At today’s Planning Board meeting, NoPornNorthampton had a brief exchange with Capital Video’s Anthony Nota. Public documents submitted to the Planning Board list Mr. Nota as a Capital Video “project manager”. Mr. Nota is a large, tall man. He is pictured here standing in City Council chambers beside Capital Video’s lawyer, Michael Pill. Towards the end of the meeting, Mr. Nota approached NPN’s Adam Cohen and said,
“Who are you smiling at?”
I replied, “You.”
Nota said, “Piece of shit.”
After this, Mr. Nota walked back to those who accompanied him to the meeting. One of them reached for him. Someone said, “Eddie, calm down.” (Mr. Nota’s middle name is Edward.) The Capital Video group then left the room.
Shortly before this exchange, the Planning Board, with Dr. Pill’s agreement, decided to reschedule Capital Video’s Site Plan Review for December 14 at 7:00pm. The board anticipates more of its members will be able to attend the December 14 meeting. Before that date, of course, Northampton’s City Council will give a second reading to the adult-use ordinances that were approved at its October 19 meeting. If approved at the council’s November 2 meeting, these ordinances will not permit Capital Video to open a large porn shop at 135 King Street as it currently plans. All concerned citizens are urged to attend the November 2 meeting (7:15pm, 212 Main Street).
An October 27 article by The Gazette‘s James Lowe makes no mention of Mr. Nota’s outburst, but it does report that “After the meeting let out and spectators filtered out, one looked at Nota and said, ‘Scum.'” It’s not clear if this occurred before or after Mr. Nota confronted Mr. Cohen, an exchange that was witnessed by several people. No one from NoPornNorthampton called Mr. Nota “scum” or any other derogatory expression during the evening.
Mr. Lowe’s article also quotes extensively from a letter by Capital Video general counsel Lesley Rich to Peter Brooks from Talk Back Northampton. Mr. Rich claims the proposed King Street porn shop will “offer a very pleasant atmosphere” and “the company would like to work with the community to develop a cooperative relationship going forward…” We posted this reply to Mr. Rich’s letter at the time:
How smooth and reasonable are the words of Lesley Rich. Too bad Capital Video doesn’t back them up with action.——————–
For starters, Capital Video could voluntarily agree to keep their porn shop at least 500 feet from homes, schools, houses of worship, and other places where children are likely to be found.
Capital Video could agree to stop trying to rush the city’s decision-making process with threats of going to court. See for example, their local attorney’s statements to the Republican.
Then Capital Video could voluntarily stop selling material which encourages viewers to “use, abuse and lose” women, or that involves porn performers who are not using condoms, or that depicts non-consensual activity.
The zoning proposals of the City of Northampton are asking Capital Video to make some small compromises to head off well-documented risks to the community. The rights of residents are just as important as those of porn consumers. Other towns in Massachusetts have found the right balance. So can we.
To his credit, Capital Video attorney Michael Pill did not put up too much resistance to the Planning Board’s decision yesterday to delay Capital’s Site Plan Review to December 14. Perhaps Capital Video can use this time to give substance to their pro-community rhetoric. Let’s not repeat Springfield’s experience with this company. If Capital Video can put their Wethersfield and Meriden stores on pedestrian-light highway strips, far from most homes, they can do the same in Northampton.
On Saturday, The Republican published its own report on the Planning Board meeting in “Adult store hearing postponed”. Michael Pill is quoted as saying, “I’d hope that everybody can treat everybody in this like human beings.”
53 thoughts on “Capital Video Representative Swears at NoPornNorthampton During Public Meeting”
This is a bit of a reach, guys. What is the relevance here? A bit “off message” unless you’re also fighting curse words.
Would you care to comment of the substance of his swearing, rather than minor side issues concerning his swearing?
Why are you being such a baby about this? Haven’t you been sworn at before? Or was this your first time? It must have been really traumatic for you. Poor guy.
And just in case you think that this comment isn’t issue-oriented enough, I’ll mention this issue that’s been bugging me lately. I realize you’ve made a big stink elsewhere about all the differences between Oh My! and Capital Video, and the (corresponding?) difference between porno and erotica, but I’m still kind of confused. According to a Boston Globe article called “Adult video store plan divides Northampton,” which is the first thing that comes up when you type “no porn northampton” into Google, “Carol Gesell , co-owner of Oh My!, a “sensuality shop” near downtown, said there is probably little difference between the films at Capital Video and those for rent in her tiny shop, which also stocks oils, harnesses, and DVD guides to spanking and domination.”
Oh My!, as you know, is located on a residential street near downtown. According a co-proprietress, it carries the same sort of things as Capital Video. I realize that Oh My! is locally-owned, and owned by women, and that these are points of contrast between it and Capital Video.
