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AL.com: According to a June 13 memo, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ordered the Under Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps to conduct an inspection of all Navy workplaces to “ensure they are free from materials that create a degrading, hostile, or offensive work environment.” . . . Morality in Media, a faith-based group dedicated to raising awareness on the harmful impacts of pornography, named the Department of Defense to its “Dirty Dozen” list, for what it says is the military’s “serious pornography problem.”
Washington Times: The Federal Communications Commission is mulling a change to a policy that, in effect, would open the doors to more obscenity on television and radio.
The Hill: “Holder’s actions keep the porn industry thriving. He not only refuses to enforce obscenity laws currently on the books that prohibit the distribution of hardcore pornography, but he even disbanded the office charged with enforcement,” Trueman said in a statement.
How Appealing: And in news coverage, XBIZ.com reports that “Ira Isaacs Sentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison, Fined $10K.” According to the article, “Isaacs attorney Roger Jon Diamond indicated that his client will appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Daily Comet: The Denham Springs City Council has unanimously approved an obscenity ordinance. City Attorney Paeton Burkett told the council Wednesday night there are no businesses in the city that would violate the ordinance, but it will prevent such businesses from locating in the city.
Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy: In principle, the government might well be able to prosecute many American pornography producers and distributors under current obscenity laws. But even if every single U.S. producer is shut down, wouldn’t foreign sites happily take up the slack? It’s not like Americans have some great irreproducible national skills in smut-making, or like it takes a $100 million Hollywood budget to make a porn movie. Foreign porn will doubtless be quite an adequate substitute for the U.S. market
The Hill: Morality in Media (MIM), a non-profit that states its mission is to curb obscenity and “uphold standards of decency in media,” applauded the GOP’s pledge to clamp down on pornography in the platform that was approved at the party’s convention this past week in Tampa, Fla. “Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced,” the platform said under a plank titled “Making the Internet Family Friendly.” Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media, welcomed the adoption of that line in the platform, which added on to wording in previous versions that was limited to voicing opposition to child pornography.
Reuters: Appeals court overturns ban on video-sharing site
Daily Caller: Former Justice Department official Patrick Trueman, who proudly participated in federal pornography prosecutions during their “heyday” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, told The Daily Caller that Mitt Romney’s campaign assured him that Romney would “vigorously” prosecute pornographers if elected president.
Patrick Trueman at Townhall: The U. S. Supreme Court decision on broadcast indecency in FCC v. Fox Television, Inc. , (June 21, 2012) (“Fox II”), has reignited an important debate: whether TV networks have a right to distribute indecent material into our homes without our consent. The U. S. Congress prohibited such activity and the high Court upheld that prohibition decades ago.
FCC v. Fox Television Stations, No. 10-1293
Morality in Media said today’s U. S. Supreme Court ruling in FCC v. Fox leaves the Federal Communications Commission free to enforce federal broadcast TV indecency law and to alter FCC regulations that provide guidance to network broadcasters if necessary.
Politico: The Supreme Court heard arguments back on Jan. 10 in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, a case testing the constitutionality of the commission’s ban on indecent words and images on TV, and court watchers are curious.
Christian Newswire: On the heels of former Senator Rick Santorum publicly pledging to ‘vigorously enforce the nation’s adult obscenity laws,’ and with last year’s Congressional bipartisan support to do the same, Governor Romney is being asked to outline his plan to enforce federal laws.
Daily Caller: Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”
Inside Higher Ed: But a lawyer at the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian group working to defend religious freedom in colleges, said Forese’s bill is necessary and that discrimination against Christian academics is real.
Baptist Press: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have each told Morality in Media (MIM) his administration would prosecute violations of the bans on hardcore pornography, the anti-porn organization reported Monday (Jan. 9).
Christian Newswire: News that the .XXX Domain is going live today caused Morality in Media to call for an investigation of ICM Registry, the company behind the .XXX Domain, for possible violations of federal laws prohibiting distribution of hard-core obscene Internet pornography.
Xtra Canada’s Gay and Lesbian News: Conservative radio host Kari Simpson has filed a police complaint against Out in Schools, an anti-homophobia program, alleging there are “serious and possibly criminal activities involved with this program.”
