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porn+war photos+???= jail?
October 19, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Remember our good pal from NowThatsFuckedUp.com, the one who was trading war photos from soldiers for access to his amateur porn site? Well, looks like he's traded the whole shebang for a stint in the Polk County Jail for some 300+ counts of obscenity charges. Held on $151,000 bail, he (or his hood friends outside da joint) have set up a new site - http://www.freechris.org - with significantly less homegrown pr0n and corpse shots, and significantly more whining for donations to dude's legal defense fund, starting at $2.
Personally, and in pure technical terminology, I find the whole thing to be really "icky," yet, maybe it's a good thing that people can see the reality of war SOMEWHERE, since the fine folks of the fourth estate don't seem too interested in the word "reality", unless it's followed by the word "television." Either way, there are free speech issues at play here as well it seems. As Voltaire so wiselely stated: "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to be a douchebag."
posted by stenseng (38 comments total)

 
I guess "douchebags" have rights too, maybe if asks really, really nicely, the ACLU will help him ...
posted by R. Mutt at 8:48 AM on October 19, 2005


You know, if the point was to have clever links where one wouldn't expect them, you should have had www.freechris.org link to Andrea Dworkin's website.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2005


Obviously, it's selective enforcement.

I only had access to the free part of the site, and I wasn't very impressed either by the nudes or the corpses. This guy has nothing on Rotten.com or the myriad of obscene furry sites out there.

"In my 33 years of law enforcement, this was one of the more horrific examples of obscene materials that the Sheriff's Office has ever encountered," Judd said.

Well, Mr. Judd, aside from giving us the prerequisite "...I've been in law enforcement for XYZ number of years...", you've pretty much let the cat out of the bag that you live in a cave, sir.

Jerk.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:52 AM on October 19, 2005


Jailed for obscenity?

Give me a fucking break. He'll be out in a week, tops.
posted by wakko at 8:55 AM on October 19, 2005


yeah, somebody should tubgirl that guy, then we'll see what he says...
posted by stenseng at 8:56 AM on October 19, 2005


For about six or seven months, people claiming to be members of the military have been sending in pictures of life overseas, ranging from picturesque scenery to hideous pictures of people burned black and unrecognizable, or with body parts mangled or blown apart.

According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the area that includes pornographic pictures was equally distasteful.

Only in America (and possibly Iran) can photos of nude bodies be "equally distasteful" as photos of dead and mangled bodies.
posted by three blind mice at 8:59 AM on October 19, 2005


Wilson, a former Eagle Lake police officer, was arrested on charges of obscenity, but not for the pictures of the war dead.

Also, the counts are 300 separate misdemeanor charges, and one felony. AKA mostly crap.

An interesting article on the selective enforcement.
posted by smackfu at 9:08 AM on October 19, 2005


What turns my stomach more than the 'pr0n' or 'dead bodies' aspects of the story is the way in which this guy connected them. It wasn't an attempt to open peoples' eyes to the reality of war: it was a simple case of 'Show us dead ragheads! We'll give you pr0n!'

It lends more credence to the idea that some people link violence and sexuality than any Dworkin lecture.
posted by verb at 9:10 AM on October 19, 2005


"Polk County"? Polk county where? I absolutely hate these local rags where the datelines don't include the state that they are in as well as the town. Don't they realize that people from other states, unfamiliar with the local geography, might not have any fucking clue where 'Lakeland' is?

Only a small entry on the sidebar tells me this is Florida.

--

Also, a gross violation of First Amendment rights. The more you think about it, the worse it gets. I mean, posting pictures of the horror of what war (that's what these were, at the same time being 'marketed' as shock for its own sake) should get you thrown in jail?

that is the obscenity here.

And how the hell can gruesome pictures are 'obscene' in the pornographic sense? No body gets off on this crap; people just look at it to be shocked. Are reubberneckers at a car accident all perverts now? Idiotic.

This is a horrible miscarriage of justice, IMO. Just because it was distasteful doesn’t mean it shouldn't be posted on the 'net.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2005


According to Copley, many of the pictures of women clearly were taken without their knowledge or consent.

I'm trying to imagine how this could possibly be so. It is extremely easy, after all, to stage some pictures and claim they came from a hidden camera. Staged photoshoots would be a far more reliable and legally-defensible source of voyeur-fetish-porn than a real hidden camera - important considerations when running a business. How is it possible to look at a photograph and say with certainty that it was not staged?

[Deputies] seized... several women's costumes, including a nun costume and a frilly costume with an apron...

Thank goodness! We are keeping American children safe from nun costumes!
posted by Western Infidels at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2005


It lends more credence to the idea that some people link violence and sexuality than any Dworkin lecture.