But a huge part of your argument is the offensive nature of the products Capital Video sells, and how close the 135 King St. property is to a (that is, *your*) residential neighborhood. Is it OK to sell that kind of stuff in a residential zone as long as you sell less than 1001 square feet of it? Is it OK to sell that kind of stuff as long as you’re a woman? Is it OK to sell that kind of stuff as long as you actually reside in Northampton? Or if you have a vagina, not a penis? If it’s the *nature* of the material, or the manner in which it’s produced, or its effects on the viewer that you find objectionable, I don’t see why you don’t object to Oh My! selling those things.
Here’s one suggestion. According to Google Maps, Oh My! is located exactly 1 mile from your house (driving distance, not as the crow flies). This is well outside the half-mile buffer zone you seem to require (of course, the precise radius is impossible to determine without further testing). Our previous porn store, the one across the bridge in Hadley, was 1.4 miles from your house according to the same website.
My hypothesis is this: if any porn store is more than half a mile from your house, you don’t care. Any porn store who dares to cross that boundary line should watch out.
Or, here’s a competing hypothesis that also explains the available data. Perhaps the actual distance isn’t as important as whether or not you must pass the offending location on your way to Dunkin Donuts. Oh My! isn’t really on the way to anything, and the old porn store wasn’t 100% accessible unless you wanted to shop at that Asian market (which I suspect wasn’t up your alley, anyway).
Ooooh.. he said a naughty word! You should totally go tell his mom.
I love how so many in the opposition bend over backwards to minimize or defend bad behavior by the porn merchants. Actions that wouldn’t be tolerated from a corporation like Wal-Mart or an institution like Smith College somehow get a magic pass when it’s about porn. Certainly the Gazette thought it newsworthy today to report how someone called Mr. Nota “scum”, and the Republican featured our Your Stories Northampton article about Mr. Nota’s actions on their home page on Friday night. They think the language people use in a public forum is important, and they’re right.
Mr. Nota’s outburst is noteworthy for several reasons. One would expect that a representative of Capital Video, during a period when they want something important from the city, would be on their best behavior in a public forum. If Mr. Nota is cursing and glowering at a local citizen even during this “honeymoon” period, why should Northampton residents expect better treatment from Capital Video down the road, or believe Lesley Rich when he says Capital Video is committed to the “welfare of its employees, patrons, and the community.”
When someone starts cursing at their opponent in a debate, it’s often a sign that they’ve run out of good arguments and are going for raw intimidation. It’s similar to the coarse speculation about our sex lives at Mopornnorthampton. The evidence supporting our opponents’ case is sparse and weak, and they are getting little traction from most of our elected officials and local residents. I think they perceive this, and are acting out in frustration. If Mr. Nota and Mopornnorthampton don’t like this theory, they can prove us wrong by being civil and confining their arguments to the merits of the issues at hand.
Clearly members of Mr. Nota’s entourage realized his comments had crossed the line. That’s why they reached for him after he spoke to me and soon left the room.
Capital Video attorney Michael Pill has tried to seize the moral high ground, complaining that NoPornNorthampton intimidates people, that he fights for the underdog, and that his cause is noble. The truth is, however, that it’s NoPornNorthampton that has made every effort to fight fair, defend people from exploitation, and stick to the facts. It’s our opponents who indulge in personal attacks and physical intimidation.
Adam, here you go again, extrapolating from one thing so much more than there really is to the matter.
As a former litigator, I can assure everyone who reads this comment (that is if you do not censor me again, as you usually do) that any client of mine, including children’s book authors, would have said the same thing to you or worse after you the way you behaved.
The planning board was clearly jerking off Mr. Nota. It was clear that they knew the matter would be adjourned well in advance, but did not advise Mr. Pill. Even the reporters, such as Fred, left before the that last part of the agenda came up to be heard; obviously planning board members had tipped off him and not Mr. Pill. The board could have advised Mr. Pill by phone in advance that a majority of the members wanted to adourn the matter and Mr. Pill would have agreed to an adjounment over the phone, as he did later.
But he was not, and therefore his client and witnesses traveled here and then were made to wait 4 hours just to be told, sorry, we want more people here! Frankly, the smart ass smirk you made deserved a lot more comment than the “piece of shit” comment that you made.
By “smile” he most likely meant “smug, snide, self-righteous smirk.” That attitude is certainly what drips from every word you type on your blog.
In your response in which you immediately shoot down my comment (I’ve noticed you never trust other comments to stand alone)please do not refer me to your “Doesn’t this campaign smack of elitism” FAQ…the answer you’ve provided is incorrect.
