Constant’s Aide: Porn Defender?

It seems somewhat odd that Jim Cogan would sign on to a campaign opposing porn filtering in the city’s libraries, considering the fact that Councilman Porno Pete Constant is the one spearheading the move for just such porn filtering. Cogan, who is Constant’s chief of staff and is planning to run for city council in 2010, was one of 150 members who signed on to the “Books Not Filters” Facebook page, a letter-writing campaign to oppose Internet filtering in the libraries.

It’s not the first time Cogan, a Democrat, has been out of step with the conservative Republican Constant. Fly recalls Cogan using his Facebook page to show his support for the November BART tax measure, which Constant had campaigned against. At the time Cogan said that because BART was a ballot measure, he was free to express his opinion. Otherwise, he said, he would keep his mouth shut when he disagreed with his boss—especially about issues that were coming before a council vote.

Cogan may have to open his mouth now—to eat his words. Constant’s porn filtering item is coming before the council in April, and Cogan is spending this week reviewing Constant’s memo on the plan. Cogan admits he is walking a fine line on the porn issue. However, he defends his “Books Not Filters” membership, performing rhetorical backflips to portray his position as somehow aligning with Constant’s interests. “I’m not opposed to my boss’s proposal,” Cogan says. “I hope my being on the group would let them know that we, and especially I, am open to hearing their concerns.”

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Your headline is very misleading.  Jim expressed a personal opinion regarding filters for the libraries.  Internet filters in the libraries may be proven to block unwanted content, but it is also proven to block content that is not related to “adult entertainment”, content that can be used for legitimate research, like the importance of birth control, or prostate cancer. I think you get the point. 

    It is hard to run for Council while you work for a sitting Council Member.  You have a fine line you have to walk – how do you let the public know what is important to you, and yet, effectively serve the Council Member you work for?

  2. Council Aid: Porn Defender?

    Okay Fly, when I see this title and article on a hit piece against Jim, I’ll know who started it. This is a very unfair, and inaccurate way to paint a decent young man who has been on the Crime Stoppers Board for years, has always been fair enough to hear both sides of an issue, worked hard in the community to help citizens, was willing to give up his Saturday plans with his family to come support the family of a murder victim, as well as, gave a wonderful, caring speech during a rally at the peace march for Vahid Hosseini, and is a wonderful husband and father.

    I live in D9, have known Jim for years, and know he is in no way a defender of porn. Freedom of speech yes, but a porn defender no. I will not only gladly campaign for him in the coming months, but he has my vote hands down over any one else that runs.

    It is this kind of misleading article that ruins candidate’s chances of winning an election. Running is hard enough, but fighting this kind of media is even worse because fighting a well-read magazine with the facts would cost a candidate a fortune. Give us a break here and stick to the facts on this will you?

    Pat Waite, if this is what was done to you and Rose Herrera during your campaign, then I may just owe you an apology!

  3. If you read the article there is nothing misleading about any of it. Jim has one position and his boss has another and Jim believes his boss is wrong, as do I and every other person I know.
    It’s interesting you try and blame METRO for a tactic that is more appropriately associated with the religious-right. They will try and paint anyone who opposes them as a “porn defender” but any thinking person will see right through that tactic.
    You are correct to point out that the issue is one of defending free speech, not one of defending porn. It is unfortunate that religious zealots are attempting to force their views on the rest of us. If you don’t like something then don’t look at it but don’t tell the rest of us what we can and cannot look at.
    I know the usual suspects will now trot out their tired arguments about how the libraries are crawling with deviants and the computers are showing porn for all to see. The rest of us know that what problems there are are being dealt with and we don’t need the computer police in the library.

  4. Fly, Thank you. I wondered how it was that Cogan would be defending his participation on the website.

    Christian, I suspect the title came up because Cogan’s boss says you either protect children or support porn, therefore if Cogan is against filters he must be for….

    Like Christian says filters may be used to block content other than someone’s definition of porn. Who decides what is or is not appropriate?

    Join the anti-filter revolution, visit the website and support a smarter alternative – like properly staffed libraries.

  5. Kathleen, it comes with the territory. You just have to suck it up, because there’s little that you can do about it as a candidate.

    My favorite incident was a blurb that the Merc’s Infernal Affairs column ran one Sunday early in the primary. My upset wife thought they were rather rude and snide. My reply: “Sweetheart, they spelled my name correctly, mentioned the web site address, and didn’t say anything about my opponents. That’s a trifecta!”

