Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 by Mich Masoch
We can all get awfully busy between work, chores, having a life, and the mountain of entertainment and social media to pore through every day. Like many things that are good for us, keeping up with what’s going in the news (the real news, not the latest hijinks of whichever celebutante is the hot mess of the moment) is often the first to-do to get put on the back-burner. Consequently, we can miss a lot of important clues about what the future may hold in things that matter, namely, Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll.
Now that we’re in an election year, the stakes are higher and decisions more critical than ever. You wouldn’t think so in this modern age, but there are looming threats to all three of our favorite sinful pleasures. As the pendulum of debauchery swings decidedly to the conservative right, pick your political poison well but, bear in mind, virtually all of the choices can do the very same thing …
KILL YOUR BUZZ DEAD.
Looking forward, there is hope, but be careful out there, because the land mines are getting harder and harder to spot until they blow up in your face. What are the setbacks we’ve hit and challenges we face for the year ahead? There are a number of probable battlefields in the world of vices; here are but a few.
Rock N Roll
The world of your music probably has the lowest probability of policy shenanigans. But, if you’re one of the “lucky few” to attract the
Eye of Sauron RIAA, you should probably just go ahead and consider yourself screwed.
Some of you reading this article grew up in a different time, back in the Vinyl Age, when file sharing amounted to recording from albums or making mix-tapes. Sure, taping music to give to friends was, by letter of the law, still considered the much-dreaded piracy (*arrrr*), but the physical realities (not to mention taping being a time-consuming pain in the ass) limited the reach of illicit copies. Thus, the scope of so-called “damages” was too small for anyone to give a damn about; record companies were too busy screwing their artists to mess with your penny-ante ass.
Not so much anymore, eh?
Digital formats and internet communication have revolutionized music in virtually every way, particularly format. Music, like most media, is no longer limited to an actual physical form, so also unlimited in how and how much it may be shared. Unlike our more *ahem* sage readers, some of you have grown up with a dizzying variety of options to rip and share music. Some have been even more generous with their sharing-is-caring philosophy, going well beyond just sending a few ripped files to friends. Instead, they post music and other media on huge file-sharing sites where anyone and everyone can download and enjoy them.
While this may be groovy as hell for you and the folks getting free tunes, the RIAA is not in the least amused. Looking at it from their perspective, the glut of file-sharing has made it so that most people never need to pay for music (as well as movies, books, etc), if they don’t feel like it. This is, of course, a bad thing for them and anyone else who makes their money from sales of recorded music.
Cue the creative accounting.
To make up for crappy profits, most of which likely stem from media over-saturation and a shitty economy, the folks at the RIAA would rather blame you and your (*arrrr*) piracy and take their pound of flesh from your hide. Here’s where it gets good (for RIAA). Because there’s no concrete means of counting what might have been lost, no determining the damage done to profits (if any) by personal file sharing, they’ll just pull a number out of their ass. It’ll be a really big number, too. And, guess what? They’ll have a cadre of accountants and other random flacks come up with all manner of snazzy, convoluted algorithms to back it up. They’ll also have a seemingly endless supply of lawyers and researchers, who’re going to keep digging and bury you deep enough in lawsuit hell you can never get out.
You, on the other hand, have an excuse that didn’t even work with your mom when you were three. “But, everybody’s doing it!” you exclaim. Meanwhile, back in reality, you lose.
The important thing to keep in mind is, it doesn’t matter whether the RIAA is right or wrong. What matters is how much the people who make laws and enforce them want to kiss RIAA’s ass and, as a result, screw anyone in the recording industry enforcer’s crosshairs. Just ask PhD student Joel Tenenbaum, who was ordered to pay $675,000. (that’s $22,500. per song) to the RIAA or Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who’s been mired in a legal mess since 2007 while various judges decide whether he owes a shitload or fuckton of money to RIAA for sharing 24 songs.
The inconvenient truth is, if you think the internet is a free and open place to share all the stuff you like with friends all over the world, and because downloading and file-sharing sites exist, you have free rein to send, receive, listen, and watch as you see fit, think again. Your favorite hobby (along with many avid music fans on the web) is an invitation to trouble, the big, expensive kind.
What’s the prognosis? It’s not good. Both sides of the political spectrum have proven themselves willing to cowtow to corporate demands time and time again. During an election year, when those big rich-guys-in-suits checks are at their most important to
corporate lackeys candidates, you can expect no lobbying group (particularly rich ones like RIAA) to be left behind.
