Guidelines for how to discuss the subject of sex with the news media.
This document offers some simple suggestions on approaches to discussing sex, particularly as it relates to common situations that the executive directors of activist organizations may encounter. It was prepared with input from executive directors about issues affecting them and those knowledgeable about how to deal with GLBT issues surrounding sex effectively.
First, in any situation, it is important to gauge the "intent" of the individual making the comment or asking the question. Is this an ultra-conservative publication, reporter, or politician, or is it someone who is sympathetic to the issues?
Be proactive about introducing the subject first or bringing up "onerous" topics once the subject has been introduced into conversation and it seems likely that the other party is moving to "attack". This takes away the "shock value" the other party has in introducing the topic in an inflammatory manner first. Simply stated, "The best defense is a good offense."
Using direct, confrontational responses to insensitive and inappropriate comments or attacks related to sex and/or sexuality. This is usually best done in an "off the record" conversation with media (when possible, of course), or by taking the conversation "off-line for a minute" with politicians and others. Making the other party feel "small" or embarrassing them for trivializing or minimizing issues of civil rights by sensationalizing sex. This technique is particularly effective in public speaking or live media situations involving inappropriate comments, jokes or attacks.
Disputing the incorrect and faulty research used by the radical right to perpetuate myths. Be very comfortable talking about issues of sex and sexuality and maintain a sense of confidence and sense of humor, which is often helpful in a public discourse on sex.
The pluralist argument: Americans take a pluralistic stance in religious and political choices. We say we believe that each religion has a right to its way of practicing its faith and that each political party has a right to its specific platform and legislative goals. You may think one religion or party is better than another is, but you would never try to have your choice taught in the public schools and imposed by law on everyone. Such a pluralistic approach is considered a fundamental part of our constitutional rights in this country. But in sexuality we don't openly voice our support of sexual standards other than abstinence even when we believe in them. And we are much less tolerant of differences in sexual practices and in ideas about sex.
Discuss "the freedom to love" and "loving relationships", which in normal, healthy relationships includes sex. If this involves a form of alternative sexual expression or non-traditional sex (e.g. anything other than the missionary position), talk about the issue in terms of the right to love the way you want, which includes sex in healthy adult relationships, providing it is consensual and not harmful. Use terms to discuss non-traditional sex such as "recognized as a normal and healthy form of sexual expression."
"He made a pass at me in the bar." Respond with, "What if Matthew Shepherd did make a pass? He didn't deserve what happened. What if every woman in America who had ever been hit on in a bar used this excuse? (Or, in a more confrontational situation that allows an "off the record" conversation "What if Matthew Shepherd did stick his tongue in his ear and put his hand on his crotch, it still doesn't justify his being tortured and killed.")
Once again, refer to this as a false stereotype perpetuated by the radical right with no scientific basis. It is also appropriate to expand this discussion into how even hand holding in public by GLBT partners is often portrayed by the radical right as "overt sexual", even when the activity is a normal and publicly accepted sign of affection in a loving relationship.
Stress that these issues are more about identity than about sex. Also, a transgendered person may be gay, but is at least equally likely not to be gay. Many people are curious about how transgendered people have sex and ask this insensitive question. A good response is, "Just like any one else, but this isn't about sex. It's about the serious discrimination and persecution that persists exactly because of the sensationalistic focus on sex such as questions like this one."
When circumstances arise related to crude jokes or attacks in public related to sex, such as talk shows or public forums, use responses intended to embarrass the other party and change the subject. Use responses like, "I'd like to ask you how you think your inappropriate question/comment made those gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks sitting here with us tonight feel? I'm here to have a dialogue about serious civil rights issues affecting GLBT people, not provide a vehicle for crude entertainment or inappropriate discussions."
It may be useful to begin by saying that these are issues on which many people hold strong and sensitive emotional opinions. But then stress that if we can't discuss sex issues in rational, objective, scientific terms, we leave people in the dark and create health risks and emotional problems and make discrimination and bigotry more likely.
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across.
Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group.
You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.
