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Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Farmers tell their stories.

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Remember Karen Fletcher? The woman in the centre of the high-profile obscenity case I wrote about earlier? The reclusive lady who wrote violent sexual stories involving children in an attempt to cope with her own history of child abuse and was subsequently hounded by federal prosecuters? Well, the matter’s come to an end.

She battled the federal government’s allegations for more than a year and a half, but in the end, Karen Fletcher’s mental health will win out over her principles. And First Amendment lawyers will lose a key chance to have a court determine whether text-only material can be considered obscene.

Ms. Fletcher has decided to plead guilty to six counts of distributing obscenity online stemming from fictional stories published on a members-only Web site.

First Amendment lawyers thought an acquittal in the case could have begun a trend — proving that text-only cases do not rise to the level of obscenity standards.

The Donora woman was charged in September 2006 based on her “Red Rose” Web site, where Ms. Fletcher, 56, and others posted fictional stories that depicted the rape and torture of children — including infants.

She and her high-profile First Amendment lawyers claimed that what she’d written was not obscene, and they hoped to prevail before a jury.

In their favor, they thought, was the fact that the federal government has never won a conviction based solely on text under current obscenity law.

But Ms. Fletcher, who has agoraphobia — a fear of public places — is not capable of sitting through what likely would be a weeklong trial, said one of her attorneys, Lawrence Walters.

“With a different client, with somebody who had the strength to fight, there might have been a different outcome,” Mr. Walters said. “While we’d like her to be a standard-bearer on First Amendment issues, this is not the person to endure a trial.

“Even worse, should she be convicted, I don’t know that she’d be able to withstand a jail sentence.”

Under the proposed plea agreement, Ms. Fletcher would avoid prison and be sentenced to a term of home detention.

When I wrote about this matter several months ago, I noted that this case would a key test for the greatest American law of all — the first amendment. I ended that post with the words:

It is possible that Karen Fletcher will not be convicted. If she is, God save us all.

I don’t blame Karen Fletcher for the decision she has taken. A trial is a painful affair and I cannot even imagine how traumatic it may be to some one who suffers from agoraphobia, as Fletcher does. Nevertheless, today feels like an anti-climax. A defeat would have been catastrophic, signalling the slow destruction of something precious and irreplaceable; a victory would have reaffirmed the protection enjoyed by free speech in this country. This, being neither, leaves things in the balance, for another day, another case, another hero.

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Think twice before writing a violent story. Steven Barber, a student at the University of Virginia at Wise, was searched, involuntarily committed for three days, and finally expelled from the university, for … hold your breath … writing a story in which a character contemplates murder and suicide.

I don’t know which is more disturbing – the fact that the administration acted so viciously (and possibly unlawfully), or the fact that some people justify the administration’s action by pointing out parallels to the Virginia Tech massacre. Just a thought – if everyone who expresses disturbing thoughts or ideas is placed under a period of mandatory observation, our lives might be more secure, but would it be a life worth living? 

(Link via The Volokh Conspiracy)

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As dumb wars go, this is the dumbest of them all. It involves more money than is spent on food programs, science or technology. It arrests about two million people (that’s almost 1 percent of the population) every year, most of them small users. It is responsible for about a quarter of the current inmate population in the United States. And remarkably, it has nothing to show for it, except that it has driven a business – that would have been perfectly controlled and safe if it were legitimate – underground, into the abyss of gang violence, disease and decay.

One day, people will look back at the most ill-conceived, wasteful, senseless and fruitless program in the history of civilization, and wonder- WHY?

Till then, there is the drug clock to remind us of the costs that the War on Drugs drug-users entails.

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Some feel there should be no divorce today, some give them away for free.

Some hug, others kill.

There are many who crave to be free, in different ways. A wayward pop-princess wants her liberty, an exiled writer searches for her freedom of expression, these two want to merely marry. The powers-that-be have decided that they should all be denied. I sit near a neon desk reflecting on the fact that my outrage and my sorrow are not powerful enough to overturn law or opinion.

And then there is the pathetic Bajrang Dal, who believe it is wrong to love but right to harass those who do not share their belief. Sometimes I feel sorry for those frustrated men. Don’t they ever get sex?

Happy Valentine’s day, dear reader.

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This is horrifying.

I have a question for the reader (especially the guys). Imagine yourself horny and drunk and suddenly in the middle of such a situation. What would you, as a spectator, do?

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