Free Speech X-Press
Delivering Weekly Censorship Updates to the Adult Industry
Vol. VIII, No. 13, Feb. 17, 2006 — A Member Service of the Free Speech Coalition
CHINESE CENSORSHIP ISSUE SPOTLIGHTED
Free Speech X-press is researched and edited by Kat Sunlove and Layne Winklebleck.
Copyright 2004 Free Speech Coalition. Permission to reprint granted to FSC members; please give credit.
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WASHINGTON, DC — The issue of complicity with Chinese government Internet censorship by American search engine companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, was the subject of a high profile House committee hearing here. Members of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, chaired by Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), grilled representatives of the companies. In an opening statement, Smith accused the companies of a "sickening collaboration" with the Chinese government that was "decapitating the voice of the dissidents" there. Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) also used strong language condemning the actions of the group: "I do not understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night," said Lantos. The hearing served to spotlight an issue that has already sparked outrage in the blogosphere and within civil liberties groups.
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) argued in testimony for the committee that companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google should not be limited to either withdrawal or passive compliance with Chinese demands. It is true that no single U.S. company, acting alone, can resist Chinese demands, says the CDT. However, if the companies join together, working with the U.S. government and human rights advocates, they can push back. CDT advocates the development of a set of common principles that seek to support privacy and free expression for Chinese Internet users. The companies, CDT announced, have embraced such an approach. However, they can do little without the backing of the U.S. Government.
For more see the CDT testimony, 2/16/06 (PDF)
And from The New York Times, 2/16/06
“SIN TAX” BILL AWAITS ANALYSIS
TOPEKA, KS — A bill by Republican Representative Shari Weber (HB 2680) which would impose a 10% tax on sales of sexually-explicit goods or services, has been assigned to a sub-committee of the Kansas House Tax Committee by Committee Chair Kenny Wilk (R). Wilk says he wants the sub-committee to make sure all legal aspects are analyzed. No doubt the issues to be analyzed include the constitutional defects in a law which taxes one form of protected speech more than others. A similar law in Utah is currently being challenged. (See X-Press, “Another State Considers Adult ‘Sin’ Tax,” 8/12/05)
At a recent hearing of the committee, anti-adult entertainment gadfly Phillip Cosby said the bill did not go far enough. The tax should be 25%, not 10%, said Cosby, and it should be extended to all sexually explicit merchandise, including hotel movies and the magazines sold at some convenience stores.
From CSP Daily News, 2/14/06
And from the Kansas City Star, 2/11/06
COURT SKEPTICAL OF CLAIMS IN “FRIENDS” CASE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Oral arguments were heard here recently before the California Supreme Court in Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions, (S125171), the much discussed sexual harassment case involving the sitcom, “Friends.” The decision before the court was whether or not writers’ sexually crude comments and simulations while hashing out TV scripts could constitute sexual harassment serious enough to cause a hostile work environment, especially for women and minorities. In her suit against Warner Brothers, Amaani Lyle described writers’ brainstorming conferences, in which her job was to take notes on what was said, as a stream of sexually abusive, demeaning and derogatory verbal and physical behavior toward women.
The writers and Warner Brothers responded by claiming that dirty talk and lewd actions — such as simulating masturbation — were part of the free-rolling, creative process that made "Friends" one of the most popular shows ever on TV.
During oral arguments the court seemed skeptical of Lyle’s claims. More than one justice noted that that Lyle had been warned before she took the job that she would be exposed to foul language of a sexual content.
"If she’s told there’s going to be sexual banter back and forth — and that happens — where’s the alteration to conditions of employment?" asked Chief Justice Ronald George, referring to provisions of the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act that prohibit harassment so pervasive that it alters some condition of an employee’s job.