People involved in swinging in general are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often these social events have educational components about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.
Millions of Americans are looking for a way to add a bit more spice to their sex life. The Lifestyle can be a consensual, safe, and fun way to strengthen and build healthy, caring relationships.
Most adults who engage in swinging keep their sexual practices private. Unfortunately these people have experienced persecution, and even discrimination and child custody challenges because of the way they express their sexuality.
The fact is that millions of Americans engage in swinging, and it is National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so, without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.
You really have to wonder what motivates people who would go to such extraordinary lengths to sensationalize someone else's private life. It's obvious that sex makes some people uncomfortable, and we think that these people should deal with their own issues.
As long as it's consenting adults in a private space, it is no one else's business.
This is not about sex, this is about a threat to our most basic constitutional rights - freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. (The 1st and 9th Amendments - the 9th grants freedom not specified, and numerous court cases in the past 40 years, including Lawrence v. Texas have confirmed an individual's right to privacy)
If one group can shut down a private, legal event because they disagree with it, then everyone should be concerned about who is targeted next. Will it be a political convention? A religious gathering? As we've seen throughout history, when you start violating one group's constitutional rights, it can become a very slippery slope
Everyone should be concerned about attacks on people's personal lifestyle because a small religious organization is using scare tactics to impose its way of thinking on everyone.
Conferences like these are held every weekend in communities around the country without any incidents. Clubs like these are legally located in communities around the country.
Swing conferences and events are run by local people. The guests are your neighbors and your co-workers. They are mothers and fathers.
Swing conferences/clubs are legal. They are private. They are for adults only.
Swinging is the complete opposite of irresponsible promiscuity. The Lifestyle involves couples consensually sharing playful, loving life experiences--sexual and otherwise.
Research shows that most Americans support privacy rights for consenting adults to choose and practice safe, sane and consensual sexual loving relationships, regardless of marital status.
Of course many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Swingers aren't trying to convert anyone. We are adults living our lives how we choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices.
People involved in swinging tend to get a lot of experience with communicating their desires, feelings, and boundaries. It's well-established that good communication builds healthy relationships.
The Lifestyle can meet more of one's emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything.
Positive elements to swinging: increased personal freedom; greater depth to social relationships; the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting; a strengthening of spousal bonds; a sense of being desired; a feeling of belongingness; added companionship; a greater abundance of love; increased self-awareness; intellectual variety; and the chance for new aspects of personality to emerge through relating to more people.
People who decide to open their relationship to include others must be secure in the strength of their partnership bond, and comfortable in developing relationships with new people.
Jealousy is a natural emotion and is a signal that additional communication and negotiation must occur in order to keep the relationship healthy.
Bergstrand, Curtis and Jennifer B. Williams, "Today's Alternate Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers,"
The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality October 10, 2000.
Jenks, Richard J., "Swinging: A Review of the Literature,"
Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1998, 27:5, p 507.
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across to the media.
Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds, which is usually one or two of your sound bites. Or you get one quote in an article. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media on local issues.
You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.
Safe, Sane and Consensual
This is a must! Say it over and over and over like a mantra. "Over fifteen years ago, a community-wide ethic was established known as "safe, sane and consensual". This credo has permeated SM literature and lore far beyond the subculture of the organized community." Or "We constantly discuss issues of consent, which are the basis of safe, sane and consensual sexual education."
If They Want Specific Definitions:
The Need for Educational and Social SM Gatherings
It's important to emphasize the contributions our educational and social groups make to society. We teach people how to do SM safely and consensually, and that takes hands-on instruction and community discussion. Say, "Our group has existed for 10 years as an educational and social group, teaching people how to do SM safely and consensually." Say, "Our group is only one of over 500 educational and social organizations that exist in America for SM-Leather-Fetish practitioners." Or "Like the gay and lesbian community in the 1960's, the people in our community feel very alone and isolated. We provide a place for them where they can get the support of their peers, where they don't have to be ashamed or afraid of who they are."
Say, "Safewords are key to consensual sexual activities." "The participants can stop what's happening at any time with a pre-arranged word, or by saying safeword."
