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April 20, 2004
California May Regulate Porn Shoots

In a move that underscores the nanny state and the hypocrisy of big-government California, lawmakers are now proposing to require the use of condoms in all productions of pornography:

Health officials in California have said the recent infection of two porn actors with the HIV virus means they may force performers to wear condoms. Los Angeles County officials said they believed existing regulations gave them the authority to require condom use.

And the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety is also planning to carry out inspections of productions next week, the LA Times reported.

First, let me state that I have no dog in the fight regarding pornography per se; it's rather silly stuff and a complete waste of time, but as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and no one gets physically injured, I don't see any reason to ban it. My opinion on this is not some sort of Trojan horse, pun intended, but merely a observation about the inanity of this proposal.

All that said, California is one of 49 states that bans prostitution. Prostitution is defined in the California Penal Code as sexual conduct for money or other consideration, with exceptions for stage performances, plays, or other entertainment open to the public. This means that you can be arrested for paying for sex in your car, but not if you get paid for sex on stage, or on film in this case. (Prospective johns should take note and hie thee to stages.) This hypocrisy keeps the multibillion-dollar porn business firmly situated in sunny California instead of being raided out of every jurisdiction. Having sex for money as public entertainment, as opposed to personal enjoyment, is a First Amendment issue to Californians.

Now, instead, the state proposes to require the use of condoms as a Cal-OSHA safety issue. How exactly does the state plan to enforce this proposition? I imagine that inspections will become a popular duty amongst Cal-OSHA agents. One supposes that not only will they have to check for their use, but also their proper fit and adjustment. But what happens when the industry claims that unprotected sex also constitutes speech, or argues that the law invades the privacy of its actors? Doesn't the choice of sexual accoutrements fall squarely into the legal precedent of "consenting adults" as stated in the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision?

The entire notion of making pornography safer for its actors by creating Cal-OSHA requirements is laughable on its face, almost a parody in and of itself. It speaks volumes about the cluelessness of the California bureaucracy that they would even suggest it. California eschewed moral principles to cash in on pornography a long time ago. This faux concern about the health of the people involved -- a transparent political effort to show some action in the face of the HIV threat -- is far too little and way too late.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 20, 2004 7:28 PM

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