The End of Porn?
December 8, 2005 10:46 AM   Subscribe

The End of Porn? The Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Department has made obscenity prosecutions a top priority, with 60 prosecutions in the first four years of the Bush administration (compared to four for the entire eight years of the Clinton administration). Anti-porn advocates were dismayed in January when a federal judge in Pittsburgh, citing dicta on sexual liberty in the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision, dismissed an indictment in a closely-watched case. Today, however, the Third Circuit reversed, rejecting the defendant's arguments that (1) Lawrence protected their liberty interest in distributing pornographic material, and (2) earlier Supreme Court obscenity precedent should be revisited in light of the increased prevalence of Internet transmission. The result, undoubtedly, will be a new wave of prosecutions not seen since the Supreme Court set limits on First-Amendment based protections in the 1970s.
posted by Saucy Intruder (50 comments total)

 
I guess we must have won the War on Terror and the War on Drugs while I wasn't looking.
posted by ilsa at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2005


good thing we've won the war on terror so our law enforcement can spend most of its time on these super-important matters.
posted by wakko at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2005


on preview OMG JINX
posted by wakko at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2005


Legal Fellatio (via)
posted by matteo at 10:53 AM on December 8, 2005


So, according to the Third Circuit, Lawrence v. Texas protects private, consensual sex acts, but does not protect pornography. Does this mean that you can do whatever you want in your bedroom, but you're not allowed to sell video of it? Surely this violates some interstate commerce law.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2005


Saucy Intruder: the Link under "Third Circuit Reversed" is a link to the district court opinion. Do you have another link for the opinion? I'd like to read and see their reasoning.

60 prosecutions in the first four years of the Bush administration (compared to four for the entire eight years of the Clinton administration)

Well, that is, after all, one of the differences between Republicans and Democrats, so that fact isn't really suprising. That is, the election of a Republican is done with the full knowledge that they will be tougher on things like this. It's like pointing out that Zebras have stripes; I'm not sure you can find it suprising.

I guess we must have won the War on Terror and the War on Drugs while I wasn't looking.
posted by ilsa at 12:49 PM CST on December 8


These things are not mutually exclusive.
posted by dios at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2005


I'd like to see them try to stop me from jerking off.
posted by NationalKato at 11:03 AM on December 8, 2005


ilsa is right... this is even more unwinnable that our other "War on..." fiascos.

You cannot stop Porn. No one can.
posted by BobFrapples at 11:03 AM on December 8, 2005


What will happen to the kids from that college atheist group that's trading bibles for porn? Surely the DOJ will consider that a double-affront and jump all over them...

Go! Go! Gadget ACLU Lawyers!
posted by mystyk at 11:04 AM on December 8, 2005


[T]he election of a Republican is done with the full knowledge that they will be tougher on things like this. It's like pointing out that Zebras have stripes; I'm not sure you can find it suprising.

That doesn't make it right, dios.
posted by wakko at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2005


Heck BobFrapples, porn has been around longer than drugs and terror.
posted by ilsa at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2005


These things are not mutually exclusive.

I think the point they were trying to raise is that the government probably has better ways to allocate its resources, not that you can't go after the pornographers till you put an end to both terrorism and drugs.
posted by chunking express at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2005


Oops, sorry - here's the Court's opinion.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:09 AM on December 8, 2005


Great. Something else that pious asshats will try to legislate out of existence. Meanwhile, it'll just move offshore and double in size, just like p2p has. What a total waste of legislative efforts, imho.

This entire administration has gotta go.
posted by drstein at 11:12 AM on December 8, 2005


Bravo, ilsa!

Sex is the original homo sapiens addiction... since it's in our friggin' genes!
posted by BobFrapples at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2005


They can tell me what I can and can't do with my penis when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers!
posted by you just lost the game at 11:14 AM on December 8, 2005


If I hotlink to the Song of Solomon, might I go to jail? Or will that only happen if I pay people to re-enact it on some sort of jittery, hand-held super 8 camera?
posted by wakko at 11:15 AM on December 8, 2005


Prohibition has a proven track record. Just look at booze.
posted by Freen at 11:16 AM on December 8, 2005


freen: you mean that prohibition attracted criminal and produced far more violence and violent crimes, tax evasion and problems then it solved ?

