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Posts Tagged ‘pornography’

The Washington Times says so in an editorial full of huffy misdirection and false alternatives. Radley Balko, rightly, takes the piece apart.

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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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I highly recommend the two part interview, embedded below, of pornographer John Stagliano with Reason TV.

Stagliano, who has been mentioned previously in this blog, faces obscenity charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. He is a libertarian and a contributer to Reason Foundation.

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(Post updated)

Via Reason, I discovered this old video of Chomsky pontificating about pornography and expressing his view that the government should ‘eliminate the conditions in which women can get these jobs’ ‘eliminate the degradation of women’, which is, of course, a long-winded way of saying ‘ban pornography’.

Chomsky’s argument is wrong on so many levels that it is impossible to salvage anything useful out of it. The sad thing is that so many people consider him an intellectual giant.

Here’s another video of Chomsky, one in which he explains why he calls himself a ‘libertarian socialist’. During much of it, Chomsky is nitpicking about etymology (and commiting some serious historical errors); however for me the interesting bit comes at the end, when Chomsky says he is a ‘conservative’ in the true meaning of the term. To understand the relevance of this description, recall that the great Milton Friedman liked to describe himself as really a ‘liberal’. In the US of course, Chomsky is viewed as a liberal and Friedman a conservative.

Chomsky and Friedman are right — the words conservative and liberal aren’t so much about ideology as they are about a mindset. Friedman was a dynamist who wanted things to change. Chomsky, despite his anarchist claims, is an old-fashioned statist who really wishes to maintain and conserve the collectivist society that has been in force for much of human history. Thus, when Chomsky says he is a conservative, he is being surprisingly accurate; the word explains a lot of his regressive and self-contradictory views.

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Adult film producer John Stagliano — facing up to 40 years in jail if convicted in a currently running obscenity case — debates Pepperdine Law School’s Barry McDonald on free speech vs obscenity. Money quote from Stagliano:

Barry, your point is that people must be forced to not think things that you don’t like, and for that you’d have me put in jail. Your comment that it “seems” to you that viewing images “to obtain sexual pleasure cannot be the healthiest way of experiencing sex” seems not a good enough reason to imprison me for 39 years. In fact, using a proper concept of morality based on individual rights, it is you and those who would put me in jail when I did not infringe on anyone’s rights who are behaving immorally.

(Link via Reason Hit and Run)

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Since the Judge Kozinski story broke three days ago, I have frequently visited The Volokh Conspiracy hoping that Eugene Volokh — an outstanding blogger who I frequently cite —  would post on the issue. My interest was piqued not only because I admire Kozinski — a brilliant judge with a libertarian streak — but because Volokh had once clerked for him. Here is the expected post, at last.

I’ve tried to avoid blogging about the Judge Kozinski story, because I’m so obviously biased on the subject. I clerked for the Judge. The Judge officiated at my wedding. I talk to him often. I consider him a close friend, he’s taught me a huge amount, and he’s helped me tremendously in my career, and not just by giving me a valuable credential. What I say on the matter will naturally and properly be discounted because of my bias. Still, I can’t help myself any longer, so I’ll pass along what I think, and you can give it whatever credit you think is due.

Here is a link to the rest of Volokh’s article, which I recommend. I agree completely with all his points. However, I am a tad disapponted that he places so much emphasis on the fact that the images on the judge’s site were tame. In other words, while I agree with his conclusion, 

We should all leave Kozinski to his own privately expressed sense of humor, as we’d like the world to leave us to ours,

I would have been happier if he had added it didn’t really matter even if that sense of humour was much racier than what it actually is.

It would be a great day for freedom when the obscenity law is finally repealed. The root of the current controversy is that Kozinski was also going to officiate this case.  Of course, because of the controversy, he has now recused himself from it. The defence, I suppose, would have fancied their chances if he had remained the judge — Kozinski has always known to be a staunch defender of free speech. The prosecution must be chortling with glee.

On another note, I really hope that the LA Times, which broke the story, publishes a retraction and offers Kozinski an apology. They have displayed an astonishing lack of journalistic integrity in their coverage of the matter. It has, to put it lightly, been full of misleading errors. For instance, they said that one of the images showed a man ‘cavorting’ with a donkey when it wasn’t even close to that. But if the LA Times did apologize to this supposedly conservative judge, it wouldn’t really be the LA Times any more, would it?

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In case you haven’t done so yet, do check out Savita Bhabhi, India’s first online pornographic cartoon strip. The stories are fairly standard and the art-work good though not top-class. It is appealing nonetheless. In fact, barely two months after its launch, it’s traffic rank in India — according to Alexa — is currently an astounding 66.

Which, of course, has made the moral police sweat.

According to psychologist Mythili M. Sharma, a bhabhi can stand in for a mother in a typical family arrangement if the mother should die or otherwise be unavailable.

“Websites like this one are not definitely going to be taken in good taste in India by an average Indian male psyche, because bhabhi hold a special place in the mind of an Indian male,” she said.

Indian legal experts also blasted the site, claiming it violated the country’s Internet laws.

“In my opinion this site is more dangerous than a normal adult site since it targets young Indian audience and degrades women,” said Na Vijayashankar, a security consultant based in Bangalore.

Ooh, what will happen to our country when young people stop worshipping bhabhis as asexual matronly figures and start thinking of them as women with thighs?

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