LOS ANGELES—Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals is seriously pissed off about the billboards placed around Los Angeles by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in support of Measure B, the mandatory condoms-for-porn-stars ballot initiative whose only sponsor is...AHF.
Tibbals, a "researcher, scholar, professor, mentor, organizer, community member, activist, volunteer, friend, and ally fighting for civil rights and social justice," who also is decidedly sex-positive as well as a friend to the adult entertainment industry, isn't pissed off just because of the ballot measure, but because of the hypocritical message delivered by the billboards (and AHF) to the citizens of Los Angeles.
But first a little context.
"Shaming is when you attempt to dishonor and/or condemn an individual (individuals, entities) via guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace," writes Tibbals on her blog, pvvonline.com. "Put simply, for example, when two people are arguing and one (probably the one who is losing) says something like – 'Whatever, you know nothing because you’re so [insert mean attack about any number of unrelated personal characteristics, perceived failures, etc here]!!' – that’s shaming."
She continues, "Trust me, I’ve seen a lot, but never in all my days have I seen an example of shaming quite as blatant as this one."
Embedded just below the remark is the aforementioned billboard—a black background with the words, "Pornographers Say No on B."
Now a little background.
Since the beginning of his campaign to force rubber onto every porn dick in the county—and maybe the world—AHF president Michael Weinstein has repeatedly said that he has nothing against porn or the industry that produces it. Again, this is not a one-time statement by Weinstein, but a continuing refrain that has served mainly to mollify any criticisms that he has some sort of anti-porn score to settle, and in so doing reinforce his claim that he just wants to protect the performers.
Then he creates a public campaign that demeans the very people he says he wants to help.
"Really?" asks Tibbals. "The 'pornographers' say? That’s the game you’re gonna play, AHF? Reeeeally?
"Thank you, AIDS Healthcare Foundation for shaming 'pornographers' in this way.
"Thank you, AIDS Healthcare Foundation for using donor funds – monies that I’m sure were given to your 'own self-created social enterprises' under the auspices of working to 'rid the world of AIDS' (quotes from AHF mission statement here) – to shame 'pornographers' in this way.
"Because I know that’s what you’re doing!! I know what you’re really saying with this ad is 'Eww look at these evil nasty people who say ‘No on B’ – pornographers!! Ewwwwwww!! "They’re too gross and awful to know anything about what they know, and you don’t want to be associated with Them, do you?'
"How dare you?"
That is precisely the point, they do dare to argue their point disingenuously. These are the same people whose signature-gatherers were caught playing fast-and-loose with the facts during the campaign to place the LA City mandatory-condom measure on the June ballot. That vote was subsequently preempted by the city council in January 2012 when it voted to approve the initiative.
"Shame on you," says Tibbals toward the end of her screed, and of course she's right to shame the shamers, but after watching the way AHF has conducted itself over the years, we doubt anyone over there will be able to take that shame to heart. That itself is a shame.
On the bright side, it's quite possible that AHF's plan could backfire. After all, the billboard on its face is against Measure B. That's what it says. Pornographers say no on B. If your average Angelino is tooling down the street and that message meets their eye, is it not possible they'll just read it as porn stars don't want condoms, gotta be bad, vote no?
AHF in its myopia may assume everyone is up to speed on the condom issue and will get its twisted messaging, but who knows, their attempt to get votes by denigrating the very people they say they want to help may very well turn out to have been too clever by half.
Image: The AHF "Measure B" billboard.