Here’s Why a Judge Thinks Prop 60 Would Be a Horrifying Legal Precedent – Vote NO

no-on-prop-60At an event I attended last weekend, I happened to meet an actual, currently-working judge (the first judge I’ve ever met in person.) I asked her for her opinion on Prop 60, and she’d never heard of it, and she had no opinion on condoms in porn. But the more I started telling her the legal details, the more she literally started to both laugh and gasp at the outrageousness and legal absurdity of what she was hearing.

She said laws that encourage so-called “taxpayer lawsuits” initiated by citizens to sue alleged violators of regulations were common. But she had never heard of a law or proposed law that offers large financial bounties to citizens to initiate these lawsuits. She said this was an incredibly dangerous and ominous prospect, because once it passes it becomes standing legal precedent.

Why would that be bad? Because, she said, then any politician or regulator or special interest group or hate group with an ax to grind will now have a legal precedent allowing them to politicize any obscure regulation that vaguely intersects with some group they hate (immigrants, women, queer people, sex workers, abortion providers, pot growers and dispensaries, Muslims–the usual targets), and set up bounty-systems of vigilante justice to target the alleged violators.

She was particularly worried about how this would play out at the local level. Let’s say there’s one gay bar in some conservative town, and homophobic locals have been trying to shut it down for years. Well now, any bigoted members of the local government have a standing precedent to institute a large bounty for all citizens of the town to sue and harass the proprietor of the bar for even *alleged* violations of any number of minor local bar regulations and ordinances (which would normally be enforced by some local inspector, not by angry mobs of citizens), eventually overwhelming and shutting the owner down with frivolous harassment lawsuits.

The judge also had a field day with the licensing and reporting requirements in the act. She said it was totally unprecedented, and legally absurd, to require business owners to write in to an agency and affirmatively assert, under penalty of perjury, that they are following a regulation, each and every time they perform the activity being regulated.  She used an analogy of regulations in a hair and nail salon. Imagine if salon owners had to write in a letter swearing they had properly sanitized each set of scissors, etc., after each use. That would snow the business owner under a mountain of ridiculous and unnecessary reporting. That’s just not how industry regulation works, and Prop 60 is legally absurd for this reason as well.

Finally, the judge pointed out that, if Prop 60 passes, countless shady legal outfits, akin to ambulance chasers, will set up shop and initiate countless lawsuits against (female, queer, trans) porn performers. If even a fraction of these result in judgements, these legal bottom-feeders will have ample reason to spend every work day of every year harassing every porn performer they possibly can.

You could think porn is bad, and yet I hope you would STILL oppose setting up a standing legal precedent that allows hate groups and special interests to deal with societal issues by empowering angry mobs to initiate vigilante lawsuits against individual workers, incentivized by large bounties. It’s just an awful, awful precedent, for the entire state and nation, and I enjoin you to vote NO on Prop 60.

Don’t Give This Man Vast Censorship Power – Vote NO on Prop 60 in CA

No Prop 60

Imagine if one single man had the power to censor all Hollywood films showing car chases, in order to promote the message that viewers should always drive 55 MPH. Imagine if this man could censor all films showing drug use, to send a message to viewers to lead clean and sober lives. And he could censor all films showing murders or thefts, to send a message to live on the right side of the law.

In less than a week, Californians will vote whether to give one single private citizen, Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, such censorship powers, not in Hollywood, but in the adult film industry.

Michael Weinstein has gone on-record numerous times arguing that porn should be required to show condoms, in order to promote safer sex among viewers. In one Huffington Post article, he wrote, “The fact that most straight porn is made without condoms sends a horrible message that the only kind of sex that is hot is unsafe.”

It’s a great message. But his solution to get this message out might as well be a plot-twist in 1984, with Weinstein playing the role of Big Brother. Via absurdly disproportionate and rabidly aggressive legal manuevirng in Prop 60, is he is trying to bully an entire segment of the entertainment industry into becoming one giant PSA for his preferred message that you should always use condoms.

To force porn producers and performers to spread his health message, Proposition 60 sets up draconian fines, reaching up to $70,000, for any producer whose content shows condomless sex [section 6720.4(b)]. (Since most performers also have their own sites and cam shows selling content directly to their fans, they are mostly all producers as well, and thus this law also targets them. Which is why nearly all performers in the industry vehemently oppose to Prop 60.)

As a comparison, in California, you could commit felony arson for 30% less than that penalty (just $50,000.) And you could try to bribe a police chief or district attorney for $10,000– 85% less than the penalty uploading and selling one video clip of the kind of sex Michael Weinstein doesn’t think you should be having.

Weinstein knows that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the regulatory body that would be charged with enforcing Prop 60, has little interest in this issue. Cal/OSHA has to keep people who dig tunnels, build bridges and skyscrapers, and operate heavy machinery safe. In 2014 alone, there were 375 work-related fatalities in California, and not one of them on or from a porn set. There were fatalities from “violence and other injuries by person or animals” (75!), “transportation incidents” (119), and “falls, slips and trips” (72.) In contrast, there has not been a confirmed on-set transmission of HIV on a porn-set since 2004. In order to work in the industry, porn performers must undergo rigorous STD testing every two weeks, and this protocol has been working remarkably well to keep them safe.

Performers say that gutting this testing-based system, and replacing it with Weinstein’s system that relies on condoms (without required testing), will leave the performers themselves far less safe, for three main reasons. First, it does away with the mandatory testing, so performers will not know the STD status of their partners; performers find this prospect dangerous and terrifying, and far less safe than the testing-based system they’re currently using.

Second, condoms are designed for people who are only having sex for an hour or two at a time (at best!) In contrast, porn performers are often having sex for 6 hours or more in a day. Condoms cause chafing when used for that long, leading to micro-abrasions, tears, and cuts inside the vagina or anus. This makes performers much less safe when they go to work the next day.

The third reason Prop 60 makes workers less safe is more sinister. Unable to get Cal/OSHA to divert its attention from mines and bridges and factories, to porn performer’s crotches, Weinstein has hidden a dangerous and sneaky provision deep in the act. In section 6720.5, Weinstein creates a legal mechanism whereby, if Cal/OSHA doesn’t initiate action on violations of the act, private California citizens (read, Michael Weinstein and probably a whole team he’ll set up for this purpose) can sue performer/producers directly, and get 25% of the penalty as profit.

On a fine of $70,000, that would be a $17,500 bounty per violation on nearly all porn performer’s asses. With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is trying to turn the promotion of his preferred pro-condom messaging into a highly-profitable cottage industry for himself and his cronies, at the expense of performer’s safety.

That’s a money shot that performers/producers truly need protection from. But it’s dangerous way beyond money. It would allow any overzealous fan, stalker, or religious fundamentalist nut to get the real name and home address of porn stars via this provision and harass them ceaselessly. Violence and stalking against sex workers, particularly women, trans and queer sex workers, is a real danger for them, and this law would open the floodgates to that.

It’s absolutely outrageous that a man should be dressing up his safe sex PSA crusade in the guise of protecting workers, while exposing those same workers to very serious threats of stalking and harassment. This is why the main, performer-supported site against Prop 60 is called “Don’t Harass CA.” The bill should not be called the “Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” This title is a classic (and predictable) example of Orwellian doublespeak, as the act would actually destroy the safety of adult film workers. Instead, it should be called the “Stalking and Harassing Adult Performers Act.”

Some porn performer/producers, who know that they’re in the business of selling fantasies, and who know that viewers don’t want to see rubbers in their fantasies, might follow the law but otherwise disguise the use of condoms, edit them out, or use angles that don’t show the condoms.

