Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Though Michael Weinstein’s sleazy campaign to impose paternalistic rules on porn actors and production companies started long before last December, it was then that he received the perfect Christmas gift in the equally-sleazy Derrick Burts, the conniving little liar whose poorly-planned attempts to deceive the public were revealed in my column of one year ago today. Burts claimed to be a heterosexual who was faithful to his girlfriend and only “played gay in movies”; he insisted “that the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) told him that they’d traced his infection to a ‘known positive’ but wouldn’t tell him who it was, and denied AIM’s public statement that he contracted HIV through personal activity”; furthermore, he insisted “that he only went…to an AHF center in Los Angeles on November 24th after AIM ‘neglected’ him” and that his decision to become AHF’s poster child was purely due to gratitude. These lies unraveled when a reporter for LA Weekly discovered Burts’ ad on the gay escort site Rentboy, in which he boasted that he was “AIM tested”, strongly implying that he was willing to do unprotected sessions for the right price. But it was too late; though Weinstein of course claimed the timing was “truly…a coincidence”, on the day after Burts’ AHF-sponsored press conference AIM was shut down by an illegal cease and desist order from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health which was almost certainly obtained via behind-the-scenes machinations on Weinstein’s part.
Burts’ aversion to the truth made him a perfect match for Weinstein, who has an extensive history of employing deceit in pursuit of his goals, which he represents as humanitarian when they are in fact largely commercial (his mandatory-condom campaign is funded by the condom industry) or personal (he “sued Pfizer over Viagra, alleging it encouraged risky sexual behavior…after Pfizer turned down his multi-million dollar funding request…”). And as demonstrated in this November 30th article from Adult Video News, he encourages his followers and employees to lie as well:
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has announced that the ballot initiative created by its front group, “For Adult Industry Responsibility” (“FAIR”), has reached its goal of 64,000 signatures—roughly 29,000 more than required—and that means that in June, Angelenos will be voting on whether to require…adult producers to use condoms and other healthcare measures when filming adult movies before a permit is issued. If passed by LA voters, the…ordinance would “require any person or entity directly engaged in the creation of adult films who is issued a permit under the authority of the City of Los Angeles…for commercial filming of an adult film to maintain engineering and work practice controls, including the provision of and required use of condoms, sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials consistent with state law…” Also, the ordinance would require [the permit agency, FilmLA] to raise the fee paid by adult companies seeking permits to a level “sufficient to pay for periodic inspections”—and considering how much adult filming goes on in the city on a daily basis, adult producers can be sure that the fee will be far higher than would be paid by a non-adult company in similar circumstances.
But according to attorneys familiar with both the adult industry and governmental affairs, such an ordinance…would be unconstitutional. “…The authority of the permit department is simply an administrative function, and they’re certainly not authorized to implement so-called health regulations,” opined prominent First Amendment attorney Paul Cambria. ”Usually a permit department, like zoning and all the rest of it, is an administrative task. In other words, it’s got requirements A-B-C, and if you comply with A-B-C, you get your permit. But those requirements are germane to the function of that department, and the function of that department is to keep track of filming in Los Angeles and raise revenue from filming operations, but certainly has nothing to do with alleged health concerns or anything that would infringe on an adult’s right to have sex with one another on film without a condom…And that’s aside from the other First Amendment issues we have discussed, like the erotic message of the work and all the rest of it…”
Moreover, it’s questionable whether many of the petition’s signers even knew what they were signing. One adult industry supporter was told, when asked to sign, that the objective of the petition was to force mainstream studios like Universal to adopt stricter health safeguards, and only mentioned the adult industry and condoms in passing, when in fact the industry is the main focus of the petition. This reporter was solicited for his signature outside a Best Buy store in Chatsworth by a gatherer who said the petition was to “fight HIV.” When questioned further, he claimed that there had been six HIV-positive cases in the adult industry in the past year—a claim for which there is no evidence whatsoever…Readers who have had similar experiences or contacts with signature gatherers are urged to report their conversations to this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org…
Now, compare that with what Weinstein said in this article from the mainstream media, specifically the December 1st Los Angeles Times:
Weinstein said the foundation has gathered about 64,000 signatures for the initiative, far more than the 41,000 needed to put the measure before city voters in June. The city now must validate the signatures. But “we had a very easy time getting these signatures,” Weinstein said. Support cut “across lines — Democrat and Republican, men and women. Everyone understood this was an issue of worker protection.”
I’m sure it is “easy” to get ignorant people to do what one wants them to do by lying to them. But the Liars’ Club hasn’t won yet; the voters may still turn the proposal down (and you can bet the porn industry will actively campaign against it); even if enacted, it may be overturned on a constitutional challenge as described above; and if upheld, there are plenty of other cities in California which would welcome the lucrative porn industry…at which point Weinstein would need to start all over again at the state level. Regular reader Comixchik (who worked in porn herself) points out that even if that happened, the companies themselves need not move out of state, just the shoots; she also noted that amateur or small independent productions would be impossible to control no matter what happens to the big boys. Of course, none of this bothers Weinstein; the impossibility of achieving his supposed goal merely means he won’t have to come up with a new scam for a very long time.