    She also suggested that I not talk to the media after I complained about being constantly misquoted or taken out of context. My reply: “If I don’t talk to them, they’re liable to print worse things.”

    I know Jim. He’s a big boy and quite capable of dealing with this.

  6. #3- Reporter,

    Thank you for your explanation. Whew! The headline is something I can see on a negative campaign flier with a few lines of your article like:

    Council Aid Jim Cogan: Porn Defender

    With parts of your column in it:

    “I’m not opposed to my boss’s proposal,” Cogan says.

    “Cogan, was one of 150 members who signed on to the “Face Bookpage, a letter-writing campaign to oppose Internet filtering in the libraries.”

    I think you get the point!

    “If you read the article there is nothing misleading about any of it.”

    I don’t agree with that because of the way its written, but I do support your thoughts on how unfortunate it is that religious groups are trying to shove their beliefs down our throats. I agree freedom of speech should not be curtailed to make a religious group happy. And yes, this will create quite a bit of difficulty for Jim during the election.

    Of course I blamed the METRO! You wrote it and posted it here!!! And you can’t deny that the media has a very powerful influence over voters.  How you slant things, or how you state them matters.

    “They will try and paint anyone who opposes them as a “porn defender” but any thinking person will see right through that tactic.”

    God I wish that were true! You are assuming that the majority of people will take the time to learn the issue past their bias or the media. Negative campaigning works, just look at any election. If it didn’t they wouldn’t do it.

    Glad to hear the METRO has the good taste to support Jim Cogan, he is an awesome guy! I’m frightened to see who Pegram will send into the ring to run against Jim. YIKES!

  7. #5- Pat,
    Thanks for proving my point about bad press, and how sarcastic comments by the reporter can mislead people who don’t understand or know the person or issue!  From now on I will go directly to the candidate if I read something off color about them. And, please accept my apology for not doing that with you, and for believing “some” of what I read. wink

  8. In response to Kathleen’s post, Reporter (#3) wrote: “You are correct to point out that the issue is one of defending free speech, not one of defending porn. It is unfortunate that religious zealots are attempting to force their views on the rest of us. If you don’t like something then don’t look at it but don’t tell the rest of us what we can and cannot look at.”

    This is a good example of a well-indoctrinated Leftist brain at work. When the Leftist brain encounters an issue it immediately fits it to a preprogrammed political template. In this case the issue, one that might be interpreted in any number of ways by people of various perspectives, was immediately fitted to the “free speech” template. Witness the certainty of Reporter’s declaration: “the issue is one of defending free speech”. At no point in the processing did Reporter consider that others might reasonably view the issue as more complex, perhaps a mix of free speech, morality, civility, and sound public policy. No, to Reporter the issue has been identified, and those who view it differently fit another template, that being “enemies of free speech.”

    To the Leftist, the voicing of opposing views is always an attempt to “force” views on the otherwise innocent “rest of us,” and those who dare voice those views are always “zealots” of some particular persuasion. No matter what his questionable tactics, the Leftist never sees the expression of his viewpoint as a force; he role is, in his mind, always that of a defender of freedom.

    The control of publicly-owned property is a legitimate topic for debate, but it is seldom a free speech issue. The computers in public libraries are, like the classrooms in public schools, the swimming pools in public parks, and sidewalks on public streets, made available for particular purposes, with the conditions for use set by our elected and appointed authorities. For instance, there are subjects, religion is one, that are forbidden in the classrooms of public schools, but not in those of private schools. Yet I can say with a high degree of confidence that Reporter would not see the restriction of religion in a public school as a free speech issue.

    Simply put, rules of conduct for those using public property is the norm. Libraries are notorious for their strict rules of conduct, especially the speech of its patrons. Should a library visitor be angered because the librarian decided against stocking a particular book, he has no right to disturb others by voicing his objection to the staff, or to share the book’s message with other patrons, or alert them to what he sees as the librarian’s assault on free speech through censorship. I acknowledge that fully aware of the fact that our nation’s librarians discriminate against certain types of books, some of which are critically important to the war against untruth. Nevertheless, what the public library patron does have a right to do is to keep quiet, refrain from bothering anyone else, and enjoy the books and materials available.

    Should the decision be made to filter the library’s computers it will violate the free speech of not a single American. Yes, it might inconvenience a few patrons searching for certain types of information, but plenty of patrons have been inconvenienced by other library policies. Any information made unavailable due to filtering can be accessed though other avenues already available or easy to put in place. The ultimate decision deserves to be based on the positives and negatives of the issue, as determined by those responsible for such things, our government officials.