Not so fast! Condom cop Michael Weinstein, in his zealousness, is trying to force every performer/producer to make sure they’re showing condoms clearly and affirmatively in their content. If a performer/produce chooses to use angles where you can’t see the condom, or otherwise disguises the use of condoms, under section 6720(h), they’re presumed to be in violation of the law, even if they were in fact using condoms. This subjects producer/performers to vastly more liability, as even the suspicion that a condom was not used could land them in court. Michael Weinstein wants to turn California into the East Germany of safer sex.

Last month, over 100 porn performers took to the streets in one of the first and only political protests by porn performers ever on the planet, to protest Prop 60 in front of Weinstein’s office. (See the photo above. There has not been a porn-performer rally in favor of Prop 60, as it’s almost impossible to find a performer in favor of it.) When an act you’ve created to supposedly protect workers, has those same workers taking a day off of their work to hold placards denouncing you on your doorstep, you’re probably on the wrong track.

There are so many reasons to oppose Prop 60. The main reason is that the people most affected by it, the workers themselves, oppose it vehemently, and we should stand in solidarity with them.

But there are also deeper political and philosophical reasons to oppose the law. This is America. If you want to promote a message of safer sex, that’s great. Hire performers (the same performers who are protesting Prop 60!) and make porn that promotes safer sex. But in America you shouldn’t be able to use strong-arm legal tactics to force an entire segment of the media and entertainment industry to become the mouthpiece for your preferred messaging about healthy living.

As Chief Justice John Roberts has written in a Supreme Court decision, “Some of this Court’s leading First Amendment precedents have established the principle that freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what they must say.” In America, you can’t even force schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. You damn well shouldn’t be allowed to force an entire industry—whose bread and butter is selling fantasies of wild sex without consequences—to take on the function of what sex-ed classes should be teaching instead (if we had any real sex-ed in this country to begin with!)

You’d probably resent if a maker of green-shake mixes forced Hollywood to replace all scenes of people drinking beer with scenes of them drinking green shakes instead. For the same reason, you should resent that a single private citizen is trying to make the entire adult film industry become one big lecture on safer sex.

Why am I so personally passionate about this issue? I’ve been hearing safer sex lectures my entire life, and for the most part I’ve followed them. I’m near-religious in my use of condoms in my own sex life. I hate using them with a passion, as they kill most sensation for me, but I recognize they’re a necessary evil. Which is precisely why, when I enter into my fantasy life, I want no sight of condoms anywhere. My fantasy life is the last place I can enjoy sex without them, and I don’t want Michael Weinstein forcing them there.

With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is trying to insert himself, and his views about safer sex, into my own fantasies, and those of the millions of other people who watch hetero and gay porn. Porn is, after all, about fantasy. With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is saying that a certain kind of fantasy—the fantasy of skin touching skin during sex—is so dangerous, you’re not allowed to have it (and he’s going to shut down anyone who tries to produce representations of it), lest you get any wrong ideas about what kind of sex you should be having.

Basically, Michael Weinstein is trying to mind-fuck and Dom us, without consent, inside our own fantasies, to nip at the bud any chance that we might dream or get off on watching sex the kind of sex he thinks people shouldn’t be having. Michael Weinstein is trying to become the Big Brother of our bedrooms and our sexual imaginations. Even if you don’t watch porn, or don’t watch porn with cocks in it, I still hope you’ll join me in saying HELL NO to this kind of paternalistic intrusion into the fantasy lives of millions of Americans.

In article on the AHF website arguing in favor of requiring condoms in porn, because of the “broader public health benefit” of doing so, Michael Weinstein states, “People emulate actions, behaviors, clothing, hairstyles and other things they see in mainstream movies all the time—why would it be any different with porn? From Farah Fawcett hairdos in the ’70s to kids copying Jackass movie stunts today.”

True, people do emulate actions in movies. But, because of something called the First Amendment, there are not and cannot be laws against Farah Fawcett hairdos or Jackass stunts in movies—nor should there be laws forbidding people from watching the fantasy that just maybe, somewhere on the planet, someone is fucking without a condom, and having fun while doing so.

