Hey Lookee! We Have Wingnuts Here, Too!

From Think Progress, here’s a video interview taken at CPAC of Eric Wargotz, who’s running for Senator of Murland. In the video, he reveals himself to be a birther:

Actually, the interviewer asks the questions from the recent Daily Kos poll of Republicans. For the benefit of those who don’t want to watch the entire video, I’ve summarized Wargotz’s answers. I’ve tried to be fair to him, god knows why:

  1. Should Barack Obama be impeached?
    If there’s sufficient cause.
  2. Has he been accused of anything that would warrant impeachment?
    No.
  3. Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?
    Due to his foreign upbringing, he has more socialist tendencies than most Americans. People in other countries have different perspectives on social issues.
  4. Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States?
    No.
  5. Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?
    No.
  6. Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?
    There were irregularities. Don’t know to what extent.
  7. Do you think Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Barack Obama?
    I don’t think she’s less qualified.
  8. Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates white people?
    No.
  9. Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?
    No.
  10. Should Congress make it easier for workers to form and join labor unions?
    It’s already pretty easy.
  11. Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they paid a fine and learned English?
    No.
  12. Do you support the death penalty?
    Yes.
  13. Should openly-gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?
    No.
  14. Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?
    No. Civil unions, yes.
  15. Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?
    Depends on how the civil unions are worked out.
  16. Should openly-gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?
    What do you mean by “openly”?
  17. Should sex education be taught in public schools?
    Yes. But it should emphasize abstinence.
  18. In public schools, should it be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?
    Evolution should (also) be taught.
  19. Are marriages equal partnerships, or are men the leaders of their households?
    In many cases, women are the leaders of the household.
  20. Should women work outside the home?
    It’s up to them.
  21. Should contraceptive use be outlawed?
    No.
  22. Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?
    No.
  23. Do you consider abortion to be murder?
    In some cases, yes.
  24. Do you believe the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?
    I respect all faiths.

It’s tempting to give him credit for getting a number of answers right, but frankly, this is such an easy test that no one should get any answers wrong. Yes, I’ll spot him the questions on whether abortion is murder and whether illegal immigrants should have a path to legality. I’ll concede that there’s room for informed honest disagreement on those. But if he thinks Sarah Palin is as qualified to be president as Barack Obama, he’s wrong. If he thinks there’s any doubt as to whether gays should be allowed to teach, he’s wrong. Sorry if my bluntness offends, but there it is.

No Pr0n Policy at UMD

A while back, I mentioned that a student group at the University of Maryland was going to show a porn flick. A state legislator got bent out of shape at the thought that 18-20-year-olds might be thinking about sex, and threatened to cut off state funding to the university. Eventually, the university was told to come up with a policy regulating which movies can be shown on campus.

According to the Post,

Regents of Maryland’s state university system voted Wednesday to defy a legislative order to regulate pornography on campus, concluding that any such rules would be impossible to enforce.

The review found that pornographic materials generally have constitutional protection unless they are deemed obscene. But “there are few, if any, films that have been declared obscene by any court,” the report states. As a result, top legal minds “have not been able to draft a policy that is narrowly targeted toward ‘obscene’ films.”

A broader rule to govern pornography would probably be found unconstitutional, the report states, because governmental restrictions on speech must be “content and viewpoint neutral,” and cannot be confined to adult films.

So I guess the forces of reason and untwisted panties sometimes prevail.

MD Legislature Censors Porn at University

Just to show how out of touch I am with local news, the Hoff movie
theater at the University of Maryland was going to show a porn film,
Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge
(Wikipedia link; should be SFW), preceded by a talk by a representative of Planned
Parenthood
(Washington Post,
UMD
Diamondback
coverage).

Then the Maryland General Assembly heard about this, and pushed
through an amendment to a budget bill denying the university state
funds if it showed a XXX-rated movie. The university pulled the film,
and the amendment was withdrawn.

As you can imagine, this has caused a certain amount of discussion on
teh Intertubes.

The Post says that the state funding that would have been withdrawn
amounted to $424 million. I haven’t managed to find the current
budget, but in
FY2003, the
total budget for this campus was $1.16 billion, of which $633 million
(54%) came from the state. Assuming that the current year’s budget is
comparable, clearly this amounts to a threat by the legislature to
cripple the university, if not shut it down entirely. I’ll leave it up
to the courts to decide whether this is legal or not, but clearly it’s
an attempt at censorship.


The Diamondback quotes Vice President for Student Affairs Linda
Clement as saying,

We thought it was an opportunity to have a dialogue revolving around pornography as a film genre and promote student discussion

and in that spirit, the Mod +1: Insightful award of the day goes to
commenter Stephanie,
responding to another comment:

“Psychological studies have shown that pornography creates a subconscious idea of what sex should be and how females should behave, and generates anger.”

This is exactly why we need to have conversations about pornography instead of just relegating it to a private space.

