Porn On The Federal Payroll

A television station in Washington, D.C. sent a Freedom of Information Act request to 12 federal agencies.  The FOIA request, directed to the inspector generals of the 12 agencies, sought records of cases of “egregious on-the-job pornography” viewing by federal employees at the 12 agencies.

lawmaker-calls-to-block-federal-employees-porn-accessIn response, the inspector generals produced records showing that almost 100 federal employees at the 12 agencies were caught, or admitted to, watching vast amounts of porn while at work.  One employee, at the Environmental Protection Agency offices in Washington, D.C., said he had spent up to six hours a day watching porn for “several years.”  A patent and trademark employee at the Department of Commerce was found to have made 1,800 connections to pornographic websites and told investigators, by way of explanation:  “When I am working hard, I go to these images to take a mental break.”  A worker at the Federal Railroad Administration was found to have searched for porn for 252 hours in one year.  And some of the cases addressed in the inspector general records were criminal in nature, because they involved viewing child pornography.

Watching porn on the job apparently falls within the category of “computer misuse,” which is subject to different penalties at different federal agencies, with sanctions ranging from a written reprimand to suspensions and termination.  As one deputy assistant inspector general put it, the computer systems, and the employees, are supposed to be performing government work while on the job, and checking out porn instead constitutes some of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” we taxpayers often hear politicians talk about.  Notably, the TV station report provides no information on whether disciplinary action was taken against the supervisors of the employee who says he spent six hours a day watching porn on his work computer for several years without being detected, or whether the EPA concluded that his job clearly wasn’t necessary and could be eliminated.

About 100 employees out of the vast payrolls of the 12 federal agencies obviously isn’t a huge percentage; you’re going to find a few “bad apples” in just about any workplace.  But the TV station FOIA request was targeted specifically at “egregious” porn viewing, and the fact that federal employees can spend hours watching porn on the job watching pornography, undetected, just adds fuel to the budget-cutting and payroll-cutting fire.  President Trump’s budget plans already have federal employees worried that federal payrolls are going to be slashed.  Don’t be surprised if, in the debate about downsizing the federal government, bureaucratic porn-watching habits get trotted out as a talking point.

Selling Senior Sextapes

Recently Kish and I have been receiving the AARP Bulletin.  For the most part, it’s the kind of publication you’d expect from an organization that caters to senior citizens.  This particular edition, for example, included an article about new Medicare scams taking advantage of the elderly, a how-to guide on 99 ways to save money and make that nest egg stretch farther, and an encouraging piece with the front-page teaser headline:  “Study Looks At Brain Aging:  Cognitive Decline Is Not Inevitable.”  (Hooray!)

IMG_5685The ads, too, are about what you would expect — with one exception.  In this edition, among the promotions for medical alert devices, walk-in showers, and life insurance, was a full-page ad entitled “Sex.  It’s Never Too Late To Learn Something New.”  Along with a picture of an amorous older couple, the text said “See for Yourself on Discreet Home Video” and “Real people demonstrating real sexual techniques.”  (If so, how discreet can they be?)

Eh?  Boy, that sounds suspiciously like porn, doesn’t it?  In fact, the ad copy seems to make that point so clear that even a senior citizen on the cusp of cognitive decline could grasp it by adding:  “Couples who watch together not only LEARN from what they see, but often report that the videos themselves are an ‘instant aphrodisiac.’  That’s because they show REAL couples (not actors) demonstrating the joys of REAL lovemaking.”  The ad promises that if you order within the next seven days you can get 50 percent off three of the videos, plus another three videos free — so viewers can get really educated!

The world is a fast-changing place, and we just need to accept it.  Even so, it’s weird to see AARP offering ad space to a company peddling senior citizen sextapes to the geriatric generation.  And really, what distinguishes these video volumes from the more sordid efforts that appeal to prurient interests?  The fact that it’s “REAL couples (not actors)” who are getting it on onscreen?  The fact that the videos have clinical titles like “The Art of Sex Positions” rather than bad sex-related puns on Hollywood movie titles?  Or the fact that the ads says the tapes are “recommended by leading doctors and therapists”?  (What would qualify a particular physician as a “leading doctor” for this purpose, do you think?)

Who knows?  Maybe the videos begin with a white coat wearing doctor, with a stethoscope draped around his neck, giving a little primer on anatomical matters that the sexed-up seniors have to endure before they can get to that ‘instant aphrodisiac.”