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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Double Penetration of the American Mind 

We have spent many a sleepless night wondering why so many otherwise semi-reasonable citizens voted for Bush despite opposing his policies and disapproving of his performance in office, and we think we might have stumbled across the answer -- blurted out by Orrin Hatch, of all people, in a Washington Times article lamenting the frankly suspicious dearth of obscenity convictions under former AG John Ashcroft:
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, worries about the explosion of pornography in recent years. "It takes over your mind," he says.
Just one day later, thanks to a tip from Zemblan patriot S.P., we read a Washington Post column by Terry Neal entitled "GOP Corporate Donors Cash In on Smut," and -- talk about epiphanies! -- once the proverbial light bulb went on, the proverbial dots practically connected themselves:
[W]hen voters were given the opportunity to choose between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry, 86 percent of them went for Bush, making Utah County the second most Republican county in the most Republican state in the country. Utah County has a population of roughly 370,000. Its largest employer is the Mormon-run Brigham Young University.

But Utah County is also the home of a mid-1990s court case that demonstrated some of the ambiguity about "values," even in the reddest of the red states. Randy Spencer was the attorney that the court appointed to defend a the Movie Buff video store in American Fork from local prosecutors who had charged the store's owner with 15 counts of pornography for renting tapes such as "Jugsy," "Young Buns II" and "Sex Secrets of High-Priced Call Girls." The prosecutors claimed the store was violating the community standards of suburban Provo.

Spencer, who describes himself as a devout Mormon, challenged the prosecution's definition of the community's values by subpoenaing records that showed Utah County tolerated the consumption of porn in several outlets: Utah County cable subscribers had ordered at least 20,000 explicit movies in the past two years; the Sun Coast Video store in the town of Orem was deriving 20 percent of its rental sales from adult movies, even though adult movies only made up 2 percent of the store's inventory; Dirty Jo Punsters in nearby Spanish Fork was racking up on average $111,000 dollars per year selling sex toys, blow up dolls and other adult fare; the Provo Marriott across the street from the courthouse sold 3,448 adult pay-per-view movie rentals in 1998 alone . . . .

Spencer, the Mormon defense attorney in Utah County, said he couldn't help but be struck by a larger point: Big corporate America -- a staunch GOP ally -- was lining its pockets selling raunch to the masses, including the red state nation.

"A lot of it's coming from Republicans," Spencer said, referring to the corporate culprits who profit from smut. Spencer said he considers himself a Republican.

It's almost impossible to get a handle on how much money corporate America is reaping by peddling smut. General Motors Corp. is not eager to brag about how many dirty movies it sold last year through a subsidiary.

In the Utah County trial, Spencer asked the jury why a lone, small business vendor like Peterman should be held to a higher standard than the likes of W. Mitt Romney. At the time Romney was on the board of Marriott International, which was making huge margins on piping porn into hotel rooms. Currently, Romney is the Republican governor of Massachusetts and his travels around the country have helped fuel speculation that he might run for president in 2008.

Perhaps the most extensive mainstream media treatment on this subject ran four years ago in The New York Times. In a 4,000-word investigative opus, writer Timothy Egan connected the dots between porn and big corporate profits:

"The General Motors Corporation, the world's largest company, now sells more graphic sex films every year than does Larry Flynt, owner of the Hustler empire. The 8.7 million Americans who subscribe to DirecTV [since bought by Fox kingpin Rupert Murdoch -- S.] buy nearly $200 million a year in pay-per-view sex films from satellite, according to estimates provided by distributors of the films, estimates the company did not dispute."
Neal has a long list of Republican corporate donors who make a sweet buck peddling porn to the moral-values crowd (who are, we needn't add, the least equipped to resist it) here.

We do not pretend to know exactly how the insidious mind-control process that Sen. Hatch alluded to might actually work, but if on a whim some lonely night you happen to order Junk in the Trunk Pt. 17 with your handy remote, and it suddenly strikes you, as you watch a parade of callipygian lovelies exploring the uninhibited ecstasies of back-door passion, that Social Security privatization might not be such a bad idea after all . . . . remember. You have been warned.

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