If you care about worker safety in the adult industry, please listen to the workers themselves, and vote NO on Prop 60. You’ll be joined by the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party, both of which officially oppose Prop 60. (When you have Democrats, porn performers, and Republicans all agreeing in their opposition to a law, you know that law must be real piece of shit. It really is.)

Prop 60 is also opposed by the editorial boards of the seven largest newspapers in the state, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Sacramento Bee.

Finally, if want to live in a country where private do-gooders cannot censor the content and messaging of your own entertainment choices in your own home, then please vote NO on Prop 60 (even if you really hate Farah Fawcett hairdos!)

If Prop 60 passed, it would be an ominous day for the First Amendment, and a dangerous precedent for all of America.

Please share this with your friends who live in California, and join me on election day in voting YES for Hillary, and NO on Prop 60!

Marijuanerotica by Dionisio Diamond

 

Marijuanerotica by Dionisio Diamond

Almost 4 years ago, in January 2013, I made this short post on Facebook (in quotations below):

I’m thinking of starting to write some fiction. And not only fiction, but under a pen name. (I won’t hide that it’s my pen name–but it will be a pen name.)

The reason is, there are topics I’d like to explore in writing that are more risqué than I care to ‘own’ as necessarily being my own opinion, for perhaps they are not my opinion–I wish to explore them, not state them as necessarily true. I wish to give a voice to them, without ‘defending’ them as ‘positions’ I hold, as one is frequently asked to do as a non-fiction writer.

I’d like to have *characters* voicing certain things, rather than Michael Ellsberg….

Anyone up for reading some risqué (sexually, philosophically, spiritually, pharmacologically) fiction from me?

The response from you, my readers, was overwhelmingly positive. (I’ve posted the link to the original post in the comments here, if you’re curious to read back.)

It’s been a rollercoaster in my life since that post, with many ups and downs. If you’ve been following my Facebook over the past several years, you already know that. During this time, however, I have not shared that there has been a fictional alter-ego brewing inside of me. It took him a while to finally find his voice, but today, he speaks for the first time publicly, with:

Marijuanerotica: Love Letters to the Green Goddess
by Dionisio Diamond

Dionisio is a witch, and he prays to the Green Goddess–the spirit of the marijuana plant—through love letters her writes to her, and to the various muses she sends to him as her earthly emissaries.

On this day of the witches, Halloween 2016, I summon my fictional alter-ego, the witch Dionisio Diamond, into the world, through his first letter, “You Were Sent to Me By the Green Goddess.” This letter is addressed to his fictionalized girlfriend, Cassy, whom he worships as a witchy embodiment of the Green Goddess herself.

This is a first foray into the adventures of Dionisio–stay tuned, and see what is brewing!

Seven Months Depression-Free. And… Reintroducing Weed Into My Life…

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Seven months depression-free now. I’ve brought you all along for the “behind the scenes” of mental health journey so far, so I might as well continue.

I’ve been on Lamictal (an antidepressant for bipolar depression) for almost a year now, and it is going well for me. When I first realized I had a serious recurrence of the bipolar, about a year ago when the most recent depression first hit (after the mania of last spring/summer), I got on both Lamictal and lithium. My psychiatrist said the Lamictal was primarily the “floor,” to prevent from going too low, and the lithium was the “ceiling,” to prevent the mania.

I simply could not stand the lithium–I felt lobotomized and castrated in one fell swoop. Everything I liked about myself drained out of me. So, under the guidance of my psychiatrist, I got off the lithium. He now has me on Seroquel, a fast-acting anti-manic agent, on an as-needed basis if/when hints of mania reoccur.

And after the last round of mania, last summer, I take the manias very seriously. I had to do a lot of cleanup from my behavior last June and early July, and fortunately that cleanup is mostly complete. And the mania leads inevitably to the crash into depression, so my psych has convinced me of the importance of nipping the manias in the bud.