    Calling this a free speech issue, or framing it as the latest battle in the war against religious zealots, is liberal propaganda, pure and simple. Plenty of secular people have objections to the anything-goes philosophy now in place in our library. Besides, and this may shock some of you, religious conservatives have a right to have opinions, to be for or against issues and candidates, and to have their perspective treated to fair and unbiased analysis.

  9. Fin Fan,
    I want to take the library filtering out of this discussion for a moment, so we don’t get hung up on that particular topic, or people involved, and talk about freedom of speech, and being open to opposing views. You and I don’t always agree but I think some of what you are saying is very interesting. I never thought of it that way.

    First, you are correct, we do live in a society that is either/or, my way or the highway. Secondly, we do have limited speech in our society, and materials in our libraries. We also tend to label folk’s leftist, right winged, religious zealots, etc. So who is in charge of deciding what is allowable and what isn’t? How can we work to be more open to the views of others, and who sits above us all with a ready printed labeler?

    I have often wondered who the PC Police are, who decided we go from calling people of Mexican decent, Hispanic, Latino, or colored to black, to African American, secretary to administrative aid, to executive assistant, illegal aliens to undocumented immigrants, low fat to no carbs, and on and on! It is just mind boggling to me, so much so that I sometimes just can’t keep up with it all. I feel like I’m in a George Orwell production half the time!

  10. Kathleen, you are correct, we live in a very Orwellian world where the people in power get to define the lexicon. They generally do so to slant the “debate” to their advantage (i.e. illegal aliens vs. undocumented immigrants).

    Worse yet, the fine art of political debate has all but disappeared (finfan’s excellent analysis above notwithstanding). Rather than focus on facts and developing an understanding the other side’s points of view, people at the extremes hurl invectives at one another. That makes it even harder to find the compromise solutions that can move society forward.

    It is unfortunate that our political system has become so polarized, because the solutions to our problems do not lie at the extremes. But the partisan powers that be allow nobody to play in the center. The result…gridlock.

    Is this any way to run a society?

  11. Pat & Kathleen,
    I think the main reason for all the divisiveness and misunderstanding is a failure to acknowledge or even to discuss our various political philosophies.
    So much importance is placed on sticking to “the issues” that what invariably results is a shallow discussion that’s hardly more substantive than an opinion poll. We hear the other guy’s point of view but can make no sense of where it’s coming from. 
    I’m puzzled when a participant drops out of a discussion just about the time it’s starting to get interesting. Unfortunately, this is far and away the rule rather than the exception.

    As far as this particular issue is concerned, I wonder if Jane Light would have included Hustler magazine on the library’s subscription list if she’d been a librarian 30 years ago. Would she have put it on the shelf right next to Highlights magazine? I doubt it. It would have been wrong then and it’s still wrong. I’m with Pete Constant on this one but I wonder how he wound up with an aide with whom he’s not on the same page.

  12. Pat Waite said, “It is unfortunate that our political system has become so polarized, because the solutions to our problems do not lie at the extremes. But the partisan powers that be allow nobody to play in the center. The result…gridlock.”

    AMEN to that! Very nicely said Pat. I agree 100%.

    My question regarding the media is this, how come they are so dam political? What ever happened to unbiased reporting? You know, just the facts ma’am? I’m really tired of trying to figure out what is true and what isn’t when I read something in the paper, or watch the evening news! I agree with Fin Fan’s assertion that we really are being led around by the nose, and that being a free thinker is not only PC, it can create serious problems for you. (Trust me I know this from first hand experience!);-)

    One last comment on the topic of Fin Fan’s post about censorship, I don’t see how anyone can claim to be educated, if the only source of information they read is one sided. I know when I first went to college; I was shocked at how little I learned about other races, cultures, history, and religions in high school. It is just amazing to me how ignorant we are as a society by anything that doesn’t touch our daily lives. How sad is that? I think that really is why people go on bias rather than facts when deciding on how to vote, support a candidate, or even have a serious, respectful discussion on a topic. It really is a sad commentary on how easily we are lead by outside influences in this country.

  13. Kathleen,

    In response to your post (#9), first let me say that I believe in civility. I was trained to be polite, considerate, and helpful. Had I, as a child, ever failed to offer my seat to a female or adult (of either gender), my mother would have seen to it that I would not sit in comfort for a month. Had I ever failed to respect a woman, my father would’ve put me in a coma. For these things I am very grateful; I never have to think how to act, I always know.