Cal Thomas at the MiamiHerald.com: Intellectually, I understand the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision that the First Amendment protects the most violent of video games. Experientially, I don’t. It’s fine for the majority to say parents have ultimate control over what their children see, but how many members of the Supreme Court have experienced “real” life? . . Justices live in an unreal world. They have little experience with cyberspace and violent video games . . .
Terence P. Jeffrey at Townhall: “The practice and beliefs of the founding generation establish that ‘the freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,” wrote Thomas. But Thomas was a dissenter. Justice Antonin Scalia — a conservative — wrote the majority opinion in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.
Politico: The catalyst for a renewed fight over pornography is a recent, little-noticed move by Attorney General Eric Holder to shutter the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, a special Justice Department unit set up during the Bush administration under pressure from conservatives upset about the proliferation of obscene material on the Internet.
The War on Illegal Pornography announced today that more than 100 U.S. Senate and House Members, including nine Senate Judiciary Committee Members, have [signed letters] addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI vigorously prosecute major producers and distributors of illegal adult pornography.” . . .
One News Now: “Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), says child pornography and sexual abuse of children has escalated in the last 20 to 25 years. However, the federal government and the Justice Department have refused to crack down on hardcore pornography, he argues.”
One News Now: “Several members of the House and Senate, including Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina) and Randy Forbes (R-Virginia), have written their colleagues, asking them to join in the effort to pressure the agency and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch prosecution efforts. Pat Trueman of PornHarms.com tells OneNewsNow that new laws are not needed, but enforcement of the existing ones is vital.”
“The nation is flooded with illegal adult pornography in almost every medium which is providing fuel to the fire of child pornography, destruction of marriages and families, addiction of children and adults, and an increase in sex trafficking, yet the U.S. Department of Justice has not indicted any distributers of such material in the past two years,” said Patrick Trueman, Morality in Media CEO and former chief of the Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
Breitbart: “Phillip Greaves of Pueblo, Colo., will be booked into the Polk County jail Tuesday. Officials say his first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.”
New York Times Editorial: “If the Supreme Court renders justice in a case it heard this month, Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, it will strike down a California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to anyone under 18. That would end a violation of free expression — but not prevent the states from finding other ways to support parents who do not want their children to play violent games.”
USA Today: “Expanding the obscenity umbrella would have a dramatic impact on America’s popular culture. Highly violent films or television programs without a hint of nudity or sexual content could potentially lose First Amendment protection. And if we decide that some ideas are so horrendous that they can be added to the obscene list, how can we ever put a cap on government intrusion?”
Law Review: Comparative Legal Approaches to Pornographic Obscenity by the United States and the United Kingdom
Two Nations, One Web: Comparative Legal Approaches to Pornographic Obscenity by the United States and the United Kingdom
“Modern American obscenity law has developed over a period of approximately fifty years. The foundation of the law is built around a single test, the ‘community standards test,’ which tasks a trier of fact with gauging whether given materials would be considered obscene by the standards of the average member of the community in which they are made available. If that trier of fact deems those materials obscene, then the producer or distributor of such materials may face fines or imprisonment. The application of the community standards test has been refined, but never fully clarified. Thus, questions debated at the test’s first official implementation by the Supreme Court in the 1950s are still in question today: What types of materials actually fall within the scope of obscenity? What is the proper definition of the ‘community’ from which we should draw our standards? What role should individual privacy rights play? How do political pressures impact the application of obscenity laws? More recently, how should this standard apply following technological advances, like the internet, which have expanded the volume and variety of potential obscenity available in any given place at any given moment? This Note examines the underlying issues in U.S. obscenity law that raise these questions, yet primarily focuses on the impact of the internet on modern obscenity law in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Part One examines these basic questions and explores their complexities. Part Two introduces and examines recent changes in U.K. law that address many of these same questions. Effective in 2009, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 sharpened the United Kingdom’s definition of obscenity by imposing a strict liability offense for possession of ‘extreme pornography.’ Until this change, U.K. and U.S. obscenity laws were very similar, but this new Act imposes greater individual responsibility on consumers of such depictions, and also provides a far more precise definition of the prohibited materials. Part Three attempts to reconcile the tensions in U.S. law with the changes in U.K. law. The discussion focuses on the divergence in the laws and the consequence, if any, such divergence could, or should, have on American obscenity law.”
Associated Press: “A coalition of booksellers and Internet content providers will ask a judge to stop Massachusetts from enforcing an expansion of state obscenity law to include electronic communications that may be harmful to minors.”