As you know if you followed it, I also did a period of Sobriety for Mental Clarity as I was getting out of the depression. I did six months of that, from August through February, and it was very very good for me. Got my head totally clear, as it was supposed to. Read More

The Dark Side of “Conscious Sexuality” – Interview with Michaela Boehm

I’ve interviewed famous billionaires. I’ve interviewed rock stars. I’ve interviewed NYT-bestselling authors. And yet, of all the interviews I’ve done, the one I’m most excited about is the one I’m sharing with you now.

Michaela Boehm is in my opinion the most advanced, master teacher on sacred sexuality currently teaching. For 13 years, she traveled and co-taught with David Deida, author of The Way of the Superior Man. She has now branched out to share her own unique blend of wisdom, synthesized from her 22 years of counseling practice, along with her training and experience as a lineage holder in a tantric tradition of Kashmiri Shivaism. Her private clients include Oscar-winning actors, producers, writers, and multiple Grammy-winning musicians–and now she’s sharing her wisdom with us.

As I love to do, in this interview we dove right in to the nitty-gritty – “The Dark Side of ‘Conscious Sexuality.'” I’m a student of conscious sexuality—but every scene and every philosophy has its own shadow side. What is the shadow side of the “sacred sexuality” scene? In this wide-ranging, no-holds-barred interview, we dive into the conversations no one else is having, and the things no one else is saying, around this controversial topic. Some of the topics we cover include:
2:30 – The true meaning of the “shadow side”- as opposed to how it is usually used in personal development circles

6:55 – Why “sacred sexuality” should not be used as a tool for healing

12:46 – The most important factor for healing old sexual wounding

23:00 – How so much spiritual practice ends up being a futile quest to gain love or approval from “daddy” or “mommy” in our minds- and what to focus on instead

26:11 – How so many teachers or “gurus” of spirituality and sexuality use scarcity and subtle shaming to keep students hooked on constant up-sells.

29:40 – Why the focus on “commitments” and “accountability” in Men’s Groups is misguided and ineffective, and what Men’s Groups should be focusing on instead

37:25 – How Women’s Groups often end up perpetuating the same shaming of women that the women are going into the groups to avoid, and what Women’s Groups should be focusing on instead

40:08 – The rise of the “Stepford Dakinis”

42:33 – Many women ask “Where are all the good men?” – and why asking this question is barking up the wrong tree .(The discussion we get into for the next 15 minutes is hands-down the most controversial segment of any interview I’ve ever done, watch out!)

57:36 – How can independent, strong-minded women (who are into men) find the man they want?

1:01:47 – How can a woman who wants the experience of surrender with a man, decide which man she can trust?

1:09:55 – How polyamory often bogs down and leads to “a lot more discussing than fucking”

1:16:03 – Why the tantra worlds and BDSM/kink worlds often judge each other, and how they can be integrated

1:22:15 – The single best first step for opening to the divine in sexuality Get ready to get riled up.

Join us for the discussion!

The interview is available on Soundcloud here.

Find out more about Michaela Boehm here.

How to Spend a Mind: Collected Short Writing by Michael Ellsberg

After three books published by major publishers, I’m ready for a new model. Even though I’ve received six-figure advances for both of my last two books, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me, the old publishing model just isn’t working for me anymore.

I’ve become tired of holing myself up for 2-3 years working on long books, without interaction with my you, my readers, and then appearing out of a cave when the book comes out, trying to hawk that book to the same people I’d just been ignoring for years!

I want to write my books in dialogue with you. I want you to help shape what I write, in real-time. I want you to know what I’m working on, as I work on it, not years later when it comes out in a hardcover book. I want you invested in the project as it develops and unfolds. I want your input.

And so, I’m experimenting with this new model: writing and publishing shorter books, with greater frequency, directly to my readers via Kindle, and funding my work through “pre-sales” of the Kindle books through the crowdfunding site Patreon, which I love.