Want to stay under the radar? Don’t get caught with your hand in the online piracy cookie jars. Share the old-timey way, with people you actually know, and avoid the mass-user sites (where the next crop of suckers to get the RIAA bitch slap will surely be found). The shutdowns of some of the biggest file-sharing sites were just the first shots over the bow and there’s a long war ahead. The only way to avoid being a casualty is to avoid the battleground altogether.
Protecting yourself boils down to one simple thing: Don’t steal copyrighted work.
Unless you live a straight-edge lifestyle, drug policy is one of the areas of law more likely to bite you in the ass. If, when you pick your poison, the answer is booze and smokes, you’re not likely to come against much trouble* (unless you want to get your party on in any one of the many US “dry” areas where the sale of alcohol is banned or, heaven forbid, buy a bottle between the proscribed “drinking hours” in most others). Of course, now you can get a nasty slap to the wrist for daring to *gasp* light up in verbotten places, but that’s about all.
*Obviously, we’re not talking about dangerous and idiotic behavior like drinking and driving, just the drinking part.
If your mood-enhancement tastes run a bit more eclectic (and not from Big Pharma), you’re mostly out of luck. Drug policy is one of the places politicians and policy-makers across the board like to show their strict, authoritarian sides. For the most part, drug policy amounts to our government telling us we can’t be trusted with what they see as “the strong stuff” (meaning everything but the very, very wealthy and thus influential alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries). Big Mommy and Daddy government are pretty sure they know what’s best for you, as well as the very lucrative business interests raking in profits via the farce called The War on Drugs™. Lots and lots of people (and by “people”, I mean wealthy corporations in the policing, drug testing, prisons, and pharmaceutical industries, among others) need drug policy to remain a useless and never-ending battle (since Prohibition) to keep the staggering profits coming in year after year.
The guys who make lots of legal money from drugs being illegal tend to give lots of money in political contributions to keep it that way. That money fuels campaigns. Do the math.
Granted, some of you might live in one of the states which have legalized medical marijuana. Think your 420 is safe? Don’t count on it.
Though 16 states have voted for and approved legal medical marijuana, the Fed (like the honey badger) doesn’t give a shit. The Man™ has kept busy pulling rank, using your tax dollars, law enforcement, and the courts to
persecute intimidate prosecute medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, despite the will of the people and state law. So, yes, you can get your green on … for now … if you happen to live in 16 of 50 states and have a doctor’s prescription/recommendation and the dispensaries haven’t been shuttered. The Fed doesn’t seem to be interested in pursuing individual cases, at least not yet. The year’s still young, though, so it’s probably best not to get too cozy with easy MJ, because she could change her tune at any time.
Here are a couple of examples of the Trials of Mary Jane:
Since it’s an election year, we’re being treated to lots of pandering about “getting tough on crime” (which, of course, means going after the low-hanging fruit of easy-to-nab penny-ante drug users). Anything is possible, even from our supposedly “liberal” Obama administration, which has made lots of political hay out of making pot a federal case, literally, by targeting California dispensaries for harassment and closure and raiding and prosecuting Montana growers, distributors, and care-givers.
The only thing you can count on for 2012 is more bullshit and no end to the thriving black market drug trade.
Last month, we talked a bit about sex and online commerce, the raging campaigns by credit card companies and payment processors (like Paypal) to starve out edgy erotica by refusing to handle the cash trasactions. This is a drop in the bucket compared to what lies ahead for our lust lives, should we choose poorly this year. Think we’re in the modern age with no threat to your sexy fun?
HAHAHAHAAHAHA! Tell that to the major contenders for the GOP ticket and their cohorts, who would have us party like it’s 1859.
We are, most of us, born in the post-feminist era. This means most of the important battles for women’s rights were fought and won long before we were born. We thought the victories would stand forever.
We were dead wrong.
Our freedoms of sexuality and even self-determination are being challenged in ways we never considered possible, at least in an advanced society. But how advanced are we in our thinking, if you include all of us, really? Here’s a clue: We’re so “free” of old-time superstition, the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” was read into the official Congressional Record. For those not raised with a whole mess o’ Catholic dogma, this is official church directive on matters of human life, particularly the eggs in your reproductive basket kind. It’s all about relying on The Man (Upstairs)™ for your birth control, timing your (only within a church-sanctioned marriage with the lights out in missionary position) sex around those pesky stretches of fertility. Though the Big Guy is notoriously unreliable with the whole not making you preggers when you don’t want to be thing, Humanae Vitae also reinforces the absolute ban on birth control of any and all kind. It’s puckishly contrary like that.