One thing to bear in mind is that the movie in question isn’t Jamaican
Amateurs 19
or Asian Cum-Shots 116 or some similar
piece of Extruded Pr0n Product. Evidently Pirates II had a
budget
of $8 million,
sets,
(NSFW), costumes, CGI effects, and even a
plot.
It was released both as a hardcore porn movie, and also in an
abbreviated R-rated version.

So presumably it would have served as an illustration of what porn can
be, not what it usually is (something like what Moore and Gebbie did
with
Lost Girls).

Of course, I haven’t seen this movie, so I’m probably assuming too
much. But if you were going to have a conversation about pornography,
and show a movie so that everyone’s talking about the same thing, this
movie seems like a reasonable choice.

I wouldn’t mind exploring questions like, does porn degrade women? If
so, is this a necessary feature of porn? Does it set unrealistic
expectations about sex?

I can understand the latter objection. But on the other hand, one
might also argue that romance novels and “chick flicks” set
unrealistic expectations about love and romance. And why doesn’t
anyone complain that action movies set unrealistic expectations about,
well, a whole slew of things? Does anyone think they can jump out of a
fourth-story window while dodging a hail of bullets, roll behind a
parked car, and fire back at one’s attackers? Or engage in a 60 mph
car chase through crowded city streets without wrapping oneself around
a streetlight? In these cases, we understand that what’s on the
screen, while grounded in reality, frequently takes flights of fantasy
because it looks cool. Why can’t we take the same approach to porn?
(The first piece of advice that I saw on cunnilingus, possibly in
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid
to Ask
, basically said to forget how it’s done in movies; if
you’re doing it right, you’re blocking all the action with your head,
so it doesn’t make for good cinema.)


Another comment that caught my attention was
this one
by Jor:

The screening wasn’t intended to be recreational but rather educational.

which brings to mind the words of Tom Lehrer:

I do have a cause, though: it is obscenity. I’m for it.

Unfortunately, the civil liberties types who are fighting this
issue have to fight it, owing to the nature of the laws, as a matter
of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on, but we
know what’s really involved: dirty books are fun, that’s all there is
to it. But you can’t get up in a court and say that, I
suppose.

I have to ask: what if this screening were purely
recreational? How would that change anything? The Hoff theater
shows
plenty of movies just for fun, without a lecture or discussion
attached. It’s at the student union, fer cryin’ out loud. Downstairs,
there’s a bowling alley with pool tables and video games, but no one’s
suggesting that those should be frowned upon unless you can tie them
to a talk about newtonian mechanics or computer graphics. Across the
street is a football stadium; I’ve never heard the slightest inkling
of a suggestion that it be used only to teach about game theory or the
dynamics of competing groups.

So how is a screening of Pirates II different? Well, it’s
got sex in it, obviously. But why is sex always
the great exception?

In recent years, I’ve seen the term “porn” applied metaphorically to
non-sexual content. E.g., The Passion of the Christ has
been called
biblical porn“,
and the Left Behind series has been called
Armageddon porn“.
The idea is that the point of the œuvre is quite
obviously to show some subject (Jesus’ suffering and pre-tribulatin
suffering, in the examples above), and everything else is there to
allow that depiction to happen. There are plenty of videos that fit
that description, usually filed under “special interest” at the video
store.


Then there’s
this gem:

Pornography IS the largest industry on the internet … why try to draw MORE viewers to it by attempting to make it publicly acceptable? Check out Patrick Carnes book, “Out of the Shadows”. Sex addiction is right up their with alcoholism and food addiction. But it’s worse because the shame of it is often carried by the addict alone, while the addict destroys his world trying to keep it a secret. I’m speaking from experience. Please don’t dismiss this as fun or educational.

The argument here seems to be “porn is not socially acceptable, so
people feel ashamed when they watch it in private. But if it were
socially acceptable, more people would watch it, and would feel
ashamed”. Obviously a circular argument, along the same lines as “gays
should stay in the closet, because otherwise they’ll be made to feel
miserable by homophobes like me”.

Okay, there’s the other argument, that some people have a real problem
with sex addiction. This may even be true. But hiding porn and trying
to pretend that it doesn’t exist doesn’t solve anything, any more than
Prohibition helped alcoholics.

And no, I’m not denying that 90+% of porn is crap, and that many of
the prudes’ allegations may be true. But can we at least face the
problems head-on, openly, like adults, and not try to sweep them under
the rug?

Well, Crap

The Baltimore Sun
reports
that after the vote-counting was completed, right-wing
homophobic
religious nutjob
assclown and
reanimated corpse
Don Dwyer
was reelected to the state legislature by 28 votes. I don’t live in Anne Arundel county, so I couldn’t make that 26.

(Update: Can someone explain why the first Google result for
reanimated corpse” points to State Farm’s site?)