Oh come one you see the war on drugs...oh, wait a minute.
posted by elpapacito at 11:26 AM on December 8, 2005


Sounds like the court of appeals made the right decision -- it's a stretch for a district court to ignore S.Ct. precedent based on loosely-related remarks from a more recent S.Ct. case.

But it's still a waste of prosecutorial resources to be stepping up anti-porn enforcement and creating a special criminal unit to focus on these cases.
posted by brain_drain at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2005


Who else have the feds been pursuing? Have they gone after anyone with the resources to fight back (i.e., Larry Flynt et al.), or just after a few easy-target fringe operations?

Well, that is, after all, one of the differences between Republicans and Democrats ... I'm not sure you can find it suprising.

Can you point out the expression of surprise?
posted by Western Infidels at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2005


If porn can survive the Reagan nazis, then it will easily make it past the incompentent clowns currently in charge. If anything, adult entertainment is now a multi-billion dollar profit machine, from the lowest, sleaziest alley adult bookstore, all the way to the "effete", clinical satellite and cable television corporations. That's not a profit margin the Bush/Christian cabal will be able to turn off overnight without a serious fight.
posted by Rothko at 11:42 AM on December 8, 2005


I assume it's simply meant as red meat for the evangelical base. A handy Hester Prynne to have around for times of low polls.
posted by Haruspex at 12:00 PM on December 8, 2005


Personally I think it's when conservatives try to fight on the moral high ground that they end up losing power. Most middle Americans don't want their government regulating their sex lives (or lack thereof).
posted by aaronscool at 12:07 PM on December 8, 2005


rothko: man you don't get it..they don't want to turn it off they want to exploit them...either payola or get lame-ass laws like indecency on radio living in terror of being fined because you said "poop" on the radio.

Plus porn without obsessions is just picture of naked people fucking...big deal.
posted by elpapacito at 12:10 PM on December 8, 2005


And yes I do listen to Stern, full disclosure :)
posted by elpapacito at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2005


Sex is the original homo sapiens addiction.

Perhaps, but given that intoxicating drugs have pretty well also existed in every human society as well, there's a good case that can be made that the will to intoxication is a human drive that's every bit as innate as the drive to reproduce.

After all, you need some way of persuading people to have sex with you...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2005


After all, you need some way of persuading people to have sex with you...

Ahem...I assume you are speaking for yourself there? :)
posted by aaronscool at 12:28 PM on December 8, 2005


Sorry, I'm too tired from fighting the War on Christmas to help wage another war right now.

But I do have a secret weapon to unleash (mildly NSFW).
posted by Otis at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2005


Will they be going after this site, I wonder?
posted by TedW at 12:33 PM on December 8, 2005


You guys go ahead and curtail freedom at home while fantasizing that you're spreading it abroad. It just means more money coming from you to us North of the border to buy stuff you can't get back home.
posted by clevershark at 12:41 PM on December 8, 2005


I hate seeing my tax money wasted on crap like this. I’m just not going to accept the line about the Democrats being the prodigal ones anymore. Not that I really did before...

Still, curtailing pornography is good for getting folks nice and frustrated and itchy for revolution. Short term, not a good thing, but moves like this are ultimately self-defeating.
That doesn’t get me back the dollars they’re flushing down the toilet to hoist this flag.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2005


And much of it will be retroactive, so say bye-bye to all those cocky pulp purveyors who've been cashing in on acting so progressive over the past decade.
posted by HTuttle at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2005


I assume it's simply meant as red meat for the evangelical base.

It's an old cliche that here in Atlanta, whenever the Southern Baptist Convention comes to town, both the female AND male escorts and prostitutes have to work double shifts.

Moral high ground, indeed!
posted by BobFrapples at 1:14 PM on December 8, 2005


NOW would be the time to get in the porn business. because like all prohibition efforts - alcohol, narcotics, gambling, and guns - it merely succeeds in making the profit margins higher, the taboo items more desirable, and the distribution system more efficient.

Given the way the Bush administration is running things there will be a steady supply of attractive unscrupulous young people desperate for work and a captive frustrated repressed audience all with internet access.

If one had the mind to and some spare time one could lease some offshore property in the caymans for a video production facility.