Communication and Negotiation
Say, "We negotiate before engaging in SM or fetish practices to make sure that what we do is fun for both of us." Or "People who play together must learn how to communicate exactly what we want"
Sensual, Loving Sexual Expression
Emphasize that SM is done between loving, communicative partners. It is mutually pleasurable for all involved. SM is stimulation that is often perceived in a sexual way. Stimulation is a great word to use--it is clear and non-threatening unlike "flogging" or "spanking" etc.
Defining SM, Dominance & Submission and Bondage
Stay away from going into an SM 101 and don't give any lessons on technique. The most effective soundbites talk about issues of discrimination and injustice against our communities. If they ask, what exactly is SM? You say, "SM is sensory stimulation, either physical or mental, that is interpreted as pleasure." Please try to get the reporter to write SM, not S&M - that evokes the old stereotypes and we are trying to get around that. S&M stands for sadism & masochism while SM stands for sadomasochism; inherent in the word is the mutual necessity for both as well as the consent involved.
Statistics of Practitioners
According to the 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, released by St. Martin's Press:
"Researchers estimate that 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population engages in diverse sexual practices for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or staged activities involving no real pain or violence." That would bring the number of practitioners into the millions, with many, many more who do things like love bites or holding their lover's hands down. Say "Most are just like your neighbors, doctor, bus driver, even your sister or uncle. There are probably 1 in 10 people in your office who practice SM as a loving form of sexual expression."
Say, "Contrary to stereotypes, there are many women who enjoy being sexually dominant, and many more people who enjoy switching roles." Or, "People can roleplay with roles and experience things they normally wouldn't get to do in their real life."
Discrimination and Violence
This one is also extremely important because most people don't realize how much we are attacked and closeted because of our sexual expression. "Discrimination and violence happens every day to people like you and me just because they engage in diverse sexual practices such as SM or fetishes. Discrimination ranges from family pressures, to job loss, to loss of child custody." Or "The NCSF Violence & Discrimination Survey 1998 found that 1/3 of over 1000 people surveyed suffered some form of discrimination or persecution--losing their job or even their children because of the myths and stereotypes of SM. Another 36% suffered violence--were physically attacked--because of the stereotypes about SM." Or "According to the NCSF survey, 4/5ths of the people surveyed are closeted to the rest of the world out of fear of serious repercussions."
SM Practitioners Are Not Sick
In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association changed its medical definition of SM in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM 4) so that it is no longer automatically defined as a mental illness. Say "As long as a person's SM practices don't interfere with their day-to-day life, it's considered to be a healthy form of sexual expression."
You don't have to answer the interviewer's exact question.
Guidelines for making your letter to the editor a powerful advocacy tool! It's easier than you think!
Letters to the editor are an effective way to convey a positive image of alternate sexual practices such as SM, polyamory and swinging. Letters help to de-stigmatize negative social myths and misconceptions about these types of practices. These letters help achieve the advocacy goals of NCSF because they:
We also suggest that you send copies of letters that you write to members of Congress to your local newspaper editors. These letters are often published to highlight a specific issue in the editorial section.
These procedures are intended to guide NCSF staff member(s) who are assigned to individuals and/or a local community to assist after an incident. Incidents in relation to this program are defined as "negative encounters with law enforcement and/or other authorities". Since incidents can vary from a raid on a party with one or more arrests, to attacks on local groups or clubs, these procedures are meant only as a guide.
After an initial assessment, NCSF may offer assistance to the persons directly involved and/or the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing groups involved, or impacted by, the incident. Both the persons and the groups involved may, or may not, elect to receive some or all of the assistance offered by the NCSF.
Regardless, it is up to the local community to decide whether to rally around individual(s) who have been arrested, and to determine if it is the community's responsibility to help prevent the establishment of bad case law that will affect SM or swing practitioners in the future. The community needs to keep in mind that while they are supporting those who are arrested, they must also educate officials in order to prevent the same crisis from happening in the future.
It is the NCSF staff member's initial responsibility to offer the assistance options to the involved persons and the local community.
