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Bad News For Civil Libertarians

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WASHINGTON – The Bush administration said Wednesday it would seek to reinstate an indictment against a California pornography company that was charged with violating federal obscenity laws. It was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ first public decision on a legal matter.

Billed as the government’s first big obscenity case in a decade, the 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates Inc. and its owners, Robert Zicari, and his wife, Janet Romano, both of Northridge, Calif., was dismissed last month by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster of Pittsburgh.

Lancaster ruled prosecutors overstepped their bounds while trying to block the company’s hard-core movies from children and from adults who did not want to see such material.

The Justice Department […] said it will appeal the ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals […] in Philadelphia. While acknowledging the importance of the constitutional guarantee of free speech, Gonzales said selling or distributing obscene materials does not fall within First Amendment protections.

“The Department of Justice […] remains strongly committed to the investigation and prosecution of adult obscenity cases,” said Gonzales, who pledged during his confirmation hearing to pursue obscenity cases.

If allowed to stand, Lancaster’s ruling would undermine obscenity laws as well as other statutes based on shared views of public morality, including laws against prostitution, bestiality and bigamy, the department said in a statement.

The government should stop trying to ban porn, as long as it’s consensual and the “actors” are all at least 18 years of age.

Let’s walk through this. The “actors” are willingly engaging in a natural human activity. They are doing this on camera, and are getting paid to do so. To them, the money they receive makes it worth their effort.

The producers are willingly spending their own money to hire “actors” for their films. They are essentially entrepreneurs. (I thought Bush was pro-small business?) There is no real guarantee that their product will be profitable, but they are still willing to take the risk. The free market will ultimately decide.

Those who purchase this stuff do so voluntarily. They feel that viewing other people engaging in sexual acts is worth whatever amount of money it cost them.

It’s a perfectly legitimate free market transaction between consenting adults acting in their own perceived best interests.

And yet the federal government wants to step in and tell people what they can and cannot do with their own bodies/money/time?

What a bunch of BS…

If the government can dictate what we can do with our own bodies/money/time (in a manner that does not cause harm to anyone else), where exactly can we, the people, draw the line? What is there left that we will not allow them to decide for us?

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About RJ

  • RJ, this is where right and left come together – the right says “it’s dirty, and you can’t be allowed to watch it;” the left says “it’s anti-feminist, and you can’t be allowed to watch it.”

    Principles of liberty follow the argument you laid out. Unfortunately, it’s a minority opinion.

  • bhw

    What is so special about these porn products that makes them “obscene” and differentiates them from non-obscene porn?

    Inquiring minds want to know….

  • I think it’s because of Jenna Jameson’s excessive amount of plastic surgery – that’s obscene to me.


  • This is yet another area of human activity that doesn’t really seem to need much state intervention.

    Porn stars should be protected against exploitation though.

    I find it hard to come up with an effective/useful definition of the word obscene…

  • Unfortunately sex still remains one of those big ‘power’ issues cloaked in deep denial. Empowerment and honesty will eventually diffuse it and allow the freedom you’re talking about, RJ.