From Mike McKee, The Recorder, 2/16/06
And from Maura Dolan, The L.A. Times, 2/15/06
VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES BILL MOVES FORWARD
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — A bill (HB 0257) sponsored by State Representative David Hogue (R-Riverton) would amend the state’s “Material Harmful to Minors” law, adding “inappropriate violence” in interactive video and computer games to the list of items currently illegal to provide to minors. The bill passed 7-2 in a committee and is on its way to the House. An earlier, broader, version failed a vote of the House in January. (See X-Press, “Bill Adds Violence to Harm to Minors Law,” 1/27/06)
The amended version changes its focus from violence in all media to interactive video and computer games only. In the new version "inappropriate violence" would include video games with material patently offensive to the prevailing standards in the adult community, as long as it didn’t have "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors." Those that legitimately used violence to further a game’s plot (such as games based on historical wars) would be exempt, however. Observers, including Entertainment Software Association’s Scott Sabey and Margaret Plane, legal director of the Utah ACLU, warn that the bill is unconstitutional. "To plug violence into an obscenity statute won’t work," said Sabey. Hogue’s supporters, however, are determined to pass the bill. "If we have to go all the way to the Supreme Court, then let’s take it to the Supreme Court," said Eagle Forum Director Gayle Ruzicka.
From James Brightman, Biz Game Daily, 2/15/06
UPDATE: “INTERNET BUSINESS TOO CLOSE TO SCHOOL”
KINGSTON, WA — In September, 2005, X-Press reported that Jeff and Susan Owen had been charged in Kingston with a misdemeanor for violating a Kitsap County adult entertainment zoning regulation by running a home-based adult Internet business. It seems the couple’s home was within 1,000 feet of Spectrum Community School. Because Jeff Owen had been to court as a high-profile opponent of a county construction project near his home, he suspected the county had filed charges in retaliation.
Now comes word from the Owens’ attorney Robert Apgood that an order dismissing the charges in this bizarre case has been issued by the court. The state has 30 days to appeal.
Earlier, Kitsap County District Court Judge Marilyn Paja had ruled the county’s code does not apply to the couple’s business, clearing the way for the charges to be dismissed. It was not disputed that the couple had used their home as a location for the photographing of women clad in leather some posing as furniture or depicting scenes of bondage. However, the ordinance doesn’t cover such a business because the customers were not in contact with the performers at the location. In addition, the Web site is hosted on a computer in Illinois, and fees paid to access the site go to a company based in Seattle.
HOISTED ON THEIR OWN PETARD
TUPELO, MS — The right-wing American Family Association (AFA) became the target of thousands of indecency complaints when the organization sent out an e-mail alert containing an exotic dancing clip. 170,000 e-mail complaints were quickly lodged with the FCC — against the AFA clip! That tally actually comes from the AFA. No word yet on the actual total, but the FCC enforcement bureau is checking into it.
MAYOR VERSUS EXOTIC DANCE CLUBS
JACKSON, MS — Mayor Frank Melton has openly declared war on exotic dance clubs here. Melton says he wants all exotic dance clubs out of the city. Recently, during a personal visit to the downtown Centerfolds exotic dance club, the Mayor reported being shocked — shocked! — when he witnessed a nude dancer engaged in “illicit activity.” "We went to three other clubs that night," said Mayor Frank. "I went into this one (Centerfolds), and I was in a state of shock. I closed it on the spot."
"I’m not going to have that type of behavior in Jackson, period. I don’t agree with those clubs and now they are there, violating city ordinances. I am just not going to have it," said Melton.
The online Wikipedia paints a picture of Jackson Mayor Frank Melton as a cowboy mayor who uses a personal approach in his battle against crime, wearing a badge he received in a previous county position and personally arresting suspects, although he holds no official jurisdiction to make arrests.
The Mayor’s current principal target for moral reform is Gilbert Paige, Centerfold owner and also owner of Girls of Paradise, which was the target of a recent sting operation. Paige has been denied adult entertainment licenses for Centerfolds, Girls of Paradise and the McDowell Road Adult Book Store, causing him to feel like a target in Mayor Frank’s vendetta.