NCSF has a group of volunteers who are members of the Incident Reporting & Response Team. These volunteers have either been trained for a position on this team, or have special skills and abilities that strengthen the team. NCSF staff members on the Incident Reporting & Response Team may be involved in incidents in an advisory capacity only. NCSF is not a legal defense fund, nor does it take a voting position on the boards of legal defense funds. If an NCSF staff member lives in the local area and would like to participate on a legal defense fund or community response group, then he/she cannot be an official advisor on the NCSF Incident Response Team for that incident.
Number of Advisors
A minimum of two trained NCSF Incident Reporting & Response Team members will take on roles of Advisors for each Incident. Any community discussion, e-lists, or correspondence concerning the incident, no matter how trivial, should get copied to the two designated NCSF Advisors.
Initially, the NCSF staff directed to conduct the assessment must evaluate the incident and those involved in order for NCSF to determine the extent of our potential involvement. Depending on the circumstances, this assessment may be onsite or it may be via phone/email interviews. A summary of the incident should be prepared to include answers to these questions:
Send the incident summary to the Director of Constituency Services. A decision must then be made as to whether the incident falls within the scope of the mission of the NCSF Incident Response Team
Assignment of Advisors
The NCSF Coordinator shall assign two Advisors to the incident.
Officer of Assistance
Only after the Director of Constituency Services has approved an official NCSF response can an official NCSF offer of assistance be made. The Director may determine which of the assistance possibilities will be offered.
Types of Assistance
The NCSF can offer a number of things to assist during and after an incident. In general, these are: Advice on Organizing the Local Community and Creating Strategy for Their Response. This involves numerous possibilities as discussed in detail later.
Media Assistance includes obtaining recognized national spokespersons and providing accurate information about SM-Leather practices for the media. This is also discussed later.
Education of Local Law Enforcement / Authorities
Typically this is a post-incident effort to educate authorities in an effort to establish future positive interaction.
In an effort to keep the NCSF staff current on the status of the incident, internal NCSF updates from the advisors should be made to the appropriate internal NCSF email lists on a regular basis. Preferably, weekly updates during the heat of the incident, and monthly updates once things slow down. These should be labelled as confidential.
It is NCSF's recommendation that any community response take into account the advice of the victim's lawyers regarding sensitive material such as: media interaction, FAQ, website content, and demonstrations. The victims should have veto power over these activities, and should be considered Advisors to any community response group. They are encouraged to attend the meetings held by the community response group. Some victims will want to set up their own response organization, such as the San Diego Six. However, these types of organizations that are run directly by the principles in the case shouldn't be confused with community response groups. In addition it should be noted that if NCSF is involved, the mission and objectives of NCSF as a whole do play a part in determining what the NCSF response is.
Prior to Arrival
The Incident Reporting & Response Team should make contact with as many state and local leaders and activists prior to their arrival. An open meeting should be set up to discuss the incident and possible community response.
First Community Meeting
An announcement should be made via an open letter sent to various e-lists, with the time, date and place of the meeting provided. The information in this Incident Response Procedures may be used to structure the meeting agenda. It's best if press aren't allowed at this initial community meeting. Instead, offer a special press meeting after the community meeting (sometimes you can't get rid of reporters, so just let them stay). Prior to every meeting ask whether any member of the press is present, and make sure to announce that everything said during the meeting is off-the-record. Allow individuals to vent and ask questions at this community meeting.
Establish an Ad Hoc Group
In the absence of a existing community coalition, this initial meeting can serve as the basis for forming a community response group. The types of community response we've seen so far take on aspects of both legal defense funds and/or activist groups. The most successful type of structure is the ad hoc grassroots model. Thus, anyone who is interested can come to meetings and have a voice in how things are run. Volunteers for tasks can come from this pool. It is time-consuming and unnecessary to try to incorporate this type of group in the heat of a crises.
The ad hoc approach requires that volunteers agree to take on permanent positions:
Treasurer - The Treasurer keeps the books and arranges for a Doing Business as (DBA) account under the tax id number of a local SM-Leather-Fetish group.
