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Andrew Sullivan’s comment on the Paul Little case is bang on the money:

Consensual adult sado-masochistic porn? So obscene you can put someone away for nearly four years. Actual sadism and actual torture? You get legal immunity if you do it at the behest of the president of the United States.

Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s excellent article on the affair.

Of all laws that should not be there, the obscenity law takes a special place. It not just contradicts free speech but also a basic principle of justice — a person ought to be able to know if his act is illegal. Most laws tell you when you cross the line into illegality, not so with this one. According to Wikipedia:

Even at the federal level, there does NOT exist a specific listing of which exact acts are to be classified as “obscene” outside of the legally determined court cases.

Former Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court of the United States, in attempting to classify what material constituted exactly “what is obscene”, famously wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . .”

Yet this terrible law lives on. And it continues to have the support — at least in principle — of some people who like to call themselves defenders of freedom.

Also read my previous posts on pornography and the obscenity law:

John Stagliano:
https://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/porn-producer-gets-it-law-professor-doesnt/
https://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/john-stagliano-on-reason-tv/

Karen Fletcher:
https://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/the-obscene-case-of-karen-fletcher/
https://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/an-unfortunate-end-to-a-sad-affair/

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