What's Really At Risk At A Federal Obscenity Trial? About Four Years In Prison
Topic: Civil Liberties
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.