    That said, I resent political correctness with all my being, not because I think it’s right to personally hurt innocent others, but because political correctness is a trap: no matter how decent and correct you might want to be, political correctness provides no guarantees for decency or good intentions. It instead guarantees only that those with certain group identities will have the right to dictate the vocabulary and demand compliance. In short, it is about power: the power to take offense, point fingers, be relieved of accountability, demand reparations. Political correctness is like TEGWAR, the card game a couple of characters used to make suckers of everyone else in the book/movie, Bang the Drum Slowly. The acronym stands for The Amazing Game Without Any Rules, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot win. TEGWAR was not designed for fair play; neither is political correctness.

    As for who it is that is running the political correctness con, look no further than the manipulators in the media, the sorcerers teaching liberal arts, and the diversity racketeers cashing the checks. Three groups, all rich with 60’s influence, that drag down our culture, promote dissent, produce dependency, and account for very little of our gross national product—mainly, because bullshit is still free.

    I remember when the word “Chicano” came into use, and how most of the older generation Mexican-Americans I knew (they called themselves Mexicans or Americans, by the way) were insulted by it—it was a word that had no meaning to them. Quite a few of them had proudly fought in WWII or Korea, and resented the fact that a bunch of young punks were effectively changing the way others might view them. They’d hardly had a chance to complain when they suddenly found out they’d become “Latinos,” or “Hispanics,” or “Mexican-Americans.” Some of these men had roots in New Mexico and Texas going back to the days of the Spanish land grants, and had no known connection to Mexico. But their personal stories didn’t matter, such things never do when power is being acquired.

    If you want a real eye-opener on this ugliness, read up on our next candidate for governor at:’s+radical+past.-a0194428831

    Controlling speech is nothing new, but how it’s controlled is. When a society chooses to use civility and decency to establish a vocabulary—as revealed by what children are taught at home and in school, what’s printed in newspapers and magazines, the kind of language used on TV and radio, etc., it does so out of good intentions (even though its choices are sometimes imperfect and always subject to gradual change). This is how things used to be, before the revolution of the ‘60s. Back then, the use of a racist term or profane word was frowned upon in public, not tolerated in school, subject to penalty on the airwaves, etc. The rules were well known, but if anyone’s career was ever ruined due to a mistake made with good intentions, I’m not aware of it.

    Today careers are ruined, government bureaus cowed, science intimidated, truth suppressed, laws ignored, and huge numbers of good citizens smeared, all under the banner of political correctness, as waved by liberals. The same folks who turned Joe McCarthy into a demon of history are now using their power to control language in ways that would shock even George Orwell.

    Like you, I’ve been called many names on this site, almost always by people so used to shutting others up with name-calling (racists, homophobes, hater, religious zealot, etc) that they’ve failed to develop the ability to defend their beliefs through honest debate. It’s sad, but not nearly so sad as the fact that these are the tactics approved of in our schools and colleges. “Shout ‘em down, smear ‘em, no one should have to hear ‘em”—that’s free speech on today’s campus.

  14. I wanted to make a correction to my #12 post:
    “and that being a free thinker is not only PC..” I meant to say, and being a free thinker is not only not PC…

    #11- John,

    You said, “I’m puzzled when a participant drops out of a discussion just about the time it’s starting to get interesting. Unfortunately, this is far and away the rule rather than the exception.”

    That is very true, and I think it comes from the fact that hearing a strong opposing view may be too much for the other person, or they feel so sure they are correct, they just don’t want to hear the other side. It is just easier to think the other person is an idiot, and walk a way. (Something I’ve been guilty of from time to time.) It is only when I make the effort to really try and open my mind to an opposing view, and LISTEN, then and only then am I able to concede that they may have a viable point, even if I still feel strong in my position. Or once in awhile, I may even change my mind about the issue.

    You raise another valid point, “I think the main reason for all the divisiveness and misunderstanding is a failure to acknowledge or even to discuss our various political philosophies.
    So much importance is placed on sticking to “the issues” that what invariably results is a shallow discussion that’s hardly more substantive than an opinion poll. We hear the other guy’s point of view but can make no sense of where it’s coming from.”

    I would agree with this. When I was younger, I never thought I would be a more conservative person, but with time, age, experience, and maturity, I have become less “liberal.” I see folks throwing around terms like right winged, left winged, and moderate, but what exactly does that mean really?

    I think it means different things to each one of us, and until we have a discussion on what terminology actually means to each one of us, we will never be able to have a real discussion on an issue.

