by David Sisler

Hugh Hefner has found an ally in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. You do remember that the 9th is the same bunch who told us it is wrong to pledge allegiance to America as “one nation under God.”

Hefner and his Chicago-based smut empire are upset that certain Internet search parameters used by Netscape infringe on the trademark of Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

If you type in a list of some 400 keywords – among them “playboy” and “playmate” – the search engines will direct you to a variety of adult-content sites, all of them competitors of Playboy. Allowing the use of these keywords, Hefner’s attorneys argue, “dilutes the Playboy brand name by associating its trademarks with inferior products.”

You’re kidding me, right?

Inferior products? What criteria is used to determine that one photograph out of a gynecology text book, or one photo spread out of a sex manual is superior to another? Hefner’s magazine, which premiered in 1953, effectively lowered the standard for sexual behavior and succeeded in making women sexual objects or sexual playtoys. In the Playboy Mansion, the personhood of women was reduced to an airbrushed fantasy of degradation. To be sure, Hefner has had many imitators in the sleaze business, and some of them have out-filthed him, but he led the way into a labyrinth from which there appears to be no escape.

So now Playboy is whining that Netscape Communications has “tarnished its trademarks.”

The Associated Press writes, “Playboy attorneys said rivals’ sites featured products and surfing experiences that were inferior to Playboy’s. According to a 28-page decision written by Judge Thomas G. Nelson, Playboy’s brand may have suffered ‘tarnishment’ because of the confusion.”

Sidebar, your Honor. The most sickening example of “tarnishment” is the victory that pornographers, and their ilk, have weaseled through the courts, reducing the First Amendment to the protection of images and lifestyles that would have revolted the Founding Fathers. From protecting our right to protest against the government without fear of prosecution or reprisal, the First Amendment now protects depravity.

But to continue, how can you tell if garbage has been tarnished? What is standard for determining how slimy things have gotten? Men’s magazines and other so-called adult entertainment have deteriorated from simple photographs of nude women, to women having sex with animals, to urine and feces used as aphrodisiacs, to bondage and torture and murder for sexual gratification, and to the lowest of all, child pornography.

Now don’t whine at me that Hefner does not print child pornography and its other bottom-feeding kin. He opened the floodgates and we have all been swept into the sewer with him. Tarnish Playboy’s image? That begs the question that Playboy’s image was ever anything else. They applied the tarnish all by themselves. And stained the rest of us in the process. The 9th Circuit wants to see that the damage continues.


Copyright 2004 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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