Banning Pornography Endangers Women

by Wendy McElroy Since the mid 1980s, a strange sight has been on the political horizon. Feminists are standing alongside their arch-enemies, conservatives and religious fundamentalists, to call for anti-pornography laws. This phenomenon threatens the well-being of women in at least three important ways: Feminism is no longer a stronghold of freedom of speech; Women’s unacceptable sexual choices are now under new attack; It involves rejecting the principle “a woman’s body, a woman’s right.” Gender Violence? At the root of this threat is a new definition of pornography, which has emerged from the extreme feminism, known as radical feminism. It states that pornography is gender violence that violates the civil rights of women. Anti-porn activist Catherine MacKinnon once explained, “We are proposing a statutory scheme that will situate pornography as a central practice in the subordination of women. …” Radical feminists call for civil, as well as criminal, proceedings because this avoids sticky constitutional issues, such as the First Amendment. Civil courts also have lower standards of evidence and no presumption of innocence. But why is pornography viewed as violence in the first place, and not merely words or images? This view was well embodied in the much-cited Minneapolis anti-porn ordinance of 1983. The ordinance stated that all women who worked in porn were coerced, and could bring a civil lawsuit against producers and distributors. Coercion was deemed to be present even if the woman was of age, she fully understood the nature of the performance, she signed a contract and release, there were witnesses, she was under no threat, and she was fully paid. Women and Consent Consent by the woman was rendered impossible. The author of the Ordinance, MacKinnon, later explained that “in the context of unequal power (between the sexes), one needs to think about the meaning of …

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: What Does It Affirm?

by Wendy McElroy Last week I learned that a friend had been passed over for tenure at an ivy-league school. He had been teaching at the university for several years and was immensely popular – not only with the students but also within the department. With a book and several journal articles to his credit, his qualifications were in good order. So what was the problem? He was a white male in a department that needed more visible women and minorities. Never mind that the woman hired had less experience and fewer credentials. Never mind that the university had been grooming him – or that my friend now tells his male students to forget pursuing a degree in the humanities, because “credentials and quality do not matter anymore.” Had my friend been a woman, he would have been able to sue the university for unfair employment practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act states that it is unlawful for any employer: “(1) to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, or privileges of employment because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” But to bring such a suit, he has to belong to a class protected by Title VII: he has to be a woman or a minority. As a male from German-Irish ancestry, he is not simply excluded from protection; he is the person against whom protection is being offered. Why do women have to be shielded from him? Because, it is argued, women have historically been oppressed by men. Since white males (as a class) have benefited from this injustice, they must now (as a class) bear the brunt of adjusting the balance. In her …

Dictatorship at Your Doorstep: Why “Anti-Terrorism” Laws Threaten You

by James R. Elwood & Jarret B. Wollstein May 2002 “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people, and the West in general, into an unbearable hell and a choking life.” Osama bin Laden, October, 2001 (quoted in NewsMax.com 2/1/02) At 5 am in the morning on September 12, 2001 – less than one day after the 9/11 Attack – a half-dozen heavily-armed federal agents raided the home of Dr. Al-Hazmi in San Antonio, Texas. Without any search warrant, the agents ransacked his home, while his wife and young children (6 & 8) were held at gunpoint. Then – without being charged with any crime – Dr. Al-Hazmi was shackled and thrown naked into a freezing cold FBI holding cell. Even his eyeglasses and bronchitis medicine were taken away. Next, Al-Hazmi was flown to a New York prison, where he says he was repeatedly beaten while the FBI interrogated him. One week later, he was finally allowed to talk to an attorney and learned the reason for his arrest: Dr. Al-Hazmi’s name (the “Smith” of the Middle East) is similar to that of two 9/11 hijackers, and he had booked flights through Travelocity.com, which some 9/11 hijackers (along with a few million other people) had used. On September 24th – 12 days after he was arrested, Dr. Al-Hazmi was released – without his belongings and without even an apology from the FBI. He says he may now have to quit his job and leave the U.S. because his co-workers no longer trust him. (Source: “Justice Kept In the Dark,” Newsweek,12-10-01, p. 41.) Since September 11th, over 2,000 people, including many U.S. citizens, have been imprisoned by the FBI and police in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Only two of them …