I love how you continue to engage in ad hominem attacks. Anyone who dares disagaree with you is “pro-porn” or a “porn defender.” Nobody is giving the guy a pass; instead, they’re pointing out how childish you are in making a big deal about it.
Mommy! Mommy! Anthony put gum in my hair!!!!!!
My gosh, you’re stooping to a very petty level here, Adam. Did you expect Mr. Nota to be a graceful, pleasant man? Consider the source of his comment, the context in which it was said, and rise above! In the few weeks I’ve been aware of this issue, nobody has ever stood up to defend Mr. Nota’s personality, or even the man as an individual. From what I’ve heard, the overwhelming opinion is that our Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees free speech, even when many citizens don’t like what is being said, and therefore it simply feels wrong to try to prevent Capitol Video’s existence on King St. The Constitution was written based on values much deeper and much more important than political correctness, puritanism, and even schools of thought about “well documented impact” that *segments* of our society may subscribe to. The Constitution was written to create a society in which our freely expressed differences of opinion would (and still DO!) create our own checks and balances. THAT’S what this whole issue is about, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that Mr. Nota gave me the willies, or that he was gratuitously rude to you, or even that he, personally, sells porn, is immaterial. And now if you’ll excuse me, my dog just let loose of some really smelly gas. I’m gonna go tattle on him.
First of all, I clearly fall into the category of “porn defender” (which is a totally inaccurate moniker for the group of us, but let’s blow past that for now) and I’m NOT defending Mr. Nota’s behavior! He’s a freaking jerk and I wish he’d never been born! But that’s Irrelevant!!!!!!!!!! He still has rights to free speech as a porn merchant, and his “outburst” (which was so quiet that I couldn’t hear it from 8 feet away) was also Irrelevant to the issue at hand! He was pissed (oooooohhhhhh, now *I* said a bad word!) and he was rude. That DOES NOT mean he doesn’t have a case! He wasn’t debating, the proceedings were over, and he’s a freaking jerk no matter WHAT he’s doing. SO BIG FAT WHAT?!?!?!?!
The issue does have some interesting angles. Please see our Your Stories Northampton post.
How Capital Video interacts with the public is relevant to the debate. We explore this issue on Your Stories Northampton.
I am unaware of any serious secondary effects stemming from small adult shops in Northampton like Oh My and Pride & Joy, so it’s reasonable for the city to exclude them from adult-use zoning regulation by establishing a 1,000-square-foot threshold. Capital Video’s record in Kittery and Springfield gives less room for optimism that they will respect Northampton short of regulation.
It is possible that Oh My and Pride & Joy sell some porn that we’d be concerned about (shows unsafe sex, serious imbalance of power between the actors, etc.). However, we have no desire to march into their stores and pluck this material from their shelves. We are hoping they will use their own judgment about what they sell, consdering how it was produced, and the message it sends.
If local residents won’t stick up for their neighborhood, who else will do it? That’s what makes a neighborhood good. The residents care.
Peter, although I have no obligation to publish your comments, I believe I have in fact published just about all of them. In a couple of cases you submitted multiple comments that were almost identical. In those cases I published the comment that seemed to be the most substantive. If I have suppressed a comment that you feel was important, please submit it again and I’ll take another look at it.
It was not my intention to “smirk” at Mr. Nota, and I do not believe I was doing so. Please feel free to ask other people who were there. Even if I smiling in some way that Mr. Nota found offensive, a better response from him would have been to smile back, or to simply ignore me. My clear impression what that Mr. Nota was trying to intimidate me with his large size and baleful gaze, and he was not happy at the thought that I was happy.
Cursing at people is not helpful anywhere, and certainly not in public meetings in city council chambers.
You are engaging in idle speculation about Fred Contrada. It seems more likely to me that he had to leave to meet his newspaper’s deadline. I have seen him leave city council meetings in the middle. But why don’t you ask him and get the facts, rather than leaping to some conclusion?
You weren’t there. I suggest you check in with some people who were.
I don’t want to tag anyone as “pro-porn” if they’re not. I could refer to the other side as “the opposition” if you think that would be better. It’s challenging because people on both sides are coming at the issue from different angles. I will continue to search for a concise way to refer to the other side that’s fair and accurate.
Leaving aside First Amendment issues, do you have an opinion about porn in general?
The point is that we’re not in a schoolyard, nor are we talking about children. If Capital Video is insensitive to a citizen at a public meeting, that conforms to our opinion (backed by evidence) that they are insensitive to the communities in which they operate. This in turn supports our claim that zoning is needed to regulate where they locate their large porn shop, that they can’t be trusted to respect community concerns on their own.
If people start cursing each other out a routine basis in city council chambers, I don’t think that will bode well for democracy in Northampton. Self-restraint is key to making a democracy work.