Media Spokesperson - The Media Spokesperson can be trained by NCSF, and sticks to sound bites that are approved by the community ad hoc group.
Meeting Coordinator / Moderator - The Meeting Coordinator makes sure the time and place for the meeting is arranged, draws up the agenda items, and submits announcements to the e-lists for decimation. The Meeting Coordinator can also be the Moderator, who makes sure that the meeting runs smoothly.
Webmaster - The Webmaster sets up and edits the web page on an ongoing basis, and helps set up the communications e-list to be used by the ad hoc group.
Volunteers can take on temporary positions related to fund raising events, ie. party chair, volunteer organizer, raffle coordinator, etc.
This ad hoc community response group is intended to unite the local community around their response to the incident. This community response group could have as its goals: communication with the SM-Leather-Fetish community about the incident, media response, and fund raising. This group could also engage in activist functions such as promoting letter-writing campaigns, calling out the locals to appear at certain events, demonstrations, and forming coalitions with other local groups in support of their goals. Outreach should be done to all parts of the SM-Leather-Fetish communities: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual groups should receive the notices and all are encouraged to participate.
Name the group something other than the event or name that was cited. This makes it easier for the group to do media outreach without being confused as synonymous with the defendants.
Meetings should take place at a scheduled time and place. (ie. first and third Monday of the month at p.m.)
Meetings are announced at least a week in advance with current Agenda Items.
To place an item on the agenda, it must be submitted to the email list at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
After the first two meetings, people must attend two meetings before getting a vote.
Time limits can be placed on how long each individual can speak on each agenda item.
A treasury statement is provided at every meeting.
Establish agreed-upon meeting rules such as: Don't blame others; Wait until acknowledged by the moderator before speaking
This ad hoc approach has several advantages:
It will serve to unite disparate members of the local community when all are welcome to participate.
The volunteer pool will be much larger because people are more willing to take on tasks if they have a vote on what happens.
Your knowledge base is wider if you include more people.
There will be more accountability and less credibility issues of "what's happening with the money?" if everyone can show up and participate in meetings.
If a formal committee is created with a board/officers designed to be incorporated, then NCSF recommends that neither the victims nor their significant others should be on this board. The victims are busy working on their legal defense and don't need the added stress of trying to organize community fund raising events.
Contact the state ACLU and inform them of this case. Often, they will have heard from media reports and will be responding to media inquiries. Contact Judy, Susan or Mindy if you need help getting through to the ACLU. Get the ACLU's recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take on this case. Ask the ACLU if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.
State LGBT Organization
Contact the state gay and lesbian legal group and inform them of this case. Get their recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take this case. Ask them if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.
NCSF can help by using Nexis/Lexis and Westlaw to look up what kinds of cases the lawyer and their firm have been involved in the past. The immediate problem will be money to give for a retainer. Sometimes lawyers will take a fraction of the total amount and will wait until money is raised for the balance. However, they will want to know about plans for fund raising and the history of successful fund raising in our community. Donations to legal defense funds are not tax deductible.
Get the facts out to the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing communities - within 48 hours is best. Help the local volunteers create a short FAQ that answers the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why and how we're dealing with it. Let people know up front if this is a business, for-profit or non-profit, private or public event, etc. Send this FAQ to as many e-lists as you can. Designate an official point of contact for questions and offers of assistance. Add to the FAQ as needed.
When anything happens, whether it's a court date or an ad hoc meeting, add it to your time line. That way anyone can go to the website and see at the top of the page the most recent thing that's happened with the case.
When talking to the media, keep in mind that it is good legal sense to not discuss the particulars of the case. Sound-bites should be determined by the community response group (NCSF can provide basic sound-bites to be adapted to each case). It's great if other activists wish to speak to the media, but they are advised to not speak about the particulars of the case (NCSF can provide national media contacts). NCSF should also contact GLAAD to get their opinion/help on the case. The community needs to be warned that chat rooms are considered "public" and that anything said in chat rooms could appear in the newspapers with attribution to the screen name it was posted under. None of the NCSF staff should disseminate rumors, facts about the case or opinions about the case.