Complaint: American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, et. al. v. Coakley, No. 10-11165 (D. Mass.)
KATV: “The trial of two men and their corporation accused of promoting obscene material ended in a not guilty verdict late Friday night at the St. Francis County Courthouse . . . The brothers and J&W Investments, Inc., were charged in November of 2008 with two counts of selling or promoting obscene materials after confidential informants with the sheriff’s department purchased movies from Adult World locations on Hwy. 38 near Interstate 40 at Widener.”
Rasmussen Reports: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 29% of Adults say the FCC is doing a good or excellent job regulating profanity, sexual content and violence on television and radio. Twenty-eight percent (28%) feel the FCC is doing a poor job monitoring content.”
Press Release from Patrick A. Trueman at PornHarms.com: ‘Attorney General Holder would be well advised, however, to also vigorously prosecute illegal adult pornography and not just child pornography, Trueman urged. ‘This would prevent many from ever getting involved with child pornography because many child pornographers today are not pedophiles and likely did not have a natural attraction to child pornography prior to their involvement with pornography. Rather they began with adult pornography but moved to harder and more deviant material and eventually to child pornography to maintain their sexual excitement,’ he added.”
If Jacob Sullum is right, then inability to precisely define “indecent” and “obscene” means anything can air during TV family hour
ChristianNewsWire: “I wouldn’t dispute Mr. Sullum’s observation that the FCC’s current guidelines for enforcing the broadcast indecency law are ‘muddled.’ He might have added that the guidelines have become muddled in good part because of court decisions. But do broadcasters really need additional guidance to determine which indecent words they can air in the presence of children and how often?”
Defending Against a Charge of Obscenity in the Internet Age: How Google Searches Can Illuminate Miller’s “Contemporary Community Standards”
“Whether Miller‘s contemporary community standards test should be completely abandoned has been the subject of much debate and falls outside the scope of this work. To date, most governmental attempts at Internet regulation have been aimed at protecting children from online pornography, which is another issue that falls outside the scope of this work. This Note will, however, explore the challenges the courts have encountered when applying the community standards test, the ways in which both parties have attempted to shed light on Miller’s requirements, and how courts can simplify this process by allowing Internet search engine data to be introduced as evidence of the community’s values. To that end, Part I traces the history of obscenity law in the United States up to the current Miller test. Part II examines the application of the Miller test, analyzing the challenges involved in defining the community and the difficulties defendants face when trying to prove the standard with various types of evidence. Finally, Part III argues in favor of more clearly identifying the relevant community and, under any definition of community, allowing Google searches (and other search engine data) to be admitted as evidence to establish the values of that community.”
“Acquitting Stagliano, John Stagliano Inc. and Evil Angel Productions Inc. before they began their defense, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon said evidence presented by the Justice Department’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the four-day trial was ‘woefully insufficient’ to link defendants to the production and distribution of two DVD videos at the heart of the case.”
One News Now: “A major pornography trial involving an adult film producer who has criticized the prosecution of obscenity cases is under way in Washington, DC. Pat Trueman, special counsel to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and former chief prosecutor of Department of Justice obscenity cases, tells OneNewsNow the case is a holdover from the Bush administration . . . ‘Any obscenity case is critical because it’s going to send a signal on whether or not these cases are winnable,’ Trueman notes. ‘So far in the whole history of the Department of Justice, virtually every case has been won.’ . . . “But believe me, if it isn’t, the pornography industry and some in government will cheer that the case is lost,” he adds. The ADF special counsel, who recently launched the website PornHarms.com . . . ”
National Law Journal (Law.com): “At the annual Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas in January 2008, Stagliano produced an erotic dance that his lawyers say condemned criminalizing erotic images and warned of government monitoring of private use of the Internet. Now, Stagliano is just trying to stay out of prison. Stagliano and two of his companies were indicted in federal district court in Washington in April 2008 on seven counts of distributing obscene, sexually graphic videos that U.S. Justice Department prosecutors allege have no artistic or scientific value and cut against the community standard of what is acceptable. He faces up to 32 years behind bars if convicted . . . ”
The Georgia Bulletin (CNS): “The briefing, ‘Pornography Harms: What Congress Can Do to Enforce Existing Laws,’ was led by Patrick Trueman, a former chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section … During his presentation, Trueman spoke about an argument used by some that fighting pornography limits the adult entertainment industry’s constitutional right of free speech.”