From Andrew Hasbun, WLBT Jackson, 2/14/06
And from Kathleen Baydala, The Clarion Ledger, 2/14/06
And from Katie Garrety, WJTV Channel 12, Jackson, 2/10/06
HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICERS VERSUS ADULT ENTERTAINMENT
VAN NUYS, CA — Adult talent agent David Forest has been found not guilty in a jury trial on charges of pimping and pandering stemming from Forest’s “Meet the Stars” program. For a fee, fans could meet gay porn stars. Although Forest charged the fans for the introductions, he received nothing from the stars. Forest was offered a plea bargain, but did not accept it, a courageous decision, since the charges carry serious mandatory prison sentences. What a great relief it must be for Forest to put this behind him!
From Cameron W. Barr, Washington Post, 2/17/06
COME CELEBRATE FREE SPEECH IN CALIFORNIA
It’s time to mark your calendar to attend our acclaimed lobbying training program, Celebrate Free Speech Lobbying Days (CFSLD), in Sacramento, California. The dates are Monday and Tuesday, April 24 and 25, 2006, and as always, space is limited.
The two-day event will include a full day of political action training for participants, as well as our popular cocktail reception for legislators and staff. Deadline for applications is March 10, 2006. Call the Legislative Affairs Office at 1-800-476-7813 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an application form.
FEB 16 – Rock and Roll Bingo, L.A., CA.,FSC Benefit
FEB 16-19 – Sexpo, Brisbane, Australia
FEB 16-19 – ICRA Roundtable III , Brisbane, Australia
FEB 24-26 – MR. Cleveland Leather, Cleveland, Ohio
MAR 9 – GAYVN 2006 Awards, Rage Nightclub, Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood, CA
MAR 10-12 – Erotic Expo , New Zealand
MAR 15-18 – Webmaster Access Gateway , Cancun, Mexico
MAR 18 – Fieldens Ball De Sade , Richmond, VA
MAR 16-18 – Fifth Annual San Francisco Fetish Ball Weekend , San Francisco, CA
MAR 24-26 – Erotic Art Festival , Seatle, WA
MAR 25-26 – Adultcon 10 , Los Angeles, CA
MAR 30-APR 1 – The Phoenix Forum , Tempe, AZ Mission Palms
APR 3-5 – International Lingerie Show , Las Vegas, NV
APR 6-9 – SSSS Western Conference , Redondo Beach, CA
APR 7-9 – Leather Leadership , New York, NY
APR 18-19 – CELEBRATE FREE SPEECH LOBBYING DAYS, Sacramento, CA
APR 28-30 — Venus 10, International Trade Fair, Berlin, Germany
APR 29 – 2nd Annual Sin City Chamber of Commerce Spring BBQ, Chicken Ranch Brothel, Pahrump, NV (Benefit for FSC)
May 5-7 –Leather Fest, Washington, DC
May 10-13 – Webmaster, Toronto, Ontario
May 25-29 – Mr International Leather, Chicago, IL
JUN 8-11 – Cybernet Expo 2006, Shelter Pointe Hotel, San Diego
JUN 9-11 – Exxxotica Miami Beach, Miami Beach, FL
JUN 14 – Celebrate Free Speech Day, Flag Day, Washington, DC
JUN 18 – Folsom Street East, New York, NY
JUN 17 – Leather Pride Night, New York, NY
JUN 23-25 – Erotica Los Angeles, Los Angeles Convention Center
JUL 12-14 – XBiz Summer, Las Vegas, NV
JUL 15-22, Gay Games, Chicago, IL
JUL 26 – AUG 5 – Outgames, Montreal, Canada
JUL 19-22 – Lifestyles West, Las Vegas Stardust
AUG 4-6 – Internext Summer 2006, Weston Diplomat, Hollywood, FL
AUG 22-25 – Gentlemen’s Club Expo, Las Vegas, NV
AUG 25-28 – Erotica Expo -New Zealand
SEPT 4 – West Coast Rubber, Palm Springs, NV
SEPT 24 – Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, CA
SEPT 23-24 – Adultcon 11, Los Angeles Convention Center
OCT 20-26 — Everything To Do With Sex Show, Toronto, Canada
OCT 21 — Exotic Erotic Ball, San Francisco, CA
DEC 1-3 — Black Rose 2006, Washington, DC
Subscriptions to Free Speech X-Press are FREE to FSC members. Contact us at Sunlove@direcway.com or 800-476-7813.