To the list of social issues such as abortion once thought to be off the 2011 political agenda and now making a comeback, add a hot-button one from the days of Reagan-era Attorney General Ed Meese — pornography.
The catalyst for a renewed fight over pornography is a recent, little-noticed move by Attorney General Eric Holder to shutter the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, a special Justice Department unit set up during the Bush administration under pressure from conservatives upset about the proliferation of obscene material on the Internet.
Critics say the decision reflects a lack of interest in prosecuting such cases. The dissolution of the task force has touched off an angry reaction in Congress as well as from conservative activists pressing for a crackdown on hard-core adult pornography, and threatens to embroil Holder and the Obama administration in another culture-war confrontation.
Department officials say the administration is not giving up on prosecuting obscenity but that such violations are better handled by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Even some who support such prosecutions concede that they are increasingly difficult to pursue at a time when pornography is a multibillion dollar industry whose products are readily available to anyone with a computer — and when the lines between pop culture and X-rated entertainment are seriously blurred.
“Attorney General Holder told the Judiciary Committee last year that this task force was the centerpiece of the strategy to combat adult obscenity,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told POLITICO in a statement Friday. “Rather than initiate a single new case since President Obama took office, however, the only development in this area has been the dismantling of the task force. As the toxic waste of obscenity continues to spread and harm everyone it touches, it appears the Obama administration is giving up without a fight.” ...
The man pulled up in a blue Taurus station wagon and said his name was John. He told the 24-year-old working Aurora Avenue North that he wanted to take her to his Tacoma home, tie her to the bedposts and use a sex toy, police say
Investigators say the woman agreed, as long as the man didn't tie her too tightly.
But as she drove with him, something seemed off.
The young woman said she wanted to stop for cigarettes, and when the man let her out at the 76 station a few blocks away, she texted his license plate to her boyfriend, according to court documents.
Call the cops if you don't hear from me by midnight, her message said.
Hours later at what prosecutors describe as the man's torture room – one with walls roughly 8-inches thick to allegedly muffle screams – she asked if he was going to kill her.
We all know that pornography is offensive and destructive, so we can guess that wherever X-rated fare gains popularity, social decay will follow. It may come as a surprise, then, to learn which state has the highest rate of online subscriptions to adult websites. Not New York or California, but Utah. Yes, Utah.
Some members of Congress are up in arms at the news that the Justice Department has dismantled a Bush-era Obscenity Prosecution Task Force to go after hard-core material on the Internet. No fewer than 42 senators, most of them Republicans, have written Attorney General Eric Holder to urge tougher enforcement of obscenity laws.
Their argument is that pornography causes sexual violence, molestation of children, sex trafficking and other maladies. "This material harms individuals, families and communities and the problems are only getting worse," wrote the group, led by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of — you guessed it — Utah. You will wait in vain to hear of other senators joining together to say this is all nonsense, though that happens to be the case.
The past two decades have been to electronic erotica what Thanksgiving is to gluttony. Never in history have more people had easier access to sexually explicit material in such vast abundance and such low cost. More than one out of every three Americans with Internet access regularly visit porn sites.
By the logic of the puritans, we should be coping with an avalanche of collateral damage. But we're not.
Sexual violence? Rape has dropped by 86 percent in the United States since 1991. Harm to families? Divorce rates are down 25 percent during the same period. ...
Approximately 10,000 pieces of leather, fetish and S&M history will be visiting Chicago next week courtesy of the Carter-Johnson Leather Library. Organized by Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, LRA and Trident International Windy City ( TIWC ) , the library will let people view books, magazines, photos, art, posters and more dating from the 1700s until the present.
"It's a phenomenal resource," said Larry Glantz, vice-president of LRA and TIWC member. "It gives people a chance to see what was around before the Internet."
RACK, the University of Chicago's BDSM club, came up with the idea to host the library. Glantz said there is a "pretty significant student interest" in the BDSM community, adding that LRA recently changed its age requirement from 21 to 19 to accommodate younger members.
The younger generation is "wanting to connect to the history" of the BDSM community according to Glantz, and he said the library visit is a perfect chance for them to do so.
All of the leather clubs in Chicago have been invited to the event's opening gala, and Glantz would "like to see some younger people get a chance to connect to people who've been involved in the leather community for a long time." ...
... It was the purpose of the recent BDSM open forum here at SUNY Potsdam to bring the knowledge of these fantasies to light and hopefully shed some of the long-standing stigma of the BDSM lifestyle amongst the curious students in attendance. The forum was held on campus on the evening of March 30 in the Kellas 106. It was hosted by Lisa Bates, a student here at Potsdam. Two professional "dommes" by the names of Master R and Mistress Collette fielded all questions.
Rather than present a traditional prepared lecture, the two guest speakers decided to take an approach of an open question and answer forum. This allowed the many students in attendance (Kellas 106 was filled to capacity) to tailor the forum to their personal intellectual curiosities regarding the BDSM lifestyle. The two speakers made it very clear to the audience that the event was an open and free forum and that no questions regarding the BDSM lifestyle were off-limits. This forthrightness led to a wide array of questions regarding specific sexual fetishes, famous clientele served at the chateau, and even the personal sexual lives of the speakers themselves. All questions were answered with highly apparent and utmost honesty by Master R and Mistress Collette. Despite the opportunity to keep the lecture completely outlandish, most students asked questions implying a genuine curiosity regarding the BDSM lifestyle, and why people participate. ...
Behind a nondescript storefront in the city's Warehouse District is what officials are calling a "swingers" sex club, a private place for couples and others to meet and swap partners.
Club 307, located across the street from O'Brien Field - less than two blocks from Peoria Police Department - has operated under the radar and apparently is doing so legally.
Patrons are reportedly charged a fee for membership, which essentially provides a place for people to meet and have sex, city officials say. Alcohol also is provided.
An ordinance going before the City Council on Tuesday would outlaw such a business.
"A lot of the activities that have reportedly taken place there are the activities outlined in the ordinance," Mayor Jim Ardis said Thursday.
Currently, there are no laws on the books prohibiting a business allowing people to engage in or view live sex acts.
"Charging a fee for membership and providing alcohol - that is not legal - and in terms of the actual swapping, and the sex parties and that sort of stuff, we didn't have a specific ordinance on the books," Ardis continued, adding, "We're definitely addressing it."
Danny Laud, owner of Club 307, could not be reached for comment. ...