Step 3. PROFIT!!!
posted by tkchrist at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2005


60 down, um, (quick web search) ~1099999999999999999999 to go.
posted by tiamat at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2005


You know, even Michael Guarino (the D.A. who prosecuted Jello Biafra for obscenity in 1986) has changed his mind about the wisdom of pursuing such cases. Earlier this year, This American Life did a piece about it, in an episode called "Know Your Enemy."

Clevershark-- Canada's got Its own problems with this sort of thing, no?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:18 PM on December 8, 2005


You guys go ahead and curtail freedom at home while fantasizing that you're spreading it abroad.

Clevershark, that is one hell of a double entendre for this topic.
posted by O Blitiri at 2:37 PM on December 8, 2005


palmcorder: Fersure. It's really quite irritating. I don't think the two issues are at all comparable, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2005


Who cares? It's only some part of, or even all of America.
posted by Joeforking at 3:29 PM on December 8, 2005


palmcorder_yajna: Regarding your Canada link, have you (or anyone else here) read a lit of what exactly got stopped at the border? I've been reading news article for years on this issue, and not one of them actually says what's being blocked. It can't be everything, otherwise the bookstore wouldn't exist, so there must be some sort of imaginary line that's being crossed. I want to know what that line is.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:31 PM on December 8, 2005


Clevershark, that is one hell of a double entendre for this topic. - posted by O Blitiri

Frick! I missed that!

*doffs cap in respect*
posted by Smedleyman at 4:43 PM on December 8, 2005


[Bows to an appreciative audience]
posted by clevershark at 5:29 PM on December 8, 2005


I just watched Inside Deep Throat which told an interesting story in how the govt tried to shut that movie down and we all know how that turned out.
posted by birdherder at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2005


Have they gone after anyone with the resources to fight back (i.e., Larry Flynt et al.), or just after a few easy-target fringe operations?

The defendant in today's reversal is Extreme Associates. News reports say "The privately held company employs 15 people and has annual sales of $20 million to $49.9 million" -- I wouldn't call that "fringe" in business terms. That said, their legal fees are undoubtedly well into the millions, if not tens of millions.

The point, of course, is to get smaller operations to reconsider whether they can handle a federal legal defense as a cost of doing business. Red Rose Stories, to cite one example, simply shut down.

Red Rose Stories, it should be noted, did not have any pictorial porn. Just stories.

For anyone thinking that this is some aberration -- that the Porn Squad operates, perhaps, out of Fox Mulder's vacated basement office -- try this on:

> When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.


And if you think that Gonzalez is a fresh, unassuming face compared to the eminence grise that was Ashcroft, think again -- the head of the Family Research Council brags:
I just met with Attorney General Gonzales and right now he is launching a major effort to prosecute the porn industry. He intends to smash these criminal enterprises on the Internet and elsewhere with a special new obscenity strike force

I wonder if Gonzalez even returns the phone calls of the Free Speech Coalition?

Well, that is, after all, one of the differences between Republicans and Democrats, so that fact isn't really suprising.

That's a great argument, dios! I'm surprised nobody ever tried that on Free Republic while Clinton was President -- I'm certain it would have shut them right up.
posted by dhartung at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2005


Some claim that porn is one of America's larger exports these days.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:30 PM on December 8, 2005


kickstart: I believe it's mainly gay fetish material, especially that involving acts of punishment/pain. The whole thing is stupid, IMO, and I can't imagine why they continue to prosecute other than to save their own jobs.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on December 8, 2005


ome claim that porn is one of America's larger exports these days.

I tought it was microchips, cheap tv shows and wars.
posted by elpapacito at 4:22 AM on December 9, 2005


60 prosecutions, huh? How many terra-ists have they prosecuted since 911? 2 or 3? Just as it is easier to catch a pot smoker than it is to catch a murderer, it seems to be easier to catch a porn peddler than it is to catch a terrorist. As an added bonus, it seems to the sheeple that you (the DOJ) are actually DOING something, as opposed to sitting around with your thumb up your ass.

1. - Notice a billion+ dollar industry that the where the Big Boys aren't getting a lion's share of the money.

2. - Make it illegal, which increases the price exponentially. See War on (Some) Drugs.

3. - Profit!!!
posted by Enron Hubbard at 4:36 AM on December 9, 2005


Hubbard you stole my gag.
posted by tkchrist at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2005


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