NCSF will give guidance on analyzing the political climate and key officials. NCSF will also give advice on tactics and formulating a strategy on how to respond to incidents. This strategy will take into account that certain officials are elected, like the DA, the Mayor and the City Council members. The community response must consider whether it is an election year, or if there is a way that community pressure can be brought to bear on these officials.
Letter writing campaigns work very well, and NCSF can provide samples that can be tailored to each case. For example, in Baltimore, sample letters were provided for people who were out, not out, local or non-local. 150 letters in all were sent, tipping the scales in favor of the SM-Leather-Fetish community.
NCSF can also assist in arranging meetings and educating key officials. Usually this is done with the consent of the victims on the advice of their lawyer. However, the community has the right to know whether local officials intend to crack down on consensual SM or swing activities, and NCSF can help discuss this in a general way (without going into the particulars of the case).
It's good to have some idea of where the ad hoc community response group is heading once the crisis is over. The community may decide that the ad hoc group will disband after the crises is over. NCSF encourages communities to continue with their activist coalition in order to make changes in local laws and attitudes. Planning for the future is particularly important if there is fund raising, so people who donate will know where their money will go if the case is settled. Does the community want to establish an incorporated legal defense fund? Does the community want to continue doing SM and swing activism to fight repressive laws and policy? Does the community want to donate the extra money to a local or national charity? If so, to who? Remember that the choice of this charity may affect whether people across the country want to donate to your cause.
American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. These criteria are listed in the Paraphilia section, pg. 525.
Diagnostic criteria for 302.83 Sexual Masochism:
By David McGuire
December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997.
In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org ] argued that the court should overturn the provisions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that prohibit Web sites from displaying obscene material online.
"Many people are unaware that one of the most powerful censorship provisions of the Communications Decency Act [http://EPIC.org/cda] is still in place. Even fewer realize the dangerous effect it could have in the hands of an overzealous administration and attorney general,"NCSF spokesperson Susan Wright said in a prepared statement. Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the CDA drew a barrage of criticism from industry groups, publishers and civil-liberties advocates.
In addition to prohibiting online obscenity -- which was already illegal in physical form -- the law called for Web site operators to be held criminally responsible if they allowed children to view constitutionally protected "indecent" material online.
Only the most graphic pornography and sexually explicit material meets the legal standard for obscenity. Milder sexually explicit material -- nude photos, erotic stories and the like -- may be considered indecent. But such material is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A broad coalition of public interest groups -- including the American Library Association [http://www.ALA.org], the American Civil Liberties Union [ http://ACLU.org ] and the Center for Democracy and Technology [http://CDT.org ] challenged the indecency provisions of CDA, on grounds that it could crimp the rights of adults to view constitutionally protected speech online.
The groups convinced a lower court to freeze those provisions; that decision eventually was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the NCSF, which promotes sexual freedom and counts as members many operators of sexually explicit Web sites, maintains that the remaining online obscenity ban in CDA has a chilling effect on Web site operators who want to post sexually explicit materials.
The NCSF specifically argues that the "community standards" test in federal obscenity law is meaningless in global world of the Internet.
The obscenity ban in CDA is based on a decades-old obscenity standard that applies to printed materials, films and photos.
Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) Associate Director Alan Davidson, who was involved with the original CDA challenge said that the obscenity language in CDA was deliberately left out of the first challenge for that very reason. "The concept of prohibiting obscenity speech -- as controversial as it may be -- has been relatively well-settled law for many decades now," Davidson said. "The focus of the original challenge was on the area of greatest threat to free speech, which was the indecency provision."
Most of the original CDA challengers are now in the midst of fighting another law -- the Child Online Protection Act [ http://COPACommission.org ] -- which was passed by Congress shortly following the Supreme Court ruling in CDA. That law has been dubbed "CDA II" by its opponents. The Supreme Court heard arguments on that legislation last month.
Copyright © 2001 The Washington Post Company.