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What's Really At Risk At A Federal Obscenity Trial? About Four Years In Prison
by Decius at 11:10 am EDT, Oct 6, 2008

We know that if you publish pornographic material on the Internet, federal prosecutors can choose to bring trial against you almost anywhere in the nation. And if Paul F. Little's (a/k/a "Max Hardcore") prosecution is any guide, figure a conviction means about 4 years in the pen, minimum security.

But then, you can argue he got off easy -- the 20 counts of obscenity Little was convicted of carried a potential penalty of 100 years.

There is very little press coverage of this sentencing other than some commentary by Glenn Greenwald. I don't agree with Greenwald. He includes pictures of Abu Ghraib and somehow neglects to mention that people were sentenced to long prison terms over than incident, a fact (among several others) which undermines his point. I didn't read a lot of the attached thread but no one seems to pick up on that. There is, however, a lot of noise about the pornographer in question being a really bad guy who does really bad things and who needed to go down.

I don't know anything about this guy or his porn. However, he wasn't convicted for assaulting or abusing actresses. He was convicted for making consensual porn with adults. He was convicted of obscenity, something that hasn't happened in this country for many years, AFAIK. Something which has been used in very recent history by moralists as a weapon to attack disfavored ideas and groups of people.

After the election in 2004 the Bush administration demanded that obscenity prosecutions be dusted off in order to hand a bone to the conservative base who reelected him. This is one of those prosecutions. It was a success. One of two things will happen from here. Either a new president will put an end to this project, or it will continue to expand, including a greater scope of ideas into the realm of prohibition until it again becomes a serious threat to freedom of expression.

I expect that a McCain/Palin presidency would allow this program to expand. I'm not sure about an Obama/Biden ticket. It seems the sort of thing that the Biden/Clinton wing of the democratic party would strongly support but it might not end up on Obama's priority list. So, its worth paying attention to. It might end here, but it might not, and if it doesn't, it will inevitably become a serious problem.

RE: What's Really At Risk At A Federal Obscenity Trial? About Four Years In Prison
by Vile at 2:47 am EDT, Oct 7, 2008

It's amazing what happens in Florida. Tom, here's a few examples of recent obscenity convictions that predate Max Hardcore's sentencing:

In 2005, Karen Fletcher, operator of a website called Red Rose Stories found no choice other than to plead guilty to six counts of online distribution of obscenity, which carries a minimum term of 3 years in the slammer. Interestingly enough, her website was TEXT-BASED! Red Rose featured creative fiction of an erotic nature submitted by the sites users!

That same month in 05, the webmaster of was arrested on obscenity charges. Though I have not thoroughly researched this incident, some have claimed that the charges were filed after the site gained national attention for allowing soldiers to upload photos of war dead. I am unaware of the outcome or current standing of that case, but the domain name no longer exists.

Perhaps the most unsettling obscenity ruling in the nation's history also came out of Florida, but unlike the Max Hardcore case, this involved a comic book wherein no actual humans could be said to have been exploited at all! The troubling case of Mike Diana received surprisingly little fanfare, considering its precedent-setting decision. You see, Diana is the first U.S. artist to receive an obscenity conviction.

Diana's underground comic book, called Boiled Angel, came to the attention of Florida Assistant State Attorney Stuart Baggish in 1991, two years after issues of the book were seized by authorities investigating the case of the Gainesville Ripper.

Boiled Angel depicted graphic sex acts, violence and general depravity, but was certainly not without an inarguable redeeming social value. In fact, I found the overall effect of Boiled Angel quite powerful in its semi-satirical approach to pressing issues of child abuse in suburbia, religious hypocrisy, and the seemingly inherent flaws in our justice system.

Well, that same justice system Diana lampooned sent an undercover officer disguised as an artist to buy issues of Boiled Angel from Diana, after which Baggish charged the artist with three counts of obscenity.

Found guilty on all three counts, thus assuring himself and his zine with a sad place in U.S. and art history, Diana faced an unusual sentence that should send shock-waves through the mind of any freedom-loving American. Though he spent four days in jail (one might say, in light of the Hardcore case, that Diana got off easy), he found himself slapped with a $3,000 fine, three years probation, and random searches of his apartment to make sure that he would not violate a particularly unusual mandate of his sentence. The court ordered that Mike Diana legally be barred from drawing in the state of Florida. That is truly terrifying.

Look it up. It's all true. This artist should serve as a battle cry to all who cherish any of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

There are more cases, but I... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

RE: What's Really At Risk At A Federal Obscenity Trial? About Four Years In Prison
by Decius at 8:55 am EDT, Oct 7, 2008

Vile wrote:
There are more cases, but I thought that these particular ones may illuminate you, Tom. Frankly, it makes me a bit queasy to defend a scumbag like Paul Little, but I have managed to live out my days without having Max Hardcore videos shoved down my throat as, obviously, had the jurors in this case (until this case, at any rate).

Thanks. I think I might have heard of Boiled Angel before but I had forgotten about it. With respect to defending someone like Paul Little, I get the impression that he is far more vile than Larry Flint, but its all a matter of perspective. "The People vs. Larry Flynt" included a number of good quotes on the subject. Here are two:

I am not trying to suggest that you should like what Larry Flynt does. I don't like what Larry Flynt does, but what I do like is the fact that I live in a country where you and I can make that decision for ourselves. I like the fact that I live in a country where I can pick up Hustler magazine and read it, or throw it in the garbage can if that's where I think it belongs.

If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.

Conversely, if the first amendment does not protect Larry Flynt or Paul Little or Boiled Angel than we don't know who or what it protects.

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