For my first Kindle book via this model, I will be publishing an anthology called “How to Spend a Mind: Collected Short Writing.” This will gather all my best articles, posts and interviews from the past six years, which have appeared on my blog, my Facebook, on other people’s blogs, and on Forbes, the New York Times, and other mainstream outlets.

If you love my writing, this is going to be a strong dose of it, all in one place for your reading enjoyment.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not just putting out old material via this new Patreon/Kindle model. Stay tuned for announcements about several new, edgy books I have in the works, which will contain all the saucy, steamy, controversial, hard-hitting writing you’ve come to expect from me. But with 10x the intensity, now that I’ve decided to free myself from any corporate intermediation in my art, and to write directly for you, my audience, the people who matter most in my career.

I’ll be funding this work not by seeking out publishing contracts or advances any longer, but through support directly from you, my readers, via my Patreon profile.

By “pre-ordering” my Kindle books here, and otherwise becoming my patron of the arts via this platform, you become an important part of my writing and creative process. You will get let in to the “back stage” of my work, and you allow me to focus on writing more content, that educates, entertains, and inspires you.

Check out all the rewards available to you for supporting me. You can get:

  • access to private patron-only writings
  • a secret FB group to interact with me and other patrons about the topics I write on
  • private Google+ Hangouts with me
  • access to fresh unpublished chapters of new books as I write them
  • access to otherwise-unavailable recordings of private classes and courses I’ve taught
  • 1-on-1 time with me, on the phone, or in person, to get personalized consulting on any topic I write about, tailored just to your needs and circumstances.

Thank you so much for supporting my writing via this new model. I am so excited to go on this journey of co-creation TOGETHER.

Love,
Michael

Happy 85th Birthday Daniel!

Dear Dad,

Here are some messages from people around the world expressing their appreciation for the impact you’ve had in the world, and on their lives. We are wishing you a very HAPPY 85th BIRTHDAY today! *Love, Michael

[Note to everyone: Please share here your appreciation for the impact Daniel has had on on you, and the world. Please write more than just “Happy Birthday!” Think about what his life and work have meant to you over the years, and let him know. This is a surprise, and will be unveiled to him tonight. Thank you! *Michael Ellsberg]

Back in Action…

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Looking back over the last year, both the wild ups and the recent incapacitating lows, I cannot help but conclude that, given how many writers have gone mad (or perhaps, more accurately, how many of us mad people are drawn to writing!) …. part of the writer in me was subconsciously curious about the outer limits of my own sanity. To finally find my breaking point. Not intentionally. But that’s where I went.

And now that I’ve been there, I do not wish to go back.

I’m happy to report–from this side of it (that is, the alive side)–that I finally found my own psychological and emotional limits. (And boy were they out there!) I finally got the daylights scared out of me. Which I think, on balance, is a good thing.Read More

4-Year Follow-Up on “How I Overcame Bipolar II (and Saved My Own Life)”

I don’t usually revisit my past writing. But I feel it is now time to write this 4-year follow-up to one of my most popular pieces I’ve written, “How I Overcame Bipolar II–and Saved My Own Life.”

When I wrote that article in 2011, I had been symptom free for 4 years previously. This summer of 2015, looking back on it now, I had a major recurrence of mania. (You probably noticed if you were following my Facebook around May, June and early July!)

I say “looking back” because I didn’t realize something was wrong–you rarely realize something is wrong while in mania–until I crashed.Read More

Dominance for Nice Guys – With Nina Hartley and Michael Ellsberg

Around 100 million women bought 50 Shades of Grey–which means if you’re a guy, there are probably women standing around you at this very moment curious about exploring sexual submission to a man. It’s one of the biggest “open secrets” of hetero female sexuality.

If you’re an average “nice guy”—the kind that cares about women and respects them—you might think that this is not for you, that you have to be an emotionally damaged billionaire (or at least some kind of cocky alpha male asshole) to make a good Dom.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Because the reality is, average “nice guys” have what it takes to make the best Doms.

What??!! Huh??!!Read More