Ashcroft’s biggest disappointment came in late 2001 when the new focus on terrorism and homeland security put a huge crimp in his plan to clamp down on nekkid pictures. Now that the terrorist problem is licked (with Saddam behind bars and little chance of a terrorist threatening anyone ever again) Ashcroft has the full weight of the government to bring to bear on real problems.
How big a problem are we talking about? As Bruce Taylor put it, “Just about everything on the Internet and almost everything in the video stores and everything in the adult bookstores is still prosecutable illegal obscenity.” Bruce is Ashcroft’s new hire and right-hand buddy on nekkid-picture patrol. You might remember him as the guy who lost against Larry Flynt in 1981 representing Ohio.
“I think a lot of adults would say this is not what they had in mind, spending millions of dollars and the time of the courts and FBI agents and postal inspectors and prosecutors investigating what consenting adults are doing and watching.”
The Baltimore Sun reports on this story. As my friends know, I’m not much of a porn-hound. What bothers me the most about this is what appears to be an expansion of some extreme idea of what is unacceptable. The approach here appears to be not to go after the extreme. Instead, they’ll attack the middle. What will that do? It will polarize the entertainment industry. Nekkidness goes deeper underground and becomes more extreme. More acceptable outlets of entertainment get more gunshy about what they present and begin to blandify what they produce. This isn’t just about porn - it’s liked to the FCC backlash in the wake of a certain “wardrobe malfunction.”
It’s a terrorist approach to the entertainment industry. Ashcroft and his cohorts obviously feel that too much freedom has been given to Hollywood. Ashcroft hates that freedom. It is important for them to create a chilling effect on the popular media by expanding their definition of unacceptable.
Ashcroft: enforce the laws. Go after child exploitation. But keep your Crisco out of my movie theatre popcorn.