    Secondly, and very importantly, if we have not been raised in poverty, wealth, in a black neighborhood, in Mexico, been stopped by a Police Officer because we are of color, etc., how can we honestly take part in a discussion that we know nothing about, unless and until we open our minds to the facts we do not want to admit? For example, my God daughter is biracial. She came home from work crying, and very angry because her Indian boss called her the “N” word. I of course was livid, but I have to tell you honestly that the only reason I understood her pain about this injustice, was because I’ve been called a “Cracker” by blacks, and a white M… F… er by a Latino. 

    Also, I have been told by people of color that whites don’t realize how “Privileged” they are.  Now, I’m not going to lie, the first time I was told I was lucky to be white because I was privileged, I was P.O. ed and I really didn’t get it! I have never led a privileged anything! I work hard for everything I’ve ever had and have.

    But upon reflection, educating myself on what “white privilege” actually means, and having had open, honest conversations with my friends of color, and even taking part in a few experiments, I can now see their point of view, and can admit that by mere virtue of the color of my skin, I do enjoy privileges people of color do not. It was a very sad, and hurtful realization to me that we live in a society that values one race over others, one gender over another, wealth, and class over others, but none the less John, it is an undeniable fact.

  15. Fin Fan,

    First I’d like to thank you for your honesty. I appreciate you giving me some insight into your background, and your beliefs. It is refreshing to be able to have this kind of open, non-offensive conversation here on SJI.

    You, John Galt, and Pat Waite have given me a lot to think about. I appreciate all of you for taking the time to give me other ways of viewing why you think our society has become so screwed up, and how the need for power is the driving force behind much of what is taking place in our world today.

    Last night, I saw a very powerful film called, “The Boy In Stripped Pajamas.” If you haven’t seen it, please do. It is not only thought provoking, but it contains much of the subject we are currently discussing. One of its main themes is who controls information, and how misinformation, and hatred can control us. It is about two brave little boys who dare to challenge what they are being taught, and become friends, at a very high cost to them, and their families. It is a movie that will stay with me forever because it is indeed evidence that each and everyone of us are born free of ignorance, hatred, and racism, until grown ups imprint their own bias upon us.
    One other very powerful impression this movie left me with is that my Mother and Father were right, we better stop fearing authority, and start questioning it, and to never take what our leaders or the media say as “truth.” (My Mother survived Hitler, and told me on many occasions that had people actually questioned his rise to power, may be things would have been very different.)

    You also have a very excellent point about the ways in which youth today creating new names for themselves is not only disrespectful of elders, but undermines all the progress and freedoms their Fathers, Mothers, Grandfathers, and Grandmothers fought for. Freedoms and privileges that many youth take for granted.

    I was a part of some serious public, and private discussions, when a newly formed African American group of older adults demanded that both the City and County pass a resolution condemning the use of the “N” word. To my shock and horror this group wanted “whites” not to use it, but maintained that African Americans could call one another that because only “whites” used the “N” word as a means of demeaning and controlling them. I must say that it is no wonder that our youth is so dam confused about what is offensive and what is not! I know many older African Americans who not only condemn the usage of the “N” word, but also would never use it themselves privately, or otherwise.

    So in closing Fin Fan, I agree, the PC Police can only get a way with what we allow them to, and freedom of speech is still one of our most vital rights here in this country. And I plan on exercising that right whenever I think I need to, regardless of what someone thinks of me. wink

  16. We have been told by The Supremes that producing porn and distributing it is somehow “speech”, and thus protected by the Constitution.  It seems to me that it is not speech, but behavior or action.  I can wrap my understanding of the language around it a bit, and see how some might find it to be speech; but to me it’s an unjustified stretching of the English language.

    But I cannot wrap my mind around how viewing porn can be “speech”, and thus entitled to some form of protection from government regulation or intrusion.

    I have no problem with anyone who wishes to view porn in the privacy of their own home, just as I have no problem with whatever sexual activity transpires among consenting adults, straight or gay.

    What I cannot understand is why someone has the alleged “right” to view porn for free at a taxpayer-subsidized library.  The fact that they can do this in full view of children makes it even more difficult for me to condone.  If someone is either too cheap or too poor to be able to afford porn in her/his home does not give that person the “right” to make me (and all the other taxpayers) pay for it.

    The “speech” issue when it comes to VIEWING porn is a complete red herring.  It simply isn’t protected speech.

    Oh, and by the way, I am not religious.  Indeed, I am a non-believer.  My view does not come from any religious conviction.

    Simply put, there is no constitutional right to porn at taxpayer expense.

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