Oh please. He "traded" porn because thats what he had on hand. From what I understand there was one large photo-pool and to get access you either had to pay or submit your own fucked-up pictures.

Lighten up.

And apperantly he was just charged with the porn stuff? Stupid.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2005


Of course this happened in Florida.
posted by eatitlive at 9:16 AM on October 19, 2005


And let's not forget the fact that he's a former 'police officer'. . . . Dickhead . . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:16 AM on October 19, 2005


As Voltaire so wiselely stated: "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to be a douchebag."

The famous "I disagree" bit is falsely attributed to Voltaire. It was composed by S.G. Tallentyre and appeared in his book "The Friends of Voltaire."
posted by ori at 9:23 AM on October 19, 2005


Ok - Former police officer and they charge him on showing the live bodies as "obscene" but nothing for the obscenity against the dignity of the deceased. Hmmm!!
Never having visited the USA, can I take it that more people there would be offended by the former? I mean, really??
posted by Wilder at 9:24 AM on October 19, 2005


Jeb Bush.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:28 AM on October 19, 2005


I guess this is how you punish a whistleblower who doesn't actually work for the administration.
posted by wakko at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2005


This doesn't make any sense. He collected photos from soldiers that break the Geneva Convention (pretending for a second that we actually follow it) and he is the one that gets busted? Why doesn't the gov't subpeona the logs and chase down the soldiers that were in the wrong, sending along photos of mutilated bodies?

I'm not much of a fan of rotten.com or sites like that, but it seems if there are incriminating photos, the guy hosting them isn't really the one to blame and get busted -- the people that took the photos should be the ones court martialed and jailed.
posted by mathowie at 9:36 AM on October 19, 2005


Hmmm... Even if he beats the (state) obscenity rap, I doubt if he has all his Title 18, 2257 documentation in order. If not, he could do some federal time.
posted by Chrischris at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2005


But that's harder to do.
posted by wakko at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2005


I'm imagining Karl Rove scribbling in his notebook as we speak. "Should've said we were bringing pr0n to Iraq, bloggers would've backed us. REMEMBER FOR IRAN."
posted by verb at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2005


Hey, give Florida a break. They just have kind of a broad definition of "obscenity" there. After all, they arrested a guy on obscenity charges for holding up this sign. (NSFW if employed in Florida).
posted by Otis at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2005


This proves once again that there is no such thing as free speech in our country. It's only a term on paper they use to brainwash us into thinking we're free.
posted by zeerobots at 9:59 AM on October 19, 2005


Isn't this a case of shooting the messenger instead of the actual one breaking the law?

The guy's an easy target because he's stateside and he's the distribution point. As someone said above, I guess this is what happens when someone who's not a Shrubya stooge gets busted.

I'm sure some Shrubya stooge is madly slapping code together to come out with an approved version of the same site.
posted by fenriq at 10:05 AM on October 19, 2005


MetaFilter: I wasn't very impressed either by the nudes or the corpses.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2005


It's illegal to be a douchebag in the US? That's going to be a bit rough on Dick Cheney, isn't it?
posted by clevershark at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2005


Bob Novak is also very nervous now.
posted by wakko at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2005


Chris is an old co-worker of mine. Really, he isn't a bad fellow.

Polk County passed a law a few years ago banning any sale of pornography, sex toys, etc - promptly putting several companies out of business, but making us all feel 100% safer, let me tell ya. We're still the Meth Capital of the state.
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2005


> Obviously, it's selective enforcement.

Of course it's selective enforcement. Pretty well every law, aside from maybe murder, is enforced selectively. States don't really have the manpower to do much more than that, so they scoop up the easy fish, and then selectively decide who to go after in an attempt to act as a deterrent.

And part of the deal here is that if you decide that you want to try and push at those boundaries, you get to be a part of the whole legal test thing. Usually, those people for whom the issue is important are happy to rise to the challenge.

> I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death
> your right to be a douchebag."

So send along your two dollars. I don't much care about what he has to say either way. The douchebag isn't getting a bean from me though, because just like the law, I can't defend *all* the various injustices to the death, so I've adopted a policy of being selective about my financial and moral support.

This one just doesn't make the cut.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:20 AM on October 19, 2005


I refrained from posting an article about this development a few days ago and am now glad I did because stenseng did a much better job composing the FPP than I would have. Nicely done.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:13 PM on October 19, 2005


Only in America..... Nah, there was a late night TV show here in the UK a few weeks ago called Extreme TV, consisting of clips from various TV shows from around the world. Some of these shows were about murder and showed graphic close-up footage of grisly scenes, we got to see every bloody little detail. Later on in the prog they dealt with sex, and here the programme makers decided that was TOO extreme, and had pixelled out any pubic hair that appeared on the clips shown.
Funny old world.
posted by Joeforking at 12:13 PM on October 19, 2005


He looks like a pornographer.
posted by fire&wings at 12:46 PM on October 19, 2005


I'm so proud to have been born a Floridian. We also produced 2 Live Crew and Jack Thompson.

