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Friday, August 29, 2003

Politics of Porn
Justice Department Launches Long-Anticipated War on Obscenity

By Jake Tapper

Aug. 28— Rob Zicari and his fiancée, Janet Romano, are facing the first major federal prosecution for obscenity in more than a decade. They face 10 counts relating to the production and distribution by mail of obscene materials, and each could get 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $2.5 million.

"We're facing more time than the guy that they just arrested that was trying to sell the surface-to-air missile," said Zicari.

On April 8, law enforcement seized five movies produced by Zicari's California-based company, Extreme Associates, which bills itself as "The Hardest Hard Core on the Web."

One of the confiscated movies, Forced Entry, features three graphic scenes of women being spat upon, raped and murdered. Extreme Teens #24 has adult women dressed up and acting like little girls in various hard-core pornographic scenes. We can't even tell you the title of one of the films.

.................

Ashcroft had planned on launching the anti-obscenity initiative back in 2001, but was sidetracked by the 9/11 terror attacks. Now the issue is once again a priority for the Justice Department.

"I can tell you that as long as I'm chief of the section, the section will work very hard to prosecute obscenity cases along with child pornography, another important focus for us," said Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

"This is about a priority for the country. This is something the country wants prosecuted and therefore we're prosecuting it."


Why in God's name is John Ashcroft wasting our money on this nonsense? They roll up that Al Qaeda network, yet?

The problem with this prosecution, like all obscenity prosecutions, is that it depends on the jury. With porn so widespread, it's hard to say what is truly obscene, even if you find it tasteless or even revolting. Ashcroft is going to wind up facing the best of the First Amendment bar here. Even if he venue shopped the case. A good lawyer will stress the risk to privacy and the comparison with violence in mainstream films.

It's not the kind of prosecution Ashcroft needs at this point. It seems like a sop to the Christian Right at a really inopertune time. He has NO major convictions in a 9/11 case, he has no evidence of rolling up the network which supported the hijackers and his Patriot Act II is facing increasing opposition. So what does he do? Double down his bet and go for an obscentity prosecutition which hands his opponents a case to hammer him with.

He's going to be asked where he would stop and given his freakish views on sex, he's liable to bungle that question badly.

posted by Steve @ 11:39:00 PM

11:39:00 PM

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