Dear Mr. Weinstein,
I have not heard back from you regarding my open letter. Given the lack of ongoing dialog, it is clear that my attempts to open a channel of communication with you are unlikely to succeed. I am left with no alternative but to air my concerns publicly.
You and I both care about the well-being of performers in the adult industry. However, as I listened to the ongoing testimony over AB1576 and read your statements in the press, I am dismayed. Until now, I looked at our disagreement over condoms in adult film as disagreement in principle. I no longer think of you as someone with whom I have an intellectual disagreement: I think of you as someone who willfully misrepresents facts to justify a political position. In short, you’re lying. Here’s how:
1. You’re using off-set HIV infections as evidence of on-set danger.
In your post-statement press, you described Rod Daily and Cameron Bay, the two performers who testified at the hearings, as “having contracted HIV while working in adult film.” You know this isn’t true and yet you continue to say it. By using a couple who have contracted HIV in their private life as evidence of a public health threat, you’re turning what should be a healthcare discussion into a moral debate. Would you say “Magic Johnson contracted HIV while playing basketball?”. Linguistically you’ve got some plausible deniability, but please. For you, the ends may justify the means, but in reality, it stops us from educating performers about real ways they should be protecting themselves.
2. You’re using STI research that is fundamentally flawed.
The Kim-Farley and Kerndt studies you cite at hearings have been debunked, Among many fundamental flaws, these studies do not account for re-tests, do not accurately estimate the size of the population, and compare STI rates with the general population. If you compare porn stars to a group that includes pre-teens, moms and grandparents, you may get numbers you’re looking for. If you compare performers to people in their own age group? Not so much. These studies are profoundly flawed, and yet you still use them as fact. This is not only ethically problematic, it again unfairly stigmatizes porn performers.
3. You say that porn is illegal outside of California (and New Hampshire)
This has been repeated at every hearing we’ve been at with you, and it confounds us. We are a national industry, and have been for decades. We shoot legally in nearly every state in the country, and many large companies are based in states like New York, Nevada and Florida. It may be politically expedient to tell legislators that performers and producers can’t set up shop out of state but, like so much else, it’s something that you know to be untrue. If your argument was truly strong, you wouldn’t have to fabricate your case.
Frankly, I think that disagreement is good and that we should always be talking with performers about how to make the system safer and more responsive to their needs. I also think that you do genuinely believe that what you’re doing is for the greater good. However, the ends do not justify the means. I ask that you listen to the performers who are so angry about this bill. I ask that you use facts that will help performers understand how to better to protect themselves. To knowingly misrepresent facts only hurts performers, because it clouds meaningful discussions we could be having about STIs.
So, please, Mr. Weinstein, stop misrepresenting the facts in this desperate manner to push your condom agenda through. Please retract statements you know to be untrue. Please let’s come back to the table with honest, accurate dialog.