If you’re not a porn defender, I apologize for mislabeling you. I will try to be more careful in the future.
As for why Mr. Nota’s behavior merits discussion, please see our Your Stories Northampton post and this previous reply.
But so much of your blog material is directed at the horrible nature of the material they sell. You don’t merely focus on the secondary effects, you object to the content of the material and the manner in which it’s produced. Even if you don’t object to the secondary effects of Oh My!, certainly you object to the offensive smut they peddle.
So I’ll ask you straight out: Do you object to the offensive smut they peddle?
Adam, your arguments continue to be based on extrapolation, exaggeration and solipsism. It’s so frustrating that *I* feel like cursing you out!
“People” aren’t going to start cursing each other out on a routine basis in city chambers just because Nota’s got a rank personality. This argument smacks of schoolyard logic, as have your complaints about Mr. Nota’s “outburst.” Right, we’re not in a schoolyard! Do you not hear that it’s YOU who sounds as if they are?
While I see the merit in your point that Nota’s social “insensitivity” may point to community insensitivity as a porn shop manager, the extrapolation doesn’t really fly. He was angry at you when he cursed you out, and you’re not the City. I suspect that, if he ever moves into that space, he’ll be on his best behavior to avoid getting into trouble with the city, completely irrespective of what he thinks of you.
By the way, who said self-restraint is key to making democracy work?!? Not Sojourner Truth, the activists of the 60’s or the members of ACT-UP, for examples. Democracy is MESSY, Adam! That’s what makes it difficult to maintain, which makes it that much more important to maintain it.
I spent 15 years facilitating gender issues workshops in corporate settings. One of the first things I said was that political correctness would run COUNTER to our purposes, that if people weren’t willing to say what they were really thinking then we’d never find solutions. What always became apparent when conversation began to flow was what always becomes apparent when you examine the heart of democracy: Even the people whose opinions are most abhorrant to the majority of us are speaking from their own belief of right and wrong, their own basic human needs. Most of the “sexist pigs’” needs boiled down to feeling fundamentally rattled by having to think of women in all new ways, and to being scared of losing their jobs. As human as that was, and as much as people generally grew very empathetic to each other’s perspectives, the road there was usually VERY bumpy. *That’s* democracy.
You know what underlies all of my responses to you, Adam? You keep telling me how the world is and how it should be. But frankly I think you’re often naively wrong. So if you got your way, the world of Northampton (MY town too!) would look like what YOU want. Only I I think what you want it is wrong. I don’t want a town where everybody’s polite and everything with potentially objectionable characteristics gets regulated within an inch of its life. You seem to think you’re coming from the side of what’s right and good, but it’s *bad* for me, Adam! So I don’t want you shaping my world. It feels awful to think that you could if successful in your cause. Therefore, my argument with you is simple: While I laud your activism, I hope you lose. I want those of us on the side of free speech to prevail.
Adam, if you don’t believe in cursing and swearing is part of the democratic process, then you certainly are not as learned student of history as you think you are. Crusing and swearing and tobacco chewing and spitting were once more the norm than the exception in the congress, for example. To be sure, that’s changed somewhat, but the indecent tradition of pulling paralimentary stuns like the planning board did Thursday night remains.
Why don’t try to defend that B. S.? You know why, because you can’t. So much for your moral high ground.
Your position is nothing but motivatd by self-interest. Were you doing anything to protect women and children from porn before the issue of Cap Video came up? List those things.
I never cease to be amazed at the people who defend these porn peddlers (who are getting filthy rich while not caring whose lives they are negatively impacting, whether it be those voluntarily in “the business” such as the performers, or those whom they force to deal with their business, such as neighborhoods, where property values will decline, not to mention quality of life.)
If these same people who are defending Capital Video’s rights were to have Capital Video propose moving next door to their homes, maybe they would have a different opinion.
They should be thanking people like NoPornNorthampton for having the courage to fight to keep their neighborhood free of porn, and keep porn regulated to areas where children would not possibly be effected.
I know this because I am fighting to keep an “Adult Store” from occupying a 14,500 sq. ft. building next door to me in CT.
This website has provided me with valuable information in my own fight against a greedy business peddling porn and manipulating the U.S. Constitution to justify their greed.
The lawyers representing these businesses are just as greedy.
People don’t always want to hear the truth about things they would prefer to consider “harmless personal choices.” NoPornNorthampton has exposed some of the truth that people need to know, but some may not want to know.
A porn shop does not belong in ANY neighborhood. It is a zoning issue, and should be zoned so as not to effect children and to protect the character and safety of a neighborhood for those who live there.
