Jacking in from the "Enough is Fucking Enough" Port:
Capitol Hill -- Presidential candidate Bob Dole, today (June 7) took his attack on Hollywood smut and escalated it by attacking Cyberspace.
During a press event sponsored by the anti-porn group "Enough is Enough," Dole announced the introduction of a bill he has co-sponsored with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia) called the "Protection of Children From Computer Pornography Act of 1995." The bill makes it a criminal act to say dirty words or send "indecent material" to kids by radio communications, from "remote computer facility, electronic service or electronic bulletin board service."
The bill is aimed at stemming the "proliferation of computer pornography," Dole said. He played to a crowd of freshly scrubbed, mostly white women. Dole played off his recent bashing of Hollywood, saying that the bill isn't the result of a long, thoughtful process (no duh), rather "the beginning" of what promises to be a protracted battle. But Dole seemed to revel in the fact that he's firing the first salvos. "I'd be flatly opposed to censorship," he said, "but challenging the industry" to be more responsible is apt, he said. "There is a bottom line for greed."
Dole aimed to short-circuit the critics that would say he was grandstanding, making the issue into a political play. "This is not politics... it's to protect the innocence of children," he said.
The bill won't be attached to the sweeping telecommunications reform package, now being debated in the Senate. Instead, the Senate will likely hold hearings, he said. Umm... all the better to raise the issue beyond the warp and woof of a laborious debate process. But remember, this isn't politics.
The room was so thick with irony, it was hard to concentrate on the opening pledge of allegiance (I remembered all the words...) and the opening prayer (okay, so I didn't close my eyes). My esteemed former colleague and mentor of no small means, Art Brodsky of Communications Daily, reminded me that the room the event was being held in also had been the site of the Watergate hearings. Nixon and pornography... it was a heady juxaposition.
But the irony didn't stop with the cavernous room. One of the featured speakers' names rang an all-too-familiar bell. You might remember it, too: Donna Rice Hughes. She is the Communications Director for the group, but you might remember her sitting on the lap of failed presidential candidate Gary Hart on the deck of a boat called "Monkey Business." Or maybe you remember those racy ads she did for Guess jeans, where her ass was wrapped so tight in denim it looked like spray paint. Only on this day, gone were the jeans. She wore a tartan blazer, black mid-calf skirt, librarian's glasses and her hair pulled back in an extreme bun. Donna's schtick for the afternoon: "Computer Pornography."
And still more irony. There was enough cleavage hanging out in that room to make Jessica Hahn jealous. And enough short skirts, showcasing "from here to forever" legs to take anyone's mind off the singing of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." No, I'm not joking, about the legs or the song.
Only slightly amused, I couldn't help but play out a hunch. I walked about 20 paces from the hearing room and entered the men's bathroom and strolled into a stall. And there it was: Government maintained, taxpayer funded homoerotic pornography. The same type of pasted pictures and scribbled "come ons" for 8-inch pricks (smaller crowd I guess) as I'd spied earlier this year just down the hall from where the infamous Exon bill was added to the Senate's telecom reform package.
The Dole/Grassley bill will you put in prison for five years, if you or your service provider or BBS "knowingly" sends smut to a kid under 18. Wake up AOL, that means "Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go." Why? Because those kats *know* how much porn is passed back and forth on that system.
And for everyone one of you Internet Service Providers that allow links to Alt.Sex.Binaries.*, you get hammered too. Might as well turn yourselves in. You know that kind of pictures those groups carry. If you know, you're guilty. End of discussion.
Of course, the Enough is Enough people wanted to make sure their attendees would recognize the dangers, too. So they handed out a packet of "sample smut." It included the Jake Baker story; a 1978 photocopied cover of Hustler magazine and other stuff.
Grassley also spoke, saying that he wanted to "bring cleanliness to American society." He said his bill would "fill a gap" in the law. Moreover, he referenced the case of the California couple found guilty -- in Memphis -- of running an adult BBS. The case is under appeal and if the couple beats the rap, Grassley said he would make it his mission in life to make sure Congress "corrected it."
One confusing aspect of the day: Grassley, when asked if he would seek to attach his bill to the telecom reform package said, "I haven't talked to Senator Dole about that." What?! Asked if he would hold hearings on the bill, his answer was again, "I haven't talked to Dole." So, sports fans, who is really riding this horse? REMEMBER: This isn't politics.
And what would a day bashing the Internet be without a cameo appearance by Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.) He showed up to say that he would fight to get keep his amendment in the telecom reform bill, despite "attacks from all sides."
Exon said he had rewritten parts of his bill to "take care of the potential constitutional problems." I asked him exactly how he did that. His answer: "We took out the provision that made it a crime for consenting adults to talk to each other any way they want." Sounds good? Small problem: The bill doesn't do that.
Reading over the new language, however, I couldn't find where Exon had changed that. I called his office. "Well, we don't really address that issue as such," said his congressional aide. And then he said that "obscene speech is obscene speech and isn't protected.... even between consenting adults." But because consenting adults, apparently, won't "tell" on one another, no problem right?
Wrong. What happens if your other consenting adult gets pissed off? What happens if they have been saving all those steamy messages of yours and then when you blow them off (so to speak) they trot them out and call the Feds? Result: You're fucked (so to speak).
Opposing Exon is Leahy, who will offer an amendment to that strikes Exon's language and replaces it with a study of the problem. "We've had enough studies," Exon said. "Leahy's bill does nothing but punt the issue. We don't need that."
Exon said he thought the bill "would be a tough fight." He bristled at the fact that he has been hammered from "both sides" of the issue. "The ACLU and the Christian Right have been in bed together," in opposing the bill, Exon said, "Imagine that."
Well, I would, Senator, but it's probably illegal... in some state.