Friday, May 25, 2007

Truly Odious

This truly odious column by Kevin McCullough is the best example of the dark side of conservate commentary I've seen in a long time. It's a diatribe against the porn industry - calling for (you guessed it!) as much government intervention here as possible. Leaving aside how members of the party of "small government" shouldn't really be advocating sheafs of new regulation, here are his sins:

Links an article that baldly counters the claim he was attempting to make with it

It comes at the top of page 2.

The sad thing is Jameson is right. Under Bill Clinton there was not a single federal prosecution of porn related crimes - including those involving children - for the totality of his eight years of being on top.

Um, actually no. If you bother to click the link and read the article he's referencing, you'll eventually get to this line:

But the federal anti-porn crusade proved short-lived. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he and his attorney general, Janet Reno, had little interest in devoting attention and resources to new obscenity prosecutions (which declined dramatically during the first few years of the Clinton administration).

"Declined dramatically" is hardly the same thing as "ceased altogether." For hard numbers, you can also see this article, which references a Syracuse University report:

A Syracuse University report (TRAC, 1997) shows that obscenity prosecutions have decreased 86% since Clinton and Gore were elected.

Again - a decline of 86% is hardly the same as a complete cessation. McCullough's claim that there was "not a single federal prosecution of porn-related crimes" is simply false, and it's all the more galling for the fact that he links, as evidence in favor of his claim, an article that does not support it..

Confuses private morality with justification for public policy

I myself think religion is irrational and best forgotten. But as a citizen of a free country, I am perfectly happy to tolerate religion. I will do nothing to obstruct people's ability to practice their religions in the manner they see fit so long as their doing so doesn't violate my rights. (Note to PC crowd: the word "tolerance" is not the same as "approval;" I reserve and frequently practice the right to ridicule all religions and their adherents.) Would that the religious right would extend me the same courtesy. But they do not - and here is some hard evidence:

But liberal politicians are the worst! They walk into "churches" with big Bibles under their arms, and the next day they take campaign contributions from companies that publish the unseemly graphic nature of the exploitation of women that leaves no other impression but that women can (and should) be degraded.

Yeah, way to go there, Sport! What can reading the Bible in church POSSIBLY have to do with public policy on pornography??? Now, granted, a Christian of conviction will not look at porn. But that is surely a private choice that has nothing whatever to do with policy on pornography! And what was the "policy" on pornography the passing of which when Clinton took office that McCullogh laments? Again, from the article he linked:

The most effective technique used by Trueman and his prosecutors -- and encouraged by Meese -- was "multiple-district prosecution." The NOEU would coordinate with local prosecutors to charge a single mail-order company in as many as four jurisdictions simultaneously, making a court fight prohibitively expensive. Rather than match resources with the federal government, many defendants chose to settle. Under a law passed in 1988, prosecutors could dictate a dollar amount, known as a "liquidated forfeiture" -- in essence, a fine. Under the new law, WOODWORM alone took in $23 million, bankrupting several adult firms.

Notice that the 86% decrease in federal porn-crimes prosecutions pretty much falls out of abolishing this clear abuse of federal power. Yes, the federal courts found against the government on this in 1993 (how could they not? It's clearly a violation of due process!). So a roughly 75% decrease in prosecutions was inevitable in any case: when you used to be allowed to charge the same firm in four districts for the same (victimless) "crime" and are now allowed to do it in only one... The additional 10% or so decrease is simply a (quite correct) shifting of federal priorities. From the same Frontline article:

Simultaneously, [Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin ]Meese mandated that one prosecutor in every U.S. Attorney's office in the country be assigned to obscenity cases. He had to. At the time, career federal prosecutors regarded porn as a local matter; many of them were unhappy with the idea of porn prosecutions taking resources away from drug-trafficking or organized-crime cases.

Ya think? So, in addition to clearly abusing their power to try to bankrupt the porn industry with legal fees, the feds were also diverting resources from the prosecution of actual crimes to please their base. So what McCullough really means when he says that "not a single federal prosecution of porn related crimes" occurred during the Clinton years is that federal prosecutions of porn-related crimes ceased being a witch-hunt and fell to the levels that would have been expected at the times the relevant laws were enacted.

There is absolutely nothing whatever in the Bible that tells Christians to get elected to office and divert federal resources to punishing porn-related crimes over and above things like kidnapping, terrorism, murder, etc. Nor is there even anything in the Bible that requires Christians to pass anti-obscenity laws in the first place. In fact, Christianity is in theory a completely non-coercive religion. Last time I checked, good Christians are supposed to persuade people not to look at porn - not call in the cavalry with all its guns and arrest and imprison and/or bankrupt people (in clear violation of the Constitution, no less!) who don't share their convictions!!! It isn't any less violent or barbaric if you have the police do your beating for you, people!

Relies on specious arguments with no supporting evidence

When a rapist has been fueling his mind with the details of how to gratify himself while objectifying a woman, and then he acts on such an urge and causes actual mental, emotional, and physical trauma to an innocent woman - the liberals look the other way. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and any other candidate from any political party that would take money from this industry are complicit in these crimes.

Oh, grow up! The porn industry is no more responsible for rape than the gun industry is for murder. Videos don't rape people, people rape people. And people rape people regardless of whether they have access to videos. Despite the Clinton years and the "fact" that "not a single federal prosecution of porn-related crimes occurred during them" (READ: in fact, prosecutions continued but without the zealotry of Bush the First), and despite the advent of the VCR, the DVD player, and the Internet and comensurate easy access to porn, it is a fact that rapes have declined by more than 85% in the US since the 1970s. This, by the way, is in comparison to a 59% drop in the overall violent crime rate - so rape has been declining significantly faster than violent crimes in general.

Is it too much of a stretch to think that McCullough might have this exactly backward? That is, maybe easy access to porn calms would-be rapists down rather than eggs them on. In any case, it certainly isn't true that liberals "look the other way" when rapes happen. If I'm not mistaken, virtually ALL of the hysterical wing of Third Wave Feminism identifies itself as "liberal," and these people are certainly nothing if not "concerned" about rape (which is to say, they use it as a political weapon, much the way McCullough is "doing" - though ineptly - here).


People like McCullough are hardly human. They publish columns making claims that are demonstrably false in part through their own links, their other claims are specious at best, and they then expect the government to beat everyone into practicing the lifestyle they mandate, even if the tactics involved are clearly unconstitutional (and therefore ILLEGAL). Clearly, this is not the profile of a civilized creature. If someone runs across McCullough in a dark alley and beats him to a bloody pulp, they will have done to him no more nor less than he advocates doing to others.


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