||[Oct. 24th, 2005|12:33 pm]
I don't normally post something like this -- especially leaving it publicly viewable. However, I think I will post this without comment.|
October 20, 2005 - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced
that his office will specifically target "bestiality, urination,
defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior" in pursuing
new obscenity prosecutions. The Department of Justice began recruiting
in late July for a new anti-obscenity squad to pursue obscenity
prosecutions, and the FBI announced in September that it was forming
an anti-obscenity task force to crack down on pornography.
Any website that has content containing "bestiality, urination,
defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior" should be
forewarned that prosecution is possible. Additionally, Federal
sentencing guidelines state that any obscenity-related punishment
should be "enhanced for sadomasochistic material."
Forty people and businesses have been convicted of obscenity since
2001, and 20 additional indictments are pending according to Andrew
Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's child exploitation and
obscenity section. There were only four obscenity prosecutions during
the eight years of the Clinton administration.
Though adult content is, in theory, protected by the First Amendment,
only a jury can determine if a work is obscene or not under the
subjective set of standards that vary from one community to the next
established in the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. California.
Text is not inherently more protected than images when it comes to
obscenity charges. The erotic fiction website Red Rose Stories is
facing obscenity charges after federal agents raided the owner's home
on October 3rd, taking computer equipment and diskettes that contained
all of their files and site information.
The Department of Justice is clearly hoping that websites will
self-censor or remove their content entirely. Midori, a fetish model
and SM educator who teaches classes on bondage, has removed her
website, BeautyBound.com, citing fear of obscenity prosecution. The
owner of three SM websites, known as GrandPa eSade, removed his
websites from the Internet. SuicideGirls.com also announced they are
self-censoring their materials over concerns about a possible
Recent prosecutions of obscenity on websites include: A former police
officer in Lakeland, Florida, was arrested on October 7th on over 300
obscenity-related charges for the sexual content posted on his
website. The same day, webmaster Chris Wilson, owner of amateur
website NowThatsFuckedUp.com, was raided on charges of obscenity by a
local Sheriff's office.
"I think it's crucial for us to stand up for consensual sadomasochism
and other alternative sexual practices," says Barbara Nitke, fetish
photographer. "This is a battle worth fighting, and I hope everyone
who can will just censor out the most provocative material from their
websites, but keep them up. I also appeal to the lawyers in our
community to help us find ways to keep people's websites up."
Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)
have proactively challenged federal obscenity laws as applied to the
Internet, arguing that obscenity laws based on "local community
standards" are too vague and their existence burdens protected speech,
resulting in self-censorship due to the fear of prosecution. A
district court three-judge panel in New York ruled that while Nitke
and the NCSF members were at risk, more proof was needed that
obscenity laws cause otherwise protected speech to be restrained
through acts of self-censorship. The case is currently on appeal to
the United States Supreme Court.
"The effect of silencing alternative lifestyle speech was exactly why
we brought the lawsuit," says attorney John Wirenius, lead counsel for
NCSF. "The self-censorship we are seeing underscores the importance of
supporting our ongoing obscenity challenge."