The Hill: “Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge.”
AP: “South Carolina’s surprise Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is facing a pending felony charge. Court records show 32-year-old Alvin Greene was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student. The felony charge carries up to five years in prison . . . ”
Salt Lake Tribune: “Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a group created by the adult entertainment industry, also made the case that pornography has become more acceptable over time.
CitizenLink: “In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked Attorney General Eric Holder about his policy of enforcing federal obscenity laws. Under Holder’s leadership, prosecutions have stalled . . . Patrick Trueman, former head of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the DOJ, said he’s not aware of what the First Amendment considerations are, but he’ll continue to keep up the pressure.”
Today in a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah confronted Attorney General Eric Holder about his policy of enforcement of Federal laws against illegal adult pornography or “obscenity” as it is known in the law
Citizen Link: “The Polk County Sheriff’s office said undercover detectives identified two convenience stores selling hard-core pornography. Officers seized more than 250 DVDs and magazines, according to the News Chief . . . ”
KKTV: “The Family Research Institute wanted to express its concerns about gays in the military in a bulk newsletter to be mailed out. FRI says local postal officials refused to mail out the newsletter because they deemed the content ‘obscene’ and ‘incited force-able resistance against the government.’ after a routine check of the mail before it was authorized to be sent out.”
Mike McManus writing at Virtue Online: “Patrick Trueman, who led Justice obscenity prosecutions in the Reagan and Bush I Administrations was given seed money by Morality in Media, a nonprofit organization fighting this plague, to launch a “War on Illegal Pornography.” 1. Enforce the Law . . . 2. Prosecute criminal pornographers . . . 3. Mobilize pro-family and religious leaders to demand action . . . 4. Congress should demand action.”
California Family Council: “Patrick Trueman, the former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, has joined Morality in Media to head a coalition of groups and individuals to petition Congress and the White House to enforce obscenity laws through the FBI and Department of Justice. Trueman served in the Reagan and Bush I administrations and during that time over 130 obscenity indictments were obtained, with 126 convictions brought against individuals and corporations.”
Wicked Local (GateHouse News Service): “Legislation filed last week by State Sen. Cynthia Creem would include text messages and other electronic communication in state laws preventing adults from sending obscene messages to minors.”
Wired: “A U.S. comic book collector is being sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex and bestiality.”
Times of Malta: “The Opposition has called on the government to set up a committee – already provided for in the Criminal Code – to advise the minister responsible for culture on definitions of obscenities and pornography.”
The Constitutional Status of Moral Legislation
“This Article argues that, in seeking to protect the private activities of gays and lesbians, liberals from Hart on have thought it necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater by maintaining that the state may never regulate on the basis of ‘private morals.’ The better conclusion is that society has now reached a general consensus that it is wrong to single out one type of sexual activity and mark for punishment the class of people who engage in it. This, indeed, is the meaning of Lawrence v. Texas, and not the more expansive claim that Lawrence declares the end of morals legislation.”
Seeing It, Knowing It
“In When Obscenity Discriminates, I argued that the First Amendment’s obscenity doctrine has generated discriminatory collateral effects against gays and lesbians, and that those collateral effects generate a need to refine the obscenity doctrine in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas. In his response, If Obscenity Were to Discriminate, Professor Barry McDonald agrees with my essay’s “core insight—that the Miller obscenity test should be applied in a manner that is neutral as to the sexual orientation of the pertinent actors,”and notes that this insight “appears to have substantial support in basic principles of the Court’s equal protection and First Amendment jurisprudence.” McDonald builds from that ‘core insight’ by ‘tak[ing] the liberty of recasting these arguments as more modest claims that the obscenity doctrine needs to be modified in light of Lawrence in order to achieve a principled and coherent constitutional jurisprudence as it relates to the Court’s treatment of gay sex.’ However, the ‘more modest claim’ that McDonald purports to make is, in fact, the claim made in my essay, namely, to ‘refin[e]—but not overturn—the obscenity test set forth in Miller‘ so that it distinguishes between sex and sexual orientation.”
Citizen Link: “Australia, India and China are moving to filter illegal pornography based on its harm to society. Compulsory internet filtering in Australia, the blocking of 13,000 porn sites in China and a tightening of filters in India have family advocates wondering why the U.S. isn’t following suit . . .”