Listen closely to many of the shining lights of the New Right and you’ll hear the strains of Humanae Vitae, just in the folksy aw-shucks-speak conservatives use with the rubes. If they could make birth control virtually impossible to get, they would. Tres modern, eh?
And that’s not all! Not only will they try to limit your options for birth control, they’ll also make it harder to make your own decision, should you find yourself “in trouble” (which, of course, is far more probable when they take away the fucking birth control). For decades, the joy-killers of the Bible-buffing right have been slowly chipping away at your reproductive rights, state by state. Read it and weep, check out all the ground we’ve lost, in a list of the chips taken out of your reproductive rights and freedoms by state, as compiled by the National Women’s Health Network.
The retrograde right is getting closer to its goal of, once again, forcing women to carry to term as a “consequence”. “Consequence of what?” you might ask. Why, of acknowledging and exercising their sexuality, of course. We can’t have ladies being so damned uppity, don’cha know. Where would it lead? Equality! *pfft*
We may have a wry chuckle at the right’s expense, but it’s gotten bad out there, especially in what we urban dwellers often refer to as “flyover country”, which could also easily be called the front lines in the War on Sex. Particularly troubling are the “personhood” laws which, if you’ve not heard of them, imbue legal personhood upon a fetus at any stage of gestation for a litany of overreaching decisions. These can include charging a woman for not having a life-threatening caesarean section, forcing victims of rape and incest to carry pregnancies to term, and empower both government and medical professionals to seize a woman’s body in various ways as protection for the fetus. (By the way, if you live in AZ, you might be interested to know that your legislature just established that “life” begins TWO WEEKS BEFORE CONCEPTION.) It’s so bad, women have started campaigns to initiate new legislation to reinforce Personhood for women, since it seems a lot of folks need reminding that we are, indeed, people after all (not brood mares).
Think you’re free and clear on this guys? Not so much. Guess who’s likely to wind up next to us when we’re on the hook paying the “consequences” for sex? That’s right, Mister, if you guys think of this shit as “women’s issues” and let we womenfolk stand alone, you and your prolific penises are in for a rather unpleasant surprise.
Oh, here’s what might get you guys’ attention … THEY ALSO WANT TO TAKE AWAY YOUR PORN.
Will the right ever succeed in stamping out porn? *snort* Of course not. But, they can make it much more difficult to get and create all sorts of restrictions and limitations. They can block swaths of the web or revoke access to domains, they can even start arresting and harassing smut-peddlers in droves like the Good Old Days™. Even if the cases never actually go anywhere (which is virtually always the case), it scares others who have no taste for persecution and show trials. No pornographers equals no smut, so this shit should matter to you, whether you’re a professional pervert or not.
Before we wrap it up (in an appropriately plain brown wrapper), let’s have a moment of respectful thanks for Larry Flynt, the patron saint of porn, who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to prove that smut deserves First Amendment rights, too. Let’s not allow his generous efforts on behalf of our libidos to have been in vain. Free expression is just that, free, and if we don’t pay attention to the one-handed writing on the wall, we’ll find out just how the loss of freedom can look from the business end of repressive policy.
There are unlimited warnings that could be given for the world of sex ahead in policy and governance. For all our preening airs of being so free-thinking and modern, we’re just as much a nation of self-hating perverted puritans as sexy degenerates. There’s been an ongoing battle over what’s proper and acceptable since the dawn of mankind and it’s not about to stop anytime soon.
The best we can do is keep on keeping on and don’t let the bastards get us down. And, of course, watch those fuckers like a hawk, because it’s a dangerous election year for sin of all kinds.
Fly low, avoid the radar, and keep your powder dry.
Mich Masoch is a writer, photographer, professional pervert, and co-Ringleader of the Circus Hooker Smut Regime, an independent design, marketing, and content producton studio in Los Angeles, CA. Her photos can be found in the naughtier corners of the interwebs, as well as her erotic fiction stock photo store, EroticaStock.com. Now, you can also buy the first available work in her erotica short-story series through Amazon.com and Smashwords.