, their cock, (but especially their ass) and publish them in all their fuzzy grandeur. It’s X-rated high school antics, a Porky’s smorgasbord.
If nothing else, NTFU brings home the fact that the Army is fully gender-integrated. There are so many young women! Most of the Iraq photos are of these servicewomen, taken by their lovers, although some claim to be defiant solo exhibitionists. Many fall into the genre of “Just for us, honey!” — a sentiment which I would gather has been abused. You find yourself wondering if many of these couples are split up. Sometimes the poster will even admit he’s posting the pix as revenge. Where's the model release?
The comments on the sex pages are a lot more democratic than the war room. If one person makes a sophomoric racist remark (“I’ll go for the hot chocolate!”), another person jumps down their throat. If you slag your ex, others will tell you you’re a prick. People with unconventional bodies get horny compliments, whether they’re cellulite-covered, acne-ridden, or covered with scars. Everyone seems to have a fan or two, no matter how homely. The whole thing has the visual vibe of a swingers’ classified ad page.
If someone is underage in these photos, it’s because they’re both underage and under fire, and no one’s checking IDs. Wilson's attorneys (same as RedRose) seem to be planning the argument that NTFU is merely providing the sandbox and therefore he has no liability for what people show up to play with.
I didn’t see anything particularly kinky on NTFU, but then I got bored and annoyed after a day. The women don't express themselves on anywhere near the same terms as the men. I got the feeling that a lot of them would be surprised as hell to find their photos on this site. It was like a massive Paris Hilton/Rick Solomon-style betrayal.
It seemed to me that if the girls were into it, they would have posted THOUSANDS of their own comments, photos, and rebuttals. I did read one post by a woman who dared any soldier to fuck her— she looked like a thousand miles of bad road. I couldn’t decide if she was one tough cookie getting her rocks off, or another portrait of the all-too-pitiful insane.
Suffice to say that this is a typical internet site about guys talking to guys, (including the ones pretending to be girls) as if everyone is heterosexual and all women exist to be photographed and talked about without ever saying a word for themselves, like Dog Fancy magazine.
The few women who speak up seem to be that mythical breed of “gosh, I’ll fuck anybody for fun and hijinks” that you don’t seem to meet at the supermarket... the unicorn nymphos.
Now, none of this is EXCEPTIONAL. This is just your average male chauvinist porn site, only without a great deal of oversight in the model release department!
So what obscenity has NTFU been busted for? They didn’t get spanked for the gruesome war trophies. They’re not being sacked for the part where someone pees on his buddy for yuks while he’s sleeping in his sack. The Porky’s antics may be anathema to many, but it’s not bust-able.
NTFU is still up and running. I see they now have a “Rainbow Room” for gay photos. Wilson cracks me up— flagwaving hawk one minute, Little Miss Hippy Affirmative Action the next.
Wilson is apparently a porndog warrior-patriot. His copy-writing is as contradictory as the rest of his site. On one hand, it’s all about the land of the free and the home of the motherfucking brave. “Smoke’em if you got’em” is the classy line that gets quoted in the burned flesh section.
But in the sex section, the webmaster has this to say: “Be nice to each other. We need to respect each other and the women posted here. Do not use names like "slut", "bitch", "whore" etc... when describing women. This bothers me and I do not want to see it here.”
BE NICE TO EACH OTHER?
Would Mr. Wilson like to send that message to the Pentagon, or deepen its meaning among his own members? Like so many G-rated hawks, Wilson doesn’t get it that "being kind" extends all the way down the line. If people were to play as fair as he expects on his amateur porn site, we wouldn’t be in Baghdad to begin with.
The man is a shortsighted narcissistic libertarian sexist dog of war — big surprise. But I don’t see why he was busted, except as a nuisance action by fundamentalists who pride themselves on creating their own reality with a check from the GOP. Nice work, Alberto.
The secret of NTFU is that most of their material is civilian, amateur, vanilla porn. Their fifteen minutes of celebrity trained the nation’s eyes on a surreal and brutal scene. But it's utterly realistic.
These are the eyes with pus coming out. The soldiers’ daily freak show delivers a story many Americans don’t want to admit... a bunch of kids giving themselves away cheap, on every level— bored, scared shitless, looking for love and respect in all the wrong places...and then savaging their enemies like bloodthirsty soulless ghouls. Maybe Wilson’s website title— the one the mainstream media won’t print— really does say it all. Run it up the flagpole and see if your ancestors salute.