Pornography seems about as banal as Hollywood films to me. Like most popular culture I find it aesthetically lacking, morally neutral and psychically assaultive. However, there seem to me a number of areas of popular culture that this is at least equally true of. Advertising, Pretty Woman and Desperate Housewives present the same puerile, adolescent locker room view of sexuality as pornography. Beer commercials seem to have created a far more insidious climate for women than pornography, and the tame Girls Gone Wild probably helps more budding misogynists find their niche than Porn of the Dead.
Children’s access to pornography seems problematic. However, considering the omnipresence of the genre on the Internet and a lack of discernable “secondary effects” on child psychology, equality of women and overall social welfare in places where sexual commerce is openly (as opposed to tacitly) practiced. London has advertisements for brothels in phone booths, Amsterdam has booths with women in them (think about the semiotics of that) and Japan sells comic books at public newstands which feature explicit acts of rape. The “protect the children” angle always seems suspect to me, but in this case it just seems like Yankee parochialism. Indeed, I consider Europe, the UK and Japan far better models of public sexuality than Minnesota or Maine, New York or Los Angeles.
Getting back to smut proper, I harbor high ambitions for the future of erotic material, if nothing today is particularly interesting or even “adult.” I am interested in European films featuring explicit sexual acts because of how they break down the barriers between pornography and art. William Burroughs, in Cities of the Red Night imagines a city which has banned pornography, allowing only “money shot” material at the end of a serious film. The point is exaggerated, as is the standard with El Hombre Invisible, but his orientation seems as sharp as ever.
Creating a world where the sex act is just another human endeavor seems far more healthy, mature and liberating than the current represssion-indulgence-guilt cycles. If anything, I see pornography and anti-pornography as two sides of the same coin.
I think we’ve made it very clear that we object to media that was produced in an exploitative way (e.g. porn performers not wearning condoms), and media that promotes unhealthy relationships (e.g. cheating, having sex with women and dumping them, non-consensual sex). If any shop in town sells this kind of media, they should ask themselves if it would be good if their customers started behaving like the actors depicted. If the answer is no, perhaps they should consider not selling this material. We’re not talking about government censorship, but a private decision by businessowners to avoid profiting from suffering and exploitation.
I stand by our case. If Northampton is going to make good decisions, civility is critical in our public forums. It would be bad if those who are physically the most intimidating or the most verbally abusive could cow their opposition.
The free speech absolutists are trying to shape my world by leaving my neighborhood defenseless against the crime and blight that adult businesses can bring. A porn shop isn’t just about speech. It’s about the risks of physical effects on its surroundings. A compromise is necessary and appropriate.
Peter, a member of Mr. Nota’s own entourage said, “Eddie, calm down” after his outburst. (Mr. Nota’s middle name is Edward.) Even they realize he was out of line.
I’ve been to quite a few city council meetings at this point, plus other public meetings in Northampton, and can’t recall another time when a businessperson there to plead their case cursed at a private citizen. I told one councilor about the incident and she was shocked. Clearly, this kind of behavior is rare in today’s Northampton.
If my self-interest puts me on the same side as women and children, I’d say that’s a happy combination. Surely it has more merit than your apparent lack of concern for your neighbors, porn addicts, porn workers, and others negatively affected by porn.
The fact that most porn is ultimately not that satisfying is probably a factor in some people’s deepening addiction to it. They need to seek out more and more hard-core porn to become stimulated.
Porn is not trivial entertainment in that experiments have shown that it degrades the attitudes of many viewers towards violence and women.
The core of the anti-pornography case is that today’s balance between freedom and self-restraint is out of alignment and many are suffering. You can call it repression, but our society will become unlivable if people abandon self-restraint entirely.
I knew it! That’s what I thought you’d say.
That Peter “always controversial” guy up there says you were smirking, and he was there. This whole blog is full of smirking. Your personality shines through this website loud and clear, Adam, and it’s obvious that you were smirking.
So, why don’t you sic your zoning board on Oh My? Why don’t you attack them? Why don’t you try to prevent them from doing business in Northampton, the way you try to prevent other purveyors of “vile porn” in town?
The thing about private decisions is that they’re private, and none of your business. You can make your recommendation, but it’s not up to you, and it’s not up to the zoning board, and it’s not up to anyone but the businesspeople whose decision it is.
This “would it be good if people started acting like the actors” will never work. Half the movies at Blockbuster don’t pass that test. Classics like The Godfather, Chinatown, Fistful of Dollars, Strangers on a Train, etc. all contain actors behaving in ways that would be far more disruptive than even the most way-out mainstream porn. Once again, you’ve completely failed to make a supposedly important distinction.
