‘First Amendment’

Attacking Sex Trafficking by…Attacking Who?

How many people do you think are sex trafficked in the U.S. every year: 200,000? 300,000? If your blood’s boiling about what sounds these days like an epidemic, here’s good news: According to the U.S. Justice Department, the actual number of people trafficked into the country for all reasons (mostly for labor rather than sex) is about 17,500 people year. In a rare show of bureaucratic consensus, the U.S. State Department’s estimate is between 14,000-17,000. “But,” you say, “surely that’s too low? What about the numbers I hear from all these anti-trafficking organizations?” Good question. And here’s the answer: if…

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Hobby Lobby Decision Puts Government in the Religion Business

The Supreme Court decision allowing a corporation to exempt itself from the law—in this case the Affordable Care Act—does two very bad things at once: * It privileges religious beliefs over other deeply-held beliefs * It puts government in the business of deciding what are legitimate religions and religious beliefs. We can also bemoan the content of this case—contraceptive access, healthcare affordability—but the religious issues actually create larger, longer-range problems for America. The First Amendment, of course, guarantees that “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. But even before that, it says that “Congress shall make…

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National Day of Prayer: Unconstitutional & Anti-Sex

To give America an extra edge during the Cold War against godless Communism, President Harry Truman designated the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. Every year since, that’s when government officials from city council to president ask citizens to join them in the most blatantly religious activity there is: pleading to a divinity to suspend the laws of the universe, and to bend destiny on behalf of the petitioner. In response to the unconstitutionality (and sheer offensiveness) of such a public ritual, the American Humanist Association created the National Day of Reason in 2003. The National…

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Morality in Media Admits They Lack Facts, So They Lie About Porn

The lobbying group Morality In Media wants to eliminate adult pornography. But they have a problem: adult pornography is one of the most successful consumer products on earth, and it is generally protected by the Constitution. So MiM has resorted to a desperate measure—repeatedly connecting adult pornography to a reviled product (child porn) and a reviled behavior (child molestation). Of course there is no evidence linking adult porn with either of those things, but MiM has never let facts stand in the way of their Big Lie. In their latest press release, they admit that they have no evidence of…

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Deep In the Valley: Going to a Porn Shoot

I’ve been on movie sets and I’ve been on network TV, but in all these years I’d never watched a porn film being made. So last week while I was in L.A., I finally accepted an invitation. After lunch I drove out to the San Fernando Valley, parked in a neighborhood of modest homes and small warehouses, and walked into the studio of Brash Films. I spent about two hours there, watching and occasionally chatting. Everyone involved made me feel welcome. The most interesting thing I have to say about it all is—nothing. But maybe not for the reasons you…

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Trusting Artists To Tell The Truth

Last night I spent $100 on a theatre ticket in New York. I saw “Sleep No More” off-Broadway, a site-specific, avant-garde show. Just for the record, I didn’t love it. But its use of sexuality and nudity did make me think about the artist’s responsibility to the audience, which is primarily to tell the truth. Well, some truth. For in every story, there are many truths. When Macbeth kills King Duncan, is he being selfish, a weakling caving in to an ambitious wife, or simply playing out the destiny that a witch has foretold? When Oedipus kills his father and…

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