Ending Our Drug Nightmare: A Humane Solution That Will Make Our Streets Safe

    by Jarret B. Wollstein America is living through a drug nightmare. Up to 80% of street assaults, murders and burglaries are drug-related. Drug gangs have spread their power to every city and town. Many police have been corrupted, courts are overcrowded, and prisons are bursting at the seams. The lure of big drug profits is turning children into pushers and cops into crooks. Every year the War on Drugs escalates. More money is spent, more drugs are seized and penalties for drug use become more severe. Yet illegal drugs are still plentiful. There’s a simple reason why America is not winning the War on Drugs. We have been fighting the wrong enemy. We have been told that the cause of our drug nightmare is drug sellers and users. The real cause is drug criminalization. Prohibition Revisited This is not the first time the US government has tried to save Americans from themselves. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. Suddenly honest, responsible Americans who just wanted a drink, were turned into criminals. Respectable bars became underground speakeasies, and legitimate liquor manufacturers were replaced by criminal bootleggers. Gang shoot-outs became common. There was massive bribery of police and judges. Criminals who made illegal booze paid little attention to quality, and some consumers went blind or died from tainted products. Eventually politicians were forced to admit the futility of trying to legislate morality. Liquor was harmful – but liquor prohibition was even worse. In 1933, Prohibition was repealed. Violence and the Social Costs of Drugs Today, liquor is legal and there are no longer any shoot-outs over kegs of beer or barrels of gin. But today the disastrous consequences of alcohol prohibition are being repeated with drug prohibition. Before President Reagan declared all-out War …

Seven Great Ways to Protect Your Privacy & Freedom

by Jarret Wollstein   Ron Paul – the only true libertarian in Congress – gives this answer to the question, “What is the relationship of privacy to freedom?” “Privacy is freedom. Leave us alone!” Unfortunately, Paul is one of the few politicians who truly understands or cares about protecting your privacy.   Why You Need To Protect Your Privacy The last few years have witnessed an all-out assault on your personal and financial privacy. Credit-reporting agencies, schools, Internet marketers, medical clearing-houses, and dozens of other private organizations all now maintain detailed records on us. However, by far the worst offender has been the U.S. government. In just the last few years, the government has:   Authorized the FBI, NSA and other agencies to intercept your e-mail, phone calls, and faxes, and keep track of your Internet surfing, without search warrants or other protections.  Quietly implemented “Know Your Customer” bank regulations which force your bank to spy on you and turn you in to police and the IRS for “suspicious transactions.”  Introduced scanners at US international airports which display your naked image to attendants (justified as a “non-intrusive” way of searching for guns and drugs).  Launched an all-out war on offshore tax havens ordering them to end bank secrecy and turn over records on US citizens or face a cut-off of all dealings with US banks and financial institutions. President Clinton even threatened military attack!  Forced employers to get government permission for all new hires, giving government a de facto veto over whether or not you can be hired!  Forced hospitals and doctors to turn over all private medical records, under penalty of fines, imprisonment, seizure of assets, and taking away doctor’s medical licenses.  Stepped up confiscation of assets without trial, through hundreds of new federal and state civil asset forfeiture …

Juries: A History of Jury Nullification

“If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states, then that juror has accepted the exercise of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and right that once was the citizen’s safeguard of liberty.” (1788) (2 Elliots Debates, 94, Bancroft, History of the Constitution, 267) “Jury nullification of law,” as it is sometimes called, is a traditional right that was rigorously defended by America’s Founding Fathers. Those great men, Patriots all, intended the jury to serve as a final safeguard – a test that laws must pass before gaining sufficient popular authority for enforcement. Thus the Constitution provides five separate tribunals with veto power – representatives, senate, executive, judges – and finally juries. Each enactment of law must pass all these hurdles before it gains the authority to punish those who may choose to violate it. Thomas Jefferson said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” From Magna Carta To Edward Bushell The power of the jury to judge the justice of the law and to hold laws invalid by a finding of “not guilty” for any law a juror felt was unjust or oppressive, dates back to the Magna Carta, in 1215. At the time of the Magna Carta, King John could pass any law any time he pleased. Judges and executive officers, appointed and removed at his whim, were little more than servants of the King. The oppression became so great that the nation rose up against the ruler, and the barons of England compelled their king to pledge that he would not punish a freeman for a violation of the law without the consent of his peers. King John violently protested …