Adam, you’ve made yet another incorrect sweeping generalization. I am NOT blanketly saying Cap Video belongs in yours or any other neighborhood. As a real estate developer, I always look for the worst house in a great neighborhood to fix up and resell. If there were a porn shop in a neighborhood with a great fixer-upper, I wouldn’t buy it because of the limit the porn shop would put on its potential real estate value. I’m in agreement with you on that point. If you understood the specifics of what I’m saying instead of always going for the general, you’d see there’s no way my ideas would ever shape your world.
I simply object to your arguments about porn, especially as you apply them to a potential Capital Video store on King Street. They’re naive and too often strident.
As for your aligning yourself with “women and children,” I think we women can take care of ourselves, thank you. I stood up two weeks ago and told the City Counsel, on the record, that I’d had a brief stint in the porn industry as a lost and confused young woman. I made that announcement specifically so that you and the others making paternalistic claims about protecting women that keeping porn shops out of my town wouldn’t have made a whit of difference for me. If you really want to “protect” women from porn, you’re going to have to be a whole lot more informed about what the issues really are, and then you’re going to have to fight the battle that’s really raging. It has nothing to do with Capital Video’s presence in Northampton.
Oh, and I see your paternalism as ANTI-feminist. I got through my experience in porn, went on to get two master’s degrees, had a 28-year marriage, raised an incredibly healthy daughter who herself has a long-term relationhip and is going for her PhD at a top school, and I’m in the beginning stages of my second successful career. Somehow I managed to do all of that without men like you allying with me.
You’re going to get your way on Thursday night, Adam. The counsel is sure to vote in favor of the ordinance. Given that, why don’t you relax your knee-jerk reactions, open your mind, and learn a little. All of the people on your blog who you have consistently dispatched with counter arguments actually do have valid points. Hearing and understanding them would bring you a lot closer to being the expert on porn that you seem to want to be.
Oh My is very small, less than one-sixth the size of the proposed Capital Video porn shop. There is also a great deal in Capital Video’s record to be concerned about. We’ve discussed other distinctions between the two before.
We’ve had several conversations with the people who run Oh My, and I hope there will be others. I believe they are quite aware of our positions, and are giving the issues some thought. Their accessibility, civility, and willingness to dialogue stand in stark contrast to Capital Video and the Goldbergs.
Clearly many movies show roles that people shouldn’t emulate, but most (at least the good ones) are far more nuanced, balanced, and realistic as to consequences than a film that Capital Video sells. The Godfather portrays some dire consequences of the mob life. When Capital Video sells a film about cheating, would that film ever explore how a betrayed spouse might take out her anger on her children? Would Capital Video ever portray a divorced porn-addicted father living out a lonely old age in a studio apartment? How about a porn film showing an actress dying from the AIDS she contracted on the set?
We have shown that porn and the porn industry have many impacts, even on those who don’t view or profit from porn. That makes it fair game for public comment.
I’m glad you’ve had a successful career and marriage. Many of those in the porn and sex industries have not been as fortunate. I refer, for example, to the 40% of porn workers who were found to have at least one STD, or to Dr. Mary Anne Layden’s finding that porn performers have about a 25% chance of making a marriage that lasts as long as three years.
Caring about the many people used up and damaged by the porn industry is not paternalism. It’s compassion, a desire that we not stomp on other people’s humanity in the name of profit and sexual license. Would you roll back protections for workers in all industries because they are “paternalistic”? It became obvious many decades ago that corporations and workers do not enjoy the same amounts of power, and that the government needs to lend some of its power to workers to make a better balance.
The imbalance is perhaps most extreme in the porn industry. Can you really imagine that your average porn worker enjoys anywhere near the power and control over their working conditions that Kenneth Guarino does? And when there are problems, the Los Angeles Times reports that porn workers have a hard time getting anyone in government to stand up for them.
Some of the comments submitted to this blog have raised interesting points, and we try to engage with them sincerely. We get strident when the opposition shows no compassion towards residents, porn workers, or those who suffer because someone else consumed porn.
If there are important issues we’re missing, please tell them to us.
This is exactly my point, Adam. The porn industry doesn’t find women with healthy psyches and solid life skills and take those away from them. The porn (not erotica) industry ATTRACTS young people, often addicts, with broken spirits and lost self-preservation instincts, and gives them the only jobs they can get. THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT! You’re making porn causal, where it’s really just disgustingly opportunistic.
By the way, in the days following my announcement, several people approached me to tell me that they were adult workers. Every time, my first question was, “Are you doing okay?” In each case the individual was feeling good about themselves and their work and was in control of their life. But my initial knee-jerk reaction was to be alarmed for them.
I am with you in wanting to do something for and about the victims of degrading porn. But fighting Cap Video to help these women (AND MEN) simply WILL NOT be of help! There are hundreds of approaches to helping young people who are vulnerable to or are working in porn. Fight sexual abuse, fight pedophilia, fight for stronger, healthier families, better schools, better foster care systems, better departments of children and family services, more and better resources for GLBTQ kids, better programs for runaways. Mentor an adolescent, volunteer and the nearest Boys and Girls Club. Pick an approach, any approach!
Look, Adam, you’re a fantastic blogger and rallier of people; you could probably start a national organization that advocates for the victims of porn and get thousands of members working with you. I’d be the first to sign up! But if you really want to do something for victims of porn, stop wasting your time on Capital Video!
There will always be porn merchants, there will always be porn consumers, but if there could be a world where nobody subjected themselves to degrading porn work, then there would be no degrading porn.
PLEASE think before making all of these — yes, strident — assertions. They’re absolutely maddening.
RE; workers’ rights: Nope, that wasn’t paternalistic by the longest stretch. (My first master’s was in Industrial Relations, so I studied labor history for two years.) The labor movement was largely begun by men for themselves. (Fights waged by women also contributed, but those were focused on their own gender as well.) All of our modern day labor laws stem from what laborers demanded for themselves, plain and simple. Women weren’t even allowed in their unions, by the way, much less in the jobs the laborers worked to make more tolerable.
You haven’t been talking about protections for women in the porn industry, you’ve been using that as a reason to keep Capital Video off of King St. In fact, if I were really mean and cynical, I’d suspect that you were Using the cause (capital U) of protecting women and children to validate your desire to keep a yucky porn shop out of your back yard.
Again, think about what you’re saying. So much fallacy, so little time…
I appreciate your concern for victims of porn, but I guess we’re going to have to disagree on some of our methods. Based on the evidence and common sense, I believe Capital Video and its products are a significant part of the problem. They are a large, powerful company in the porn industry. They are working tirelessly to promote violent, misogynistic porn through their many physical stores and their websites. Businesspeople with compassion should not transact with them.
A separate issue from conditions in the porn industry is that of secondary effects of adult establishments on neighborhoods. Capital Video’s attitude and track record are part of the evidence we present to demonstrate that adult-use zoning is appropriate and necessary.
It would have made our lives simpler and easier if we just focused our campaign on keeping Capital Video away from our neighborhood. Even from July, however, we decided we wanted to broaden our critique to porn and the porn industry in general, and we have absorbed lots of personal abuse for this.
I’m sorry you choose to belittle our concern for women in the porn industry as a NIMBY device. Wouldn’t it be better to just accept our concern at face value and help us improve their condition, which is worse in some respects than even prostitutes in Nevada? For example, you could ask area video retailers to choose not to stock porn films that involve women, penetration, and no condoms.
Many female porn workers in Southern California are clearly suffering and clearly would like someone to help them. Do you hear them?
Adam, I’m going to stop beating my head against the brick wall now. You are what I’d call a “right fighter.” You’re so very, very right that you don’t even understand the issues and you clearly don’t care to.
In a year, when Cap Video has located it’s big new store somewhere other than your neighborhood, ask yourself how many victims of porn you’ve helped. The answer will be zero. But not to worry! You can console yourself with the knowledge that you were absolutely, unqestioningly right in 99.9% of your your own posts on your own blog in your own small town.
Cold comfort for victims of porn, though.
I guess we’ll have to disagree about who understands the issues.
Our blog has received over 60,000 hits to date. Yesterday alone there were over 600 article views. Besides local media, the issue has received coverage in The Boston Globe and Adult Video News (AVN). I’d say we’re doing a fine job raising awareness about porn and the porn industry.
Why does it matter how big the store is? If they sell the vile, offensive, objectionable porn that you’re sworn to oppose, why do you care whether they sell less than 1000 feet of it?
The city is trying to strike a balance between freedom of expression and minimizing secondary effects. It seems reasonable to predict that a large porn shop with a regional customer base will generate more secondary effects than local shops one-sixth the size (e.g. Pride & Joy or Oh My). The city had to draw the line somewhere, and 1,000 square feet of adult material on display seemed to be reasonable. The planning department elaborates on this. Avoiding the creation of a pedestrian “dead zone” is a priority.
Once we’ve dealt with secondary effects, porn consumption becomes of matter of the judgment of the sellers and the consumers. That’s something we seek to influence through education, as opposed to legislation.
I realize that you don’t object to the secondary effects of stores the size of Oh My!. That’s fine, for now. I’m not arguing with you about secondary effects; I’m willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that big porn stores cause these secondary effects and little ones don’t.
But your antiporn arguments don’t stop at secondary effects, so I’m trying to leave that issue to one side for a moment. You have numerous other arguments against having a porn store at 135 King St, and some of them also apply to other porn stores in the area.
You argue that the porn sold at porn stores is vile and offensive in itself. You also argue that the working conditions at porn sets are deplorable. You also argue that viewing porn has detrimental effects on the veiwer: it desensitizes him to human misery, increases the liklihood that he will commit sex crimes, and that it promotes sexist attitudes about women. You also argue that it’s wrong not only to derive pleasure from watching porn but also to profit from its sale. You evidently believe that it’s wrong not only to own a porn store, but that it’s wrong to be the landlord of a porn store.
Though Oh My! is much smaller than the proposed 135 King St store would be, it sells many of the same things. Though it apparently does not have any secondary effects on the neighborhood, the vile porn they sell there is identical to to the vile porn sold by capital video. Do you object to Oh My! selling this same vile porn? Why don’t you send an open letter to the citizens of Northampton and Longmeadow exposing the proprietresses of Oh My! as the vile porn peddlers that they are?
The proprietors of Oh My and Pride & Joy are far more accessible than those of Capital Video, and we have spoken with them several times about various issues. We do want them to consider the origins and effects of the products they sell, and we have hope that they will. In particular, Mark Carmien of Pride & Joy encouraged us to look at the harm of porn with respect to women, and we did.
We resorted to an open letter in the case of the Goldbergs because we made several attempts to communicate privately with them and received no response.
I was talking about Oh My!, not Pride and Joy. Your arguments against there being a porn store on King St. go beyond the accessibility of the proprietors, as well. The fact is that Oh My! sells the stuff that Martin Amis is talking about in his “Rough Trade” article, too. If you object to Capital Video on the grounds that it sells this material, why not Oh My!?
I realize that there are differences between the two stores, but there are a lot of similarities. Why don’t you respond to these similar things in similar ways? When you argue that Oh My! is more accessible than capital Video, are you saying that even though Oh My! sells items that harm women, you don’t mind because the people who work there were nicer to you?
If someone is selling a violent, misogynistic porn video, it’s wrong no matter who the seller is. The distinction between Oh My and Capital Video comes into play when discussing secondary effects, the physical impact of the store on the surrounding neighborhood. Oh My is much smaller than what Capital Video proposes, and its track record and accessibility are much better, so it’s more appropriate to try to dialogue with them than to use less delicate tools like adult-use zoning, or a mass-mailed letter.
What are you doing to prevent Oh My! from selling these movies? As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a fairly regular visitor to your blog, and I haven’t seen anything that seems directly aimed at getting Oh My! to alter its business practices. Your efforts must be more private. Would you mind describing them?
Sure. We talk to them directly, and we present material for their consideration on this blog.
When it doesn’t work, do you keep bugging them? What will you do if they don’t comply with your requests?
We’ll just keep plugging away educating the people about the porn industry and porn vs. erotica. It took decades to convince people that slavery was wrong.
I’m glad you don’t intend to treat the owners of Oh My! any differently just because you found them to be nicer than Anthony Nota. I hope you’ll keep us posted on your progress.
(This isn’t on topic, exactly, but it is this kind of self-aggrandizing puffery that rubs a lot of people the wrong way: “It took decades to convince people that slavery was wrong.” You’re not John Brown, and you’re not Frederick Douglass. You’re just a couple of people who’ve managed to keep a porn store out of your neighborhood. You might consider trying to keep things in perspective.
Your take on the issue is too small. Porn affects how people perceive and treat women and minorities, and promotes a toxic vision of relationships and marriage. The dire state of marriage in America is well known. And as we speak, women are getting STDs in California just so people can see them have sex without condoms. Porn is a $56 billion industry worldwide. It is much larger than an issue of one porn store and one neighborhood.
Your take on your accomplishment is too big. Whatever effect porn may have on any of that stuff, you didn’t really do anything to stop it. You didn’t prevent any porn stars in California from getting any STDs, for example. All that stuff wil go on whether or not Capitol Video has a store on King St. They have tons and tons of other stores, and there are tons and tons of porn stores that have nothing to do with Kenneth Guarino. Whatever you may have accomplished, it’s confined to one porn store in one neighborhood.
Thank you for keeping us updated on your progress with Oh My!.
Who knows what the ultimate impact of NoPornNorthampton will be? We have already heard from a community to the south of us that they are finding our material useful in a similar situation.
Some people advocate passivity and despair when cruel people come to exploit them. We don’t.
NPN, thank you for giving other communities some hope (and fodder!) for our own fights. Porn is just something that doesn’t need to be shoved in everyone’s faces if they step outside of their own homes. Keep up the great work =)
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