As many of us have long suspected, those who spout off about morality, "family values," the virtue of eschewing masturbation, etc., are not the pure spiritual beings they would have us believe them to be (link):
A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.
"When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.
However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
Utah was the biggest consumer of on-line porn. Hah!
A few more interesting observations from the study:
Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."
I'd feel rather sad about the sexual repression this suggests, but I really can't spare any sympathy for these hypocrites. They condemn the very actions they themselves engage in, and not only in terms of on-line porn as investigated by this study. Look at the behavior of closeted gays in the GOP and among its allies: Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and more--people who condemn homosexuality, who fight the very idea of equal rights for gays, yet who themselves engage in homosexual behavior. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies and divorce rates are also higher in these more religious, conservative states.
How do these people succeed in deluding themselves about their moral superiority over the rest of us fallen, sinful beings? How do they deal with the cognitive dissonance?
Beats me. I don't care how much porn they view, how many kids they have outside marriage, how many divorces they have, whether they're gay or straight, whether they live together without the formality of marriage, or any of that. All I ask is that they return the favor and keep their noses and their laws out of MY personal life and decisions. But that, apparently, is something the religious right is not willing to do, even if, when it comes to sexual matters, they have to lie, deny, and ignore their everyday reality.
The Campaign for America's Future has a new report out called "Toxic Trade: Globalization and the Safety of the American Consumer" (the link will take you to a page from which you have to download a pdf file, and which will also show you how to take action). Every one of us should read it, and then we should contact our elected officials and demand that they seriously address the problem of unsafe imports. The problems arise from two trends:
On the one hand, global outsourcing of production and importing of goods is rapidly increasing. World imports have increased by 338 percent since 1974, with imports from China alone increasing nearly 3,900 percent just since 1985.
6 Yet the budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency responsible for monitoring consumer goods in the United States, is less than half the level it was when it started in 1974. We have been disarming our ability to protect ourselves, even as the need to do so has been soaring.
A few days ago I wrote about lead levels in lipstick. How about lead levels in Halloween products meant for children, including candy buckets coated with lead-based paint, or a gag set of teeth with 100 times the legal level of lead?
Unbelievably--okay, not unbelievably, given that she's a Bush appointee--the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord,
has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation that would strengthen the agency that polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools.
On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.
Ms. Nord opposes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistleblowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate laws.
Really, follow the link. You'll be enraged and incredulous. Nord's actions have rightfully prompted calls for her resignation. She obviously is head of the CPSC not to protect consumers, but to protect corporations. Again, that's par for the course with the Bush administration, which has sought to deregulate damn near everything in order to ease the "burden" on corporations. It's indefensible.
It's not like the CPSC couldn't use the help, as pointed out in "Toxic Trade":
As a result of budget cuts, the CPSC has closed more than 40 field offices and cut its port inspection staff to 15 people nationwide.
10 It has dropped child drowning from its strategic goals.11 It has not modernized its testing labs since 1975. 12 The agency’s toy-testing department consists of one man who drops toys on the floor in his office to see if they break.13
Please, read up on this issue and take a moment to urge your Congresscritter to co-sponsor the Safety Assurance for Every (SAFE) Consumer Product Act. Go here to have an e-mail sent. It's the least we can do.
Check out Driftglass's "Sunday Morning Coming Down." You will experience catharsis, if only briefly, and marvel at how he seemed to read your mind as you watched the Sunday talking head shows. And you will laugh, even if only a bitter, mirthless laugh.
Yes, that's right--the US is now ranked at number 53 in the world, along with Botswana, Croatia, and Tonga, when it comes to freedom of the press.
The press is freer in Mozambique than it is in the United
States, according to the latest Worldwide Press Freedom Index,
published by the Paris-based press freedom body, Reporters sans
Frontieres (RSF - Reporters without Borders).
The RSF index gives each country a score, based on the degree of freedom for journalists and media organisations. . . .
the United States has been falling steadily. In the first year the
index was published it was in 17th position. Last year the US was in
44th position, and this year it is ranked as number 53 alongside
Botswana, Croatia and Tonga.
RSF explains that this decline
arises from the deterioration in relations between the Bush
administration and the media "after the President used the pretext of
"national security" to regard as suspicious any journalist who
questioned his "war on terrorism".
RSF also points out that US
federal courts refuse to recognise journalists' cherished right not to
reveal their sources. This includes "even threatens journalists whose
investigations have no connection at all with terrorism."
notes, in particular, the cases of freelance journalist Josh Wolf,
imprisoned by the US authorities when he refused to hand over his video
archive; of Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj held without trial at the US
military base of Guantanamo since June 2002; and of an Associated Press
photographer, Bilal Hussein, held by the US in Iraq since April this
Let me remind you that we have heard calls for charges of treason against the New York Times and its reporters for publishing facts that the Bush administration finds inconvenient, and that, for the first time ever, the Justice Department (make that "Justice") is mulling over the possible use of the Espionage Act against journalists.
Yes, it's come to this. We're jailing people for telling the truth, because that truth casts the Emperor in a bad light.
Remember, under the recently passed Military Commissions Act, Bush has the power to call anybody he wants an "unlawful enemy combatant" and to arrest and detain said combatant forever, with no charges being brought and no right to legal representation, cut off from all help and subject to torture. Does anyone doubt that such power can be brought to bear against journalists? Um, make that, does anyone doubt that such power has already been brought to bear? We know it has.
According to CPJ, at least eight journalists have
been detained for weeks or months by Iraqi and coalition forces. They
include employees of CBS News, Reuters, the AP and Agence France-Presse
among others. At least four of the detentions have exceeded 100 days, Campagna said.
Freedom of the press is crucial to maintaining any semblance of a democracy. I'd say that here in the US, we've lost any claim to being one. Just as horrifying is the fact that the media have been willing, even eager, to surrender their independence and become, instead, propagandists. They barely protest when their own reporters and photographers are threatened or detained.
Here's a political ad you're going to love. Even if, like me, you have a dial-up connection and it takes a while to load, it's worth it. The ad features a number of different people asking questions of a bit of shrubbery ...
On the heels of the announcement that Congress set aside $20 million for a victory celebration for Iraq and Afghanistan, Dr. Cole suggests some other equally appropriate taxpayer-subsidized celebrations. Check it out.