Sunday, September 25, 2005

First they came for the suicide girls, but I said nothing, beacuse I was not a suicide girl

This post has been corrected and the ranty parts retracted.

Initially, the media played it as a joke. The FBI created a new porn squad assigned to go after images made by consenting adults for consenting adults and transmitted over the internet. Here is the lede from the Washington Post story
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
As you might expect, voices from the libertarian IT community immediately protested (ars technica, via /.)

Well what exactly would they target? We can all think of images made by consenting adults for consenting adults that strike us as deeply wrong, but what counts as obscene these days? Again, WaPo
"Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry.
Actually it turns out the first people they target are the punky, goth-y women at suicidegirls.com. You may have heard of them because they advertise on the celebrity blog site boing boing This is a link to their discussion board where they announce that they have been pulling pictures at the request of the feds. (Work safe, unlike much of the content you can get to from that page.)

I have not seen the offensive content, or indeed any content at Suicide Girls other than what is on their front page. The front page, however, looks like playboy magazine with tattoos and piercings. This makes me think the site was targeted because goth culture gives the Christian right the big time heebie-jeebies. Do you remember the town in Mississippi that set aside part of its budget to "fight goth culture"? When they see people dressing like vampires, they don't think "my, what a melodramatic fashion sense," they think the person really is the pawn of some sort of real live demon. It wouldn't surprise me if Alberto Gonzales, who ordered the FBI to establish the porn squad, had a mandate from the Family Research Council to specifically target sites like Suicide Girls.

This was always the problem with the feminist case for censorship of pornography. We are handing over the right to censor to the most ignorant bozos imaginable. And these are people who feel threatened, first and foremost, by those who are different. Andrea Dworkin learned this when the Canadian censorship law she wrote was used to ban the import of her own books.

No comments: