LAST JUNE, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the creation of Title 18 Section 2257, an amendment to the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. The law required that all adult Web sites provide records to prove that "every performer portrayed in a visual depiction of actual sexually explicit conduct" is over the age of 18. It went into effect last Thursday, June 23, and even though webmasters had over a year to collect the proper documentation, we all know how the procrastination game goes. One of the Web's oldest and most outrageous sites, rotten.com, shut down the day after the law took effect, its main page stating "Going Dark Censored by U.S. Government." But, the site was functioning again the following Monday, meaning the act was probably meant as a political statement. Two of rotten.com's sister sites, gapingmaw.com and ratemyboner.com have been taken down, offering the following explanation:
"The government is mandating that we meet certain bookkeeping requirements, ones impossible to meet for this site. Never mind that those requirements do not actually gain the public anything. This is the strongest attack on free speech since the passage of the CDA, and oddly, the media seems to have hardly noticed. The penalty for not abiding by these bookkeeping requirements is five years prison."
Our personal favorite part is the site's closing thoughts:
"The regulations were promulgated by Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General appointed by George Bush. If you voted for Bush, this is your fault. If you think this country is free, you are sadly mistaken. No nation has freedom when it is run by religious zealots."
Who would have thought such poignant words of truth could be found at a site called ratemyboner.com?