The fight for Internet freedom in China is being led by an unlikely source. Japanese adult video star Sora Aoi(also known as Sola Aoi) called on Chinese citizens to leap the "Great Firewall" and to access material that the Chinese government blocks such as political dissent, Falun Gong religious material and adult content. Sora Aoi is very popular in China, and is actually a cult figure among young Chinese men. The 26 year old actress is one of the leading actors in the huge Japanese adult video market in which roughly 11,000 new videos are produced each year, compared to around just 2,500 in the United States.
Information on how to defeat the Chinese government's firewall efforts have actually been slipped into at least one Chinese newspaper. And like computer users all over the world, young Chinese computer users are pretty good are figuring out ways around any government effort to block content that they wish to access. With the huge growth of trade from China, and a huge growth of computers, keeping the genie in the bottle becomes increasingly difficult for the government.
Interestingly, while censorship of Internet content remains the most restrictive in mainland China, the situation is also restrictive in both Taiwan as well as Hong Kong. Yet, popular Japanese cult figures such as Sora Aoi are favorites of many younger men in all three markets in the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Japanese adult material works with some interesting content restrictions that date back to the country's constitution which was drawn up in the days of the U.S. occupation of Japan after the war. In the nation's constitution one paragraph forbids the depiction of genitals, however a large market of illegal adult material exists outside of this constitutional restriction. In the United States, the adult industry is hampered by some interesting legal paradoxes as well.
The U.S. Bill Of Rights offered complete freedom of speech for all content, including even material deemed to be of an obscene or pornographic nature from 1791 when the Amendments went into effect. However, in 1840 a Massachusetts book dealer was arrested without charge for selling a copy of the racy European novel, FANNY HILL. Because his arrest was without a charge, lawmakers in Massachusetts worked to write an unconstitutional law a year later to justify the arrest charge, even though the U.S. had no such constitutional restrictions on content considered pornographic or obscene. For years, states and even the federal government sought to enforce clearly unconstitutional laws restricting pornographic or obscene speech, sometimes arresting citizens on unconstitutional charges.
In 1973, a Supreme Court loaded with socially conservative appointees of President Nixon, narrowly ruled 5 to 4 that "local communities" somehow have the right to restrict controversial speech based on "local standards". However, this ruling was in effect unconstitutional because it was an attempt by the court to abridge freedom of speech without the legal path of a constitutional amendment. Further, local standards meant a patchwork of rules from city to city, where local officials could decide what level of speech would be tolerated. The nation's Founding Fathers never intended that some local police chief, politician or judge should be in charge to decide what level of free speech should be tolerated in that community. And later social conservative Supreme Court cases even wrongly gave the federal government the green light to enforce unconstitutional restrictions on free speech as well. This led to a strange legal paradox where if some film or book producer violated local obscenity laws, then he was in violation of federal law, where the same material may be completely legal in the next town or community.
Even worse, was a bill passed by congress written by social conservative North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms that allowed as few as two items ruled obscene by a jury in a local community to be treated as a racketeering offense, allowing up to 20 years in prison and fines that could run into millions of dollars. In Virgina, the new law was used by the federal government to destroy a seven store video store chain and a New York distributor who sold videos to that store. Although most the videos sold or rented were of a general audience nature, 7 adult videos were put on trial by the government, but just three were ruled obscene by a jury, resulting in the government seizure of all seven video stores, bank accounts, homes, cars and property of the couple in addition to $1 million in fines and a possible 90 year prison sentence for the store owners. The wife suffered a mental and emotional breakdown from the trial. It was pure evil on the part of government. The equivalent of the death penalty was used to stop a video store chain because they sold or rented a small number of adult videos in addition to their large selection of general videos. Government in the United States decided that making selling controversial items an offense equal to the death penalty might be enough to crush free expression by controversial filmmakers and book producers. Yet, still book sellers and film producers take the risk and play RICO roulette, where at random some controversial producer is chosen by the government to have both their business and life squashed like a common house fly.
A few years later, liberal Senators such as Joe Biden and Ed Kennedy did absolutely nothing to stop some a huge Edwin Meese inspired package of laws known as the "Obscenity Enforcement Act" from becoming law. These liberal turncoats actually voted for this awful piece of unconstitutional legislation. One unconstitutional provision allowed prosecutors to go after video or book dealers all over the nation if one particular book or video was found obscene in one small local community. Other provisions strengthened laws against interstate shipping nor receiving of obscene materials, where even individuals could be charged with a crime for ordering perfectly legal materials from one community by mail order into a conservative community with stricter local community standards. In Florida, a local judge committed suicide after he was caught up in a local scandal for ordering a couple of bondage oriented porn films that were freely and legally sold in most other big cities in the U.S.
But, in both the United States and Japan, it was an attempt to use law to enforce religious values that was the main force behind efforts to control adult oriented entertainment. General Douglas MacArthur felt that forcing Christian religious values on the Japanese would make them less warlike, although the history of religion in the world has been largely a very violent history. The current war with terrorism around the world is largely a war by some Muslim religious extremists to force their religious views on the Christian world. And Catholics and Protestants continue to have icy relations in Northern Ireland. Rather than offering freedom to mankind, religion largely has become another tool of repression and fueled wars and conflicts. Instead of beliefs in myths and legends fueling hope for many persons, religion often ruined their lives instead and allowed the powerful to rule over the weak.
And now a figure in Japanese adult entertainment, Sora Aoi is leading an effort to rock the government and rigid culture of China. As outrageous as adult entertainment often is, it is interesting that these rebel figures, including Larry Flynt and others are sometimes the leading soldiers in the ongoing battles to challenge both the government and religious control of citizens, and promote open and free societies with wider artistic freedom and expression. In China, this is a huge task. But actress Sora Aoi feels that she is ready for that fight and is so confident of victory that she's even learning to speak Chinese.