Law Review: Should Texas’s Former Ban on Obscene Device Promotion Pass Constitutional Muster Under a Murky Lawrence?
Should Texas’s Former Ban on Obscene Device Promotion Pass Constitutional Muster Under a Murky Lawrence?
“In Part II, this Comment will summarize the cases and statutes involved in the sex-toy promotion circuit split. Part III will discuss other courts’ holdings on similar issues. Part IV will analyze relevant U.S. Supreme Court holdings and Texas cases, apply Lawrence to the Texas and Alabama statutes, and examine whether the Texas statute might be changed to pass constitutional muster. While the murkiness of Lawrence has spawned a great deal of scholarship on whether it is a fundamental rights analysis or a rational basis analysis, this Comment will focus on the private-versus-commercial right aspect of the debate. This Comment will conclude with a discussion of what a possible U.S. Supreme Court clarification of Lawrence might hold.”
The MP3 runs just over 9 minutes.
Community Defense Counsel Abstract: 9th Circuit: National community standard must be applied in regulating Internet obscenity
Community Defense Counsel: 11th Circuit Obscenity Case Tests Community Standards on the Internet
Blog of the Legal Times: “However, at a hearing today the judge said he would consider allowing defense lawyers to file an immediate appeal of his decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit . . . In a motion to dismiss the case, Stagliano’s lawyers argued that the standards set by federal obscenity laws — such as the use of “contemporary community standards” to determine what was obscene — were too vague to govern Internet speech.”
Breitbart (AP): “Australia plans to introduce an Internet filtering system to block obscene and crime-linked Web sites despite concerns it will curtail freedoms and won’t completely work.”
Fulton County Daily Report: “The federal judges who on Thursday heard the appeal of the movie producer, known as Max Hardcore, aren’t being asked to make the same judgments the jury did . . . the judges are being asked to decide some of the heaviest issues in the area of obscenity law, such as whether the government should criminalize adult films purchased over the Internet and viewed in the privacy of the home, and whether a Tampa jury should apply its own mores to materials available all over the country.”
OneNewsNow: “The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a controversial ruling on pornography cases . . . According to the ADF attorney, the way these cases have previously been handled has been on the basis of local community standards. But Trueman suggests that if the Ninth Circuit’s ruling stands, it could make convictions far more difficult than they currently are. He is hopeful the decision will be appealed.”
Dayton Daily News: “A state law designed to protect children from pornography and predators on the Internet is too vague for the average citizen to know what is prohibited and what is permitted, according to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.”
Michigan State Senator Tupac Hunter: “For some time now, I have been very concerned with the explicit billboards along 8 Mile Road promoting topless bars and other sexually-oriented businesses . . . Today, Michigan is one step closer to ridding our communities of these inappropriate billboards. Recently, the Senate has cooperated in a bipartisan fashion to pass my legislation . . . Senate Bill 266 would restrict the kind of suggestive and inappropriate images we now see on billboards.”
Kenosha News: “The ACLU of Wisconsin issued a statement on Thursday urging the City Council to reject plans to amend the city’s obscene language ordinance to allow police and firefighters to issue warnings and, if necessary, tickets for profane, vile, filthy or obscene language that is observed by an officer or firefighter while they are in the line of duty.”
Clifton Drake writes at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: “When it comes to the word ‘pornography,’ many Christians would assume it’s synonymous with ‘obscenity,’ and indeed in the biblical worldview, it is. The law, however, takes a different view. Although obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, pornography is not necessarily considered under the law obscene and therefore is often protected as free speech. For something to be considered obscene, three factors must be shown . . . ”
Politico: “President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has quietly agreed to move a pornography prosecution out of socially conservative Montana to more urbane New Jersey – fueling perceptions by some attorneys that the new administration is stepping back from the aggressive approach the Bush administration took to prosecuting obscenity . . . But Patrick Trueman, a former obscenity prosecutor pressing the new administration to do more to battle pornography, said critics were jumping the gun by blaming the Obama team for moving the Goldman case.”
“A . . . man who trafficked in bestiality films violated federal obscenity laws, a federal appeals court has ruled, showing that obscenity prosecutions targeting extremely explicit sexual material, far from being relics of the past, still occur.”