I'm not at all shocked to see this prosecution in Polk county. The middle of the state has been having little seizures over sexuality. They only ever elect sheriffs there who are going to go after obscenity no matter how big a waste of money it is. They once spent months sending undercover officers into strip clubs where, while on the clock, they spent tons of county money "looking for criminal activity," which is apparently best found in a g-string.

In Miami we used to say that you drive north to get South.
posted by phearlez at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2005


it was a simple case of 'Show us dead ragheads! We'll give you pr0n!'

Actually, he the nudies came first. He was one of the first sites to have several, uh, pictorials of fillies wearing fatigues, which made his site a) popular, b) extremely popular among soldiers. Because this was a draw, he sought more nudies -- the deal was always "show us some of yours to get free access". Then soldiers who didn't have nudies offered some "gories" and when they proved popular as well he decided to broaden his offer. I don't think the gore was nearly as big a draw as the nudes, at any time.

He collected photos from soldiers that break the Geneva Convention

Uh, who ever said that? You can follow the Geneva Conventions (and more to the point, the overall Laws of War) to the letter and still end up with dead, mutilated bodies. This is not, however, to say that these photos are approved for release by the command structure, which won't find them to be positive PR.

According to Copley, many of the pictures of women clearly were taken without their knowledge or consent.

Many submitted photos on the site were "ex-girlfriend" type pics. Also, most of the female soldier pictorials -- which were usually taken in private and intended for private distribution -- were probably ganked from public computer terminals. I doubt more than a tiny fraction of the women on the site approved of their photos ending up there.

So, we have a douchebag prosecution of a douchebag.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 PM on October 19, 2005


Some particulars about this case and the players. The guy (Chris Wilson) appeared in the paper before he was arrested -- as a feature. He was released on the 12th after his parents posted a little over $30,000 bail. The full amount was so high because they charged him for 300 misdemeanors and one felony -- $500 a count for each photo they believed could be obscene.

He was investigated by the Army first. "For the past seven or eight months, Wilson has been posting pictures that show burned and mutilated bodies, allegedly of Iraqi and Afghan insurgents. The Army investigated, but could not confirm whether military personnel really were posting those images." -- Ledger

This was the third time Wilson was investigated by the local police. In 2003 "Wilson agreed not to promote or distribute pornography in Polk County in the future, according to a report by Gates." A silly thing to do and continue to run sites out of his apartment. After the feature story ran the same cop contacted Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley and joined the site. "He collected 80 graphic images and 20 short movies that appeared to be obscene, and presented them to County Judge Angela Cowden, who determined there was probable cause to think all of the images were obscene."

Lakeland is the same town that recently stopped a cafe from featuring a belly dancer...at the same time the local recreation club taught the art.

On a personal note: I don't find this place any more conservative or the state attorney any less headline grabbing than small towns I've lived in Kentucky or Indiana. I think any small American town that has a resident make national news for running a war dead/nude photo site is going to attract a State Attorney looking to make headlines.

delmoi: It says Lakeland, Florida on the top of the page right under the "The Online Ledger". Here's a little more about Lakeland and Polk County.
posted by ?! at 4:43 PM on October 19, 2005


Otis - ha! I've never seen that before and it cracked my shit up. Thanks!
posted by AllesKlar at 6:58 PM on October 19, 2005


Florida is also where artist Mike Diana was prosecuted for his 'zine "Boiled Angel" and was found guilty of obscenity.

As part of his legal punishment, he was told that the police could enter his home at any time and if they spotted any more of his art that they considered "obscene," they could destroy it. Also, he had to undergo psychological testing and was told not to have any contact with anyone under 18.

Granted, his artwork isn't easy on the eyes, but it was Floriday that made it a crime for him to draw or talk to minors.

So this is not out of character for that state.
posted by poseur at 8:36 PM on October 19, 2005


I don't like the precident that's been set... but, as I understand it, NTFU posted mainly photographs taken by pissed-off boyfriends and such who did not really have permission to put these photographs on the web.

Also, what about undermars.com in terms of having a place to see the ravages of war. It's probably one of the most powerful sites on the internet.

Although it doesn't have the homegrown porn.
posted by Netzapper at 3:49 PM on October 20, 2005


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