Sunday 18 July 2010

Obscenity: In defense of Stagliano [updated]

Update: The case was dropped on technicalities due to an incompetent prosecution. Original post follows below.

I'm rather glad that the New Zealand Censor's office found that the issue of Norml News in which I had a short article was not a prohibited publication.

Surprisingly enough, things seem to be getting worse in the States, First Amendment or not. There, the anti-porn crusaders are out. I thought this sort of nonsense was going to end with a Democrat President facing a Democrat Congress. Apparently not. There's a pretty simple solution for folks who don't want to watch pornography: don't watch pornography. There's a pretty simple solution for folks worried about their kids watching naughty things on the home computers: any of the numerous censor software or censor ISPs that are out there. And, there's a pretty simple solution for folks worried about what other consenting adults do in front of a camera or what other folks then watch them do: fix your inefficient utility function. You'll be a more efficient producer of utility if you stop getting disutility from things that don't affect you directly.

From ReasonTV's blurb about the video above (which does contain some performers clothed in lingerie, your call whether that's worksafe for you):

"When did women exchanging bodily fluids and a little light bondage become the most obscene thing in the land?" asks Constance Penley, a University of California at Santa Barbara professor well-known for her classes on pornography.

That question may be answered this week when porn producer John Stagliano's federal obscenity trial enters its second week. Stagliano faces up to 32 years in prison for distributing the adult films Milk Nymphos, Storm Squirters 2: Target Practice, and a promo reel for a trailer for Belladonna's Fetish Fanatic Five via his website for Evil Angel Productions (adults only).

(Full disclosure: Stagliano has been a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.)

Emboldened by the Stagliano trial, a group of anti-pornography organizations recently held an event to demand a new "War on Pornography." "We have a war on pornography and we're going to win it," declares Patrick Trueman, a former Department of Justice prosecutor and leader of the War on Pornography Coalition. "The pornographers know exactly what they're doing and they're not going to respond to anything but the stick of the law," adds Donna Rice Hughes, founder of Enough is Enough.

But speaks with others, including an adult film actress and fetish film director, who promise to resist the anti-porn crusaders. And there is a bigger issue at stake, says Marty Klein, author of America's War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty. "The right to see South Park, may actually depend on the right to watch Butt Busters 3," says Klein. "If people want to have the right to do what they want to do, they have to protect the rights of other people to do what other people want to do."

"Obscenity vs. Freedom of Expression" is produced and edited by Hawk Jensen, field produced by Dan Hayes, with camera work by Dan Hayes, Hawk Jensen, Alex Manning, Joshua Swain and Zach Weissmueller. Production Assistants are Sam Corcos and Jack Gillespie. Approximately 7.30 minutes.

For a 2008 interview about the case, 
go here:

To watch's Lady Chatterley, Milk Nymphos, & John Stagliano, 
go here:

Go to for downloadable versions of this and all our videos, and subscribe to's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

The Washington City Paper summarizes the legal arguments here. See also Kuznicki at the Washington Examiner.

The blue movie business has plenty of trouble besides censorship issues: the erosion of copyright. Folks feeling guilty about viewing Stagliano's work without paying for it may consider contributing to his defence fund.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the issue of parents, children and adult content on the internet, I am time and again struck by how many parents seem to view it as a law of nature that children must have a computer in their own room so it cannot be controlled what they do. If you want some control over what your children do online, put the computer in the living room where you can more or less monitor what they're doing and block access at times you're not home. But no, that is too revolutionary a thought.

    (I should disclose that I have no children, so there is some chance I am trivializing the issue.)