The Hidden War On Your Privacy

How government secretly spies on you, your children and your finances . . . and uses that information to control you. by Jarret B. Wollstein There is a hidden war on your privacy. If you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t realize how closely you are being watched and how easily your life could be destroyed by this secret war. And who is the enemy? Although private investigators, big companies, and other snoops are threats to your privacy, by far the biggest threat comes from the very people we entrust to protect our privacy and freedom: the high-level bureaucrats and politicians who control government. Government at all levels now has scores of computer files on each of us, giving authorities the potential to track – and eventually control – our lives from birth until death. Information is being collected by the IRS, FBI, local police, public schools, and hospitals. It’s all available to the government to use as they see fit. We are also increasingly encouraged and manipulated to spy on each other. Virtually every regulatory and police agency – from Health and Human Services to the IRS – now has a toll-free “tip line” you can call to turn in your neighbor, your doctor, your boss, or your spouse. Hospitals and doctors are required to report parents to police for normal injuries to children that even 10 years ago wouldn’t have merited a second look. School DARE and WAVE programs (discussed below) encourage children to turn in their parents and each other to police. The net result is that legal rights and protections for our privacy and freedom of action that took hundreds of years to create, are being quietly wiped out in a single generation. Here are a few examples of the hidden war on your privacy:   …

The Causes of Aggression

by Jarret B. Wollstein We live in a world which often seems more violent with every passing day. Terrorist bombings, school-yard massacres, war, and atrocities fill news headlines. At times it even seems that humanity has a collective death wish. Human aggression has been blamed on many things, including broken homes, poverty, racism, inequality, chemical imbalances in the brain, toy guns, TV violence, sexual repression, sexual freedom, overpopulation, alienation, bad genes, and original sin. However, virtually all of these potential causes have one thing in common: Unfulfilled Human Needs and Desires Human needs and desires are endless. Virtually all of us would like to have fancy homes, social status in our community, the ability to eat all we want without getting fat, sex whenever we want it, perpetual health, unconditional love, and the ability to live until we’re 200. Most of us will enjoy few of these things. Fortunately, most people are realistic and sane enough not to turn to violence to deal with their frustrations. However, self-control sometimes breaks down – resulting in aggressions ranging from petty theft – to the Columbine massacre – to the mass killing fields of Cambodia. What causes people and societies to turn to aggression? Throughout history there have been five key factors: neurosis, desperation, envy, greed, and collectivism. Neurosis Neurosis consists of irrational thoughts and acts that cause significant harm to one’s self or others. But what causes neurosis? The humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow gave a great answer. He argued that the standard for proper human behavior should not be some statistical average of how people actually behave, but rather how the best, happiest, most productive, most creative, and most fulfilled human beings act – people such as Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein. In other words, Maslow argues that the standard for mental health …

The Swiss Cantonal System: A Model democracy

by Frances Kendall In this, the first of the “ISIL Solutions” series, we examine the “Swiss model” of government – a highly-decentralized system which Swiss economist Robert Nef more accurately describes as an “ongoing experiment” than a “model.” The concepts of devolution of power, local autonomy, and participatory democracy have produced the world’s most peaceful and prosperous country. Of course, Switzerland, with its compulsory military service, state controlled monetary system, railroad and telephone services, and taxation, is not a pure libertarian society – but for those interested in reining in out-of-control governments in other parts of the world, there are large parts of the Swiss cantonal system that are worthy of emulation. The word “democracy” is derived from the Greek words for people (demos) and power (kratos). Inherent in the concept is the idea that ordinary people should keep control of the decisions that effect their lives. In an ideal democracy, the power of those who govern is limited by safeguards that ensure that citizens can prevent their elected leaders from abusing their powers. – Switzerland – Switzerland is considered by many to be the most democratic country in the world. It is also one of the world’s most successful nations in economic terms. The Swiss people have the highest per-capita incomes in the world, and Switzerland is consistently rated among the top ten nations in terms of quality of life. The key to Swiss success is not to be found in natural resources (which are in extremely short supply); nor does it lie in the temperament of its 6.4 million people, who are essentially no different from the Germans, Italians and French in the remainder of Europe. It lies rather in Switzerland’s political institutions, which ensure that ordinary citizens are involved in political decision-making, and that no one interest …

New Declaration of Independence

NEW DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by Vincent H. Miller & Jarret B. Wollstein Two hundred years ago our ancestors signed a document which forever changed the course of history: the Declaration of Independence. That document severed the bonds of Colonial America to a tyrannical king and parliament in England, and established for the first time a society based on the principle of the rule of law and limited government. The result was a glorious 200+ years which witnessed the greatest achievements, the highest standard of living, and the greatest levels of individual freedom in human history. But, bit by bit, the principles which made this country great have been forgotten – to the point where the uncontrolled growth of government now threatens to totally destroy our liberty and our prosperity. Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and the other signers of the original Declaration of Independence were well aware of that danger. That’s why they made these observations about the nature of man and government, which are as valid today as the day they were written: WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient …