Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #51 -- May 2004


1. Lap Dances Build Schools
2. U.S. Fights Censorship With Censorship
3. Register, Vote, Then Ogle
4. Alabama Pays For Judge's Betrayal
5. Democracy in Action--NOT
6. Your Greetings on #50

1. Lap Dances Build Schools

We all know it: kids are our future, education is their future, blah blah blah.

So how do Americans support our kids and fund their education? In 1984, California decided to do it through gambling. Californians were told that buying lottery tickets would send money to schools (although lottery-playing poor families would have less to spend on school lunches and shoes). The Legislature soon responded to the increased income by reducing school allocations, and so California is still near the bottom of U.S. school funding.

As if that isn't bizarre enough, states have started funding their schools with taxes on adult entertainment. Tittie taxes, if you will, or topless taxes. Ass assessment, nudie duty, lasciviousness levy.

We know that America is confused about sex: its motto is "sex is dirty, save it for someone you love."

But now 6 states have deepened this conundrum: "porn is evil, and we're trying to wipe it out, but since we can't, we'll tax it to help educate the darlings we're trying to protect from it." Texas Governor Rick Perry proposes to change the way his state finances public education: he wants to give billions of dollars in property tax reductions to the richest homeowners, and collect a tax of at least $5 on every visit to a topless bar. All while he's cutting the state's school allocations.

So in Texas (and an increasing number of other states), if you love your kids, go to a peep show. Want your kid to study in a shiny new library? Study the physics of breast implants. Think schools should have laptops? Get a lapdance. And if your mate objects to all the time you're spending on the wrong side of the tracks, tell him or her the truth: "I'm doing it for the kids--ours, and everyone's. Remember, kids are our future."

2. U.S. Fights Censorship With Censorship

A new report says the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), a U.S. government agency supposed to fight Internet censorship, is itself censoring the Web. IBB set up a special website (a "proxy server") to let people in China and Iran bypass their nations' bans on sites such as BBC News and Amnesty International. Great idea.

But a report by the MacArthur Foundation and George Soros' Open Society Institute shows that IBB uses filters that prevent its users from visiting URLs that include forbidden keywords. These include "ass" (which eliminates, "breast" (such as, "hot" (as in, and gay (forget about, a Catholic site).

The government contracted with a company to filter out stuff that doesn't involve "human rights, pro-democracy, dissident and other sites, as well as intellectual, religious, governmental and commercial sites," says spokesperson Ken Berman. The government rationalizes that since IBB is taxpayer funded, "legitimate limits may be imposed." What he (and so many others) fails to understand is that access to pornography is not a luxury item.

The human spirit is messy, giving people choices is messy, and the experience of choice is itself transformative, especially for people who have lived the opposite nightmare. Chinese web surfers know there's porn out there, and if they know it's restricted--not by their dictatorial government but by our democratic one--we lose credibility, not to mention a teachable moment.

This is the same totalitarian vision of the Web that our government has forced on American libraries--the shrine of open inquiry.

The Supreme Court decision upholding the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) has led to half of America's library systems installing filters on their computers. That number is growing because the government is increasing the amount of federal assistance it can withhold from libraries that reject filtering.

Blue jeans, rock 'n' roll, and contraception toppled the Berlin Wall as much as anything else. Give our kinfolk across the globe access to Pamela Anderson and Brad Pitt and they'll see we're serious about democracy--even when people trivialize it.

3. Register, Vote, Then Ogle

Patrons at hundreds of exotic dance clubs throughout the country are being asked to focus on elections instead of cleavage for a minute. Club owners are posting signs, distributing forms and even providing stamped envelopes to get customers to register to vote. It's all part of the adult entertainment industry's initiative for the 2004 presidential election.

This makes perfect sense, and it's way overdue.

We've always wondered--if tens of millions of Americans watch porn, patronize strip clubs, and go to adult toy stores, why aren't they acting as a political bloc? Don't they realize their private pleasure and expression is threatened? Or don't they care?

The problem is that everyone has accepted that political repression of sexuality is normal, inevitable, and is an untouchable social agenda. Patrons of sex-oriented products and entertainment have internalized the erotophobic message of society, the way blacks, women, and gays were convinced, until recently, of the inevitability of racism, sexism, and heterosexism.

People should be pressuring elected officials about anti-sex zoning, selective prosecutions, censorship, and other civic decisions the way we pressure them about streetlights, trash collection, and potholes. Citizens should remember that every law made--and not made--is the result of a deliberate decision by a (small) group of people, and that it can be influenced and changed.

We need to decide that the right to enjoy a tittie bar is worth standing up for. All of our sex-related rights are linked--regarding porn, sex education, birth control, and consensual "sodomy," to name just a few. We've been on a slippery slope for years--overturning Roe v. Wade and destroying sex education were unthinkable less than twenty years ago. But as we've seen, the critical part of the slippery slope is the momentum. The more that anti-sex forces succeed, the more money, credibility, and power they get.

Even if this sex-club voter registration drive doesn't succeed in electing anyone, it's important. People who vote for candidates and laws that lose learn that they have something to lose. The disappointment of caring and losing mobilizes people, as they realize that those who win aren't better or special.

Participating in elections as sex-positive voters also affirms an important message: porn producers and strip club owners are not foisting their unwanted product on a victimized public that can't protect itself. The rights that the law continues to erode aren't simply the rights of sub-human, commercial scum. They're the rights of ordinary people--to consume, listen, watch, and feel as they choose.

4. Alabama Pays For Judge's Betrayal

Last year, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore lost his job--defending the Constitution--when he, er, stopped defending it. He carelessly forgot about that wall between Church and State that protects everyone who cares about either, and installed a Ten Commandments monument in the state's judicial building rotunda (issue #43).

Now a federal judge has ordered the state to reimburse half a million dollars in lawyer's fees to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which successfully sued to have the monument removed from high-visibility state property. Alabama is learning that crime does not pay.

The SPLC desperately needs the money to defend poor people and prosecute unpopular cases like this one. Unfortunately, the people the SPLC was trying to protect in this case--the average resident of Alabama, and therefore all of us--seem unlikely to appreciate its efforts. Americans continue to show an amazing disconnect between loving this country, proclaiming its greatness--and then decrying or undermining its extraordinary core values of secularism, tolerance, and government non-interference in private life.

The irony of trying to reduce the role of religion and sectarianism in Afghanistan's and Iraq's governments while attempting to increase it here is so intense that anyone who doesn't see it must be squinting very hard.

5. Democracy in Action--NOT

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing this month entitled "Online Pornography: Closing the Doors on Pervasive Smut." Witnesses include computer experts, crime experts, and a so-called children's advocate.

Can anyone actually claim that this is an open hearing? "Pervasive?" "Smut"? When it comes to sexually-oriented entertainment, our rights are about as secure as the guy who hears, "let's give him a fair trial before we hang him." And our rights are perilously swinging in the wind the way railroaded strangers would swing from trees in the Old West--just because powerful people didn't like what they did, said, or believed.

The world of Bonanza and Gunsmoke appears quite far from ours--but only in the sense that law-abiding people aren't usually gunned down in the streets anymore. Today, as then, cultural "others"--those who consume and produce erotica--are vulnerable to being framed, attacked, and ridden out of town.

Were you called as a witness to this Congressional hearing? Neither was I. Why is our government so afraid of its own citizens--who buy $9 billion a year of "smut?" Why does it fear the expertise of psychologists, anthropologists, sexologists, and other professionals who reject this lynching mentality?

A hearing on "pervasive smut"--your government at its paranoid, religiously rigid, anti-science, erotophobic finest.

6. Your Greetings on #50

Thanks so much for all your warm wishes on Issue #50. I asked for encouragement, and received it by the screenful. Thanks to all who wrote. As I said, I love hearing from readers, and never get tired of appreciation.

Do keep subscribing your friends and colleagues. And to answer a common question, we now have subscribers in at least fifteen countries, including Australia, Switzerland, and Bulgaria (our newest)--on every continent except Africa. And maybe there, too; the home country of many of our international subscribers is invisible to us. If you subscribe from outside the U.S., please drop us a line and let us know where you are. It will be fun to publish the whole list of countries in a few months.

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